Canadian Army article

Canadian Army article

Military veterans at Ottawa Fly Casting Clinic, Ottawa River

A Canadian Army article online features PHWFF Canada and the work it does to help rehabilitating military veterans.

Written by Helen Bobat, from the Canadian Army’s Public Affairs department, and published on their website on July 11th, 2014, as well as tweeted to the Army’s Twitter account followers, the article talked about the Project and shared interviews undertaken with some of the veterans who have been through the program.

Many thanks to Kurt and Carol for taking the time to share their experiences. It is great to have others hear their stories and their positive responses to the Project. Hopefully anyone considering coming to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Canada, but who previously had doubts, will now feel encouraged to contact us.

You can find the article at this link and also on our News page.

 

 

Thank You RCL

Thank You RCL

Royal Canadian Legion staff Bruce Poulin and Carolyn Gasser with National Co-Ordinator Andre Baril

A big ‘Thank You RCL’ is due to the Royal Canadian Legion for their recent grant donation to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Canada.

NationaI Co-ordinator Andre Baril met with the Canadian Legion Dominion Command earlier this year. A request was lodged for Healing Waters sponsorship in order to buy the necessary fly fishing equipment for our Wounded veterans.

PHWFFC was delighted to receive a grant for $14,000, which will serve to buy complete fly fishing kits. These kits will be provided, at a discount, by Springbrook Canada, a Canadian provider for Temple Fork Outfitters fly fishing equipment.

All rods bear the Healing Waters logo, can be used for all species from trout to salmon, and are given for free to keep by our Wounded.

It is not so much the gift of a free rod that Healing Waters Canada provides, but the added value of a lifelong therapeutic skill that will help our Wounded heal.

The plan is to minimize administration for the Canadian chapters so we will deliver kits instead of grant money. These will go to those Program directors who have most need at this time: 40 kits for Ontario, approximately 20 kits for NB and NS, and 5 kits for BC.

Again, thank you to the RCL – we can’t wait to make use of the kits during the next few months.

New Program Directors

New Program Directors are always a ‘good news’ story here at Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Canada.

So it’s exciting for us to be able to announce that four new volunteers have joined us in the past couple of months. They will be leading a program in the following areas/provinces:

Dave Mountain, New Program Directors

Dave Mountain, British Columbia

Tom Adamchick, New Program Directors

Tom Adamchick, Petawawa, Ontario

Terence Ward – Nova Scotia 

Ed Goguen – New Brunswick

Their contact details are available on our website here.

A very warm welcome is extended to all – thank you for offering your help. More volunteers can only mean more opportunities to help our veterans participate in fly fishing and fly tying activities.

If any other potential volunteer is still thinking about helping but hasn’t made a decision, please consider having an informal chat with a member of the PHWFFC staff about what we do, and where & how you can help.

We look forward to meeting/seeing Dave, Tom, Terrence and Ed on outings in the coming months.

 

Twitter Update

Twitter Update (Twitter Logo)

Courtesy of Twitter

Today we’re excited to announce a Twitter update.

After a long hiatus with our earlier (soon to be closed) Twitter account, we are now re-launching Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Canada on Twitter!

We have a new Twitter account and ‘handle’. You can find us on Twitter @CanadaPHWFF.

Be sure to follow us as we Tweet about our program activities for veterans, fly fishing, fly tying and lots of other interesting news!

You will also be able to see our Tweets right here on the front page of our website.

Looking forward to Tweeting with you!

‘Kiss The Water’: The Art of Megan Boyd

Kiss The Water

Post by Karen Grant

Until I met a fisherman whose hobby it is, I was unaware that there was an art to tying flies. When I was younger, I had occasionally accompanied my father on short afternoon fishing trips, but these were simple affairs and worms were the bait: we didn’t use the sometimes garish and shiny plastic lures that are so prevalent in shops today.

