W. J. McCabe

W. J. McCabe

The Izaak Walton League had an active chapter in Duluth in the 1920s, shortly after the League was formed, and the League has served the Duluth region ever since. The current chapter became active in the 1960s. In 1984 it was named after William John McCabe (1895-1980). 

Mr. McCabe was born in Glasston, North Dakota, the grandson of a Canadian Irish immigrant. When he was one year old, his family moved to Duluth, MN where he lived the rest of his life, and is now buried. Some of his family still lives in the Duluth area and continues work in the local logging and timber management industry.

He came from a family of grain farmers that worked with grain commodity brokering at Duluth's Board of Trade Building, once a center of agricultural trading for the entire Upper Midwest. At that time, grain trading was a major farm export commodity activity and a significant addition to the local economy. The Board of Trade Building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing member of the Duluth Commercial Historic District.

While attending the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Mr. McCabe was impacted by the emerging ideas surrounding the new science called wildlife management, and related to that, the idea of "carrying capacity." For example, how many cows could a pasture sustain, how many deer could a woods sustain.

But if animals were restricted by resource availability, Mr. McCabe noted that it must also apply to humans. He became very concerned about human population growth and its resource consequences, noting that single-celled amoebas in a Petri dish will quickly reproduce to the point of population collapse, an ominous warning to our current population conditions.

People that knew Mr. McCabe described him as thoughtful and intelligent, but quiet, quick to listen and slow to speak. He was a strong supporter of the IWLA, traveling to countless meetings. 

He embodied the League's grass roots, community based approach that allows for diverse views, handling complex issues respectfully. He notably supported the League even when he may have disagreed with a particular position.

Mr. McCabe symbolized stewardship, personal responsibility and engagement on the issues of the day. He also epitomized the importance of citizen conservation emphasis on education, and broad commitment to earth’s stewardship (versus single issue activism). These remain strong attributes of the League, and is why this Chapter is proud to carry his name.