For over 40 salmon seasons of gillnet fishing on the Fraser River , I enjoyed  the “Great Salmon Privilege” of harvesting the  very early runs of Fraser  Sockeye Salmon ! The F. R.  Sockeye Season historically began around JUNE 15 , with incidental catch of a few sockeye tangled in my large mesh Chinook gillnet ! This first run of historic F. R.  Sockeye disappeared in the 1950ies , never to been seen again !  Yes the word  extinction   comes to mind , reasons  many  fishers at that time did not know that extinction could meant forever   !

It was  June the 25th 1956 and the F. R.  gillnetters were switching now to a smaller mesh Sockeye Net , anticipating the F. R.  Early Stuart Lake Sockeye run to be near the mouth of the river , acclimatizing to brackish water and getting ready to start their very long river migration to their spawning grounds , north of Prince George !

To describe Stuart Lake Sockeye in today’s terms , they are really” Historic Computerised Sockeye Salmon” , learning from  their parents genes  ,  ever thing they need to make it home to the lake and stream where they were born !  This historic Sockeye Run was once the biggest on the Fraser River , it filled the fishers nets and traps to over flowing ,year after year ,  in the late 1800 and early 1900 ! So many were caught locally , the canneries some years told their rental gillnet boats to catch no more , when the run was passing by !

The Great Stuart Sockeye Run historically followed the Northern Gulf of Georgia salt water migration  route to the mouth of the Fraser River ! By July 5th the sockeye were in great schools all along Bowen Island , that turned the sea into a splashing spectacle , you could smell them in the sea air ! They moved pass Siwash Rock into today’s False Creek , looking for a old historic Fraser River Arm or Channel , that silted in hundreds of years ago !

What happened next , well their “inherited sockeye migration computer” went on a “enter the river now program”!   Main Stuart Sockeye run . please historically enter the North Arm , Middle Arm and Main River tonight July 11th . on   a evening full moon big flood tide  ! Out of the  the  brown brackish tide line from Sandheads and Point Grey they all came , pushed along side  each other, some in spawning pairs , into a dark unknowing river !

What is left of the great run of Fraser River Stuart Lake Sockeye this year in the week of July the 11th , will again pass by False Creek and Spanish Banks and will it be only me that remember them ?     Terry Slack

Welcome to the Summer 2014 edition of the DRA Newsletter! Enjoy!!!

Plus we’re also delivering an insert entitled “Keeping it Community & Kid Safe“from the Dunbar Parent Action

The Fraser River Pink  Salmon Adults , spawned and died last fall ! Now their new children Pink Salmon “Juvenile Pink Fry ” , have emerge from their comfortable Gravel Reds and are now migrating immediately down stream , to the estuary of  this world renown Wild Salmon River !

On April 23 , 2014 it is estimated that about 40 million passed through the Fraser Canyon at Hell Gate and still had their egg sack attached to their tummies !  Near Mission , the Interior juvenile Pinks , find many more migrating friends to say hello to ,  many come from the Heart of the Fraser River and the Harrison River . Wow we have Eulachon moving into the river to spawn and Juvenile Pink Fry leaving the river for the Ocean and Wow passing by each other in the lower Fraser Estuary ! We cannot see any of them in the river and these two migrations are much bigger than the Great  Serengeti Migration of Animals in Africa !

At the mouth of the Pitt River ,the forever  moving massive downstream Pink Salmon Migration , will reach over 500 million   plus fish , all by the second week in May ! Luck is on the little silvery fishes side , as the river this year  is now brown from the Interior runoff or “freshet” and they can stay kind of invisible for just  a while , in the now murky river estuary water !

At NewWestminister it is estimated that about  18% the rivers out bound Pink juveniles , that are usually favouring the north side of the river , they will move down the North Arm of the Fraser River and the rest will continue down the much deeper main stem of the river ! Yes ! they have been doing this for Thousands and Thousands of Years , every even year !

In the North Arm of the Fraser just above Marpole  , the Pink Fry take their first gulp of brackish water as a flood tide is moving salt water into the river !  This slows the little fish down , only just a little and in a few hours of only one tide , they are on their way again to the sea !

They are passing by Deering Island Park and the Musqueam Reserve by the millions now , in and out of the Musqueam  and Swish Wash Island channels they go , to briefly  feed  !  The pink are still staying together in huge schools and must decide now to either go North or South once they enter  the Salish Sea ?  The Pink Fry Juveniles , stay around the Salish Sea ” Gulf of Georgia ” until mid summer , then they continue their migration through either the Juan de Fuca Strait Strait or Johnstone Strait and enter the open water of the Pacific Ocean ! The Fraser River  Pink Salmons , ocean migration ranges into the Gulf of Alaska around  to the Kamchatka Pen. in Russia , where they rear for about one year , before returning home to where they were born ! They will return to  spawn and die at the young age of 2 years !  Yes just like their parents did !         See you at Deering Island Park , To “Wish them Good Luck as we wave them Goodby” !     Hey you have 2 weeks to send me a photo of the kids waving those adventerous little Juvenile Pink Salmon Good By , at the park and they might win one of 3 great wild salmon  prizes !


