first published on August 29, 2017 by Will
For Canadian anglers, and for Americans that have ever fished north of the border, Len Thompson is a household name. If you’re planning on catching some monster Northern Pike in Canada’s icy waters, there is a good chance you will be casting Len Thompson spoons.
The lure company has been around forever… well, since 1929, but in that time they have produced over 45 million fishing lures, some of which held world records for Lake Trout and Arctic Grayling, and several provincial records for Walleye, Trout, and other game fish.
Their lures are legendary and the Len Thompson name is iconic, but what many people don’t know, is that Len Thompson, the man, was a war hero long before he got into the fishing industry.
In 1917, Len enlisted in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force in Regina, Saskatchewan, and went on to fight for the 46th Battalion at the Battle of Vimy Ridge as a 1st Class Sniper in WWI.
Vimy Ridge was an incredibly costly battle for the allied armies. The ridge itself was a ~4.5 mile strategic overlook in northern France, held by the German Empire. Before the Canadians were even brought in, the British and French forces repeatedly failed to gain any kind of foothold, at a cost of 150,000 casualties… a sum unimaginable on today’s battlefields.
On 9 April 1917, the Canadian forces were given their turn to assault the ridge. At 5:30am they began their charge with 15,000 troops. They fought with ferocity and with tactics not previously used by their sister armies. By the end of the day, the Canadians had captured most of Vimy Ridge, and the Germans that weren’t killed were pushed back to a fortified knoll located outside the village of Givenchy-en-Gohelle. On the 12th of April, after four days and nights of hellish fighting, the Canadians crushed the last remaining pocket of German resistance, sending them into all out retreat. Vimy Ridge was theirs… but at the cost of over 10,600 Canadians killed and wounded.
The German Empire had seriously underestimated the Canadian forces, calling them “untrained colonial levies,” but how wrong they were. The Canadians differed in their tactics from the French and British militaries. They placed great emphasis on intense training, and ensured even their lowest-ranking privates understood the intent and strategic intelligence of the battle, so they could continue the fight with their own initiative after their officers were predictably killed in battle.
The Canadians’ unprecedented victory in the Battle of Vimy Ridge became a learning point for military scholars and tacticians across the world, and is said to have been a defining moment for Canada’s progress to full independence from Britain.
As previously mentioned, Len Thompson was there, on the frontline with a sniper rifle in his hand. His unit, the 46th Battalion, was lauded for their “aggressiveness” in the battle. They were often just a few meters from German troops, verbally taunting before attacking them.
Len was eventually wounded in a different battle, taking shrapnel in his leg as well as severely burning his lungs in a chemical gas attack, and he was sent back home to his farm. Len had always been an avid outdoorsman that enjoyed hunting, but he especially loved fishing. While recovering from his wounds, he took to creating fishing lures, as the ones currently on the market were not up to his standards.
Len’s lures gained popularity locally, and he saw his opportunity to turn his passion into a profession. He traded his farm assets in for lure making equipment and materials and went into full time production. Len lived a long and successful life before passing away in 1979.
Over the decades, Len Thompson’s lure company continued to expand into a national staple for fishing equipment… all while never selling out. Today, Len Thompson, the company, is still in the family, in its fourth generation of ownership and operation. It is a national treasure in its own right. Their versatile spoons continue to dominate the Canadian fishing market and have even expanded to the U.S.
If you’re into the outdoors and want to support the legacy of an iconic warfighter outdoorsman, check out the Len Thompson line of products >>>HERE<<< The following video shows the impeccable quality that is produced because of the materials used, as well as the intensive hands-on painting and construction by Len’s great grandchildren.