Not too many holidays land smack in the middle of prime fishing weeks, but the biggest one of note is Canadian Thanksgiving. It is here this weekend, and if you live up north you are either hunting or fishing with your time off. Many of our fantastic American guests are quite curious about this Canadian holiday-weekend. In fact, many Canadians have no idea why or even how we celebrate it. With one holiday a month all year, and many more that are way more made-up than this one, we hardly care. All we know is that we get to eat a lot of awesome food. And if you live in BC, you get to fish for our beloved steelhead guilt-free.
Canadian Thanksgiving is similar to the American “real” version but lacks the backstory and the flashy retail sales. It’s barely celebrated in Eastern Canada, and in Quebec it’s just a day off. For most people, it’s pretty low-key.
The holiday’s history is muddier than the Bulkley after a massive rain event. In fact, there are no hard facts about how far back the holiday goes. If you think global warming is a touchy subject, try bringing up the history of Thanksgiving around a group of Canadians and watch the fireworks! The reality of the holiday is that, before 1815, 80% of English-speaking Canadians were American exiles, immigrants or their descendants.
Because of this, until the 1840s Canada adopted a ton of American traditions, one of which was Thanksgiving. Who can argue that it is not an amazing holiday, and us Canadians get to enjoy it, twice! The first with steelhead fishing along the Skeena system and eating our faces off. Than we have the benefit of US Thanksgiving while fishing the Thompson, watching football and shopping on Amazon, and again eating our faces off!
Historically, nobody in Canada quite knew when to celebrate it. All we knew was that we loved Thanksgiving. Until 1921, it bounced around from late October to early November, and for ten years afterwards was celebrated on Remembrance Day. This was a terrible idea! (Maybe a guy could remember better after a huge dose of Turkey Tryptophan and several glasses of wine, but I doubt it.) Finally, we whipped up an arbitrary weekend in October (possibly to coincide with the Babine, Bulkley, and Kispiox River runs) and, well, here we are.
Most farmers to this day agree that it is way too early to celebrate a harvest holiday ‒ but a long weekend is a long weekend! In any case, Steelheaders have always loved it.
So, to celebrate with us go eat a turkey burger, have a cold beer and catch a steelhead.