October 20, 2020

Memories with Dad

My Dad came home from the hospital on Friday! The pharmacist delivered his medicines late that evening and commented “Jim has more lives than a cat!” It was his ninth major abdominal surgery in about the same number of years. Thank you for all your prayers.

As I was thinking about what to write tonight (and whether to write tonight), I started reminiscing of some of the meaningful times I have spent with my Dad.

When I was three years old, he took me into Stoplog Lake in the Kawartha Highlands. In the 1960s it was very primitive country, with deep cold lakes and rocky cliffs scoured out by glaciers retreating after the last ice age. It would take us about 6 hours of canoeing and portaging to reach our campsite. Our route would take us from the top right corner of the map down to the bottom left.

The travelling could get a little tricky at times.

In my younger years he had a little 2 horsepower motor that he jury-rigged on to the canoe to make the travel a little easier. Some of my fondest memories were established at that lake.

We typically went in the middle of July when the blueberries were at their finest. What fun we had exploring…

cliff jumping…

fishing…

and playing in the natural Jacuzzi and waterfall created by the stream that entered the lake. Tang crystals always made the lake water taste better! It was always cool to start a night howl, and hear the Eastern Coyotes (we called them Brush Wolves) take up the echo. On occasion we would spread our sleeping bags under the stars, and watch the Milky Way explode into glory above us.

Even though we usually camped on an island, our food was always stored up in a tree to minimize the chance of an encounter with bears.

In the morning it was amazing to watch the mist rise over the lake as the sun was rising.

And oh what fishing. Quite often we would go an entire week on the lake without seeing another soul, and the lake was pristine fishing territory. Our last time in, the four fishermen caught (and mostly released) 200 bass in two days!


It was there that I learned to bake “bread on a stick” over the low coals of a campfire.

On our way home we would stop for a swim at “Burleigh Falls” which was always a highlight.

There are no bad memories of camping with Dad, but they are certainly powerful ones.

I don’t have a lot of pictures of that time with Dad, or at least not ones that I could put my hands on quickly.

But, in the in-between years, I created some very similar powerful memories with my kids and their friends. We did a few different trips, but Stoplog Lake was always their favourite and we returned to it a number of times. The pictures I have included are of my recent trips into the area with my own kids, but looking at them sure brings the memories flooding back.

My last time into Stoplog Lake with Dad he slipped and fell and cracked his elbow. It was me who had to take the lead and the load in portaging the canoe and paddling us back to civilization. He reminded me of that story this past weekend. And really, it is a picture of where we are at now. When I was younger, he would always be taking the lead, and setting the pace. Now it is my turn to return the favour.

As usual your thoughts and comments are welcome. Oh, and if you might be interested in a very inexpensive Canadian wilderness experience let me know in the comments. I still have a trip or two left in me and we might be able to arrange something post Covid-19.

Comments

  1. Great memories! And, memories you can yet share with your father.

    Oh that every child could have such positive experiences.

  2. Robert F says

    I’m very glad to hear that your dad is home and recovering well. That’s great news. It’s wonderful that you have such great memories with your father. I wish I could say the same, but can’t. I think that having a good relationship with a caring father and/or mother, and all the memories that go with it, is an invaluable positive and advantage in life. As for your dad, long may he run.

    • Michael Bell says

      My Dad’s dad was away in the second world war. My dad only saw him once before he was eight years old and never really bonded with him. My grandfather’s dad, left his family behind to avoid becoming cannon fodder in WWI. On his return, he died of the Spanish flu in 1918. So my grandfather was fatherless from a very young age. I am glad my Dad was able to break the cycle. Even so, neither he, nor his father, had an example to follow.

  3. Radagast says

    I am glad that your Dad took the time to create memories with you…. really loved the pictures. My father was not an outdoors type. I try to take my son’s back packing once or twice a year (going next weekend – sons are 28, 16 and 14 and bringing my one daughter’s fiancé this time). They are great times for me and great memories for them. We have incorporated hammocking instead of tents these days… saves my back anyway.

  4. Rick Ro. says

    Nice way to give a glimpse of you and your dad (and others) through pictures. Very much enjoyed it.

  5. Very special times indeed. I have a few great camping memories. Some with my dad and brothers, some with friends. One trip took me and a bud from Atlanta to Prince Edward Island and then to New York, camping all the way.