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Camp Baldy On The Bonaventure

Our family would spend a couple of days exploring the Bonaventure River during our vacation. The camp commonly known as "Camp Baldy", no longer exists, but was once one of the mightiest camps on the Bonaventure.

Camp Baldy's story is quite legendary in terms of the lore of the Atlantic Salmon fishing in the Gaspe....

In the small Pennsylvania town of Wilkes-Barre in 1887, Fed Morgan Kirby would open his first five and dime store, partnering with Charles Sumner Woolworth.

Within a few short decades they had built up from one store to ninety six, and in 1912 would combine business interests with that of Charles's brother, Frank Woolworth, forming the original group of founders of the F.W. Woolworth Company.

The company would go on to rise to cultural and iconic status globally as a pioneer in the retail business, with Woolworth a household name by the early twentieth century, much like Amazon is synonymous with retail shopping today.

In 1913 the success would take the form of one of New York City's enduring landmarks when construction was completed on the Woolworth Building, a skyscraper that was New York City's tallest building until the 1930's. The incredible business success of Fred Kirby and his New York partner led in the years ahead to him seeking out a unique leisure opportunity: Atlantic salmon fly fishing.

Like many of his contemporary robber barons and American business tycoons, Kirby discovered that the Gaspe was a natural paradise with incredible salmon fishing rivers. This would lead him to follow his passion of salmon fly fishing to the historic rivers of the Gaspe, dabbling on the mighty Grand Cascapedia and Restigouche Rivers that were growing into enviable salmon fishing destinations in the early twentieth century.

Kirby's interest in the Bonaventure River would begin in 1924. In that year, two new fishing clubs were founded in the Bonaventure and provided with government leases; the Canadian Salmon Club founded by John Hall Kelly, a politician and well-known lawyer from New Carlisle, and the Kirby's Club, property of the U.S. coal and oil company, the Pittston Coal Company, a spin off from the Kirby's vast network of business interests and wealth.

The Kirby's, not to be outdone by any of their contemporaries, would construct a magnificent camp on the Bonaventure, along their stretch of leased waters, with the camp located on crown land near the current "trou de memere" or grandmothers hole", hole #78 on the current ZEC fishing map.

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