John William Keith-King died after a long battle with leukemia in October of 2015 at the age of 76. He had been born in Ancaster, Ontario to Dorothy and John (“Jack”) King but his father died when he was very young. Several years later, Dorothy married George Keith; the boy had such a great affection for his step-father that when he left to study architecture at the University of Manitoba, he changed his name to “Keith-King” to honor both men.
Jack King was a trainman as were two of his brothers. After Jack’s death, John’s uncles would use their train passes to take him far and wide on fishing trips that he would remember for the rest of his life. Given that he also developed a passion for “collecting” early on, it’s not surprising that later in life John would establish a sport fishing museum to house his many artifacts (he also had facilities dedicated to the displays of his model trains and ships).
In 2004 John and his artist wife Sherrard (“Sherry”) Grauer moved to Vancouver Island to a farm where the “crop” that gave him the most satisfaction was a network of large and small ponds that John himself created to provide havens for wildlife “finned, furred and feathered.” The museums were closed in 2008 and the artifacts moved to a refurbished barn in Duncan, BC.
After his death in the fall of 2015, the family engaged David McCann, a family friend, to find a new home for John’s collections. David Clark, a good friend of David McCann and a former New Brunswick Attorney General, suggested the Atlantic Salmon Museum in New Brunswick as a strong possibility. As luck would have it, Morris Green, one of the Museum’s founding members and now an Honourary Director, remembered Mr. Clark from his own years in Provincial politics and within a matter of months, arrangements had been made to bring the contents of the sport fishing collection to Doaktown.
The collection consists of seven basic categories (fly plates, artwork, reels, fishing rods, fishing tackle, fish replicas and antique outboard motors) and has been appraised at an estimated $500,000. Also included are three stainless steel mesh sculptures of sockeye salmon all made by John’s wife, Sherry – the largest, which measures almost 8 feet in length, was a birthday present to her husband. Also notable is the fact that many of the fly plates were constructed by William Cushner, world-renowned as a pioneer in the art of presenting fishing flies in a three-dimensional setting making them appear more life-like and authentic.
The Atlantic Salmon Museum is extremely honoured to have been chosen as the recipient of this magnificent collection and to be able to offer them to our many visitors for their enjoyment and appreciation.