Haig-Brown Festival honours two lives well-lived

HBF Overview It’s not the biggest or most impressive event on Vancouver Island, but the Haig-Brown Festival held each September in Campbell River resonates for the plain and simple fact that it is dedicated to paying tribute to a pair of local luminaries who contributed much to society.

Ann and Roderick Haig-Brown

Ann and Roderick Haig-Brown

Roderick Haig-Brown is best known for his contributions as one of Canada’s early conservationists in the 1930s.  He was an avid fly fisherman, so the family’s 20-acre property and home along the banks of the Campbell River must have been the perfect venue.  His beautiful study, which was open to the public during the festival, has walls lined with 4,000 books.  It also contains the desk where he wrote (in longhand) 25 books and more than 200 papers.  There are mementos from his fishing days, a fireplace and comfortable furniture that invites anyone entering to linger a while.

Fishing flys designed by Roderick Haig-Brown at the Haig-Brown Festival, Campbell River, Vancouver Island

The legacy continues…..

Although Roderick’s  expertise in the wildlife conservation and fishing fields were the things that made his name familiar around the world, Haig-Brown was also a revered provincial court judge. His reputation in this discipline for fairness and common sense was legendary.

Ann Haig-Brown (nee Elmore), in addition to raising four children, typing her husband’s copious literary accomplishments, working at a local school and participating in the farming activities, was a great support for women and children who needed to leave abusive relationships.  There was always sanctuary for victims of domestic violence at the Haig-Brown residence.  As a result of her dedication to this cause (along with many others) the first transition house in the Campbell River area was named after her.

Vendor at the Haig-Brown Festival in Campbell River, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Books penned by Haig-Brown were on display

The Haig-Brown Festival has just celebrated its fourteenth year.  It is a pretty low-key gathering on the grounds of the Haig-Brown residence, now an historic site operated by the Campbell River Museum.

We found a number of tents lined up along the lower lawn, offering information and demonstrations for all ages.  One enterprising fly fisherman had taken some of Haig-Brown’s fly designs, constructed them and presented them matted and framed.  They were true works of art that would, I am sure, be a welcome addition to the home of any fly fishing enthusiast.

Ann Elmore Transition House booth at the Haig-Brown Festival, Campbell River, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Representation from the transition house named after Ann Haig-Brown were on hand to talk about her contributions to the community

Several other booths displayed unique artisan efforts, and one vendor had a marvelous display of some of the books penned by Haig-Brown.

Representatives of the Campbell River and North Island Transition Society were also on hand to elucidate on Ann’s many contributions to their efforts.  Their booth included a rare photo of Ann, along with a framed note that was sent after the opening of Ann Elmore House to let the society know that her home was still open to those needing shelter if the transition house couldn’t accommodate them.  There are stories galore about this remarkable woman, who inspired her own share of reverence in the community for her many contributions.

Fishing fly art at Haig-Brown Festival, Campbell River, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Matted and framed fishing flys, many based on patterns designed by Roderick Haig-Brown

Overall, the Haig-Brown Festival says as much about the couple’s continuing contributions as it does about Roddy and Ann themselves.  He died in 1976, and Ann passed away in 1990.  To the end though, they created legacies internationally and in their own community that continue to impress and inspire.  Two lives, truly well lived.

Further information on some of the Haig-Brown heritage and contributions can be found at the following websites:



 Haig-Brown Heritage House is located at 2250 Campbell River Road

GPS co-ordinates are:

Lat.  50.0345967625092  Long.  -125.27904594999336

N 50 02.076   W 125 16.743


About Shirley

More years ago than I like to remember, I completed the Journalism program at Vancouver Community College and launched straight into a career as a newspaper reporter (thanks to my journalism professor Nick Russell and an opening at the venerable daily Alberni Valley Times.) My work as a news reporter/feature writer/columnist and ultimately, newspaper and magazine editor, took me to many interesting places and introduced me to hundreds of interesting characters over the years. I loved every minute of it, but burnout caught up with me while I was trying to juggle the simultaneous editing of five trade magazines, and for 27 years I abandoned my keyboard (on a professional basis, at least) and followed my heart in a variety of other careers. In 2010 I returned to the journalistic fold, thanks to the encouragement (nay – nagging!) of my husband. I feel no regret – only great joy to be back at the keyboard, and to be spending time interviewing interesting folks and discovering great places.
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