“When our ‘Grand Rapids’ was silenced by the hydro dam, we became the town that lost its name.”
Gerald was five years old when Highway #6 came to his fishing village of 300 in 1960. “Up until then, we wintered in Grand Rapids because my dad and many other families trapped at Summerberry Marsh in February. In summer, we stayed at a fishing camp at the south end of Lake Winnipeg. We’d come back and live in Grand Rapids. Everybody knew everyone in the community.”
Thousands of migrant workers arrived to build the dam, bringing aberrant behavior and chaos. Many lived in the bush nearby and leeched off the community, unable to find a job.
“The fishing industry died soon after the dam was completed. It was still poor in 1987 when I bought my dad’s fishing license.” Thirty years later, Gerald still enjoys cranking up his snowmobile brisk winter mornings and heading out on the ice. “My dad and his dad were fishermen. It’s a way of life. Whenever I pull my nets, there is always that anticipation of what I caught that day. Although life has really changed for us in Grand Rapids since the dam, we are trying to make the best of it.”