Video by the Musée de la mémoire vivante
Informants: Josée Malenfant and Simon Beaulieu, eel fishers
Date: October 16, 2016 and January 23, 2017
Location: Rivière-Ouelle (Québec)
Simon Beaulieu descends from several generations of eel fishers. He and his spouse Josée Malenfant want to continue the tradition.
Josée Malenfant and Simon Beaulieu are sitting on a couch facing the camera and take turns talking.
[Simon Beaulieu] Yes, we’re carrying on a tradition. We’ve always been involved in this. We can’t imagine ourselves not doing it. We’d be missing something. We’d be missing something for sure if we didn’t fish in the fall.
Jérémie, Simon’s son, comes running and looks inside the collecting box of an eel trap with his father. They open it, remove debris and then close it.
[Interviewer] It’s more than a tradition. It’s something that really interests you.
[S.B.] Yes, that’s true.
[Josée Malenfant] We’ll do everything we can to keep the tradition alive – everything.
[Interviewer] Simon fished when he was a child. Simon’s father and your two grandparents must have done so as well.
[S.B.] And our children are doing the same thing. I see my children on the shore of the river while we’re fishing. Sometimes, I see them playing.
Simon and Jérémie head towards the collecting box that’s furthest from the shore. They’re wearing the right kind of boots.
[S.B.] They play just about the same games as I did even though I never really showed them. They’ve learned to watch what we’re doing. And they’ve learned to like the environment on the shore of the river, to like the smell of the river and everything that comes with that.
Simon and Jérémie look inside the collecting box they’ve opened. It’s empty. They close the lid.
[J.M.] . . . to handle eels, open the collecting boxes and start by emptying them.
Josée Malenfant arrives from the left. She inspects the bottom of the nets in order to remove any debris and make sure there aren’t any holes.
[J.M.] The two youngest ones each have their own little dip net and they compete with each other every time. I get the first one and you get the second. [Laughter]
[S.B.] No one sees the fishing season as a chore.
The water is rising. Simon picks Jeremy up in order to carry him back toward the beach. He puts him down when the water is shallow enough. They walk side by side with water up to their thighs.
[S.B.] It’s the pleasure of seeing what the sea can give us.
[J.M.] They’ve also understood how important it is to walk along the net looking for holes. “Mummy, there’s a hole here. Do you have any string? Yes . . . Good.” We hand each other the string and take turns repairing the holes. They’ve understood the principle that the eels won’t come in if there are holes. That’s important.
[Interviewer] They’re young. Do you ever hope they’ll want to take over from you?
Simon and Josée reappear on the screen. They’re sitting on a couch in their living room facing the camera. They take turns talking.
[S.B.] Yes, because they seem to like it. There’s no way you can force them. Yes, we think they’re interested. When eel season arrives, you can see it in their eyes that, yes, they enjoy it too.
[J.M.] When you say that people develop an interest in something, you can see one developing here.