NewsNews & UpdatesFeatured banner photo of Chuck the channel cat

About a year after the airing of Good Fishing, Chuck the Channel Catfish was unveiled. The original idea for the statue’s location was to be in Selkirk Park, however, not everyone was happy about this idea. Many believed it should be one of the first visible monuments when arriving in Selkirk. A petition was circulated to convince Town Council to alter the proposed location. All but one councillor agreed to change the location of the statue and the new location was chosen. Chuck the Channel Catfish would sit on Main Street. It was an empty lot at the time of Chuck’s unveiling but now he stands in front of Smitty’s Restaurant.

Chuck the Channel catfish in 2022
Chuck the Channel Cat, 2022, Selkirk Museum

The title ‘Catfish Capital of North America’ was registered by the Community Futures Group for Selkirk. There was one town that disagreed with this, Emerson. Emerson declared themselves ‘Catfish Capital of North America’ and soon rumours started circulating that Selkirk was suing Emerson for taking the title. At this time the Mayor of Emerson was Bill Wightman and the Mayor of Selkirk was Bud Oliver. Mayor Oliver was shocked at the rumours, but quickly came to realise it was just a joke. This “feud” was excellent promotion and would bring fishermen to both Selkirk and Emerson. CBC invited Mayor Oliver and Mayor Wightman to talk on the radio to hopefully settle the feud but this friendly conflict only ended in a tie.

Printed account of the great catfish debate
The Great Catfish Debate with Emerson, 1986, Susan Sprong

To break the tie there was a cooking contest that was held in front of the Manitoba Legislative Building at Memorial Park. In an interview done with Bud Oliver many years later he recalls the Park being packed with people and judges were brought in to evaluate the food. Emerson won the cook-off, but Selkirk still holds the Catfish Capital of North America title.

Later, At the unveiling of Chuck the Channel Catfish, Mayor Wightman attended and even received a little catfish statue for himself. With no heavy hearts Mayor Wightman wished Selkirk all the best for attracting fishermen from all over the country and the United States.

Monument of chuck the channel cat
Chuck Norquay and Chuck the Channel Catfish, 1986, Susan Sprong

Emerson may not have their own Chuck the Channel Catfish statue but they do have their own sturgeon statue. This sturgeon was caught long before the feud on October 27, 1903. It weighed in at 406 pounds and was fifteen and a half feet long. A team of horses had to pull it back into town.

Monument of Manitoba's biggest sturgeon
Manitoba’s Biggest Sturgeon Monuments, 2010, Manitoba Historical Society

Learn More