R.I.P. Alice Munro (1931 – 2024)

“Compared to Anton Chekhov for her peerless short stories for which she won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013, Alice Munro (left) has died.FULL STORY


#8 Consider the herring, consider the lilies

April 28th, 2014

Anne Cameron

Anne Cameron

Hey, darlin’:

The world really is full of magic. It’s all around us, and we really ought to take better care of it. Meanwhile, stupidities abound.


Why are all those people heading south for cross-border shopping? Taking money out of the country? Out of the tills of local businesses?

Local businesses pay taxes here. Taxes which help keep our health system going. Let any of those cross-border shoppers get sick and they are going to want… even demand… health care here. So how healthy can health care be if the taxes don’t get paid because the money got spent across the forty-ninth?

But down they go, even doing grocery shopping, buying milk, butter, cheese which contains products banned in Canada. Sure, sure, go ahead, go down and buy your milk, cheese, butter, yogurt. Bring it home, feed it to your kids. If they get sick from the added hormones, antibiotics and Genetically Modified Organisms, take them to the hospital here. Then have a fit because the place is over-crowded and the staff is over-worked.

All because of budget cutbacks due to the fact that tax money went out of country.


And what in the name of good sense and reason is going on with the verdict in that purported investigation into the explosion and fire in the sawmill up north? What? No charges laid?

Where was WorkSafe in all of this? Why wasn’t the explosive sawdust cleared away and not allowed to build up to the point it went sky high?

People die and it’s “Oh, ho hum.”


This year Fisheries Minister Gail Shea over-ruled her own biologists who had recommended not opening a herring fishery in favour of allowing the herring stocks to continue to build. Gail knew better than the scientists. She basically said, “Go for it”.

When First Nations on the west coast of the Island and up as far as Haida Gwaii basically sided with the scientists, saying no to a commercial fishery this year for herring, the RCMP had to send scads of armed officers up to zip around in zodiacs to ensure nobody got violent.

The problems go beyond herring. Krill are almost microscopically small and baby fish need them as food. So Fisheries allows tonnes and tonnes of krill to be sieved up out of the water to be added to whatever all else gets put in the pellets they feed to Atlantic salmon in net pen feedlots. (Oh, yes, krill also makes a good additive in lipstick. Surely a vital commodity.) Without krill the flesh of the captive feedlot fish would be a kind of gray colour, not at all appetising or appealing to the consumer.

Three or four years ago the Fisheries department allowed fishers who had been given licences to fish herring on the east coast of the island to come over to the west coast to fill their quota because the herring on the other side were so small they could swim through the mesh of the nets. Without krill they hadn’t grown very well.

So herring have been seriously overfished—and under-fed. But Gail knows best. Meanwhile Harpy has been having a great time slashing funding to Fisheries…

We need to stop emptying the ocean of krill so the baby herring can find the food they need. Let the silvery bounty swarm, spawn, and rebuild their numbers. And, for the love of heaven and earth, pay some attention to those who know whereof they speak.

Jimmy Pattison might be a nice guy, a good Christian and a billionaire who owns or controls most of the fisheries on this coast, but that doesn’t mean he’s a fish expert and it doesn’t mean we have to kiss his ring.  Or anything else of his.


So today I’m going to consider the pink fawn lilies instead.

When I was growing up, white fawn lillies and trilliums were our promise of spring. Although my mother would give smiles, hugs and kisses for sprigs of pussy willow, and although a bouquet of early dandelions got a place of honour in a jam jar of water placed in the middle of the table, she would have had a fit if any of us had shown up with a bouquet of fawn lilies. They were precious.

The ones I grew up with were white. When I came to Tahsis, I could barely believe my eyes when I saw PINK curly lilies. Local legend has it there are only a couple of places where the fawn lilies are pink; here and Bowser. Or maybe Union Bay. So finally, all these years later, I went to Google and discovered they’re actually relatively common on southern Vancouver Island, especially around Victoria.

Yesterday my “daughter of another mother” and I took our dogs and headed off to see the pink curly lilies. The cat came with us, as he usually does. His name is “Dustbugger.” He was born under a neighbour’s trailer, the others in the litter died, and he barely survived until the neighbour found him. Between us, we kept the scrap alive, and now he is a large, gorgeous, neutered tommy who doesn’t seem to believe he is a cat. So he comes with us on our Therapeutic Perambulations.

Enough of cross-border shopping, sawmill deaths and herring wars. I want to concentrate on the memory of those pink curly lilies, bobbing gently in the breeze, nodding their spring-time hello. We stared, we grinned, and felt incredibly lucky.

Anne Cameron received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an outstanding literary career in British Columbia in 2010. Her 23 books include Daughters of Copper Woman, the bestselling work of fiction ever written about B.C. and published from within B.C. A true Vancouver Islander, born in Nanaimo in 1938, she has banished herself to a small town not far from Friendly Cove where the shenanigans now called British Columbia all got started.



One Response to “#8 Consider the herring, consider the lilies”

  1. theresa says:

    The day before yesterday we walked to see the last of the fawn lilies at Francis Point. (We were away during the high point of their blooming but still saw enough to make my heart widen…) A few years ago, around this time of year, I saw masses of the pink ones at the little park by the Oyster River estuary, between Courtenay and Campbell River. I have to agree, though: if you’ve grown up on the creamy fawn ones, the pink ones are really extraordinary, no matter where they bloom

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