The Ramp, the Club House, and the James Bay Anglers Association
By Rita Button
A long time ago—actually, in the 1950’s—a few guys who were tired of cranking their boats up and down to get them into the water near Ogden Point, thought that a boat ramp might make their lives easier and give them more time on the water. Some of the locals—Art Davies, Den Perry along with the Lowry boys Bill and Jack—were hanging out in the basement of a James Bay house enjoying a few beers when one of them started talking about a boat ramp once again. Finally, they decided that instead of constantly talking about it, they should just get it done. They met a few more times to make a plan, and soon, the ramp was on its way.
It was Art Davies, aka Uncle Art to most in James Bay, who took the petition door to door on a rainy Sunday night to ask about support for the building of a boat launching ramp on Dallas Road. Everyone Uncle Art asked, signed the paper. Getting the usual permits and okays went more quickly back in the day—1957—and by 1958, the boat ramp was open to the public.
As is usual in James Bay, the community came together to get it done. Donations from many organizations and groups along with volunteers who gave their time made quick work of the build. Rock blasting on site occurred. Next, free fill from the courthouse building on Blanshard was trucked in. The cement, supplied by Ocean Cement and poured by volunteers was delivered by truck drivers who gave their time to do the work on the weekends.
Volunteers built the ramp, and volunteers still run the site just as they did from the beginning in 1958.
Jack Thame, the current president of the James Bay Anglers Association, remembers playing on Sandy Beach next to where his dad, Stan, and others were building the ramp. Jack and his friends along with his brothers Dave and Stan, enjoyed endless summer fun while their parents worked nearby.
After the ramp was completed, the anglers realized a club house would be a great enhancement. Again, co-operation occurred to find the materials and the time to create a place where the anglers could get together and share stories about the one that got away, and the big one that didn’t! Volunteers built the club house in the early sixties and The James Bay Anglers Association became reality.
Since the 1980’s, off and on for forty years, Jack Thame, the nephew of Art Davies, has been the James Bay Anglers President. The Anglers host a salmon derby annually—naturally, all with volunteer help—and prizes are donated by local businesses. Most of the money collected is donated to projects such as the Goldstream and Sooke Salmon Enhancements. “Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been given to charities and salmon enhancements since we opened,” says Jack.
But now, the club house is slated for demolition. The site at 75 Dallas Road is needed for the sewage pipeline that will connect to the new plant being built at McLaughlin Point. The club house, built by volunteers and enjoyed by many sport fishermen of James Bay will disappear. It was a familiar place where they would relax and enjoy the end of a great day’s fishing. Those who remember the joy in building it are saddened that the structure will disappear.
But the Anglers, under Jack’s leadership, have secured a temporary building to run the boat launch. It’s already in place. Eventually, Jack says, the Anglers will get a new clubhouse to replace the one that they were required to give up for the sewage project. “Hopefully,” Jack adds, “we will be in our new building where we can continue our volunteer work for the James Bay community.”
And that would be a blessing for all.