Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Every year at this time it is difficult for me not to feel somewhat nostalgic.
July signalled our guy’s getaway, an entire week of fishing in Algonquin Park.  

A place where you could spend an entire week without seeing another person and when you did encounter someone it was as if you had found a long-lost friend. I guess people are different without the stresses of everyday life.  This I enjoyed immensely. We never camped in the campgrounds rather we went to the interior of the park which was only accessible by canoe or portage.

Our primary reason for going was to do some fishing, I would love paddling my canoe and fishing in the morning as the sun rose or in the evening at dusk.  We were certainly not your regular group of campers it was always hilarious when we received our annual unannounced visit from the local fish and game warden. This you have to picture, four guys out in the middle of nowhere with the following partial list of our equipment.

Four canoes.

Two large tents.

One propane barbecue.

Two or three Coleman stoves.

Two Coleman heaters.

At least three Coleman lanterns.

Rope, block and tackle. "To keep our food at bay from the Bears".

And on and on it went, we were strictly catch and release I mean we were quite realistic in our approach.
For one thing none of us wanted to eat or go through the trouble of cleaning a bass when we could throw a porterhouse on the barbecue, baked potatoes etc.

In the interior no glass containers were permitted providing us with an excuse to each bring a 60 ounce bottle of Bacardi as these were in plastic containers.  At a time when we all smoked the one thing we did bring was a glass ashtray normally placed close to the fire our goal was to leave the premises exactly how they were upon our arrival.  Even the game warden would chuckle overlooking that ashtray.  Some years we would leave immediately after work and drive for six hours from Toronto without even stopping to take our jackets and ties off.  It was a release a great feeling.

A few years after we began this ritual I was diagnosed with MS yet in the beginning I didn't know what I had except that carrying a canoe with another guy who had suffered a heart attack was probably not the greatest idea in the world.  I made it every year for a least a dozen years.  The last few were the hardest, I recall sitting and looking out at the lake wondering if this was my last year?  Would I be capable next July?

I went with the most accommodating people in the world, we all worked together and they took care of me in more ways than I can mention.  Even on our last two outings I was in my manual chair and they still accommodated me not in the park yet we found other locations that permitted us to spend some time together yet it was never the same. Ultimately when I could no longer stand or hold on to my fishing rod I called it quits.

Some people would say that one should never reminisce about these times as they only serve to bring sorrow.   I would have agreed in the beginning yet after all these years I look back on those times with joy knowing that I was at least given the opportunity to spend some great times with a great group of guys.

After paddling across the lake we finally made it to the portage!  The rest was easy, just follow the trail .

 Throughout the years we had the opportunity of seeing quite a few of these creatures huge! 

However the strangest thing the group ever saw was this creature. 

The guys didn't know exactly how to take him.
As manager of the department I was always serious at work. The guys cracked up when they saw me dressed up cooking breakfast one morning. I remember one of them saying "he's nothing like he is in the office, he's nuts".  I loved every minute of it.


Karen said...

Oh Michael, I think this kind of reminiscing is great! Recalling adventures, friendships and good times are memories that we hold close to our hearts, and help nourish our soul.

We used to canoe camp in the interior of Algonquin as well. We had a Kevlar canoe, so even I could portage it...back then.

I just put a picture up of Tea Lake in Algonquin on my photo blog. We drive there every year when we are up at the cottage. It's not in the interior, but the magic of Algonquin is there all the same.


MikeH said...

Another great picture, I recall Tea Lake but I don't remember exactly where it was located. We would enter the park from the East gate close to Pembroke. I should mention as well that this is where one morning I was all prepared to leave with my canoe coffee in hand, snacks etc. Without realizing the front of the canoe was resting on a large tree root, I pushed off and when the tip of the canoe past the root which was supporting the canoe I flipped.

That was my most disappointing and expensive trip I recall standing in 2 feet of water bending to pick up my Nikon camera with my 55 mm -- 135 mm lens attached.

Karen said...

Ohhhhh nasty Michael! I always have my camera in a waterproof bag when I canoe. Tea Lake is at km 8 on Highway 60 in from the West Entrance.

Studio Jo said...

Hi Dad,
I LOVE these pictures, thanks for posting them! You look right in your element, I can imagine you must have had a blast on those trips. Being out in the middle of nowhere is a great feeling. Love you !

MikeH said...

First of all Thank you so much for taking the time to stop and take a look.
Yes it was so nice to get away for a week or two. The guys soon learned that I was
just as crazy as they were. You know we did that trip for almost 15 years in a row!
Amazing stuff.
Love you too

Studio Jo said...

15 years in a row? Cool :) I think of how I do summerfolk every year and this will be our 13th or 14th year in a build some good friendships in that time span ;)

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