‘Let ‘Er Fly’: The Ballad of Jack and Hana

The Story behind Hana’s Theme Song for the Caribou Wounded Warriors event.

The Vietnam War ended in April 1975. For military veteran, Jack Simpson, while the
physical war may be over, the emotional and mental scars of that period in American history remain.

'Let 'Er Fly' Hana

Veteran and fly fisherman Jack Simpson

A seemingly gruff man but actually with a kind heart, Jack is well known to many in the Wounded Warriors Canada and Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Canada communities. Currently residing in Williams Lake, B.C., Jack has always possessed a love of fly fishing. He runs his own fishing and fly tying business, Sandpiper Fly Fishing, including supplying some of the best quality rods available.

Working at Blue Mountain Gunsmithing, red-haired Hana Eastmond was aware of Jack and his fishing business. Occasionally they would chat. At 26 years-old, Hana’s sense of the world around her was still small so she was intrigued by the stories Jack would tell her. He didn’t spell out everything he had experienced, but she came to understand that fishing to Jack was more than just a hobby or sport: it was a way to help him calm the many demons still fighting inside him after his military service all those years ago. Together with his beloved wife, Grace, fishing for the couple was a shared experience and one that allowed Jack to find some peace of mind and to let go of everything

'Let 'Er Fly' Hana

Singer/songwriter Hana Eastmond

Hana herself hadn’t really done any fly fishing and what fishing she’d enjoyed was mostly from being on boats. Jack’s descriptions of being out on the water and his obvious passion for fishing means she now fly fishes a little more, helped along by Jack giving her a small fly rod to try.

So it was that earlier this year, Jack mentioned to Hana that he was planning a fly fishing event in the Caribou region to support Caribou Wounded Warriors, bringing in veterans from around the province and drumming up support from many wonderful, community-spirited local businesses. He happened to mention that he wished he had a theme song for the event.

As it happens, Hana is an accomplished musician. From the age of 5 she had started singing and doing little events in the area in which she grew up, eventually attending the University of Calgary where she studied classical and opera music. After graduation, Hana knew going the classical route might not be entirely for her, but such good educational grounding meant that she could turn her musical talent to almost anything. She found she had a taste for country music so she and her guitar performed at many individual events. Eventually Hana decided to attend a week-long songwriting workshop in Wells, just outside of Barkerville, B.C. Writing comes mostly from her gut feelings, but the workshop helped her to hone and finesse some of the songs whirling around in her heart and mind.

Like a confluence of rivers or streams, Jack’s stories and Hana’s music were meant to join
together: when he said he was looking for a theme song, Hana knew that all the stories he’d told her had inspired some of those gut feelings again and sparked the music within her. The wheels were set in motion and Hana began songwriting the same day, the words and music tumbling out about the healing powers of fishing and water.

After a week, Hana had a complete song but she had never been inside a recording studio. She consulted a trusted friend for feedback. It wasn’t long before she was in Vancouver, at the Saga recording studio, along with Canadian C.M.A. fiddle player, Mike Sanyshyn, and
producer, Mike Nowak, recording her lyrics and music for what has become ‘Let ‘Er Fly’, the Caribou weekend’s theme song.

Since then, the story behind the song and the song itself have really taken off, having been featured across social media and on local television channels and radio stations.

Hana, though self-effacing and extremely modest about her talent, and anxious that only the cause is promoted, has in fact been noticed by many influential people, including a record label producer. We should be hearing more about Hana in the future.

What makes this story remarkable and poignant is how, through the shared passions for fishing and music, two different generations connected. Jack and Hana understood that hurt and healing are not mutually exclusive or restricted to gender, race or age: they are universal emotions and experiences that, through listening, sharing and communicating, can bring people together and promote comfort, understanding and peace.

For more information about the Caribou Wounded Warriors event, go to their Facebook page at Caribou Wounded Warriors. The Williams Lake community and the Mayor, Walt Cobb, have proclaimed 13-21 September, 2015 ‘Wounded Warriors of Canada’ week. Please show your support for all the local businesses and news media who have embraced the event as well as Fly BC and others who have donated materials and equipment.

'Let 'Er Fly'

Williams Lake welcomes the Wounded Warriors

To donate to the event or to Wounded Warriors Canada, please click here.

Veterans attending this weekend will enjoy the outstanding scenery and hospitality of Williams Lake. The water, fly fishing equipment, lessons and experts will provide a fantastic fly fishing experience in the spirit of healing, camaraderie and friendship.

PHWFFC Calendar

Many PHWFFC fans and supporters may have seen tweets from us recently about a calendar for 2015.

PHWFFC Calendar

Cover of the 2015 PHWFFC Calendar © Corvidae Studios

The calendar was the brainchild of Jonathan Edwards and Ann Allain who run a photography business, Corvidae Studios, in Ottawa, Ontario. Jonathan is a cousin of Ryan Edwards who is the Program Director for a Project Healing Waters chapter in Newfoundland.