So it came as quite a surprise to discover that flies can be made by hand, in a delicate, intricate process, and that they can be colourful – even beautiful – when created from actual patterns painstakingly developed over time. If you’ve never seen a fly tying desk, replete with bobbins of brightly-hued yarn and strewn with pieces of deer hair and other natural materials, it’s quite the sight to behold. It is a world of creativity that might not spring to mind when you think of crafting, but one which is a passion for those who tie flies, and a world about which they are both protective and possessive.

In the Scottish Highlands there is a beautiful, but bleak, town called Brora, where the weather can change in the blink of an eye. In 1918, a little girl called Megan Boyd was brought by her father from England, with the rest of the family, to live in Brora because he had been appointed as a river keeper to a private estate.

Growing up in such a small and remote place may not be for everyone, but Megan seemed to like the peace and solitude it afforded her over the more than 53 years she actually lived in the area. By choice, her adult home was a small, rustic cottage, with no running water or electricity. Megan was considered an eccentric, who dressed and looked like a man and never married, but she did have an active social life which included Scottish country dancing and games of bridge, both of which she enjoyed with a passion.

That might have been the end of what was an ordinary personal life story but for one remarkable skill that Megan developed as a young girl: her ability to tie flies, for salmon fishing, of such exquisite composition and beauty that they called to fishermen everywhere, like a siren song, to visit Megan, beguiled by her ability.

Taught the art of fly tying by Bob Trussler, a river keeper friend of her father’s, Megan spent over 14 hours a day, almost every day of the week, spinning and weaving her magic at a kidney-shaped dressing table. By the time of her death in 2001, at the age of 86, she had created thousands of flies – many now kept in museums and private collections – and had been awarded the British Empire Medal by Queen Elizabeth II, whose son, Prince Charles, had eventually become one of Megan’s customers and, eventually, a friend.

Kiss The Water

Megan Boyd’s Fly Tying desk (courtesy of Bonhams.com)

Megan’s story is one that captivated American film director, Eric Steel, who – like many of us – scans newspaper obituaries out of curiosity. He discovered Megan’s life story in The New York Times in 2001, clipped the piece from the paper, and held onto it for over 10 years. During the intervening decade, Steel went on to make the acclaimed documentary ‘The Bridge’ (2006) and produced other films such as ‘Angela’s Ashes’, ‘Shaft’ and ‘Julie and Julia’. Eventually Megan’s siren song called to him, and he made a trip to Scotland where he interviewed Megan’s friends, assembling her life into a series of anecdotes that has become his latest documentary, ‘Kiss The Water‘.

Released to rave reviews in 2013 and chosen as an official presentation at venues like the Tribeca Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival and more, ‘Kiss The Water’ is a combination of storytelling, fly tying, and animation. The documentary’s subject matter seemed a great fit for the fly fishers and supporters of Project Healing Waters, and having been offered the opportunity to see a preview of the film, I jumped at the chance. An invitation to speak to Steel presented itself so he recently spoke to me by ‘phone from New York.

Director Eric Steel (far right) with Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld at the Tribeca Film Festival

Director Eric Steel (far right) with Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld at the Tribeca Film Festival

Our conversation began with my comment that the film struck me as having the suggestion of fluidity, similar to the flow of water, and that the animation added to that feeling – no doubt aided by Paul Cantelon’s musical score, reminiscent of Saint-Saëns.

I also remarked on the bleakness of the Scottish landscape that Megan knew, and its grey weather, suggesting that perhaps it wasn’t surprising that she might have found fly tying brought colour into her life.

Steel explained that he thought the film had a “tenuous, shoreline feeling” like “one big wave”, that reflected the idea of fishing and water. He hadn’t been to Scotland prior to making the documentary, but he found that many fisherman there still use old rods and reels, with flies made in the old style using cat gut. As a non-fisherman himself, he learned that a fisherman finds magic in the idea of catching the salmon, and that it is a primal activity, one that allows you to think and gain peace of mind.

In Steel’s view, Megan had a bit of a “hard scrabble” life so he agreed that tying flies, especially her use of exotic bird feathers, would indeed have brought real colour to her life, a bit of ‘pretty’ which she herself certainly wasn’t. We touched briefly on what her inner life might have been, given how remote her cottage was and how she was alone with her thoughts. Steel thought she probably kept things close to her chest and while we can speculate on her sexuality, this aspect of Megan wasn’t something he wanted to delve into too deeply because it would spoil the enigma of who exactly Megan Boyd was.

