Doug and Dave Bennie’s volunteer history

Doug Bennie (deceased 2003)

Doug had been an active volunteer in his community of Port Coquitlam for many years where he was a busy Boy Scout leader.  To celebrate Canada’s centennial in 1967, he climbed Coquitlam Mountain with his 67 year old father and placed a flag there.  When Doug retired from the Ipsco Steel Plant in Port Moody, he decided to devote his retirement time to saving and restoring some of the few salmon streams that remained in the Tri-Cities.  Doug saw the wonderful opportunities that existed for children to learn more about salmon and experience the great outdoors at the small educational hatchery being planned on Noons Creek by members of the Port Moody Ecological Society which formed in 1991.  Early in 1992, Doug volunteered his considerable skills for hatchery construction.  While impatiently waiting for construction to get underway, Doug cleared a trail from the hatchery site down to what is now the bicycle trail so that children could explore the woodlands and have the thrill of walking under the railway trestle (a rather awesome experience when a engine is parked on it).  He also installed a number of bird nest boxes on site.  When construction began at the hatchery in late 1992, Doug was one of the key volunteers who showed up most days of the week to help build it.

Once the hatchery was constructed, a manager was need to run to place and Doug, with his years of experience as a machinist at Ipsco, was the perfect person.  Before he knew it, Doug had a new (volunteer) job as hatchery manager.  Doug loved spending time at the hatchery and had noticed a small ephemeral water course that discharged water when it rained.  He decided to construct a weir behind which water collected…and thus the “duck pond” at the hatchery came into being in 1993.  This wetland, a pleasing addition to the hatchery grounds, continues to attract wildlife and is a wonderful educational tool for our school programs.   Doug also took an interest in other streams and prepared an excellent report on the much-ignored Maple Creek which runs through Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam.  He helped to found the Maple Creek Streamkeepers; this has led to much improved water quality and fish habitat in Maple Creek.  For these efforts, Doug was awarded a Port Coquitlam Volunteer Award in 1997.

Far too early into his retirement, Doug has a serious stroke which pretty much ended his times in his beloved workshop.  However, as soon as he was able to walk and talk again, Doug found a new way to be helpful and became an outstanding leader of nature walks for children and adults.  He especially enjoyed planting native plants in local parks including the Shoreline Park.  He loved nothing better than taking visitors on a tour of the hatchery site.  Even though he could no longer drive, he loved to spend a better part of most mornings at the hatchery talking to visitors and keeping on eye on the progress of the salmon.  Sadly, Doug passed away in 2003.

 

Dave Bennie

PMES members were delighted when Dave Bennie decided to join his father as a volunteer at the Noons Creek hatchery in 1995.  Dave quickly joined the team doing the back-breaking work of digging new side channels at the hatchery which provide important refuge areas for juvenile salmon during high-flow storm events.  Dave especially enjoyed making pancake breakfasts for hatchery volunteers.  Very early on, Dave put his phenomenal organizing talents into the annual Fingerling Festival every May, which under his leadership, soon grew into the largest environmental festival in the Tri-Cities area.  After his father suffered from his first stroke in 1996, Dave brought his Dad for regular visits to the hatchery which greatly helped with Doug’s recovery.

Given that Doug was no longer able to contribute as much to the day-to-day running of the hatchery or trouble shooting whenever problems developed, Dave continued to get more involved with hatchery matters and  eventually stepped up take his fathers place as the go-to guy for anything from plumbing problems to hatchery tours.   In particular, Dave excelled at leading hatchery tours and was soon providing essential services by leading some of the school programs.  In 2007, Dave took on the role of Vice President of the Port Moody Ecological Society and has shown exemplary dedication by showing up at the hatchery 6 mornings a week (and sometimes, during emergencies, in the middle of the night).  He has introduced thousands of visitors to the delights of Noons Creek, does much essential hatchery maintenance and continues to organize and host the Fingerling Festival which remains the largest environmental event in the Tri-Cities.  For his efforts with the Noons Creek hatchery as well as Maple Creek and Hyde Creek in Port Coquitlam, Dave was awarded the Port Coquitlam’s Volunteer Environmental Award in 2006 and the Port Moody Environmental Award in 2008.   In 2014, he took over as President of the Port Moody Ecological Society, filling very big shoes left by Sandra Niven.