Tribute to Cal Evans
One of our members, Cal Evans passed away this spring and as President, I thought I should note his passing to the other members. This blog aims to honour Cal’s passion for Skitchine for those that knew him, and educate those who did not have the pleasure of meeting him, but benefit from his involvement every day they spend at Skitchine.
Cal started fishing at Skitchine in the 70’s, if not earlier, and invested in the ownership of the lodge with Rich Mercer, his good friend and fishing partner in the late 70’s. They really got the modern lodge going although it was a world of A-frames and horse and wagon transport on BC Crown land in those days. A fire in the main lodge brought in a wave of investment for rebuilding it, then the EMC Cabin and ultimately the Partners Cabin with past President Bob Hodgkinson’s involvement in the 90’s. But Cal and Rich sustained it in those early years. Board meetings were held at the dining room table in the lodge back then. Cal and Rich fished, battled the “pike minnow” and walked every square inch of the trails, lakes and streams. Tom and Darren Evans, as well as Dave Mercer, could post a lot of memories of Cal in addition to the stories Rich so eloquently recounted at Cal’s funeral in Calgary. I will leave that to them.
Rick Argue and I met Cal on my first visit to the lodge in 1999 with his sons and Ham radio friends. I saw him at least once almost every year until he stopped coming a few years ago. I also had the privilege of serving with him on the board for a number of years and his common sense and passion for the lodge educated me for when I became President years later. But the interaction with him as a fisherman and friend was the best.
Our visits to the lodge often overlapped on a Saturday night in June. Our group looked forward to the inevitable roast beef and Yorkshire pudding dinner that welcomed Cal and his group every time. Although Cal was not a board member when Jack Juusola, Bob Hodgkinson and I hired Mark and Tania 9 years ago, somehow Cal found out our new managers were not given to meat in their diet. We now know that all the chef’s Tania and Mark have hired are skilled preparing all food groups but Cal had some dark moments fearing the loss of his roast beef dinner, until Jack and I gave our assurances that we’d canvassed this issue thoroughly. Nonetheless, he admitted it was harsh news initially for a boy from the suburbs of Rimbey, AB. Cal recovered and was fed properly.
Cal knew the lakes, their bugs and fish at Skitchine as well as anyone, except maybe Rich, and they would argue over that. Listening to their stories of the early days or fishing over dinner was always a privilege, even though location descriptions were always vague - deliberately so. Cal loved cocktails on the EMC deck and the main lodge. He was a great storyteller and a good listener at all the dinners. I can think of very few people I have met who were as interesting to talk to about almost anything. He was a bright man with a good sense of humour and lived life on his own terms, though always as a gentleman. He managed a great career (two or three actually, as an Esso-Exxon senior executive, running his own oil company and the Tomahawk ranch). He was a good family man and loyal friend. We intend to add a picture of Cal looking off the main deck in the main lodge to note his contributions as a founder.
Although I spoke to him on the phone and exchanged the odd email with him in the last few years, the last time I saw him was at the lodge. Cal was due to arrive the day I was leaving and I wanted to meet with him to update him on a few things the board was doing and perhaps share a scotch. He was late arriving and I was walking out as he arrived in the Polaris. We exchange hellos at the top of the hill by the EMC cabin and I said “Too bad you’re late Cal. I was looking forward to updating you over a scotch, but I can email you next week.” He replied, “I don’t know about you Rick, but it doesn’t take me long to drink a scotch”. I decided to stay for one and take the Polaris out so I didn’t miss my flight. Well, he was right. It didn’t take us very long to finish the first drink and somehow the better part of the bottle disappeared in the process. I can’t remember what we talked about but I would love to have the opportunity to do it again. I am so glad I stayed. I miss him, as do many.
Thanks for everything you did for the lodge Cal.