By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Independent
The anonymous benefactor responsible for the replica eight-metre-long northern pike fish in Rochon Sands has officially stepped out of the shadows.
While the statue, located in the roundabout leading into the marina at the Summer Village of Rochon Sands, does have a “donated by” plaque on it, the name of the benefactor was never released as the Village was wanting to do so at an official unveiling. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, that has proven impossible.
Rochon Sands residents Harvey and Shirley Kassian are the anonymous benefactors who paid for the fish created by the East-Coulee based team at Dinosaur Valley Studios. After living in the community for over 48 years, they wanted to give back to the community.
“We were sitting, looking out our eight-foot patio door, and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have a fish out there?’,” said Harvey.
“Because at one time there were lots of fish out there, and now there are not too many fish. We thought right out the window, but as it turns out, it is in a better place.”
Originally the roundabout leading into the marina held a flagpole, but Jason Olsen, the previous Village chief administrative officer, suggested moving the flagpole over and placing the fish there.
Harvey originally proposed the project early in 2020, holding a first meeting with Frank Hadfield of Dinosaur Valley Studios and Olsen by the end of February.
At the meeting, Hadfield presented his initial designs and cost estimates.
“I committed right away,” said Harvey.
The goal was to have the monument in place in time for unveiling on Canada Day. According to Harvey, Hadfield and his team had the monument installed by the second half of June and came in on budget.
Overall, the cost for the replica northern pike in Rochon Sands was about $60,000.
“I recall doing some research on the lantern in Donalda, and that cost about $100,000. I was prepared to spend a little more (than the $60,000) I did spend.”
According to Harvey, the way the project worked out ended up having some deeper meaning for him and his wife, Shirley. The couple celebrated their 60th anniversary in 2020, which coincided with the $60,000 they spent on the project. As well, the sculpture incorporates the famous Len Thompson ‘five-of-diamonds’ lure. A 60th anniversary is also known as the diamond anniversary.
“I want to thank Jason Olsen for his work. He really deserves a lot of the credit,” said Kassian.
“Of course, Frank (Hadfield) with his cooperation and the fine job he and his staff did.”
Recently, Hadfield presented the couple with a scale replica of the northern pike.
“He made this fish as a replica of the big one,” said Harvey.
“It’s about 34 to 35 inches long, with a real five of diamonds hook. I thought it was outstanding of him to give us this.”
Due to the number of people the attraction has been drawing to the community, the summer village is also getting a sign made, directing tourists to the site.