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Dennett family helps Mossom Creek Hatchery

South Delta Artists Guild member paints picture for fundraising effort
Wynn Dennett with her painting of Mossom Creek Hatchery

A chance remark by popular South Delta Artists Guild member Wynn Dennett to her son Patrick that she was looking for a new subject to paint has led to four generations of the Dennett family helping newly-hatched North Shore salmon safely reach the Pacific Ocean.

It all began earlier this spring. Pat Dennett, now retired from a high-level career in B.C.'s construction industry, is a long-time volunteer with the Mossom Creek Hatchery. Mossom Creek rises from Buntzen Lake above Port Moody and runs through Anmore Village to empty into Burrard Inlet.

As with many local streams, the fish it originally carried disappeared through disturbances caused by development and pollution.

In the early 1970s, two high school biology teachers decided to try and reintroduce salmon to the creek. Ruth Foster and Rod MacVikar (now both retired but still active in the project) started the initiative that grew in size and enthusiasm, resulting in the construction of the Mossom Creek Hatchery in 1976.

The salmon returned and it became a popular place to visit. In 1992, the nonprofit Burrard Inlet Marine Enhancement Society, with year-round help from existing and new volunteers, took on operation of the hatchery.

However, disaster struck last December when a fire completely destroyed the facility. Hundreds of thousands of salmon eggs as well as all the society's records and photographs vanished in flames.

The site has been cleared and plans made to rebuild the hatchery. Pat Dennett, a board member of the society, was appointed construction manager to help plan and build the new facility. He is also playing a large role in fundraising and had a natural answer to his artist mother's question about what her next project might be.

He invited her to paint the Mossom Creek Hatchery as it was originally, with her painting to be part of the fundraising effort towards the estimated replacement cost of $1.2 million.

So Wynn Dennett, now in her 95th year, worked on the painting for several weeks in the guild's studio/workshop, using an old colour photograph as a guide. She visited the hatchery in early April and gave the finished and framed painting to a delighted Foster.