Darcy Miller, Watershed Enhancement Manager, Puntledge River Hatchery
“It was always enlightening when Ralph visited the Puntledge Hatchery. He provided me a welcome break from the routine, with discussion around the latest developments regarding the fisheries resource or updates of his recent adventures.
“He would tour the hatchery site and absorb the activities of the day, ensuring a visit to the underwater viewing room and river viewing areas, two of his favourite observation locations.
“Ralph was always congenial to staff and took time to converse with many, remembering each by name. I recall Ralph visiting the hatchery in the earlier days of salmon enhancement when I was merely a rookie. He was not always a fan of large scale salmon enhancement programs as done at Puntledge Hatchery but he was open-minded and amiable to learning.
“Ralph participated in many congenial debates, sharing opinions with the hatchery managers of the day. Over time he realized and appreciated the contributions of our program and became one of our most supportive community members, often relaying our activities in his weekly newspaper columns.
“I often observed and appreciated Ralph’s passion while attending meetings. He contributed his abundant knowledge with heartfelt conviction toward opportunity for responsible harvest of our wildlife resources and backed up his opinion in a professional manner.
“Ralph was very dedicated to encouraging youth to become involved in conservation and outdoor pursuits. He has influenced many present day outdoor enthusiasts including inspiring one of the younger hatchery staff members who vividly recalls the day as a youngster, when Ralph personally presented him with a hand-tied “Tom Thumb”, Ralph’s signature fly. A seemingly small gesture with lasting impact.
“Mr. Shaw’s warm smile and intriguing stories will be missed by all of us at the hatchery.”
Charley Vaughan, Oyster River Enhancement Society
“Ralph was truly a man for all seasons. He was by turns and altogether, a family man, gardener, outdoorsman, writer and thinker.
“A hunter and fisherman all his life, he had a bone-deep appreciation of the gifts of nature together with an equally deep understanding that the continuance of these gifts depends on our taking care of the natural world.
“A long time member of the ORES, Ralph, through his columns, brought light on our efforts and to our efforts, as he expounded thoughtfully on the connections between individual, society and environment.
“Climate change took up more and more of Ralph’s thinking in recent years; he read widely on the subject and understood the implications of the changes we are bringing about through our reliance on fossil fuels.
“Through his columns he helped educate and spread the word of the need for change, if we are to continue to be able to depend on nature’s gifts. He will be greatly missed.”
Jim Loring, president, Comox Valley FlyFishers Club
“Ralph Shaw was a keen member of the Comox Valley FlyFishers Club (CVFFC). He was a friend and mentor to all, with a deep understanding of nature and her ways. Always ready,willing, and able to assist and teach others outdoorsmen skills and the human connection to the natural world.
“He loved especially teaching kids about nature. Many of us in the club have fond memories of Ralph tying his unique “Tom Thumb” flies at the annual Outdoor Show for every child that happened by. He was always front and centre for our programs teaching fly tying and fly fishing.
“He never tired of partaking in fishing and hunting excursions and proudly boasted of having fished every month of the year. He made up hundreds of fly boxes for fundraising events over the years and as a tribute to the value put on his items, many of us in the club have examples of his expertise.
“He was involved in many projects such as the Maple Lake Nature Park initiative which would allow more people to connect with our natural heritage.
“For the FlyFishers club, we have lost a true gentleman, friend, and mentor. He will be greatly missed but fondly remembered.”
Terry Farrell, Comox Valley Record editor
“His smile; that’s a smile I will always remember. He was always so cheerful. His weekly visits never failed to produce laughter from the editorial department.
“I also remember holding the dubious honour of being the only editor known to have missed inserting a column of his into the sports section. It was shortly after my arrival here, and I was looking after the sports department while the sports editor was on holidays. It was not an intentional omission but rather an oversight by the new guy.
“I found out rather quickly, from the community at large, how popular Ralph’s column was. But Ralph wasn’t mad… even though it ruined a string of however many of hundreds of Thursday Outdoors columns in a row. He came to my desk laughing about it and said ‘I was just worried I’d done something to anger you.’
“It was an honour and privilege to work with Ralph. He was a great man.”
Mark Allan, former editor Comox Valley Record
“When I became the editor of The Comox Valley Record in 2005, I inherited an award-winning outdoors columnist and Order of Canada honouree. His name was Ralph Shaw.
“The fish he loved to catch would disagree, but Ralph really put the gentle in gentleman. His life was long and full, and he enriched the lives of those lucky enough to know him. May the fish be biting in Heaven, Ralph.
“The thoughts of my wife and I are with Ralph’s widow, Elaine.”
Gail Eggiman, vice-president, Courtenay and District Fish & Game Protective Association
I have only known Ralph for about 15 years with my time at the club. He was the most personable and helpful gentleman you could ever meet. He worked at every Outdoor Show making flies and showing children, in particular, how to make them and when to use them fishing.
He did the same thing at the BC Family Fishing Weekend and at the Region One Kids Camp. He attended and volunteered at almost every event. He was a loving husband and stayed as long as he could until he had to go home to check on his wife.
One time I remember when we had a birthday cake for him for his 85th birthday during the BC Family Fishing Weekend.
The cake was supposed to be only for the volunteers, but an older married couple asked if they could have a piece, so Ralph said of course.
Meanwhile, Ralph was telling the story of him and his pal, Smitty getting an Island Elk. While munching on his cake, the lady proceeded to tell him she thought hunting animals for trophies was disgusting. Ralph just smiled.
I told her that most hunters eat their meat and my sons survived university by eating moose. They walked away, then proceeded to get a free hot dog from the Thrifty’s tent! I was choked that they had attended the Fish and Game property and took advantage of the free stuff then chastised Ralph. He was a true gentlemen and said they were entitled to their opinion and laughed.
Bryan Allen, fishing chair, Courtenay and District Fish and Game Protective Association
“Ralph was proudest of his family. He was also extremely proud of the role that he played in getting the McQueen Lake Environmental Centre outside of Kamloops.
“He was always there for the kids.
“As far as fishing, it was a resource that was there to be used but not abused. Hunting was not something he revelled over the kill, he revelled over the bounty we had. I fished with Ralph for over 15 years and he was as happy bringing home things like prawn heads and fish guts for Elaine’s garden as anything else.
“He was also very proud of his record of publishing through The Record. He said to me 21 years without missing a deadline is not too bad.'”