Indoor fishing derby to help build new fire hall – and celebrate a lost firefighter

Bobbin’ for Brian Indoor Fishing Derby fundraiser takes place Saturday evening, February 16, at the Shamrock Centre


It’s been 15 years, but the mother of a local teenage firefighter, who died in a tragic car accident back in 2003, says she still carries her son close in her heart.

And an upcoming fundraiser to benefit the new fire hall build will be a special way to celebrate him, she said, because 19-year-old Brian McKay’s dream had been to spend his life fighting fires.

“Brian joined the Killarney Fire Department when he was in high school, in Grade 11,” said Debbie McKay. “And he loved it. He was clamouring to go when he heard the fire bell. He was really into it, and it meant a lot to him. That’s what he wanted to do for a living.”

However, in Grade 12 Brian shockingly died in a single vehicle accident, never finishing high school, said his mom.

But the local fire department has not forgotten that keen young firefighter, who was being mentored and trained for a future role with the force.

“They have been a big support to our family,” said McKay. “They are like brothers. There’s a symbol on the rescue van; it’s a green ribbon with Brian’s name on it.”

Now that the municipality is moving forward with plans to build a new, larger, and more modern fire hall this year on South Railway Street, McKay was thrilled to help out, after coming up with the idea of next month’s Bobbin’ for Brian Indoor Fishing Derby, to be held at the Shamrock Centre on Saturday, February 16.

“Brian loved to fish,” said his mother. “Two days before he died he was out fishing, and he called me to come and take a picture of him holding a fish.”

Now the McKay family and the fire department are putting the fish and the firemen together – in a very fun way – to celebrate Brian’s life, and to raise cash for the new fire hall.

“Deb got together with Brian’s friends, and they came up with this idea,” said the fire chief, Troy Cuvelier. “She saw a derby in Regina, and she approached me, and I thought it was an awesome idea. It has gone wild. All of his friends are on board.”

Plus you don’t have to know a thing about how to fish.

“It’s really like a silent auction,” said McKay. “When you come in, you get a ‘fishing licence,’ and that comes with 50 ‘lures,’ which are really tickets, if you buy a ticket in advance. You get 25 lures if you buy a ticket at the door. You get a lanyard to go around your neck, and this will hold the license, and the lures.”

Fifty ‘fishing holes,’ represented by buckets, will be spread out in the middle of the hall, and people will then walk around, and drop their ‘lures’ into the ‘holes,’ she said.

“There will be a bingo ball, and someone will draw the numbers, and then draw three tickets from the holes. If they pull your tickets, you pull from a deck of cards, and the card determines the weight of the fish. An Ace is one pound, and a King is 13 pounds.”

Brian’s friend Lisa Whyte has created an excellent YouTube video, ‘Bobbin’ for Brian,’ that shows just how the derby works, so you can check that out to see more details, she added. (See the link at the end of the story.) 

A few changes have since been made to make it run a little faster, and more fun, she said.

“It’s been 15 years since we lost him, and it feels like time to celebrate him,” said McKay. “I miss him; I carry him in my head. And it’s crazy; donations are coming in already. People who are going south are coming in and donating, or buying a license, just to support the event. It’s been amazing. So far there’s around $800 in cash, and around 100 tickets are already sold.”

Tickets are $20 for adults, and $10 for students, and are available at Lewis & Jones, Gwen’s Trends, the Co-op Gas Bar, and from organizers and Debbie McKay herself, dispatcher for Wawanesa-Belmont Transfer, located in Suite #4 at the back of the MAFRI and Services for Seniors offices on South Railway.

Deadline for advance tickets is Saturday, February 9.

“Organizers will be in the Killarney Place mall on Friday and Saturday, February 8 and 9, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., to sell tickets,” said McKay.

Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 16, and the derby begins at 7 p.m., and runs until 10 p.m. Prizes totalling $1,250, plus other wins, will follow.

“The fire department will also be serving up pork on a bun, with coleslaw, and pickles and cheese, for just $10, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.” said McKay. “And there will be another option for kids, for $5, of a hot dog, chips, and a drink. There will be a cash bar throughout the event, a raffle prize table, and a 50:50 draw. Kids aged 15 and under will need to come with a parent.”

McKay hopes that the event will inspire other youngsters to become future firefighters for the municipality.

“They mentor kids early,” she said. “Not everyone knows this. They let the kids clean the fire trucks, and do other jobs. They don’t fight the fires, but they can attend the callouts. And that’s what I hope comes out of this; that more young people get involved with the local fire department. They are a really good group, and they care with all their hearts.”

(Donations of $25 or over are tax-deductible.) 

Here’s the link to the YouTube video for Bobbin’ for Brian Indoor Fishing Derby: 

GREEN RIBBON IN MEMORY OF BRIAN – Fire Chief Troy Cuvelier (left), of the Killarney-Turtle Mountain Fire Department, and Debbie McKay (right), mother of late firefighter Brian McKay, a Grade 12 student at Killarney School who died in 2003, posed by the fire department’s rescue van. Between them is the commemorative green ribbon on the van that bear’s Brian’s name, and the number 20 for his helmet number (see below for detail). He also loved fishing – so an indoor fundraising derby coming up next month will help pay for the community’s new fire hall.


FIREFIGHTER ATTIRE – The local firefighters took to wearing a smart uniform white shirt, beginning back in Fire Chief Mike Bellew’s time, says Debbie McKay. Here’s her son Brian back in 2003 wearing his, while serving in the community in a non-emergency capacity.

THE LAST FISH – Two days before his untimely death following a car accident in 2003, 19-year-old Brian McKay was out fishing on the lake, and caught this whopper. His mother snapped the photo and captured the joyous moment, which now hangs framed on her wall.