British Columbia

'It felt like Christmas': seniors in wheelchairs relive excitement of fishing

Bob Clough used to be an avid fisherman, but, these days, the 87-year-old has been doing more talking than fishing, because mobility is a challenge for him.

87-year-old Bob Clough and 2 friends spent the day at a wheelchair accessible dock

Leslie Torresan says it's important for seniors to keep doing the activities they once loved. (CBC)

Bob Clough used to be an avid fisherman, but, these days, the 87-year-old has been doing more talking than fishing, because mobility is a challenge for him.

Clough, who lives in a seniors care facility in Burnaby, is in a wheelchair. He hit the water for the first time in years on Thursday on an outing with his care home to a newly opened accessible dock.

"I fished all my life," Clough said. "[Once I caught] a 81 pound salmon and a 105 pound halibut."

Bob Clough hadn't fished for years before the trip on Thursday. (CBC)

His stories of reeling in five foot salmon and hour-long battles with fish, captivated Leslie Torresan, the recreation manager at Dania Home.

"When he started talking about the fishing, this was two months ago, he started to get tears in his eyes," Torresan said. "I said 'Oh Bob, we've got to get you fishing.'"

Leslie Torresan is the recreation manager at Dania Home and describes her job as being 'in charge of fun' for the residents of the care home. (CBC)

Continuing past hobbies

Torresan started looking at different lakes around Metro Vancouver and found out that Como Lake, an urban fishing area in Coquitlam, had a new wheelchair accessible dock.

She organized a day outing for Clough and two other wheelchair-dependent residents at the centre.

"Honestly, it felt like Christmas," Torresan said. "He said he didn't even sleep, he was so excited."

Activities like that make all the difference to seniors like Clough who struggle to do the things they once loved, Torresan said.

Como Lake in Coquitlam is one of the few wheelchair accessible lakes in Metro Vancouver. (CBC)

"We really want to enable residents to continue to do their past leisure interests," she said. "We like to keep our residents active."

The excitement was palpable on the bus ride over to the lake, Torresan said, with lots of singing and chatter. 

"They were waving their 'I love fishing' flags out the window for everyone to see, I don't know what they were thinking was going on," she said, smiling. 

"It makes my heart sing. I was so happy, because I knew how excited they were going to be. It's such a beautiful day."

With files from Jesse Johnston.

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