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Martin Harrison Grainger

Martin Harrison Grainger was born May 21 1919.

Special Treatment For Special Run - Fisheries Men Take Count of Stuart River Sockeye

By Lee Straight Sun Outdoor Editor

Some of BC's special fish are getting their annual treatment in one of Nature's special nurseries. It is the Stuart River sockeye salmon run, threatened with extinction from the Hell's Gate slide in 1914, until the late 1940's, but now potentially one of BC's major sockeye resources. The Stuart system, which includes the large lakes, Stuart, Trembleur and Takla, plus the linking and tributary rivers and creeks, is north west of Prince George in North Central BC. The salmon are watched over and controlled by The Internation Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission, under treaty with the United States and Canada. Head Office is in New Westminster, under direction of a six man US-Canada Commission of Ichthiologists and managed by director of investigations Loyd Royal. This commission manages the vast Fraser River salmon nursery that includes other even larger fisheries, like the Adams and Chilco runs. The commission must have field men to guard count and record conditions around these runs.
There are graduate biologists, technicians, engineers and tradesmen. One of the key types of "hand" romantic in this age of specialized training are the northern field supervisors, men like Martin Grainger of the Ft St James office. Grainger, because he runs the only show that can't be serviced by motor vehicle but only by fast outboard runabout, river freighter or canoe, must be one of those rare hardy dedicated jack-of-all-trades. The northern river warden must be boatman, finished motor mechanic, naturalist, statistician, cook, foreman, and laborer. Grainger and his assistants at present are taking a census of the spawning escapement. At points from 30 to 120 miles from the end of the road they seine net large samples of salmon, tag them alive, latter count another large sample of them scattered about dead, after spawning. All pacific salmon die after spawning which makes it easier to estimate the sizes of the runs. On a typical day, Grainger and two men will throw a net around a favorite resting area of the salmon run that has fought from the sea at New Westminster to spawn 700 or more miles upstream. The men purse the net, set up a tagging table in the fabric "pen" of milling fretful beet-red salmon. They carefully badge each fish with twin half inch medals on a harmless, rustless wire through the gristle of its back, just below the big central dorsal fin. They tag 2000, say, in several "sets". When they later count carcasses after the salmon have moved on and seeded the river with spawn the men score the percentage of bodies that wear the white tags. If it is ten percent, for example, simple arithemetic gives them an accurate practical estimate of a total population of 10 times the 2000 they know they tagged, or 20,000 fish that escaped to that system that year to repopulate it. Such work, combined with ladders and tunnels around natural barriers in the river, which otherwise are insurmountable at certain or all water levels, has made the Stuart run greater now than in known history, reaching back over a hundred years.
(From The Sunday Sun, September 15, 1962 Vancouver BC.)

  • Martin Grainer & Johnny Johnson #1 -

  • Martin Grainer & Johnny Johnson #2 -
Martin died November 21, 1997, Buried at Fort St James BC. (Funeral Service Card)