City boosters have case of carving envy

The Society is proposing a carving of a salmon standing upright, coming up out of the water

The Shoreline Arts Society wants Campbell River to become the Largest Carved Salmon Capital of the World – or at least of Vancouver Island.

The society is proposing that Campbell River commission a wooden salmon carving to rival a similar sculpture in Port Alberni. Marcia McKay, secretary for the Shoreline Arts Society, said Campbell River needs to protect its title, particularly from challenger Port Alberni.

“This afternoon I Googled ‘Salmon Capital of the World’ and I was relieved Campbell River came up but then so did Ketchikan, Alaska and then Port Alberni,” McKay told city council during a presentation Jan 26. “Port Alberni has a 13-foot wooden salmon in front of their Chamber of Commerce and they’re working on commissioning a 20-foot salmon.

“We’d like to suggest a little one-upmanship and propose that Campbell River commission a 24-foot carving or bigger,” McKay added. “We think that at 24 feet we’d have the biggest salmon on the Island.”

The Society is proposing a carving of a salmon standing upright, coming up out of the water, similar to a model by Campbell River carver Jerry Strelioff done in Chetwynd in 2009.

Port Alberni’s 13-foot salmon carving is also a vertical structure and was carved by Vancouver-based Jesse Toso, a regular at the annual Transformations on the Shore carving contest at Frank James Park.

Toso is mostly famously known in Campbell River for carving the giant spider hanging on the wall near the Tidemark Theatre.

It’s proposed that Toso will also carve the 20-foot salmon which Port Alberni’s Ultimate Fishing Town committee would like to see on or near its Centennial Pier.

McKay said Campbell River should get into the game too.

“We would officially challenge Port Alberni for the Salmon Capital of the World title,” McKay said. “We can help find a carver and source the right logs.”

While council encouraged McKay and the Shoreline Arts Society to send a letter formally requesting the city help with the cost of commissioning the large salmon, Coun. Charlie Cornfield said Port Alberni isn’t a threat.

“In terms of the Salmon Capital of the World, versus Port Alberni, there’s no comparison,” Cornfield said. “We’ll always show up first on the list in the computer.”

Indeed, under a simple Google search for Salmon Capital of the World, Campbell River comes up first – twice, in fact – followed by Ketchikan, Alaska. Port Alberni is sixth on the list of hits.