Bernadette’s Take #36

The ocean-going Mountain Man

Marcel Gregori from Vancouver

MarcelGregori2 - CopyHe’s a catch … oh sorry, he has a catch. Marcel Gregori is fishing crabs near Vancouver. (Photo Marcel Gregori)

Swiss are supposed to be mountain people. I mean they don’t even have an ocean, do they?

But mind you, they are very versatile. Like the fish with legs that can walk on land.

Take Marcel Gregori for instance. He comes from a mountainous area in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. He is a butcher by trade.

IMG_3046 - CopyThis is not Marcel’s boat but it has a nice name. (Photo B. Calonego, taken in Lund B.C.)

But what did he end up doing in Switzerland? He worked in a company that smoked salmon. CANADIAN salmon of all things.
(For Swiss experts: The company was called Grischuna in the town of Churwalden, where the Salsiz sausage, buendnerfleish (for Swiss: Bündnerfleisch) and the Mini-Picks come from.)

Where there is smoke, there is fire.

Naturally, Marcel got to know the people in Vancouver where the salmon came from (at the time the firm was called Ocean Fisheries). The Canadians offered him a job. That was in 1986.

Marcel does not pretend it was a quick decision (I know by mentioning this, that illusions of so many a Swiss guy for a fast exit from Europe might be shattered). “I had many sleepless nights”, he says. “I had a good job, family, friends.”

IMG_3042 - CopyThis is not Marcel’s boat either. Marcel does not want to be chased. HE is the hunter. (Photo B. Calonego, taken in Lund B.C.)

Even when Marcel arrived in Canada, he had his doubts. “But my pride made me stay!”
After three years, he became a Canadian citizen.

And now comes the ocean part for the Swiss mountain guy.
After working 6 years for Ocean’s, he bought a fish store from an old couple and in North Vancouver and slowly expanded the business. He ventured out in his boat “Barclay Surge” and caught the crabs himself in Howe Sound and the Strait of Georgia. Maybe that is why his business is called The Crab Shop.

Gregori sells all kinds of fish, and prawns and calamari, he has a takeout restaurant and you can get Fish & Chips, of course.

IMG_0575_11 - CopyThis is not Marcel’s menu. If you want to know his prices, you have to go to his store The Crab Shop in North Vancouver. (Photo B. Calonego)

Marcel says despite his good life and business in Canada, he still gets homesick. “In my heart, I’m still a Swiss guy.” Oh, it just makes my laptop melt.

But Marcel made his decision a long time ago to stay in Canada. He says it is nice to have an option with dual citizenship: “I’m very lucky, I know both worlds.”

He was married and has 3 kids. He now lives his life by the credo: “Work hard and play hard.”

But was has become of the Mountain Man from the Swiss Alps? Is it lurking inside of Marcel’s chest, ready to jump out at any occasion?

MarcelGregori1 - CopyMarcel with an ibex (Steinbock) that he shot in the Swiss alps. The ibex is the one with the horns. (Photo Marcel Gregori)

I had to find out and to place an

UPC (Urgent Phone Call) to Marcel Gregori.

Marcel, how on earth can you suppress your Swiss mountain man desires in Canada?

I don’t! I was a hunting guide and owned an outfitter’s business in Cranbrook B.C. My clients went hunting for black bear, grizzly, moose, elk, mountain sheep and mountain goat.

But did the Ocean Man become mightier and mightier?

No, it was rather that the guiding business became too much for me. My family did not want to move to Cranbrook. It became work, not so much fun anymore. So I gave it up.

I am so glad you gave up hunting!

No, no. I am still hunting for my private pleasure. Last year, I took a floatplane from Pitt Meadows to Fort Nelson, way up in the North of B.C. I was hunting mountain sheep.
I am also hunting in Switzerland.

IMG_0955 - CopyThis is another Steinbock (ibex) on the roof of the Swiss House during the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. It is dead, too. (Photo B. Calonego)

What – all the Canadian bears and moose and mountain sheep are not enough for you?

Hunting in Switzerland is different. There is more hunting pressure, the hunting season is shorter, only 3 weeks, it is a smaller area.
It is also more like a tradition, I hang out with friends, it is more about cabin life, storytelling, eating together.

MarcelGregori3 - CopyMarcel Gregori hunting in Switzerland. Hold on to your trophy, Marcel, hold on to it tightly. (Photo Marcel Gregori)

Why can’t you do that in Canada?

Here in Canada, it is all about the meat, about the trophy. It is not the same atmosphere. You don’t bump into people. You drive around a lot. But the hunting season is much longer and there is more variety of game in Canada.

I am sure that your Swiss friends would try out the hunt in Canada!

Yes, a lot of friends come here and hunt with me. In January this year, we went cougar hunting in the Okanagan.

IMG_0928Fishing boats on Granville Island in Vancouver. Marcel’s boat is nowhere to be seen. He must be out on the ocean. (Photo B. Calonego)

Did you survive the rattle snakes there?

Well, we obviously did as you can see. But in 1996, I almost didn’t survive a grizzly bear attack. I was moose hunting and I shot a moose and left it in the woods. When I went back the next day to get it, a grizzly was there before me. It tried to protect the meat and attacked me right away. I fired one shot but the bear was on top of me. He chewed my skull and ripped up the skin, bit my shoulder and my leg. I passed out.

Oh my gosh! What saved you from death?

The grizzly was injured and left me alone for a while. I awoke and had the chance to grab the gun to shoot the bear again. I killed him. A Swiss wrangler named Lukas Keusch was with me on horseback. He basically saved my life. He found me 3 hours later. He was able to run back to an outfitter`s cabin. There was a radio phone and he called the nearest lodge. The lodge had a satellite phone and they called a helicopter in. Lukas Keusch saved my life. I named my firstborn son after him.

That must have been a life-changing experience for you!

Yes, I can tell you! Before you thought you are invincible. You have to be aware that there are predators out there that are stronger and bigger than you. You always have to look over your shoulder. In Switzerland, you don’t have to think about that.

IMG_4923 - CopyNo, this is not Marcel’s boat either. His boat is called “Barclay Surge”. (Photo B. Calonego, the toy boat was made by a fisherman with stuff he found on the beaches in B.C.)

Have a look at Marcel’s website:
www.thecrabshop.ca

P.S. If you know an interesting person, or if you have an interesting story to tell about yourself, don`t hesitate to contact us at info@swiss100Canada.com

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