Langara Fishing Adventures, Rick Bourne and Canadian Rugby
by Peter MacDonald
In 1985 Rick Bourne and his partners opened Langara Fishing Lodge, a sport fishing resort situated at Langara Island at the north tip of Haida Gwai. Nestled in protected waters in Henslung Cove with a south facing exposure it is perfectly located as a base from which to fish all five species of salmon as well as halibut, ling cod and other rockfish. Mature salmon returning from the Gulf of Alaska to streams throughout BC pass through the local waters during spring, summer and early autumn months.
Over the years the business has expanded and it now includes four lodges enjoyed by a worldwide clientele. And since 1991 Langara Fishing Adventures has been a consistent and passionate supporter of rugby throughout Canada.
Rugby sponsorship and philanthropy can take many forms. A remote controlled DHL van delivers the match ball to the centre of the pitch on the mens’ and womens’ sevens circuit, HSBC sponsors the Vancouver Sevens and AIG sponsors and is on the jersey of the All Blacks and the Black Ferns. At Cal Berkeley alumni can donate towards endowments by position, so a former lock can contribute to a fund for students who play lock for example. Langara often offers a fishing trip by way of auction to support various rugby initiatives.
Here in BC former players have been instrumental in supporting rugby not only personally but through their businesses. B2Gold, whose CEO Clive Johnson played his rugby at Point Grey High School and with the Meralomas and Ravens, is the lead sponsor of the annual PRC tournament for regional youth representative players from U14 to U18. The Capilano club’s Decotiis family through the Onni Group is an “Official Sponsor” of the BCRU along with Grosvenor (Andrew Bibby) and X-Treme Rugby Wear (Eddie Evans) among others.
Langara Fishing Adventures is part of that group having given back to rugby in BC and Canada for more than 25 years. While Langara supports many charitable causes including health care organizations, educational initiatives and fish and wildlife advocacy groups, rugby has always been a prominent object of its giving. At the National level, since the 1991 World Cup, it has supported the mens’ and womens’ 15s teams, the Canada Sevens players’ fund, the CRC competition and its member clubs, the Canadian Rugby Foundation and the Canada Sevens. Provincial support has gone to the BCRU and regional support to the VRU through its PRC teams. At the local level, clubs, including Burnaby, Caps, CW, UBC and UVic and high schools have all received support.
Fist Nations rugby in Haida Gwai has had support from Langara through sponsorship of national team players doing coaching sessions with local youth and the Thunder Indigenous Rugby program has also been a beneficiary.
Langara’s support for rugby in Canada has extended to over thirty organizations and is now approaching two million dollars in large part due to Rick’s ability to fuse together the Langara Fishing Adventures business, rugby and his family life. For over forty years Rick enjoyed playing the game at Shawnigan Lake School, The Rowing Club, UBC, UBC Old Boys, Vancouver and BC. “I enjoyed my playing days immensely” Rick says “and I am happy to help in some way to provide the same opportunities to young people wanting to simply play the game or to those pursuing greater rugby ambitions.”
The rugby community is tight knit and, despite club rivalries on the field or in the boardrooms, fundraising brings people together. The Caps’ icon Tony Scott often offers his services as an auctioneer, those with something to give step up and Langara Fishing Adventures is there among others with a trip for auction to benefit the host.
Interestingly Langara is not the first fishing venture to support amateur sport in a significant way in BC. BC Packers, the largest fish processing company on the BC coast at the time and whose canned salmon was sold worldwide under the Cloverleaf brand name, supported the Clover Leafs mens’ basketball team in the 1940s. Many notable athletes of the day were on that team including Sandy Robertson and Harry Franklin and they won many consecutive national championships. Fast forward to today, Johnny Franklin, of the Capilanos and who played with the BC Senior Mens' team against the RAF recently, is a grandson of Harry Franklin who is benefitting from the support of businesses including Langara.
Like many before it and many others today Langara is happy to keep paying it forward.