(Saint-Eustache) Once upon a time there was an environmentally conscious child who fished for trash. This is the premise of the fictional story that author Émilie Demers wanted to tell. However, before putting the fruit of her imagination down on paper, she had a surprise while doing research on the web: this young person exists!
His name: Raphaël de Fages de Latour. Since the age of 9, this Parisian has been removing metal waste from the Seine using a rope and a magnet that he enjoys throwing into the watercourse.
In recent years, the 13-year-old has been the subject of numerous reports, mainly in France, and has recently become the hero of a children’s book, The Magnet Fisherman.
Indeed, author Émilie Demers was so inspired by the boy’s initiative that she contacted his family for permission to tell his story. “I went and looked at all his interviews, all the information about him. I read everything about magnet fishing. I was fascinated,” she recalls.
Raphaël de Fages de Latour admits to having found the author’s proposal “cool”, but did not think that the project would take on this scale.
However, thanks to this book, he visited Quebec for the first time in his life.
It was on a wooden bridge spanning the Rivière du Chêne, in Vieux-Saint-Eustache, that La Presse met him. Why this meeting point? For a magnet fishing trip, of course.
After putting on his gloves and attaching the rope to the structure of the bridge, the young person takes the magnet and throws it into the water. All this, under the encouragement of Steve Dufour, a Quebec magnet fishing enthusiast who lent him the equipment.
As he calmly reels in this strange fishing rod, Raphaël de Fages de Latour explains to La Presse how his passion was born: “I was watching YouTube and I came across a YouTuber who was doing magnet fishing. So, I wanted to do the same. Back then, I asked Santa for a magnet and a rope. »
During his first fishing trip, he pulled out of the water, with the help of his father, Alexandre de Fages de Latour, a basket of groceries and some bricks. Encouraged by this harvest, he repeated the experience.
Every weekend until recently, they went to the banks of the Seine or the Ourcq canal to extract objects from the water. “At first it was mostly for fun. Quickly, it became about cleaning up pollution,” confides the man nicknamed Raf sur Seine.
“We caught revolvers, rifles from the Second World War, a bayonet from 1794…”, lists Alexandre de Fages de Latour, who specifies that, in these cases, they notify the authorities.
One day, the father-son duo even pulled a washing machine out of the water. To achieve this, Raphaël and Alexandre de Fages de Latour were not alone. Dozens of passers-by pitched in. This very heavy hold lasted them for four hours.
On the Vieux-Saint-Eustache pedestrian bridge, the somewhat unusual fishing activity attracts the attention of passers-by. The afternoon catches, however, are not very surprising. Steve Dufour’s large bucket contains nails, a few metal bars and an old ice skate blade. In Quebec, hooks and nails are the objects most often caught, he specifies.
Raphaël de Fages de Latour’s journey has already influenced other young people who, in turn, have started to clean up waterways. “We multiply over time,” he rejoices.
He hopes that his message will resonate more thanks to Émilie Demers’ book.
“Raphaël often says it: there is no age to act,” his father concludes, a glint of pride in his eyes.