Through Waves & Gales Come Fishermen’s Tales  

The Door County Historical Society will host its monthly dinner program, “Through Waves & Gales Come Fishermen’s Tales” presented by Trygvie Jensen on Monday, July 24. The program will include a Fish Boil, with the option of a chicken dinner, catered by Scaturo’s at Sawyer Park in Sturgeon Bay.

Join us as Trygvie Jensen recalls the stories of the men and families involved in commercial fishing at Washington Island. Jensen’s second book, “Through Waves and Gales Comes Fishermen’s Tales,” tells the personal accounts of local commercial fishermen, who put their lives in danger on the water. Commercial fishing began about 1840 in Door County, with the peak of the industry occurring between 1870 and the end of that century. The introduction of invasive species and tighter fishing regulations caused the commercial fishing industry to decline. Today, some commercial fishing is still done in Door County, but far fewer than there would have been during the time of Jensen’s stories.

Trygvie Jensen grew up on Washington Island and came from a commercial fishing family. The memory and spirit of Trygvie’s Great Grandfathers, Oliver Bjarnarson and Harry Hagen, were the inspiration for his book. Both of his Great Grandfathers were commercial fishermen at Washington Island, which was the dominant industry in Door County during its zenith. Growing up in a small, working class community where he would listen to the old fishermen tell their stories, Jensen felt compelled to preserve the history of the people that lived and labored on the land and lake in Washington Island and Door County.

This program will also include a Fish Boil dinner. Famous in Door County, the Fish Boil is a traditional meal started by the Scandinavian settlers of the Door Peninsula. Lake Michigan whitefish is cut into pieces and cooked in boiling water with potatoes and onions. When the fish is cooked, the Master Boiler will toss a small amount of kerosene under the pot. This burst of flames will cause the boil-over, spilling the fish oils over the pot, and dousing the flames.

Please make your reservation by sending payment to the Door County Historical Society, P.O. Box 71, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235, with a memo stating your dinner preference. Please plan to arrive early to check in; the boil over will take place at 5:30 pm, dinner begins at 6:00 pm. The program will begin at 6:45 pm, members may attend the program only at no cost; the program only fee for guests is $5. For further information, contact the Door County Historical Society at (920) 421-2332 or

The Door County Historical Society is an organization dedicated to keeping history alive for future generations through the collection, preservation and sharing of the heritage of Door County. The Society is a membership organization that operates two interpretive sites: Eagle Bluff Lighthouse in Peninsula State Park and the Heritage Village at Big Creek in Sturgeon Bay.

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