By Rob Perez
“We have come to fish for the herring-fish
That live in this beautiful sea” V Wynken
From Eugene Field in his children’s classic, Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.
First opening its doors in 1996 and now old enough to be celebrating its 25th anniversary, the North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum in Tofte is officially open for the season. You can tell from the three large “Open” flags out front. $3 for adults and $1 for 16 and under, their hours of operation are Thursday/Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Many local lodgings, including the Bluefin, offer their guests coupons that allow them to visit the museum for free.
“We hope to share an understanding and appreciation for how fisherman lived a hundred years ago,” says Ginny Storlie, board president.
Nets of silver and gold have we,
Said Wynken, Blynken, And Nod.
The museum, while small, offers a window into the lives these fishermen lived in daily pursuit of lake trout and herring. There is a book of old fish houses from Knife River to Grand Portage. A cleaning table from Isle Royal is filled with exotic fishing and cleaning tools. and The Isle is a restored eighteen-foot mackinaw. There is also a video about The America, the ship that brought people and supplies up the shore before Highway 61. All of these exhibits paint a picture of what it was like to work the water.
Now cast your nets wherever you wish—
Never afraid are we!”
Even though foot traffic was good in 2020, almost a thousand people visited the museum, “We were hit hard during Covid. We lost a lot of support.” says board member Ranna Levoir. It’s been a tough year for many non-profits, but the North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum remains committed to the memories, the people, the lifestyle, and the work of the fishing communities that came before us.
So shut your eyes while Mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea
The North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum hopes to celebrate their 25th anniversary with an event in September. But why wait? The sea is calling now.