Hank Shelley

An ode to the old Evinrude

By Hank Shelley

As a former fish camp operator/owner at Postill lake, high above Kelowna, there was always a multitude of things needing attention. Top on the agenda was making sure all our guests were comfortable in the eight cabins, and those wanting to rise early to go fishing, (we had five lakes), had outboard motors running well.

This meant foolin’ around with rewinds, spark plugs, tune-ups till 11 p.m., at times till lights out. This meant a trip to the old large Rustin/Hornsby engine, power plant. There were hundreds of these engines in grain elevators all across the Prairies back in the day. (Go on line for their English history). The story of the outboard engine doesn’t stop here however, as many anglers brought there own to camp. There was the famous Seagull, a British invention with the round gas tank on top, along with the Sears plastic/aluminum 2 hp, that was loud/noisy, and cheap. There were old and newer, Evinrudes/Johnsons/ Mercuries thrown in, most needing a new spark plug and fresh gas, as they were left in basements over the winter. That kept our tune-up/repair shop busy.

But as stories go about outboard engines, I must relate, a cute story: Edith and Eddy knew a little hidey hole full of brook trout up a chain of small lakes, so decided to head out one bright, sunny fall morning. Arriving at the launch, putting the old 74 Evinrude on the transom, and digging out the beat-up oars from under some pop cans/plywood in the back of their bush beater pickup, they pushed out through bullrushes, and headed up lake.

Dragging their 10-foot boat over a small beaver dam, up to their knees in mud/sticks, away they went. But now, the motor quit, and the wind drifted the boat toward shore. Edith was a bit worried, as the boat drifted into the cattails and brush near shore. Eddy grabbed the oars and told Edith he’d row to the second lake and the logging road bridge which ran close to the chain of lakes. Rowing like mad against a steady wind now, Eddy finally pulled in beside the logging bridge. Edith scrambled ashore hauling out their gear and lunches while Eddy began to tinker with the old outboard. With little success, and blisters between fingers from pulling the rewind cord and a broken rewind spring, it was decided Eddy would walk the trail to the third lake while Edith watched the boat and gear.

Waiting for Eddy’s return and wondering a bit, Edith decided to venture up to a bridge crossing a pond with a beaver dam upstream a short distance away. Standing on the bridge, peering down into the water, admiring the lovely school of brook trout finning in a deep pool, she heard a rustling sound coming up the bank at the end of the bridge. Suddenly a very large male beaver showed and ambled quickly towards her, teeth bared, jaws snapping.

“Eddy, Eddy,” she yelled hoping he was close. The big rodent kept coming, slapping it’s broad tail on the grooved, old wood plank deck. “Eddy, Eddy,” Edith yelled, “I’m being attacked.” Just then Eddy appeared. He’d heard Edith yell and had grabbed a large, thick bare branch, to ward off the bear he thought was after Edith. Edith then ran toward Eddy and the battle of the beaver was soon over as Eddy herded the defiant critter off the bridge.

Eddy started to laugh as Edith picked up the bare branch and began beating him as he ran off the deck. Turned out, Eddy was so irate about the old Evinrude, he clamped it on the top rail of the bridge for someone else.

So happened, the park ranger came by, cleaning up campsites and turned it into the local RCMP detachment. They in turn called Edith saying to come and pick up the old Evinrude, as it was traced back to Eddy. On a 2×4 stand on the front lawn by the driveway of their home, Edith mounted the old motor with a giant stuffed beaver for all the neighbors and Eddy to see as he drove into their driveway after work that day.