Every little or big Mucky, Boggy Places around Vancouver , probably has the Skunk Cabbages vivid yellow sheaths along with “First Nations Wax Paper” deep green leaves showing just about now ! Its the wonderful colours and try to forget the smell ! Early B. C. Loggers called the muck bog dweller the “Stay away from Plant” or “The Lantern or light House in the Woods” ! Scientific American calls the Eastern Skunk Cabbage , “Jack in the Pulpit” and I call it just the ” Lovely Yellow Skunk Cabbage” !

When the plant flowers it has a strange sickly but sweet scent and having one next to our patio pond for over 20 years now , I have notice that visitors love the Green and yellow colours , but jez what the heck is that smell ?

Where in Vancouver could we get lots visitors a day . to have a look at our local Skunk Cabbage and even have a wedding or two , close to patches of it ? Do you take this ! ! ! Just like the they do in Hokkaido Japan ? Here are a few of my local suggestions, to take the kids to have a good look and smell of our skunkies !

I like the north end of Malkin Park for a starter , south west of the Kerrisdale School , Camosun Bog , the South end Sword Fern trail in Pacific Spirit Park , Tsusnahm Pond or ” Garypies Pond ” near south east end Angus Drive and the best viewing of all , its the West end of 75th ave. at the north end of the Underground Sewage Line Right of Way ! Ya its a beauty , so appropriate , Forgive Me Please , my Lovely Skunk Cabbages , I love you every year at this time ! Terry

The story today is of a recent rescued 1950’s original $1.99 front yard Rhododendron from 3564 west 28th Avenue , that was once my family home , the little but now huge plant is a milky pink in colour , the name I think was “Shocking Pink” when the family received it as a gift in the 1950s ? Here is the history of the plant that I can remember so many years ago ! Our family rented a house at 7325 Blenheim Street , on the Blenheim Flats for $50 a month in the 1950s ! The strange looking house was called the “Castle House” and all of our mail from England was addressed to the “Castle House on the Flats ” somewhere in the 7,000 block and it got delivered by a great post man ! The 1930s built house , kind of looked like a Castle with Battle Turrets around a flat roof ! Yes all the Slack family that immigrated to Canada from England in 1948 , lived originally not too far from Nottingham Castle and near Sherwood Forest and our first very expensive 1950s rental house , kind of fitted in to our English Ancestry !

For sure Robin Hood is probably a family relation of ours a way back when and mom said I was conceived in the Blue Bell Woods , near “Robins Famous Major Oak Tree” ! Yes I do sign autographs as a blood relative of “Robin and his Gang of Great Guys and Gals from Nottinghamshire England ” Now the history of the $1.99 ” “Blushing Pink” named Rhodo !

My Mom , Dad and I worked part time for Murray and Wood Greenhouses in the 1950s , the huge green house was just across the Street from 7325 Blenheim Street on the Blenheim Flats ! I got a part-time job stapling together wooden border plant boxes , at 50 cents for every 500 , they were not plastic in the 1950s ! Dad filled them with composted “Turkey Manure” and Mom transplanted young flowering plants into them in the modern greenhouses ! It was hard in those days for Murray and Wood to make a profit and they watched their $ very carefully in those days ! When we moved “up the hill” to 3564 west 28th in Dunbar in the late 1950s , the good friends and business partners in the greenhouse , gave us a moving gift , of a very small $1.99 Rhododendron called “Blushing Pink”! We loved it , but planted it much too close to the front of our old but new to us , wonderful 3 mortgaged Dunbar home !

The soil was very, very poor at the top of the hill in Dunbar and we had no money to buy any good stuff for our new plant ! Dad and the rest of us , knew we’re all probably related to Robin Hood in England , some way or another , so we felt it was just fine for our leader to fill up his empty lunch bucket with , “unwanted composted , “good turkey fertilizer scraps ” every day , to put around the little plant ! The l Rhodo grew in leaps and bounds and had such huge blossoms that we had to sometimes “Sprag Up” the bushes branches every spring ! The Blushing Pink Rhodo at 3564 West 28th ave , was a favorite of everyone in the “Neighbourhood of Dunbar” for many, many years and when the house was sold a few years ago , I made a commitment to try to save our families now huge historic Dunbar “Blushing Pink” Rhodo , when the house came down!

Thanks to our good neighbours on 28th Avenue and some of my old retired fishboat equipment , the historic Dunbar Rhododendron was saved from being smashed up and sent to land fill ! A “Big Thank you for all your help , with the big Rhodo move ,

From the Slack family of Dunbar ! Terry

I can remember when Pacific Spirit Park , was not a Metro Vancouver Park , but just a “you can do any thing you want here . piece of U. E. L. Bush land ! What has not changed for probably thousands of years , is the wonderful “Signs of Spring ” in the park forest !

On my walks this week , I noticed that this urban forest was showing numerous great awakenings from winter signs ! Here they are : The Pink and Red Salmonberry flowers have fully opened now and added colour at last to the dull forest . With the flowers opening , comes numerous Male Rufus Humming Birds doing display flights near the top of Imperial Trail ! Yes look for the hummer sky diving events , on sunny warm days ! Female Anna’s Humming birds are also very active now , grabbing beaks full of hair from our Dog Hair Bags in the back yard and doing quick back and forth Buzzing Zumies into the park !

