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Canada Loses Outdoors Champion Bill Otway

Bill Otway

One of our field editors, North Vancouver’s George Gruenefeld, just told me that Bill Otway has passed, dead from brain cancer. Damned cancer, again. George had let me know about a week ago that Bill, 75, was fighting his last battle at the Gillis Hospice in Meritt, B.C. I doubt any outdoorsperson who lives in B.C. didn’t know Bill, but for the rest of you, here’s a bit of why hunters and anglers have just lost a huge champion.

Back in 2002, Outdoor Canada named him one of the 35 most influential people in the Canadian outdoors. In short, he’s been fighting for the rights of anglers and hunters in his home province since the early 1970s, when he was named executive director of the B.C. Wildlife Federation. And as the recreational fisheries advisor/ombudsman for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) for 15 years starting in 1985, Bill influenced numerous policy decisions affecting B.C.’s fish. Then in 2000, he helped launch the Sportfishing Defence Alliance, formed largely in response to disagreement with the DFO’s West Coast management policies. As the group’s president, Bill contended the department was unfairly penalizing sport anglers by imposing blanket fishing bans meant to prevent Native gill netting.

But that’s the only group that benefited from this tireless outdoorsman Here’s a sampling of some of his association work:

  • B.C. Conservation Foundation
  • B.C. Salmon Society
  • B.C. Wildlife Federation
  • Canadian Nature Federation
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Lower Mainland Regional Branch
  • National Sport Fishing Institute
  • North American Fisheries Society
  • Outdoor Writers of Canada
  • Pitt Waterfowl Management Association
  • Port Coquitlam & District Hunting & Fishing Club
  • Quatsino Sound Enhancement Society
  • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
  • Shooting Federation of Canada
  • Sport Fishing Institute of BC
  • Steelhead Society of BC
  • Trout Unlimited

He was also an honorary Life Member of the Port Coquitlam & District Hunting & Fishing Club, the North Peace Rod & Gun Club, the North Shore Fish & Game Club and the B.C Wildlife Federation.

Then there were the many awards:

  • 1982 Canadian Outdoorsman of the Year
  • 1990 Ducks Unlimited Teal Award for raising over $100,000 as a volunteer
  • 1991 Ted Barsby Trophy: B.C.’s Conservationist of the Year
  • 1993 Silver Teal Award for raising over $250,000.
  • 1999 BCWF Special Recognition “One who has made a Difference”
  • First-ever Member Emeritus of the Sport Fishing Advisory Board
  • National Recreational Fisheries Award presented by the Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Bill, you will clearly be missed.

Patrick Walsh

Patrick Walsh

Patrick Walsh is Outdoor Canada's Editor-in-Chief and Brand Manager. He grew up fishing and hunting in Bracebridge, Ontario, where he began his magazine career in 1983 as assistant editor of Muskoka Life magazine. Since then, he has worked for a variety of media, both in Canada and abroad, earning numerous writing and editing awards. In 2005, 2011 and 2012, the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors named him Editor of the Year, while Outdoor Canada was honoured as Magazine of the Year (in the medium circulation category). Walsh has been at the magazine's helm since 2000.

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