By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Located at the north end of 107 Street, the Morinville Fish and Game Association’s club house could not be in a better spot. Surrounded by a nearly-one-kilometre trail loop and a fishing pond created from a spring-fed borrow pit, the club house sits surrounded by the outdoors. With geese, ducks, common terns and other wildlife drawn to the pond as readily as the residents who gather to enjoy them, the Fish and Game Association is uniquely positioned to be surrounded by what they enjoy – nature.
“I think it’s important people know that we’re not just hunters and we’re not just fishermen,” said the association’s president Joe Sinclair. “We do a lot of environment stuff. We donate money to Alberta Fish and Game for the purchase of land for habitat. So it’s not just people that want to go out and hunt and fish. In fact, a lot of our members don’t hunt or fish, but they like the safety part, the laws that we make sure everybody follows in our club. We try to set an example.”
For Sinclair and the association’s members, learning those laws and setting that example starts young. In addition to running hunter safety and weapon-qualification courses, the association sends member’s children to a summer camp at Narrow Lake, near Athabasca, to learn about the outdoors and the responsibilities that come with enjoying it.
“This summer we sent 13 kids to the camp,” Sinclair said, noting the club covers some of the cost, the parents the rest.” Those kids come back after a week and they have hunter safety; they have their AFC licences, their boat safety licence. They do some outside camping at night in tents, make their own tents. It’s a tremendous camp and well, well respected. We’ve been really fortunate in our club because at last count five of the kids we had sent to camp in previous years have now become councillors at the camp.”
Respecting the outdoors is not just something learned at summer camp. Those lessons are put into effect right at home. Sinclair said the pond and park land is owned by the Town of Morinville and the club leases the area occupied by the club house and pond deck from the Town. “The Town looks after the trail; we just accent the pond with our deck,” Sinclair said. “A tremendous amount of people use our deck for picnicking and fishing. We enjoy that part of it, and we really appreciate the Town allowing us to be here.”
But while the club offers its deck freely to the community, it also acts as stewards of the pond. Each year the club receives 1,000 trout for the pond from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development and often ups that with a supply of their own, installs a goose nest for migrating birds to use, and participates in a spring clean-up of the shoreline of the pond and trail system. The club also hosts a children’s fishing day in the summer and another in the winter, giving kids and their families an opportunity to try their hand at shore and ice fishing.
Recently, the Morinville Fish and Game Association were given a $2,000 grant from the Town of Morinville under its Centennial Grant Program. That grant will be used to erect a number of interpretive signs to give visitors an understanding of the wildlife and plant life found around the pond area.
The club’s big fundraiser each year is its annual Brag Night, an opportunity for hunters to show off their trophy antlers and for the public to sample a wide variety of wild meats.
But sharing venison and boar is not the only sharing the club is engaged in. Sinclair said the club often answers requests for funding by local groups, something the club is happy to support if it fits in with the group’s budgets. The club regularly supports the Morinville Jr. Forest Wardens, Midstream support society’s Santa Store, Camp HeHoHa and other initiatives.
The Morinville Fish and Game Association belong to Zone 4 of the Alberta Fish and Game Association. Association meets the second Tuesday of the month, except July and August. Cost of membership is $35 per year for individual memberships and $45 per year for families. For more information, contact Jack Reader at 780-939-2587 or firstname.lastname@example.org.