Foster Husoy.

Foster Husoy.

Prince Rupert loses long time leader, park pioneer and community booster

In the words of fellow fisherman Paddy Greene, the passing of Foster Husoy on July 19, 2011 in Prince Rupert, is the passing of a generation.

  • Jul. 20, 2011 6:00 a.m.

In the words of fellow fisherman Paddy Greene, the passing of Foster Husoy on July 19, 2011 in Prince Rupert, is the passing of a generation.

Husoy, 88, was a fisherman, city councillor and briefly the interim mayor. He volunteered on the boards of the Fishermen’s Co-operative Association, the Deep Sea Fisherman’s Guild, the Pacific Trollers Association, the Vessel Owners Association, and was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion who served in the Navy for three years. He also worked as a relief pilot on the pilot boats and the Digby Island Ferry.

In 1924, Husoy arrived in Prince Rupert from Norway with his parents Arne Peder (Bill) and Marie. His father Bill was also an avid fisherman.

Monday evening over the phone, Greene had nothing but praise for Husoy.

“He was very dedicated to the fishing industry, always a great friend to me and to many people. He was unique and had a wonderful sense of humour. He was the type of person who would tell stories on himself where he’d be the butt of the joke. Not too many people can do that,” Greene said.

The two men served together on the Pacific Advisory Council for DFO and Greene recalled a high profile lawyer from Montreal who was the chair being fascinated with Husoy’s stories.

“He said we should write a book. We probably should have,” Greene said.

Greene and Dave Cook, a city councillor at the same time as Husoy, lauded Husoy’s advocacy for commercial fishermen.

Both recalled that Husoy had coined the phrase “tortured fish”.

Once Husoy had said that commercial fishermen fish for their community, but some fishermen live to torture fish, said Greene.

“While the recreational steelhead fishery made a big point about their catch and release program, Foster said that tortured the fish because they were caught five or six times as they made their way up the river,” Cook added.

Cook also remembered Husoy’s comments during a time when the price of herring had skyrocketed.

“He said the seiners were making sure to chase each individual fish because they were so valuable,” Cook recalled.

Working alongside Husoy on council was always a positive experience for Cook.

“He’d been around the community, had a good reputation, and was well-known in the fishing community,” recalled Cook.

Cook also remembered when Husoy first started to have heart troubles and immediately went into a program of proper diet and exercise.

“He made quite a fuss about eating muffins instead of donuts,” Cook said.

Aside from politics and fishing, Husoy was also instrumental in the creation of Pacific Mariners Park overlooking the harbour. In fact, he was the model for a large bronze statue of a mariner pointing toward the sea that graces the park.

On Monday evening a colourful scarf was draped around the statue’s neck and a young man nearby said it hadn’t been there the night before. He had a digital photograph to prove it.

When he learned of Husoy’s passing, the young man insisted it must be there in Husoy’s honour.

Whether that’s true or not, the statue is a fitting tribute.

Local sign painter Jim West said the idea for the park was Foster’s to begin with.

“Foster was an alderman then and when he proposed the park to make Prince Rupert a better place, Mayor Pete Lester agreed it was a good idea. I’d been involved with the Charlie Hays statue so Foster asked me if I would help. We formed the Pacific Mariners Memorial Society and Geoff Gould joined as he was a lawyer. He helped us get organized for fundraising,” West said.

With the help of landscape architect named Rina Pita from Vancouver, they came up with a design for the park.

“Foster and I worked very hard. We had the memorial wall and the statue, it was a big success. I’ve got nothing to say but nice things about him. He was a prince of a guy. I knew he’d been sick, but it was a bit of choker to find out he’d passed today,” West said.

Husoy also worked on the installation of the Kazu Maru in the park in 1990, a Japanese fishing vessel found in the waters off Haida Gwaii.

“He was a go-to guy who got things done. He had that shed built and boat restored,” said former halibut fisherman Randolph Mostad.

Mostad fished alongside Husoy on the same fishing grounds and belonged to the Fishermen’s Co-op during the same time period. He described Husoy as a community guy.

“He even did some work in Peru helping fishermen there. I am sad to hear that he has passed,” Mostad said.

Mostad, Greene and Mayor Jack Mussallem also praised Husoy’s cooking capabilities.

Mostad raved about his fishcakes, Greene said he did a wonderful job of smoking salmon, and Mussallem said a favourite event was the annual Christmas Open House held at the Husoy home.

“Foster would serve pickled herring he’d produced and it would be done three or four different ways,” Mussallem said. “He always had an interest in researching how to do things as thoroughly as possible.”

Mussallem grew up with Husoy’s eldest son Lance and recalled being at the house stringing lines on a halibut hook.

“Foster had this old duffel bag with artwork on it that he’d done. There were cartoons and other drawings. He was very talented,” said Mussallem.

Husoy also liked to hunt and would take Lance and Mussallem with their 22s to go target shooting at one of the pull-outs on the highway.

“Foster as a younger man was strong as a bull and from his years of fishing was in good shape,” Mussallem added.

When it came to politics, Mussallem believes it was Husoy’s knowledge of the community that helped him become a member of City Council.

At that time Mussallem worked as the municipal clerk and observed Husoy as steady and solid

“He looked for practical and common sense ways of doing things. He’d had quite the life and had such a variety of life skills. I always appreciated his words and there was a lot of wisdom in his stories,” said Mussallem.

When Mayor John Kuz resigned in the fall of 1995, Husoy, who had served eight years on council, was appointed interim mayor by the other council members. That lasted until the election in January 1996 when Mussallem became mayor.

At the time of his appointment as mayor, Husoy said the city’s future was closely linked to the growth of the Pacific Rim economies and related to the proposed bridge to the Digby Island Airport.

“I think that is the single most important thing we (council) have to do,” Husoy told the Daily News at the time.

Husoy, described by Greene as a man of talent and good will, leaves behind his wife Hilda, sons Lance and John, daughter-in-law Shelley, grandchildren Miles and Joanna, and his brother Peder of Terrace.

There will be no funeral by Foster’s own request, but the family will hold an informal memorial gathering on Sunday July 24th between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m. at the Husoy home at 548 Cassiar Avenue in Prince Rupert.