Archives for November 22, 2019
A Perilous Trek
His mother was suffering from a stroke and he was going for help.
The long walk would take a week or more.
This Cree family of 5 were trappers. The mother did not want the father, Fred, to go so the son offered to get help.
Wearing his backpack filled with a knife, rope, moccasins, winter boots, heavy socks, flour, tea, kettle, sugar, lard, matches, small ax, blanket, sleeping bag and an extra set of clothes, he set out on his snow shoes.
With no compass and only a roughly sketched map of northern Ontario wilderness, Doug Rickard, age 19, embarked on a trek to the nearest major road north of Kapuskasing.
The twists and turns he’d have to take would nearly double the direct distance of 75 km. Neither the -20 degree weather nor the lack of a trail through the deep snow was going to stop him.
Each night he had to find a sheltered grove, make a bed of pine boughs, build a small lean-to shelter, gather wood for a fire, try to dry out perspiration soaked clothes and then get some sleep. Each morning he arose to a very cold campsite. Then he faced the insecurity of a crude map, detours around gullies or thick underbrush, energy draining away and the worries about becoming lost. But then a clearing opened up. He had found a road. It must lead to the Smoky Falls road that he needed, but three more days of walking yielded no sight of any civilization. He came upon a small Ontario Hydro generating station but nobody there.
An hour and a half later a truck came around the bend.
Randy Orr and Gerald Bernard, hydro workers, spotted Doug and picked him up. They couldn’t believe he had been walking through the wilderness for 7 days. An hour later a Spruce Falls helicopter picked Doug up. It took only 30 minutes to reach the Rickard cottage. It was an unbelievably excited reunion.
The mother had not only survived but regained a fair bit of her health. According to a November 1984 Readers’ Digest article, she was flown to Moose Factory General Hospital.
Doug was awarded the OPP bravery award for his incredible achievement of endurance and courage.
This story had special meaning for me, having lived the first 9 years of my life about 50 km out of Kapuskasing.
I heard someone say, ‘don’t have a whale about it’. Then another time I heard, ‘why don’t you have a whale about it’? I’m thinking that in both cases ‘the whale’ is a big drama of some kind. The whale is the biggest marine mammal and as demonstrated here, is associated with ‘big’. Canada .has a postage stamp showing a very big whale and the stamp is also very big. Whale is synonymous with big.
Whales do not eat people. They like krill, small crustaceans that live in huge schools in northern oceans. The blue whale, the biggest, eats four tons of krill per day. The whale takes in a large amount of water containing krill and then pushes the water part out through its baleen strainer leaving the krill to eat. Whales have a mixed reputation. According to Disney they are cuddly yet some are called killer whales.
The stand up whale comedian says, ‘you know some people treat me like I have a hole in my head’. Whales sing. Like our fingerprints are unique, the tail markings on a whale are unique enough to be able to definitely distinguish between them. These massive animals are a part of lore. Jonah was swallowed and carried around until he had a revelation. So too Pinocchio was inside a whale for quite some time.
Whales are models for us. They cohabitate in large families. They don’t kill much, except killer whales go for seals. In spite of their hugeness, they feel friendly and are known to take at least some care not to tip over kayaks and won’t attack a swimmer. They model ‘the big easy’ and are not going to weight watchers anytime soon. They are OK with themselves. Whales can teach us a few things
To had a while of a time is to have had fun, huge fun. I am not aware of any other animal that is referred to in this manner. Whales are kind of reassuring. I feel ‘nice’ about whales. They play and sing, seeming to make the world a better place, somehow. I don’t know exactly how. The world seems to agree that saving the whales from extinction is a good thing. What is your opinion on this?
Ready for the quiz question? Where were you on Friday November 22 1963? Those on the gray hair side of things will answer and know exactly where they were. For my generation it is a ‘where were you’ moment. It is one of those significant moments like the day Neil Armstrong walked on the moon or in 1972 when Henderson scored the winning goal in the Canada Russia hockey series. We sometimes forget we were 34 seconds away from international humiliation.
On this day Friday November 22nd nineteen sixty-three, the shots rang out in Dallas Texas and John F. Kennedy – thirty-fifth President of the United States was assassinated.
Kennedy wasn’t the only one to die that day as police officer J. D. Tippit was shot dead far from the Kennedy murder scene. Officially it is said he was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald who is said to also have killed Kennedy.
The reason for speculation, conspiracy theories and a lack real conclusion is because within days Oswald was murdered by night club owner Jack Ruby. This we know for sure as Oswald was murdered on live TV.
For many today the suspense and tension might not be realized. For those too young to remember or think of this event as one from ancient history let me lead you through the door to another time.
In sport, we often got the world championship hockey game in a can shipped by plane and televised the next day. It was of no consequence as we heard it on radio the day before.
There were three American TV networks and for most of us the CBC in Canada. Television was in black and white and we got the picture from an antenna or rabbit ears as we called them. There were no cell phones, no internet, no game boys. We paid attention to the news. We trusted our news media, politicians and police.
The events in Dallas were visions we were clinging too until a day or so later when the man -Jack Ruby- got access to the police garage and murdered Lee Harvey Oswald the suspect in the Kennedy assassination. It seems to be the first day we opened our minds to question. It was limited though. From there the flood gates of conspiracy theories, doubt, and confusion engulfed us all. For more than half a century the search for answers continues.
The doubt and suspicion surrounding the Kennedy murder gave way from questioning everything to societal rebellion and the anti-war movement that provided unrest until the seventies. It provided the window of doubt that fanned the flames of discontent and the destroyed the image of Richard Nixon and his cronies.
The shots that rang out that November day in Dealey Plaza in 1963 still ring with an echo in our ears and we feel the shadow of mistrust and dissatisfaction to this day. Yes it was an American event but the ricochet effect killed the mythical image of Camelot. We lived in limbo until 1968 when a resurgence of positivity returned with Trudeau mania.
America is still dealing with the deafening ring of those shots and they are blind from trust with the flash of bright light from the smoking gun.