Both Jonathan and Ann are proud of the veterans who serve our country and also of Ryan and his contribution. Knowing that funds are always welcome by PHWFFC and realizing that they had some great aviation photographs, Jonathan and Ann decided that if the two were combined, a colourful calendar could be put together.

The talented duo contacted PHWFFC and asked about working with us in order to sell the calendar. Discussions were had by phone and email, and then there was a friendly meeting over coffee. PHWFFC was delighted at the idea and explored the options for future calendar promotions as well.

So far the calendar sales have been doing well though we still have a few left. Take a look at some of the great images below.

PHWFFC Calendar

January Photo – Mustang © Corvidae Studios

PHWFFC Calendar

March Photo – Mako Shark © Corvidae Studios

PHWFFC Calendar

June Photo – Sabre Hawk One © Corvidae Studios

If you still haven’t got a calendar at home or in the office, den – wherever! – please contact Corvidae here and place your order. Cost is now $18 (down from $20) with some of the proceeds going towards the activities in Ryan’s area. Follow Corvidae, too, on Twitter where they are @CorvidaePhotos.

It is PHWFFC’s hope that another calendar can be produced for 2016. The goal would be to have a larger number printed, more features and information, and more funds raised to work across more PHWFFC chapters.

Thank you to Jonathan and Ann for their hard work and support of veterans. The funds raised will help us with more rehabilitation and healing.

Ottawa Fly tying

Ottawa fly tying

A Mosca Wooly Bugger fly (courtesy of Wikimedia)

Ottawa fly tying sessions are being provided this Winter by volunteers from PHWFF Canada.

These sessions are scheduled to be on a weekly basis, starting Tuesday November 19th, right through until March 2015.

The location will be in the basement of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #593, which is located at 4026 Old Richmond Road, Nepean (Bells Corner), Ontario.

Ottawa Fly tying

Location Map

Everyone will meet between 09.30 a m and 13.30 p.m.

We will finish on December 16th, 2014 and start again on January 6th, 2015.

Any veterans who are interested are welcome to come along. Please contact National Program Coordinator, Andre Baril, or Outing Coordinators Marc MacIntyre or Nick Mraovic for more information.

Hoping to see you there!

Wilderness North Event

Annual Wilderness North Fishing Fun (photos submitted by Ron Dunne).

The annual Wilderness North event was attended this year by Ron Dunne, a member of the Project Healing Waters program in Newfoundland.

Accessible only by float plane, the resort is located north of Thunder Bay. It is a beautiful and peaceful location in which to reconnect with nature.

The event is held every year and hosts veterans from both Canada and the USA. The week-long stay has a full program of fly fishing activities, including fly tying, fly casting and rod building.

Wilderness North

Event attendees

Wilderness North

Miminiska Lodge

The group who attended this year were staying at Miminiska Lodge. The weather was hot! There was a mix of experienced and novice anglers, eager to learn and even more keen to catch some walleye.

Wilderness North

Newfoundland representative Ron Dunne with what looks suspiciously like a walleye….

Wilderness North

Now that’s some catch!

How magical to have some freshly caught fish cooked outdoors. The Miminiska Lake was definitely bountiful.

Wilderness North

Grub’s up!

Everyone enjoyed the fishing, the scenery, the guides and the wonderful hospitality. As these photos show, there were certainly some great catches!

For more information about Project Healing Waters at Wilderness North, please take a look at their website.


New Brunswick Trip

Text and photos submitted by Ed Goguen.

New Brunswick’s first event took place between July 21 and July 24 at Rapid Waters Lodge on the Miramichi River. Four veterans with PTSD took part. Although much of the three days was too warm for fishing, we did enjoy fishing Carl MacKay’s private salmon pool.

New Brunswick News

Fishing on the Miramichi River

New Brusnwick News

Fly tying demonstration al fresco

New Brunswick News

Veteran casting his line

Besides the fishing and a fly tying demonstration, we enjoyed “time on the deck”, a guitar night of Miramichi and Newfoundland folk songs. The river also afforded us the opportunity to enjoy a 3 hr tube float trip. Throughout, we also feasted on John Cook’s great food.

New Brunswick News

Singing some Newfoundland and Miramichi songs

New Brunswick News

Nothing like a trip on the river using a float tube!

Special thanks go to the following contributors and volunteers:

  • Rapid Waters Lodge and its owner, John Cook, who donated the great lodging and meals.
  • Isabel Loughead who made the arrangements for fishing water and guiding
  • Carl MacKay for providing his private fishing pool and the entertainment.
  • Atlantic Salmon Federation’s Geoff Giffin and Howie Gould who provided a fly tying demonstration and annual membership in ASF for the participants.
  • Lt. Connor M. Atchison, JPSU, and Glenn Park, OSISS, CFB Gagetown
  • Goguen Architecture Inc. who donated organizational services.

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Canada provided each Veteran with a new TFO salmon rod, line, and reel donated by the Royal Canadian Legion.