Oh just today , I noticed Pond and Stream Surface Strider’s have awakened on Musqueam Creek at Clinton Trail ! The “Insect Wolves of the Parks Creeks” are “Slipping and Sliding” and checking out every thing on the surface of the creek , with those funny pontoon life jacket legs sticking way out ! When the sun comes out , out come the Strider’s from some where in the stream side vegetation ! Where do they go to sleep at night , only the Shadow’s Know ?

It was just today that I found myself stopping and breathing in deeply on the Booming Ground Trail in the park ! Its a great place to visit , especially when a spring westerly or south west wind is blowing up the cliff face and on to the little trail The very unusual clean and wonderful smelling marsh air is here , stop and enjoy it . As a boy lived here on the marshes and for years I look forward to the historic first spring sweet smells of the marsh grasses , breaking through the river mud’s ! The little secret trail is just the east of the Simon Fraser Monument Lookout , on Marine Drive and for years I called it my Spring Marsh Sniffing Trail ! Please take a few minutes to have a look at the grove of Great Grand Fir Trees , just to the east of the lookout on the cliff top trail ! Watch the children , its a long way down from the top of the trail !

Other early spring plants with new green growth to look for in the park just now are : The Red Flowering current , Red Elderberry and the Skunk Cabbages have just come back to life at Clinton Trail and Musqueam Creek ! Have fun looking and sniffing for the first signs of Spring in Pacific Spirit Park !


SalmonberryDays We are pleased to announce that Dunbar’s Salmonberry Days is on again for the entire month of May!

Download our Salmonberry Days Calendar now and plan your outings!

A paper copy of this schedule will be delivered to your Dunbar home in April.

A little rust coloured “Male Rufous Humming birds came back to visit us this week , from his winter home in Southern Mexico ! He arrived fit as a fiddle , at our feeder on Wed. morning and started to do his attracting a female flight today ! He immediately lived up to his long historic reputation , of being feisty and a a wee bit nasty to other hummers ! The bright copper coloured “Rebel Rouser” started to chase our Anna’s Hummers away from the feeder right away !

Yes , my records indicate this male is a few weeks early arriving in Dunbar , probably flying in with a few other guys, riding on a Pineapple Express weather front ! The lazy mazy Freddy bird is here waiting at our feeder and plans to use a displaying flight a mating ambush , as soon as high flying females start to arrive ! “Oh My , That Male Rufous Cad ” !

Being a very early migrating Rufus hummer , can be dangerous , as wild nectar producing flowers and shrubs like Salmon berry , will not be out in flower for at least few weeks yet ! He must find food at our sugar water feeder and find a safe place at night to drift into a Torpor sleep !

Just one more issue , of being a early arriving male Rufous Hummer ! Our local wintering over Annas female hummers are starting to nest and are on eggs now ! The early male Rufous keeps the female Annas away from her quick back and forth to the nest , feeding cycle , at our feeder ! I can only wish for some ” Warm Spring Weather” ,for that will probably move our migrating early Male Rufus Hummer further north !


In the 1960 the small boatyard at the south foot of Blenheim Street in Vancouver , was the home port for about 60 small commercial fish boats ! It had two marine railways that moved Trollers , Gillnetters and Cod Boats on shore , after the fishing season was over for the year . The mostly wooden boats , were lined up in neat rows on old farm land west of Blenheim Street , with their bows , always facing up the river !

Once jacked up and side slipped from the cradle , the skipper always had to pull off a small sheet lead patch , covering up a hull engine room Cedar garboard planking Bung or plug and this was to let the bilge water run out into a my dads new metal drum “Bilge water oil separator” ! All the fish boat skippers had to use Alf Slacks 1960ies oil separator ,my gosh it was a way a head of its time , being a new river friendly invention ! If those “Big Season or Just making it a Season” Fishers ” wanted to be land docked next season . they they had to use the Alfies bilge oil separator ! After having the fishboat taken out of the water ,the fisherpeople that had a good year , just disappeared to warmer climates and the not so lucky just stayed around to keep a eye on the dry-docked boat all winter long !

The last cold weather , usually at the end of March, brought out the Fisher peoples canvas tarps , out to protect the planking at the waterline of the boat , from the , Ya you got it , the Hot Drying out SUN ! Spring at last and copper painting had to be done below the waterline , with special attention given to net guards . stem Iron , rudder plate and skegs irons ! My dad and I made a few extra bucks , heating up and smacking off with a big sledge hammer , all the damaged propellers ! You are not going to believe this , but some skippers forgot to replace the cedar planking bung , lead patch and were launched ! There was always lots of screaming and swearing when the boat hit the water with a geyser shooting up in the engine room ! Get her back up , was the call from the embarrassed skipper !

The little shipyard at the end south end of Blenheim Street in Vancouver , has many sad and funny stories still to be told ! Its our Vancouver’s history and it would be very sad to loose it .so lets get on and tell it , the way it was , not so many years ago !


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