(JES @ celebrate erie) When Erie Was the Freshwater Fishing Capital of the World

August 21st,2022 | 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Professor/Instructor/Speaker: David Frew, Ph.D.

During the early 1900s Erie, Pennsylvania earned a national reputation for being the Freshwater Fishing Capital of the World. Tons of Lake Erie fish were delivered to downtown (and neighboring) docks each day from early spring until late winter. Thanks to the local invention of flash-freezing some of this total was sent via railroad trains to big-city markets. Local and visiting fish tugs made their way into the lake each morning to harvest whitefish and cisco, a herring species that was almost fished to extinction. There was an international fish war between United States fisherman and Canada with actual shots fired. Yellow perch and walleye, two of todays most prized species, were classified as "rough fish" and largely ignored. Before becoming a state park, Presque Isle played a significant role in the industry. In addition to its critical environmental role as a breeding ground for fish it housed a huge outdoor hatchery, several fish processing companies, and an ice-harvesting operation. This program will outline those glory days and present the reasons for their demise.


Location: Erie City Hall, Council Chamber 626 State St. Erie, PA 16501

Date/Time:Sunday, August 21 @ 3:00 pm

Admission: FREE

Parking: street parking, parking garages available

Please read our full Covid-19 policy here (updated July 21, 2022).

David Frew, Ph.D.
Scholar-in-Residence, Jefferson Educational Society

Historian and author David Frew, Ph.D., is a JES Scholar-in-Residence. An emeritus professor at Gannon University, he held a variety of administrative positions during a 33-year career. He is also emeritus director of the Erie County Historical Society/Hagen History Center, where he had previously served as Executive Director for five years, and is president of his own management consulting business.


After beginning with a five-year career in engineering, Frew took a teaching fellowship at Kent State University, where he earned a doctorate in Organizational Behavior in 1970. His love of Lake Erie brought him back to Erie where he became a faculty member and the founding director of Gannon's MBA Program. His career at Gannon included administrative posts as Director of the Health Services Administration and Public Administration Programs, as well as Dean of the Graduate School. In 1982 and 1983, he took a leave from Gannon to complete a post-doctorate at Kent State University where he completed advanced coursework in psychology and research design. He was also a visiting professor at Mercyhurst University for four years.


Dr. Frew has authored or co-authored 40 books, most recently “Accidental Parade: A 13,000-Year History of Presque Isle,” and more than 100 articles, cases, and papers. His work has appeared in publications ranging from refereed journals such as The Journal of Applied Psychology to popular magazines such as Sail Magazine and Cruising World.


Growing up on Erie's lower west side as a proud "Bay Rat," Frew was known to join neighborhood kids playing and marauding along the west bayfront. He has written for years about his beloved Presque Isle and his adventures on the Great Lakes. In the “On the Waterfront Series” for the JES, the Scholar-in-Residence takes note of life in and around the water.