Canada-Newfoundland-British Columbia-South Africa- Australasia.
In the very first letter I received in answer to my inquiries about waters at home, there was a remark that suggested the desirability of extending the survey to rivers in Britains beyond the seas.
"Black Mount, Bridge of Orchy, Argyllshire, nth October 1905.
"Dear Mr. Earl Hodgson, ... Of course, it seems to be a fairly well-established fact that all salmon rivers are going down. Curiously enough, a man told me the other day, in course of conversation, that the rivers in Canada seemed to be going down in the same way as our own at home. Whether this is the case or not I cannot state. It seems to me that the only way of preventing rivers deteriorating and fish getting less is by reducing the netting. How this is to be done without somebody putting their hand in their pocket I know not; and, as far as I have been able to ascertain, whenever it comes to be a question of paying, nobody seems to be too willing to do so.
Believe me, Yours very truly,
The rumour from Canada was striking. If the salmon were really declining in a land but little subject, for its vast size, to the influences of industrial civilisation, it would become theoretically possible that there was some natural cause of an evil kind at work all over the world. Thinking of this startling possibility, I sought further particulars.
"20 Carlton House Terrace, S.W., 24th October.
" Dear W. E. H.,-I don't know enough about the fishing question in Canada. Ask Lord Minto- he knows. I heard, however, in Canada the other day that the fishing had declined in the Maritime Provinces. I don't think there is any one at Victoria Street who knows. . . .
Yours very truly,
The next despatch tended to confirm what had been said by Lord Breadalbane and Sir Gilbert Parker.
"6 Audley Square, W., 1st November 1905.
" Dear Mr. Hodgson, . . . It is undoubtedly true that the rivers in the Maritime Provinces have of late years been not what they were. The river I am best acquainted with is the Cascapedia, and that has certainly not been what it used to be in years gone by, though it belongs to an American Syndicate of excellent sportsmen, who fish the river carefully, have it carefully watched, have bought up small riparian properties, and have bought off the nets at the mouth. I can only conclude that for some reason we do not know there has been a bad run of fish for some years. The rivers on the Labrador coast have been, I believe, good of late years. I am writing in great haste, as I leave for India to-morrow. . . .
Believe me, Yours faithfully,
Kkndlks Pool, Ox The Codroy River, Newfoundland
The state of affairs being not yet completely set forth, I ventured to ask the help of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Prime Minister of Canada, who, with great courtesy, caused an inquiry to be made throughout the whole Dominion. The results are disclosed in the documents that follow :-
" Department of Marine and Fisheries, Deputy Minister's Office, Ottawa, Canada, 12th January 1906.
" Dear Sir Wilfrid,-A short time ago Mr. W. Earl Hodgson wrote you requesting certain information touching the comparative conditions of sport in Canadian rivers.
" The information desired was of such a character as could not be supplied at the moment from the information in the Department, as the disposal of the salmon angling privileges has long since passed from the Federal to the Local Governments, and it was necessary to make some inquiries to elicit as much information on the subject as possible.
"Without a fixed date as a starting-point for comparison, the relativeness of the information must obviously be somewhat vague, and embrace known present conditions as compared with reports of the past.
"I have therefore prepared the accompanying memorandum, based upon data just received from the Provincial Deputy Minister of Lands, Mines, ar.d Fisheries of Quebec, the Provincial Commissioner of Fisheries for New Brunswick, the Dominion Inspector of Fisheries for the Gulf Division of the Province of Quebec, and the Dominion Inspectors of Fisheries and Fishery Officers for the Province of New Brunswick, where the principal salmon angling in Canada obtains, which I submit for your information, as comprising fairly authentic information, which, of course, could only be procured in absolute detail from the lessees of the angling rights from the Provincial Governments.