An unusual, but quite remarkable 50th anniversary was celebrated at Moose Camp Fishing Resort at Rioux Lake on Friday, June 22. You may not have heard of this place or the Brown family from Seattle and Tacoma in Washington State, but the name Almond Roca is sure to ring a bell with your taste buds. Harry Brown invented this treat, formed the company of Brown and Haley, which has produced it in their Tacoma factory since 1919.
For 50 years members of the Brown family have happily covered the miles from Washington’s largest cities to Moose Camp Fishing Resort, which is 34 km northwest of Clearwater in Tree Farm License 18 (the “Management”) in B.C.’s wilderness. Why do they come? For the fishing, the camaraderie, wildlife, warm welcomes by various resort owners over the years, and the peace and quiet (women came for the first couple of years only!). Did I mention the fishing? Not only do they fish in Rioux Lake, named after the original owner and trapper, but also each day sees them travelling to nearby lakes for finny catches, which are often then released.
Three brothers began this trek, which was to become a tradition, in 1962. One of them, Alvin is 98 years old. While he felt capable of coming, his wife was in poor health and he did not want to leave her, so Dick Brown, 85 years young, another of the original brothers, was the oldest person in camp this year. He and his brother Don originally went to High Hume Cabins over the Labor Day weekend, but chats with Fred Tegler on a golf course in Washington introduced Don to Moose Camp.
“We brought our father here too,” Dick told me. “That means four generations of Browns have come here during the past 50 years.”
Don, a doctor, has since died. “He was so handsome,” said Carol McNeil, a former owner, showing photos in her aging album. A celebration of his life had been held with a flotilla of boats on Rioux Lake.
Tom Brown, Don’s son, was at this celebratory camp as he had been for the first one.
“Our travel was all on horseback in the early days,” he explained. “I’ve been here about 43 times but Dad came more than anyone else for he was often here more than once a year. No one has been here 50 times, but members of the Brown family have been here for each of those years.”
Avery Cederstrand, the youngest attendee, was celebrating his 16th birthday. “It’s the sixth or seventh time I’ve been here for my birthday,” he stated proudly.
For this anniversary, current owners John and Nonie Meyers pulled out all the stops. All levels of government were notified and impressive certificates and letters expressing appreciation of the loyalty of this family in supporting B.C.’s tourism industry were read out and presented at the luncheon. Two came from the federal government: Cathy McLeod MP for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, and Maxime Bernier, Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism).
“Will these make it easier for us to cross the border?” quipped one of the visitors.
Kevin Krueger, BC Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, presented the Brown family with two provincial awards, adding more congratulations on their loyalty as tourists to this province.
John Meyers, owner of Moose Camp Fishing Resort for more than 20 years was not left out. A letter from Pat Bell, B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and Innovation thanked him for his endeavours and hard work. Mike and Sharon Thain, owners of the resort for five years, came from 108 Mile to see the Browns earlier in the week, in honour of this milestone occasion.
Members of the Brown party, which included three generations, extended family and friends, were each given a commemorative T-shirt. Bold black lettering reads: “The Brown Family – Celebrating 50 years at Moose Camp.” As all helped themselves to the food tastefully prepared by Sharon Cooluris of Clearwater, Nonie stood near the dining room table holding a swatter. A zz-zap told us each time she prevented a mosquito from joining the line-up.
When the formalities were over, the cry went out from the younger set: “Let’s go fishing!” Others settled on a comfortable verandah, and I heard, “Remember when…?” as I was leaving.