The man who helped start it all was honoured for his 21 years of service to Chapman Creek Hatchery on Aug. 15, and manager Bob Anstead is now officially retired.
“Bob has been responsible for releasing millions of fish into our territory,” Sechelt Indian Band resource director Sid Quinn said at Anstead’s going away barbecue. “That provides fish for a lot of different purposes, whether it’s for our food fishery, our recreational fishery, to replenish our streams and lakes with cutthroat, salmon and steelhead, and our hands go up to him. Thank you, Bob, for all your hard work.”
Many spoke about Anstead’s dedication to the hatchery over the years, from showing up in the middle of the night to fix water flows to his obvious passion for the species he’s always worked to preserve.
“Sometimes when you talk to people about salmon, you’re not really sure if they know what they’re talking about. But if Bob Anstead says something, you know it’s right,” said Bob Minnes, who came to the retirement party.
Anstead was instrumental in starting the hatchery, which is run by the non-profit Sunshine Coast Salmonid Enhancement Society.
At the time, he worked for the company that owned the hatchery.
“They were going to move the physical plant to Duncan, and when I looked into it, besides moving the plant to Duncan, they would also have to tear down the buildings and return the property to parklands,” Anstead said. “So we discussed it, and I said a good move would be to sell it to the Salmonid Enhancement Society.”
The society was then made up of people working on a “bunch of small streams,” Anstead added.
“They offered it as an exclusive sale to the Sunshine Coast Salmonid Enhancement Society for $150,000 in 1992, and within six months they raised about $170,000 with no government dollars at all,” Anstead recalled. “It was fantastic.”
Once the society acquired the facility, they asked if Anstead would manage it.
“So that’s how it all started in 1993,” he recalled.
On Aug. 15, many offered words of thanks to Anstead for his years of service to the hatchery, but Anstead, who seems uncomfortable with praise, was quick to deflect it to others.
When long-time friend Don Petry brought up the wealth of knowledge Anstead has been willing to share with volunteers over the years, Anstead was quick to point out Petry had brought in well over $100,000 in donations, turning the applause to his friend.
“I’m most proud of the volunteers and the people who have dedicated their own time. I’ve got people who have been volunteering here since I started the hatchery and they’re still here today,” Anstead said. “What they’ve helped us do over the years is Chapman Creek used to have a coho return of somewhere between 40 and 60 coho a year. We’ve built that run to close to 2,000 fish coming back, and that supports a First Nations fishery, recreational angling, enhancement of local streams, and it creates economic spinoffs for the community for about five months during the year.”
The hatchery is also involved in educating the public about the fish it rears.
Anstead plans to stay on the Coast for another year running Bob’s Fishing Barn in Roberts Creek and offering help to the manager taking his place. Eventually he and his wife Meri intend to move to Oregon to spend their retirement years.