Fishing Guide James Coffin’s Letter Expressing Concerns About the State of the Salmon on the Metis River
September 24, 1906
Les Amis des Jardins de Métis Collection
Owning a river meant protecting it. Even though he had left Canada for England in the 1890s, Lord Mount Stephen continued to own and manage the Metis River. He did so with the assistance of his private secretary, John Turnbull, who managed his properties and assets in Canada.
James Coffin was one of several guardians hired to protect the river and to watch over the salmon. The guardians slept in cabins along the river and kept poachers at bay. This letter from 1906 shows that Coffin had identified several salmon with unusual injuries, either caused by crashing on rocks or perhaps by dynamite. The poachers occasionally resorted to extreme measures to catch salmon – employing dynamite rather than using a fishing rod or a net. If caught, a poacher could be sentenced to several years in prison.