History greets you at every turn. Use the guide to see our Heritage Moments.
Pioneers George and Elizabeth Pease lived in this area before it was declared a National Park. They camped on the shore of Waskesiu Lake, then known as Red Deer Lake, in a rustic log cabin called Shadirest. Although this was their main home, they had cabins and camps on other lakes in the region that they travelled to seasonally netting fish and taking it to Big River to sell. Elizabeth kept a diary during the winter of 1927-8 that chronicles their difficult and dangerous daily life travelling to fish other area lakes. (A copy is available in the Museum.) Beginning in 1926, George built and rented boats from the shore of Waskesiu Lake, known in the early '20s as Primeau's Landing.
When the townsite of Waskesiu was established in the newly created National Park, Peases moved to the present location, building a one-storey house and boat shed using similar plans as the Arcade Stores on Lakeview Drive. They expanded their boat rental with two larger tour boats, the Nanette I and II and ran a commercial fishing operation too. They partnered with Sam Brayford who handled the boat rentals while Alex worked the commercial nets in Waskesiu Lake and staff processed the catch at the Fish Shop. The building is currently used as a private residence and a Guest House in the summer.
George Pease was a gifted carpenter. In audio clip below, you can hear outdoorsman and relative Jack Mackenzie reminiscing about George’s talent. George built wooden rental boats with the help of his son Alex and Harold Beck who had originally worked in PANP in the Depression relief camps. He also built both the Nanette I and II, larger boats that took groups on tours and excursions. The table mentioned in the clip is in the Museum. Unfortunately, we do not have his wooden teeth!
George Whitter wrote about the Pease Boats in Waskesiu Memories, Volume II:
“A little more about the Pease boats. They were magnificent. They would carry a great load. They were very seaworthy, and could handle the heavy waves and winds that often characterized Crean [Lake]. The sharp prow widened dramatically and threw out much spray, which the wind promptly blew back in sheets over the person operating the motor from the narrow stern seat. (You could learn to swim back there!) With the occupants of the broad mid-boat seats relatively dry and grinning at you—the transoms of these much-used boats more often than not were worse for wear and tear.”
From the original volume of Waskesiu Memories comes this information about the fishing business written by Sheila Brayford whose husband Mel was a partner in Brayford Boats:
“A familiar sound in the townsite at 5:00 A.M. was the whine of Alex’s motor as he headed out to his nets. He used an 8.1 Johnson workhorse motor on one of his father’s original boats and the motor could be easily heard on the clear morning air. The nets were set in sixty feet of water and re-set after they were emptied. Periodically the nets would be brought in, wound on the big reels beside the white house on the hill, then untangled and mended. Alex’s most faithful helpers for many years were two other well-known Waskesiu “characters”, Grandpa Van Impe and Bob Berry….
"After the fish were brought in they were filleted at the Fish Shop and sold to the public for fifteen cents a pound. Any fish not sold was frozen and kept on hand for the days when the nets yielded little or no fish. Custom filleting and freezing was also done for the tourists.
"In addition to the commercial fishing, Alex and Grandpa did extensive guiding on all the lakes. Alex spent hundreds of hours in Crean where trout fishing was popular.”
Alex’s niece remembers fishing with Alex in Volume III, and how he could guess the weight of fish better than the wardens.
”Alex and Grandpa Van Imp took turns taking us fishing at a lot of different lakes. When you had guides like them you were bound to catch some really big fish and we did. We had trout that weighed up to nearly 40 lbs. and northern pike at 20 and 30 lbs. Alex thought it was great fun to tease the game wardens. When the wardens would meet us at the dock Alex would tell them to guess the weight of the biggest fish. Before we docked the boat Alex would put a number of lead weights in the fish. The warden would guess the weight and so would Alex. Alex always came closer to the right weight.”
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