I was born in Port Arthur, Ontario, on the north shore of Lake Superior.
Crawled, bawled and took my first steps on the Precambrian shield. Bedrock and fresh water. Boreal forest, ten thousand lakes, rivers and streams. Twenty-five below in February. Plastic bread bags in our boots. Scarves, toques and breath-frosted balaclavas. Skidoo mitts. Skidoo boots. Skidoo suits. Skidoos that barely ever ran. But man, the outfits brought a new age of warmth. Snowshoes, cross-country skis and downhill at Mount Baldy.
Black flies and mosquitoes come summer. Canoes, campfires, canvas tents, Coleman lanterns, Mitchell reels and fishing rods. Hank Storm strumming his guitar. We had camper trailers by then. Singsongs and fish-fries. Northern Pike and Pickerel. Always an aluminum boat pulled up or tied up. Slow leak and an ancient hit n’miss Viking outboard. Dirt logging roads. Gravel highways. Tote roads, orange vests, a pocket full of 22 shells and partridge hunting up near Dorian and Ouimet Canyon.
Land of the Sleeping Giant. Nanabijou. Pulp mills, grain elevators. And the union. Twenty bucks an hour sweeping floors. Or so they said. Or so I remember. Devote Catholic school boy. Corpus Christi. Altar boy and nun’s favourite. Not an athlete like my friends, but an actor and artist. Caught drinking beer before a dance and kicked out of school in grade ten. Chairman of the Students Council. Dime bags of pot. Driving the Dodge Dart. Bag boy at Safeway laughing with the moms, carrying on and carrying out their groceries.
In 1975 I boarded a plane for the first time. Standby to Ottawa. Greyhound to Kingston. And I was away. The great lake Gitchigoomie splashing in my veins.