For over 20 years, Stewart Duncan was a volunteer, director, president and one of the founding members of the Tsolum River Restoration Society. The capping of the mine, subsequent water quality improvements, return of pink salmon in 2015 that was of historical proportions, and a huge chum salmon return in 2016 are all the culmination of Stewart’s and other members of the community’s dedication to improving their local environment. Stewart passed away in February 2017, and is missed by everyone who knew him.
Father Charles Brandt
Our friend, fellow Tsolum director and faithful steward, Father Charles Brandt died peacefully on Sunday, October 25, 2020. He was 97. Originally from the USA, Charles was a familiar face and force around this area for over 50 years. He spent his time communing with nature, practicing his Catholic faith, fly fishing our beautiful rivers and engaging with government and his community to improve the Tsolum and Oyster River watersheds. He was a hermit-priest and spent much of his time without human company yet he slowly and quietly recruited and attracted a diverse group of people passionate about these beautiful rivers that slowly wind their way through the Comox Valley and into our hearts, kind of like Charles himself. His gentle persistence inspired and guided others to join him in his quest. He was not shy when advocating for nature and the restoration of our local rivers. This included convincing the provincial government to remediate the abandoned copper mine on Mt. Washington whose pollution decimated the Tsolum’s biotic community and his beloved steelhead run. He lived long and heartily enough to witness the positive effects of the remediation work he had been one of the catalysts of and the return of healthy populations of pink salmon, and eventually, and hopefully the elusive steelhead. I paddled the Oyster River estuary a week after Charles passed, thinking of him and gazing upriver through the slight mist of nearby rapids and the glorious sunshine. I felt his spirit in the air and water, in the river dipper who preened on a partly submerged log unfazed by my presence and in the lone fisherman casting his fly in the water a couple hundred meters upstream. Charles will be missed dearly but his legacy of a healthier environment will live on forever.
Charles was an avid birder and generously shared his photography with us. If you wish to purchase his art cards, swan prints or make a donation in his honour I am sure he would be pleased. He continues to share his love of nature with us.
Jack is the past Executive Director of TRRS, who managed the society for nearly 20 years, and played an integral part in the stewardship and restoration of the river. Besides “getting dirty” in all our projects, he raised awareness and an appreciation of The Tsolum and tributaries, and connected and built partnerships between diverse members of the community.. We are grateful for his years of work in bringing the community and so many others together to benefit the health of the Tsolum.