Date: Thursday, March 1 / 2007
We now have proof that Dr. JW Cook's World Record Brook Trout was caught in 1915 thanks to Rob Swainson who supplied me with the information and the scan of DR. Cook's signature.
In 1915 the Lake Nipigon Forest Reserve was much larger than it is today. To get access to the best areas of the Nipigon River, guests had to sign the Nipigon Forest Reserve Tourist Register so that forest rangers know how many people are in the reserve for safety reasons. It's still done today in Ontario Parks. Rob Swainson viewed the registry and noted that Dr. Cook went on two fishing trips to the Nipigon River in 1915. Once was in July and the other was in September. Rob painstakingly read the registry for 1916 and neither Dr. Cook nor his best fishing buddy, R.J. Byrnes, visited the Nipigon River that year.
If you look at the picture of the registry below, it shows Dr. Cook and party first entered the reserve on July 15 / 1915. The fish was officially recognized on July 21. This makes sense. If he was on a 7-day fishing trip and caught the World Record Brook Trout between the 15th and the 21st, on the last day of his trip, they would have hiked out of the bush and stopped at the ranger station on the way out (21st). If so, the first time a government official could legally authenticate the fish would have been the 21st.
Thunder Bay resident Jerry Eldridge has been researching this for years. It is very unfortunate that I have not been able to track him down to show him this new information because it would have been the icing on the cake for his efforts. I have contacted Ontario Out Of Doors Magazine and they are trying to track Jerry down for me.