National Geographic : 1958 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine Husky 74-year-old Hugh E. (Jim) Wey man is the moving spirit behind the 44-year old bonspiel. Weyman came here in 1916 to help build the Quebec Bridge across the St. Lawrence and stayed. Today he is known as "Mr. Curler." The sport's most ardent missionary, he lives only for the day when all mankind regardless of climate or geographical situa tion-will have discovered the delights of the "roaring game." "Just the other day," he told me, "I re ceived a letter from a man in the States who wants to incorporate a curling section into a new country club he's building. He asked me to send him the specifications." "Where will the club be?" I asked. "In Florida!" Weyman answered trium phantly. Campbells Are Coming-to Conquer As the curlers swung into Quebec's rugged week-long schedule of two or three matches per team per day, the entire city resounded to "The Campbells Are Coming." For the four Campbell brothers, wheat farmers from the plains of Saskatchewan, were heavy fa vorites to sweep the bonspiel. In 1955 they had scaled the curling heights by winning the Canadian championship. Beginning their play, the brothers lived up to their reputation by scoring flashing vic tories over their first two opponents. While the Campbells were registering one conquest after another, I headed out of the city to investigate what is perhaps Canada's gayest and least strenuous winter diversion ice fishing at La Perade (pages 94-6). This neat, compact French-Canadian vil lage of 1,200 nestles on the Sainte Anne River just above its confluence with the St. Law rence, 50 miles west of Quebec (map, page 74). Every year, from the end of December to early February, the Sainte Anne swarms with a small but succulent fish, Microgadus tomcod, popularly called the "tommycod." It is also known with affectionate simplicity among local gourmets as le petit poisson the little fish. When the year's first petits poissons wrig gle into the river heading for their upstream spawning ground, La Perade's own winter carnival gets underway. Peradiens joyfully trundle their specially built, brightly painted fishing cabanes from summer exile in back yards and fields to set them in place over holes chopped in the ice. Then, exhorting the fish to bite with their happy anthem, "Mordez, Mordez, Petits Pois sons," the villagers troop down the bank to the river. There is nothing Spartan about La Parade's fishing festival; huts are heated, lighted, comfortably furnished; the hapless poissons, once they have taken the pork-liver bait, offer no semblance of a struggle as Peradiens haul them out by the tens of thou sands to a common destiny in the skillet. All night long lights twinkle warmly in cabin windows, convivial fishermen wander from door to door, and snatches of well-loved folk songs echo through the still winter air... 'I y a longtemps que je t'aime Jamais je ne t'oublierai (Long have I loved you Never will I forget you.) When I arrived at La Perade, dozens of gaily colored cabanes dotted the ice like flecks of rainbow; inside, fishermen kept a relent less vigil for unwary tommycod. Fishing Hut a Cozy Retreat Following the example of the Peradiens, I scorned the long steel bridge that spans the river and drove directly out onto the ice. As Igotoutofmycar,awindowinoneofthe huts flew open and a small, silvery tommycod plopped out on the ice; in a flash it was frozen stiff. Next appeared the smiling face of the fisherman, who asked me if I would like to try my luck with les petits poissons. When I accepted, he ushered me inside the tiny cabin. It was cozily furnished with a table, cushioned chairs, and a wood-burning stove. Red curtains framed each of the four windows, and an electric light dangled from the ceiling. A trap door the entire length of the floor opened on a long slit in the ice. Six weighted lines, suspended from pulleys on an overhead beam, disappeared into the water. A matchstick was tied in the center of each to signal the snaring of another luck less tommycod. Queen Michelle Reigns over a Kingdom That Care Forgot Miss Lacroix, who rides a coach that Cinderella might have envied, became queen of the Winter Carnival by majority vote. This parade followed her coronation in the Quebec Coliseum, where some 14,000 cheering subjects acclaimed her ascent to the throne. National Geographic Photographer Bates Littlehales © N.G.S .