Kiss The Water

Megan Boyd Flies – 1930 (Courtesy of Bonhams.com)

I next asked Steel what his expectations had been going into the making of the film. Apparently he didn’t have a plan, but he did fear travelling to Scotland in case too much time had passed and people wouldn’t be able to remember Megan. In fact, he was surprised by how willing people were to tell tales about her and that, for him, it was really about learning how to be a storyteller.

The film makes striking use of artist Em Cooper‘s animation. Her artwork adds punch to the scenes of those sharing their stories, and the live action shots of fishing. When asked why he chose to include animation, Steel replied that he wanted to create the idea of what it’s like to be under the water. “Any sport involves a marriage of what you can do technically, and what you can control – in this case, choosing the fly and the rod. Under the water, it’s a different world where the salmon live and spawn. I noticed in Scotland that the water had a different colour”. Steel went on to say that Cooper’s artistry enabled him to create a more a dimensional view of Megan and her world -”I was really looking underneath the surface of Megan’s life”.

Kiss The Water fly

Em Cooper fly animation

As Steel had already acknowledged that he wasn’t a fisherman, I wondered if that had actually helped the way in which he had approached the film. “In some ways, yes it did” he replied. “I’ve always had a romanticized idea of fishing. It was a bit like learning a new language, rich in metaphors. I wanted to listen to the tone and the imagery, compose a frame that invited you into it. It’s a bit like listening to a poem in Portuguese, where you hear it and think how beautiful it is, something you hadn’t noticed before”.

Given that Steel’s documentary ‘The Bridge’ featured the controversial subject of suicide and that he reads obituaries, I asked him if the subject of death was a pattern in his work or, if indeed, he saw it more as a reaffirmation of life. “It’s a bit like a spot on the horizon where the water meets the air” he said, acknowledging the idea and relating it to his current work. “A fleeting moment for a salmon (is) where it’s in the air and it can’t breathe. I’ve always had a melancholy wonder about death. In ‘The Bridge’, the most profound aspect was actually those people who walked past the ones about to commit suicide, as if they didn’t see them or that part of the world. It is about what people’s lives are worth. It’s painful to lose someone. The spectre of death makes life more vivid”.

Our conversation turned to Project Healing Waters and the veterans that are supported through the programs provided. Aware of the project, Steel talked about his profound respect for the work being done by leaders and volunteers, and the effects of post traumatic stress syndrome, understanding from his own experience of others in stressful situations that rebuilding trust is part of healing. To this day, he maintains a friendship with one subject of ‘The Bridge’ who survived a fall.

Naturally I wanted to know what kind of response he’d received from fly fishers and he responded that anglers really loved it, seeing it as a poetic tribute to fishing. “It is an escape from the world and the peace of it is larger than the activity itself” he added.

Kiss The Water

Megan Boyd (courtesy of flylifemagazine.com)

My last question was probably inevitable. I asked Steel what he thought Megan Boyd would make of his film. Thinking that she left us with more questions than answers, Steel said “I think she would try to pretend that she wasn’t flattered, but actually she would be. That’s the conundrum of life. Everyone enjoys validation, friendships and camaraderie”.

'Kiss The Water' poster

‘Kiss The Water’ poster

‘Kiss the Water’ has been chosen as the closing night film at the Water Film Festival in Toronto. The documentary will be shown on March 29 at 7 pm, at the Jackman Hall at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and will be followed by a Q & A session with Eric Steel. For more information, please see this link.

‘Kiss The Water’ trailer.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the film, veterans, friends and supporters of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Canada are being offered a $1.00 discount. Please go to http://kissthewater.vhx.tv - where there are a couple of different purchase options for download – and enter the code ‘healing’.

A percentage of revenue generated by purchases will be donated to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Canada to help support the Program’s work.