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Written by: Emily Karklin

What two things put Selkirk on the map? Catfish and the Rolling Mills. We cannot forget about the Selkirk Water Tower and the Selkirk Lift Bridge are also two very important honourable mentions. Selkirk has a long history and these are some of the important things that put Selkirk on the map.

Selkirk may be the Catfish Capital of the North but there is a town in the United States that declared itself the Catfish Capital of the Universe in 1975. Selkirk gained this title after Chuck Norquay appeared on the popular American television show, Good Fishing in 1985.  Afterwards, many people began calling Chuck asking him to be their guide. The statue, Chuck the Channel Cat, in front of Smitty’s on Main Street was named after him. According to any travel blogs and information websites, the Red River between Selkirk and Lockport holds the biggest channel catfish in the world. 

The channel catfish is very abundant within the Red River. All year round one can see people fishing on the Red River, but the best time to go fishing for channel catfish is between May and August. Some fishermen say fishing along the shore is best while others say fishing away from the shore will get you your prized catch. Many tourists and fishermen come from all over to see these massive fish being caught daily.

This photo shows the famous Selkirk Chuck the Channel Cat Statue
Chuck the Channel Cat

In 1920 the Manitoba Bridge and Engineering Company brought the Manitoba Rolling Mills to Selkirk. The Mills brought considerable growth to the community. Lots of families moved into the town which brought more stores. More jobs in a variety of different areas became available due to the Mills. The Mills brought the first major boom to the city asSelkirk was just getting back on its feet after World War II. Today we know the Manitoba Rolling Mills as Gerdau which is still in operation.

This is a black and white of the Manitoba Rolling Mills in 1920. It is a group of three long buildings and a white shed in a field.
Manitoba Rolling Mills 1920 - Source: Selkirk the First Hundred Years

The water tower is another landmark that Selkirk is known for. In 1906, the town voted to borrow $150,000 to build a waterworks and sewer system. It is considered one of the main landmarks in the community. It holds about 275,000 litres of water and was built by the Canadian Fairbanks Company and the Minneapolis Steel and Machine Company. The pump house system was up and running by 1910. The pump house pumps up to 450,000 litres of water a day.

Another landmark that Selkirk is known for is the Lift Bridge. Building began in 1935 and the bridge is still used today. The construction of the bridge cost the province $250,000 and was a project that brought people jobs during the Great Depression.

This black and white image shows the Selkirk Lift Bridge raised
Selkirk Lift Bridge, 1930 - Source: G Harris Fonds

Chuck Norquay and Chuck the Channel Catfish, the Manitoba Rolling Mills, the Selkirk Water Tower, and the Selkirk Lift Bridge are four very distinguishable landmarks for our city. Chuck brought entertainment and curiosity to Selkirk, the Rolling Mills and the lift bridge brought jobs to Selkirk, and the Selkirk Water Tower enabled a safe way for residents to get their water. These landmarks now represent our history and how much Selkirk has grown.

 

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