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Grenville Fish and Game Club offers more than meets the (wall)eye

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Grenville Fish and Game Club member Ryan Wells takes a minute off from fall clean-up to demonstrate kayaking. Pictured in the background is Lynn Holmes, Events Chair for the club. JOURNAL PHOTO/BURCHELL

Established in 1954 and with 1,000 members to their credit, the local fish and game club is more than just a place to practice marksmanship or get information on the hottest fishing spots. This unique and community-based group offers a wide variety of their own events and sponsor several outside resources for local youth.

"The Grenville Fish and Game Club has won the Augusta Township 'Citizen of the Year Award' in the past because we are just that - a good citizen within the area and outside of it," says Lynn Holmes a 27-year member and Chairman of Events for the club. "Other similar clubs don't really get as involved in their community as we do."

Holmes says the membership may seem large, but like most volunteer organizations the real work is done by a handful of staunch, dedicated members. He says this club is especially committed to anything involving youth.

"The kids really are our future and they need to learn about the environment," he says. The club offers a kid's Perch Fishing Derby, safe hunting classes, summer and winter activities and also sponsors many youth teams, including the large, local soccer club. They teach kayaking and canoeing and have a trailer which can be taken to different sites to teach children all about waterfowl, indigenous animals and how to interact safely with nature.

So far in 2020, most of those opportunities have fallen victim to COVID-19, so Holmes says it's more important than ever to reach young people.

"They need to know why you collect garbage and recycle; they need to know how to take care of our forests and our waterways and nature in general," he says.

Holmes and Mac Peterson, the club member with the longest tenure, met last week with member Ryan Wells to make the transition from summer activities to wintertime ones. The watercraft were all cleaned, sanitized and put into storage and plans are being made for what the colder months will bring. The club is hoping to go ahead with their annual parent-and-child ice-fishing derby, as ice-fishing is a sport which naturally encourages social distancing.

"When you are fishing you don't really want other people nearby," laughs Holmes, "so it is one thing which is perfect for the 'new normal' we are living with today."

The club also gets involved with senior citizens and palliative-care clients, as well as church groups and disabled individuals. They have a pontoon boat which they use to take these groups out on the water to fish or just relax, and the program is endorsed by many local health practitioners.

"A few years we had a gentleman from palliative care who we took out on the boat and he caught a fish and he was so thrilled," recounts Peterson. "The next year we took another group and that gentleman wasn't there - he had passed on. I think looking back, what we had given that gentleman was one of my most satisfying moments of being a member of the Grenville Fish and Game Club."

There are other benefits to becoming a member, which include insurance and learning opportunities, says Holmes.

"When you join the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) you get five million liability coverage with your $140.00 membership to the club," explains Holmes. "You also get ten outdoor magazines a year, which if you are interested in the outdoors you will likely buy anyway, and a family membership is only ten dollars more, or $150.00."

If you think you or your family could benefit from becoming a member of this vital and thriving outdoor appreciation club, you can contact them at 613-925-0004 or visit their Facebook page for more information.

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