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Would you like to go fishing with Wib & Tom McIllmoyle?

December 27, 2021

Harold Wilmot (left) and Wib McIllmoyle (right), others unidentified.

Back in the days before there were electronic fish finders, the Kawarthas often marketed themselves to tourists as an area where the fishing was simply unbelievable… humorous ads showed fish that were so big you could hardly land them in your boat and if you did they wouldn’t fit in your car! The incredible number of fish that were to be caught was a really important image in publicizing the region.

With visitors travelling hundreds of miles to visit a fishing paradise, locals could make a career of entertaining visitors with local culture while taking them fishing. Being a guide was a vocation where there was never a dull moment. One local guide recalled hosting a group from Ohio who had been thrown out of the Royal York in Toronto because they “raised so much hell” while drunk, on their way up. They were no more sober when he took them out fishing, and they ended up capsizing his boat—just the sort of mishap that a guide would never live down. (A lot of visitors to the Kawarthas were from Ohio, so Buckeye Marine/Centre are named for the Buckeye State).

Wib & Tom McIllmoyle were memorable local characters, often seen around Pigeon Lake through the 1960s. Meeting their guests in the morning they would take them out, tell stories, and somehow managed to catch impressive fish day after day… one might wonder that the fish never seemed to run out! Then the customer could have the pleasure of enjoying a shore dinner, fried over a campfire. A unique cultural experience of the Kawarthas.

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