Salmon as a reflection of history and conservation

The Timaru Herald
4 April 2015

Sea Winter Salmon: Chronicles of the St John River is about a great salmon river on the lower North Shore of Quebec, and its most important visitor, the illustrious Atlantic salmon.

Very few people have the opportunity or dedication to observe their favourite fish species over a long period of time but Mari Hill Harpur has had a lifelong interest in Atlantic salmon, focusing on this species in a river of a size most New Zealand anglers couldn’t imagine.

It is much wider and deeper than our Waikato or Clutha rivers, and has a mystique of its own.

In 1889 Canadian and American railroad magnate James J. Hill, who travelled the Gulf of the St Lawrence, established the log camp on the St John River that has now been in Hill Harpur’s family for five generations.

The author and photographer tracks the special relationship between the salmon and the people of the river through diaries, legal documents, scientific data, rare archival photographs and her own photographic collection.

Dramatic, tragic, amusing, and authoritative, Sea Winter Salmon addresses itself to readers of history, biography, and conservation biology – and to fisher-women and men everywhere.

This book is a family memoir and a guide to a river’s ecology and the life cycle of the Salmo salar, setting out what it takes to be a good conservationist in a remote and delicate region.

Sea Winter Salmon features photographs Hill Harpur has exhibited in conjunction with many other images taken throughout North America and Canada.

Recently, she was the Artist in Residence at the Masterworks Foundation in Hamilton, Bermuda.

In 1967 she moved to Canada to attend Bishop’s University in Quebec province and in 2012 came to Geraldine – to the residence she and husband Doug enjoy on a back-country station on the banks of the Rangitata River.

“I am never far from a salmon fishery – it’s been my focus for so long,” she says.

“Photography remains a passion.”

Read more