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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 11, 1975, Lethbridge, Alberta Tuesday, February 11, LETHBRIDGE Jack envisioned sloughs becoming popular lakes BLUEBERRY MOUNTAIN (ACN) If you've enjoyed the quiet beauty of Moonshine Lake at the heart of Moonshine Lake Provincial Park, you can thank John Bird. Jack, as he was known, had a knack for visualizing lakes where most people saw sloughs and. that's what Moonshine Lake once was. Just a common slough. If you are a fisherman or enjoy simply the lift to the senses a teeming pond provides, you'll soon have the opportunity to enjoy another dream that Mr. Bird translated into reality: a 17 acre trout pond a few miles from Moonshine Lake. The provincial park is in the Peace River Country, 60 miles northwest of Grande Prairie. Mr. Bird died in the summer of 1973 just when his fish pond was proving to be a profitable fish farming operation. His widow, Wilma, has given the pond to her fellow Albertans. Lands and Forests Minister 'Allan Warrack accepted the bequest of the pond and the surrounding 160 acres of land and pledg- ed it will be developed as'a public recreation area un- der the sportsmen financed buck for wildlife program. Why not keep the pond in the Bird family or at least sell it? "Because I knew I couldn't take care of it like Jack did and I didn't want to see his work Mrs. Bird says. "I saw what happened with Moonshine Lake and could see no reason why this little lake couldn't become just as popular in its own way." Mrs. Bird says she had first considered the possibility of continuing the fish farming enterprise but additional tragedy struck in the fall of 1973 when the family's general store was destroyed by fire. "After the fire I knew we had neither the time, energy' of money to con- tinue with it and if we turn- ed it over to the govern- ment his work wouldn't be wasted. It would be a memorial to him and would be of use to the com- munity." In 1970 the land upon which the pond was constructed was only part- ly cleared and showed little promise for farming. Son Murray, 20, recalls his dad had thought for some time that fish farm- ing would be an excellent industry for the district farmers and maybe it might be a good business to get into. Murray remembers ac- companying Mr. Bird as he tramped over the site look- ing for a suitable location for a pond. All Murray could see, he recalls, was acres of scrub brush but Mr. Bird, being a self taught surveyor, could see the natural slopes and ridges of the land were all in the right places for a man made pond. Murray and Vance, another son, helped with the surveying. CONSTRUCTION BEGINS In September of 1970 pond construction began. The dam was built up from .clay fill and was fitted with a 12 inch drain pipe controlled by a metal and concrete gate allowing the pono1 to be drained for a thorough fish harvest. Maximum water depth is 10 feet at the dam. The pond was filled for the first time by spring run off in 1971 and soine rainbow trout fingerlings were introduced in May of that year. Just before freeze up Mr. Bird would drain the pond and harvest his pan size fish. In the fall of 1972 he in- vited his neighbors to do some fishing before the pond was drained. Some 30 people showed up and those who wanted to keep their catches were charged 50 cents per fish. In the spring of 000 fingerlings were seeded and feeding this swarm provided memorable ex- periences, Murray recalls. "We'd push the raft out from shore and bang on the barrels (fuel barrels used for flotation) and throw put fish food. Can you imagine trout swirling around you? There were just fish everywhere." Taking in the harvest in the first half hour, Vance recalls, "We broke our nets trying to scoop them out." Dressing the trout took a full day even though rain- bows are easily scaled and The "Right" kind of lines to meet all your needs! Engine Rebuilding Cylinder Bering and Resleeving Crankshaft Regrinding WISCONSIN ENGINE SALES SERVICE CUSTOM ENGINE PARTS LTD. 1605 3rd forth Phone 32S-S1I1 cleaned. Mrs. Bird im- provised a simple packag- ing procedure which in- volved popping six to eight cleaned trout into a self sealing plastic bag partly filled with water and quick freezing. Sealed in the ice the fish were attractively displayed and protected from freezer burn. Launching the fish farm- ing operation also served to introduce the idea to other district farmers. To be economically feasible the trout fingerlings had to be im- ported in trucklqads of at least To reach this quota, Mr. Bird would advertise in the fall that orders were being taken for the delivery the following spring. "Jack was convinced that fish farming would provide a secondary industry in this Mrs. Bird says. The plan caught on and from 1970 a truckload of fingerlings were shipped in every spring and dis- tributed to district farmers for their dugouts and ponds. A PROMOTER Mrs. Bird recalls that her husband's philosophy could best be summed in the expression, "You can't do good for others without doing good for yourself." "He was really a promoter and had a gift for organizing people to get things Mrs. Bird adds. "He first came into the Peace River country in 1939 and really fell in love with it." It wasn't until 1947, however, that Jack settled at Blueberry Mountain and established the general store that burned last fall. During" those 26 years of operation, the store was known as one of the best -stocked supply centres in the area.. Mr. Bird also promoted and pioneered the use of grain dryers in the Peace Country, importing several from the United States in 1957. About a dozen were sold. "Enough to be good Mrs. Bird recalls. MOONSHINE LAKE Mrs. Bird recalls the Moonshine Lake project strengthened community ties and demonstrated the power of organized ac- tivity. As noted, Moonshine Lake was originally a small slough surrounded by trees. It was a favorite family picnic site, Mrs. Bird recalls, "One Sunday after- noon we were picnicking with some friends and Jack got the idea that if the slough were dammed it could be made into a real lake. Why Angus Bulls? The" Angus Gain-Show Ring and Breeding Performance speak louder than any words we can write! Now is the time for YOU to inquire about Angus! -COMING EVENTS- Lethbridge Spring Bull Sale Wed. Thurs., April 2nd and 3rd Lethbridge Exhibition Paviilion USED MIXER MILLS MANURE SPREADERS NH No.38379 NH354 235819 105 2570......................... S1850 S2950 M850 -JD400 S2000 .M450 S2200 S1500 S1900 NEW, MIXER MILLS ON HAND. ALL SIZES 2363 F83-B Haymill 1050 1788................................. 1620000443.......................... Spreader 18 Spreader 6598................................. Spreader 002357 30 Spreader 600 900 300 Ann Mixer Wagon LOCATED ON HIGHWAY 36. R. B. MILLIKEN FARM SUPPLIES LTD. P.O. Box 2049 Taber.Alta. Phone 223-4437 ;