Spike and Dan ran a very fishy business

Spike Struve and Dan McCarthy may have been among our best-liked businessmen after they set out to prove there could be dollars in dealing with the commercial fishermen of Rainy Lake.
Spike was a Canadian and Dan an American, establishing their popular fish house and dock on the upper river near the long-gone Fort Frances brewery.
Their mixed citizenship gained them the licences needed to deal on both sides of our boundary while fish of every species literally filled all the nets in those days—from the 200-pound sturgeon down to northerns, bass, and walleye.
Their weigh scales were seldom idle in helping fill the orders that soon arrived from the major centres and their weekly shipments in season, including all the ice needed for packing, must have exceeded tons.
Their boxes that came with handles would exceed a 100 pounds for loading on trains. Making those boxes was a spinoff enterprise here for storekeeper Frank Myers and others.
The sport fishermen found this place also and many a tourist, after partying up the lakes, would remember to stop and take his “limit” conveniently from the fish house.
There might be net marks visible around the gills of his “catch” but who knew (especially the wife back home confident her fisherman away up in Canada would remember to fill the frying pan for her).
Spike was better acquainted by far on this side of the border, being related to the popular Mudge family and a logger. He also was practically a legend from his activities, especially concerning the time he rode a swimming moose when this photo went everywhere!
Spike was known to have trained a pet terrier to bring him a bath towel on demand and while he was in the tub, the dog would hop around the room like a miniature servant!
It’s possible that Dan was the more businesslike in this partnership because he had moved to Ranier from Wisconsin to operate a fish hatchery on Rainy before deciding he had made a mistake.
That’s because he learned that Rainy had a rocky bottom unsuitable for some fish eggs. Lake of the Woods, however, possessed a sandy bottom more kind to fish propagation.
This difference in lake bottoms may have been the logic behind moving our government hatchery from Fort Frances to Kenora much to everyone’s regret ever since. Our fishermen, though, have always blamed politics!
Dan quit the Minnesota hatchery and met Spike, and also got acquainted with the local Bruyeres and other natives to handle the processing and shipping. His name went on their delivery boat, the “Danny,” which called twice weekly on American and Canadian netmen—and the Fort Frances fish house got to be a very busy place.
“The Danny” ran almost of Kettle Falls, visiting Frank Kielczewski at Rat River and John Kulikowski at Brule Narrows. Its skippers used to think one American fisherman made moonshine whiskey because the ducks there sometimes flew like they were drunk!
North Arm fishermen like Willy Calder and Jake Skibinski at Seine River delivered their own catches.
At the helm of the “Danny” were experienced lakemen like Paul Kielczewski, who could wrestle with the heavy barrels of gasoline they also had aboard.
Eventually, Spike had to retire and then Dan opened an office in International Falls and added a fish import business for more exotic marine products, dealing as far away as Japan, his son, “Jimbo,” reported.
Dan McCarthy knew me from my lake days with the Kielczewskis. One evening, and somewhere in his 80s, he approached me from behind and touched my shoulder tentatively, then named me with a businessman’s flair for not forgetting names.
We couldn’t talk very long that night and it’s something I’ve been sorry about. I would have enjoyed his reminiscences and also hearing more about his colourful old partner, Spike, the man who rode the moose.
• • •
It goes on and on! Whenever other opportunities to dispose of our taxes seem to become fewer, Scott Street gets attacked and torn up!
It becomes a miracle that the town’s demolition crew doesn’t collide with any floods or it might be decided to look after the old street better and install a more solid base that could withstand the ever-growing traffic volumes and the mountainous trucks it carries!
It was expected when the big ditch needed for new water and sewer mains was finished more than 15 years ago that the rebuilt street then would stay good for many years.
(Remember that project, with an eight-foot-deep ravine stretching for more than two blocks and everyone worried about possible loss of life? Well, finally the street got restored with the fervent wish it would never need doing again).
It seems it hasn’t lasted and there is no more reason not to expect further such work in coming years. After its current dust storm settles and the expensive taxes downtown are all paid again!
Patience, patience!
• • •
That big hole filled in next to McDonald’s may have been intended for the new Tim Horton’s eatery but at this date, nobody was saying, although that business was expected to appear more eastward.
Normally a pre-construction sign appears but this project remains a mystery so far!
• • •
The cancelled spring bear hunt is another guessing game, with everyone aware the bears are all around us—if not yet so noticeable as last year. The American gunners will be clamouring for a re-opened season and our resorts will be happy to oblige them.
The most ghastly occurrence in local hunting annals was when a Colorado hunting guide, known to spoof black bears because he had always hunted larger grizzlies, actually had his face clawed off by a black bear just north of here!
Our bears must be getting hungrier right along now without a berry crop while they would also be getting fewer if their hunting can be allowed again in the spring.
• • •
Fort Frances will be well represented when the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame holds its annual induction banquet this Saturday night at the Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay.
Celebrated coach Bobby Peters will be among this year’s inductees and members of our Canadians’ Allan Cup team on hand for the occasion will include Gordy Calder, Toolie Kawulia, and Pete Makarchuk.
Calder was invited to sit beside Peters, who became famous at Bemidji State University.
The Canadians’ team members are all Hall of Famers!
• • •
Bob McKeekin, a former Dunwoody manager locally, keeps in touch.
Louis Roseman, who used to sell furniture here, was happy to see Bob move into the apartment next door in Winnipeg and their lodgings are very attractive!

Posted in Uncategorized