Flies, Fish Tales and God Save the Queen

Hanging out at Riverside Fly and Tackle in Port Coquitlam is a little like a scene from an old-time movie, where all the town’s men get together in a shop and talk about their fishing adventures and the ones that got away. Garry Elgear, Riverside’s owner, greets everyone by name as they come through the door and everyone stays near the counter for an extra 10 minutes or so after their purchase to continue the conversation…heck, a couple of guys came in, stood around talking for a bit and never even bought anything! As Garry said, “I love my job.”

Third Generation Family Business

Garry 'I Love My Job' Elgear

Garry ‘I Love My Job’ Elgear

Garry is the third generation of his family to run the shop and he has worked there for most of his 40 years. With his black thick-framed glasses, sideburns and ‘hey bro’ demeanour, Garry looks like he’d be more at home playing guitar in a bar band than guiding other fishermen (and women) through the wilderness. But he certainly knows his fish, and even imparts some hints as to where to find the big ones if he likes you.

The Saturday afternoon I dropped in for a visit Garry was casually tying flies at the front counter in what I came to learn was a brief lull in the action. Carefully winding the thread and attaching brightly-coloured feathers, he told me about Riverside’s connection to the community of Port Coquitlam, the nearby rivers and lakes and how much he enjoyed all the area had to offer. The connection to community and the Coquitlam River doesn’t end with the proximity of the Riverside shop or even the fishing. For over 10 years, Garry has organized a river clean up event (or two) that calls upon as many community volunteers as he can muster to get out into the river and pick up trash strewn over a 15km stretch from the Red Bridge on Pitt River Road up the Coquitlam River watershed. Over 200 volunteers removed 500 bags of garbage that Sunday morning and Garry said it was great to see people out there volunteering, doing something worthwhile and doing it shoulder-to-shoulder with other people in their community.

Diamond Jubilee Medal

The Coquitlam River

The cold Coquitlam River

Garry’s dedication to the Coquitlam River and community action has not gone unnoticed. In January of this year Garry was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal By the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, for recognition as a distinguished British Columbian who is making a difference in his community. The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal was created to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the ascension to the throne as Queen of Canada of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The Medal was conceived as a way of honouring Her Majesty for her service to our country and, at the same time, a way of honouring the significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.

Garry glossed over all this in his telling of the river clean up and his history of volunteering by mentioning, almost in passing, “…the next thing you know I’m at some award thing…something for the Jubilee for the Queen…” I had to look it up to find out just what he was referring to. Garry may not be completely comfortable talking about himself but he is comfortable talking fishing and very passionate about protecting the Coquitlam River – drop by Riverside Fly and Tackle and join the conversation.

Help the Surfrider Foundations

Garry is helping Surfrider Foundation Vancouver Chapter (www.surfridervancouver.org) to promote a Coquitlam River clean up on Sunday, March 3, 2013, and would like to invite you to take part. For Canada Day, Garry and the guys at Riverside are going to host a river clean up and kid’s fishing derby – all are invited. For more information visit www.rsfat.com.

Riverside Fly and Tackle

2847 Shaugnessy Street, Port Coquitlam

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