Monthly Archives: November 2019

Silver Valley Trout Farm

One of the lesser-known but very interesting tidbits about the Quarry Road area of Burke Mountain was the fact that from the period of 1957 through to 1965 the Silver Valley Trout Farm operated just a short distance to the east of Quarry Road, partway between Minnekhada Park and the Munro Lake Trailhead.  Back in 1957, Hans Otto Lehmann and his wife, Mimi, purchased a twenty-acre parcel located on the east side of Quarry Road, partway between what is now the northern boundary of Minnekhada Park (to the south) and the Munro Lake trailhead (to the north).  Taking advantage of one of the many creeks in this area, they soon opened up a trout farm from which they fostered trout populations, selling fresh trout to Vancouver restaurants and eventually expanding to run a local trout fishing spot for many Vancouver-area fishing enthusiasts.  This latter endeavour was so successful, it was eventually showcased in the popular, 1960s sportsman show, “Tides and Trails”.  By 1965, though, the Lehmanns had moved their trout farming operations from Quarry Road further east, to the Mission and Hatzic Lake areas.

Earlier this year, I had the good fortune to interview the two sons of Hans and Mimi: Bernie and Hans Jr.  Together, they provided many insights into their family operations on Quarry Road, including some great photos and even an opportunity to view the tape of the “Tides and Trails” program that highlighted their parents’ Quarry Road trout farm.

About a month ago, I was able to walk around and explore that one-time Silver Valley Trout Farm.  As expected, with the passage of a half-dozen decades, I found it to be very much overgrown.  With careful inspection, though, there were still some telltale clues that remained to tell of the story that had once unfolded there: a depression in the earth where a one-time pond had existed, some water piping and a water trench complete with a concrete-framed gate.  Other than that, what remained were only a few boards from a one-time building, long since collapsed, and an assortment of metal items.  The forest, as always, has a way of reclaiming what man has made.

The Silver Valley Trout Farm will make for an interesting addition to Volume Two’s narrative, including some great photographs contributed by the Lehmann brothers.

Logging in the Widgeon by the Swiss

Recently, I had the privilege of driving a one-time Widgeon logger on a trip down his own memory lane.  Ab Harvey, now 91 years of age, had logged that specific area from the late-1940s to about 1960.  In that latter year, a Swiss company had been contracted to facilitate the logging of the high mountain benchland on the northeast side of Burke Mountain.  Ab’s job was to gradually make his way up the mountainside- a strenuous effort in itself – to a level area where a significant stand of large fir had been located.  Once there, Ab felled those trees, the cut logs from which were then ‘skylined’ down to the valley floor by the ingenious Swiss high-skyline rigging and dumped in very close proximity to Quarry Road.

Currently, though, while on the valley floor, Ab initially struggled with the placement of the location of that one-time Swiss high-skyline log dumping ground.  The growth of standing trees during the subsequent six decades had dramatically deteriorated the visibility of the nearby mountains, to the point where he initially had difficulty confirming the Swiss high-crane log piling area.  However, Ab’s careful recollections of his early observations paid off in the end, with his establishing that location with a fair degree of certainty.  Quarry Road traverses a level stretch, immediately south of the E-W creek that flows down to Widgeon Creek, below the current Widgeon Campground.  It was on that stretch of Quarry Road, just south of that creek, that the Swiss high skyline rigging had dumped the logs that had been cut much higher up on Burke Mountain’s slopes.

Once again, a local resident was able to add an additional patch to our history quilt.