I often wonder as to the origin of things. For instance, the first Rodeo Clown. Let’s see…big floppy shoes, massive red nose, crazy wig, flower that squirts water, the possibility of being gored to death. How could that have been a good idea?

Here in Campbell River, British Columbia we also have something that is hard to imagine in its genesis ~ The Tyee Club. “Tyee” being the local First Nations word meaning “The Chief” or Chinook Salmon. The “club” part meaning: You may have caught a 70 lb Chinook, with a wooden fishing rod and 20 lb or less test line from a wooden row boat. How could that have been a good idea?  I guess, “in order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd”, some wise fella once said.

It helps to explain somewhat that the club’s humble beginnings and planning happened in a drinking establishment. It seems some early Campbell Riverites who, after a few stouts no doubt, declared the Tyee as great as the California Tuna and deserving of recognition. By 1925, the club was official with a set of rules, regulations, and a mandate


  • To create interest in this particular species.
  • To foster sportsmanship.
  • To encourage and sponsor young people to learn to guide and the ethics of true sportsmanship.

It was decided to award a bronze button for a 30 to 40 pound fish, a silver button for a 40 to 50 pound fish, a gold button for a 50 to 60 pound fish, and a diamond button for a fish over 60 pounds. It was also decided to limit the name “Tyee” to a fish weighing over 30 pounds

Painters’ Lodge in Campbell River, one of the finest fishing lodges in the world, will explain that; Tyee fishing is not like any other fishing. It’s as pure as fishing gets. Some say the rewards aren’t worth it; but it’s much sweeter because the challenge is greater. And the pride of catching a Tyee using these classic methods is never ending. You’ll earn your membership in to the exclusive club and be a part of its great tradition. It’s been that way since the club was created in 1925. Roderick Haig-Brown quoted here, summed up the true nature of Tyee fishing. “Fishermen who come to Campbell River in search of the Tyee salmon are of one of two breeds. There are those whose first priority is just to catch one of these great Chinooks of 30-lb or more, by whatever means is necessary; and there are those who want one of these huge fish, but want it on terms that require of them the careful attention and skillful handling of a master angler. The latter are the men and women who follow the code of the Tyee Club of British Columbia.”

The area around Campbell River was first visited by Europeans in the late 18th century, when both British and Spanish ships explored what is now the British Columbia coastline.  Captain George Vancouver of the ship the ‘Discovery’ first viewed the Discovery Passage (between Vancouver Island and Quadra Island)  in 1792.

So come and discover Campbell River, and feel the rhythms of an oceanside community, where salmon are our heritage and our cherished legacy.

About the author

Dave Reynolds is a Professional Voice Over Actor, Sound Designer and Audio Architect Living on Vancouver Island, British Columbia and Has Provided Voice Talent for Thousands of Projects and Advertisements Since 1980. He also dabbles in Social Media. More about me here. Tweet me @thedavereynolds!

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