Lougheed continued giving Alberta his wise and measured counsel

As I write this, he reposes in state in the legislature rotunda in Edmonton.

As I write this, he reposes in state in the legislature rotunda in Edmonton.

I just missed meeting Peter Lougheed at U of A where, among other things, he was sports editor of the student newspaper, The Gateway, in 1952, then president of the Students’ Union.

He was gone, probably to Harvard, when I was editor in chief of The Gateway in 1959 and declining to occupy the seat that position gave me on Student Council.

But I did meet him in the late 1960s at, of all places, an annual conference of the Alberta Fish and Game Association.

He and five other PCs had been elected MLAs in the 1967 election (in which I ran as a Liberal) and were busy learning all they could about Alberta, Albertans, and their needs.

He told me that, with more than 25,000 members from every corner of the province, the AFGA was the place to learn about renewable resource, including fish and wildlife problems.

He stayed throughout, even through the traditional tedium of the Presidential Banquet.

When his party swept into power in the 1971 election, as premier, he appointed a strong, talented cabinet, including Dr. Allen Warrack, the best minister of lands and forests (now Environment — Sustainable Resource Development) we have ever had.

It is also not well know, but he was already tough and canny enough to extract an undated letter of resignation from each of his cabinet appointees.

As his reputation for statesmanship grew, the calls increased for him to enter federal politics.

As a non-PC private citizen, I wrote him, advising that he decline, because it was unlikely the Eastern establishment would let him win, and we needed him in Alberta.

I was astonished to receive a personal reply from the premier thanking me for my thoughts and hinting that he was thinking that way himself.

In recent years he has continued giving Alberta his wise and measured counsel, including that we should move more slowly and cautiously on oilsands development.

He remains number one on my very short list of Conservatives I have known who ever conserved anything.

Now that Peter Lougheed is gone, we realize Alberta needs him now, more than ever.

l Well travelled modern anglers are aware of casting decks on the saltwater flats skiffs of Mexico, Cuba, etc., and the pangas of Belize.

Less well-known are casting platforms or decks along rivers or streams that, for a variety of reasons, are unwadeable.

Beloved angling author and curmudgeon, Robert Traver, built casting platforms alongside his iconic Frenchman’s Pond in Michigan, either so his fishing cronies did not get stuck in the mud, or scare his beloved brook trout with their wallowing around trying to get out. I’m betting on the latter.

Ernest Schwiebert, in his story The Platforms of Despair, describes the casting platforms along the Aroy Steeplechase in Norway and the usually losing battles fought with huge Atlantic salmon hooked in that unwadeable torrent from those platforms.

When I was fishing “for my country” in England in 1987, I was bemused both by the fact that wading the legendary rivers and streams was frowned upon, and by the efforts made along the Test and Itchen rivers to render fly casting without wading possible, mostly grooming and mowing the banks and trimming trees that ate flies on the back-cast.

Frequently there were benches to sit on and watch for rises, sometimes thatched anglers’ huts more than two centuries old in which to take shelter, socialize, drink a dram, eat lunch, and also, occasionally, there were casting platforms and decks, mostly atop slumping banks.

After I got home, my friend, Ken Short, installed benches beside favorite places alongside “my” stretch of Prairie Creek: the Drive-in Theatre, the Night Hole, and the Wolf Willow Bank.

Now that a muscle disease has made all of my home stream, or any other for that matter, unwadeable by me, Ken has constructed the mother of all casting decks for me beside the Night Hole.

No matter that I’ve been skunked the first three times casting from it, they were at least casts, and that’s fishing; unlike Schwiebert, I call my casting deck the platform of hope.

l Big surprise under Important Changes for 2012 in the 2012 Hunting Regulations: Changes to the opening dates for Pheasant Hunting in some Wildlife Management Units.

Check it out: pheasant season has already been open, mostly in central Alberta, since Sept. 1st, generally where there are no pheasants, unless you know of those small habitat pockets where, against all odds, a few wild pheasants manage to eke out a hard existence year after year.

But relief in the form of cannon fodder is coming! Upland Birds Alberta has announced it will commence dumping hatchery roosters into central Alberta’s Designated Release Sites, AKA “killing fields,” on Oct. 1st, still fully two weeks sooner than the usual Oct. 15th opening day in Alberta’s prime southern and eastern pheasant areas for wild and planted roosters.

Bob Scammell is an award-winning columnist who lives in Red Deer. He can be reached at bscam@telusplanet.net.