From Fish Hatchery to Fluvarium

Archival Moment

April 23, 1889

From Fish Hatchery to Fluvarium.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: VA 21-28; St. John's: Long Pond a view from Mount Scio.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: VA 21-28; St. John’s: Long Pond a view from Mount Scio.

William Hopkins was not amused, as a youngster, like the other boys, he liked to fish for trout in Long Pond, St. John’s but in April 1889 he and a few friends were charged with trespass for fishing in the pond.

Long Pond is located in the northern part of St. Johns and is now bordered by the Fluvarium, the Health Sciences Centre and Memorial University. While the banks of the pond are heavily developed today, there was a time when the area was on the very fringe of the city.

As early as 1864 Mr. John Martin and other gentlemen of the St. John’s saw some potential in Long Pond and in 1887 incorporated as The St. John’s Game Fish Protection Society, “subscribed a sum of money for the erection of a hatchery for fresh water fish at Long Pond.”   Their application to the Crown was well received and a “lease for 15 years of Long Pond and the adjoining rivers, to the extent of one mile in any direction” was granted.

The pond was off limits to the local trouters.

The local newspapers of the day reported:

“The hatchery on the Long Pond proved to be a great success and began to furnish sport not only in Long Pond but in the Ponds connected thereto by rivers outside the one mile limitation.”

The success can be credited to the St. John’s Game Fish Protection Society arranging in 1888 to deliver a shipment of 118,000 Loch Leven brown trout eggs from Scotland to the Long Pond hatchery. As part of the lease arrangement, 10,000 fry from the hatchery were given over to the Newfoundland government each year for distribution throughout the island.

In the 1890’s, Robert Almon Brehm, of Nova Scoita, one of the founders of the Game Fish Protection Association (President, 1892-99) initiated the introduction of German brown trout in Long Pond. English browns were brought over as well.

There are two ponds (Clements and Lees) just north-east of St. John’s, that hold pure strains of English browns from this era.

While William Hopkins was furious that he could not trout in the pond, that he knew so well, Mr. John Martin and his gentleman friends, the local pisciculturists, were quite pleased as they saw the stock in the pond grow.

Jude G. Conroy a stipendiary magistrate and judge of the Central District Court who heard the case of trespass against William Hopkins was most sympathetic. Hopkins admitted the trespass, but alleged ignorance of the exclusive rights of the St. John’s Game Fish Protection Society to the pond. The judge fined Hopkins with nominal damages and costs.

They (the local pisciculturists) would be today very pleased to see the development of their beloved pond.

In 1990, The Fluvarium in St. John’s (meaning ‘windows on a stream’) opened to the public. With a focus on environmental education, especially teaching children about water ecology, conservation and preservation, this facility features many unique attractions. The Fluvarium also offers a speculator panoramic view through nine large viewing windows.

In April 1889 the St. John’s newspaper The Evening Telegram reported:

“The season is now among us when the young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of an occasional hour’s sport with rod, and Long Pond has always been a favorite and convenient haunt for many who enjoy this pastime.”

Long Pond was for many years not available to the young men with their fishing rods but it is now available to trouters with their rods and The Fluvarium offers a series of natural water aquariums that showcase fish species usually found in Newfoundland and Labrador.

John Martin and his gentleman friends (the pisciculturists) should be thanked, from fish hatchery to Fluvarium.

The Long Pond experiment in St. John’s was among the early ‘fish hatchery’ experiments in North America.

When the Dildo Island fish hatchery opened in Newfoundland in 1889, it was the largest and most advanced in the world.

New Word: Pisciculturists: The breeding, hatching, and rearing of fish under controlled conditions.

Recommended Web Site: The Fluvarium: