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  • Rachael Preston

Where the Canal Rats Were

Updated: Sep 7, 2020

The inspiration for The Fishers of Paradise.

Photo: RBG Archives

MAHONEY: Requiem for Cootes Paradise ‘canal rats’

There’s nothing left of the once famous/infamous Hamilton boathouse colony at Cootes Paradise, which flourished between 1920 and 1940. It’s the kind of community you’d expect to find tucked into the curl of a shoreline on the Louisiana bayou. Boathouses on stilts. Squatters, pothunters, rogues and rounders. Poor folk, struggling families, many subsisting on fish and game gleaned from the unique and plentiful wetland environment that they’ve claimed as their home.

But it’s not Cajun; it’s Canadjun. More specifically, it’s Cootes Paradise, Hamilton’s own.

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