We have spent the last five summers in Germany, so it has been a novelty to hang around Canada this summer. When we heard that my sister Rachel and her family were coming to Canada this summer, we decided to drive to Ontario to meet up with them, my parents and my sister Susan and her family. Our neighbours lent us their great kid Gonzalo for the trip, so we had the pleasure of listening to Kai and Gonzalo’s commentary as we travelled!
This was a special trip for me, as I have wanted to do it for a long time. I have spent 10 years researching my Canadian family history, and I’ve learned a lot about Manitoba and Saskatchewan, but I had barely seen them. (The only other time I had been through these provinces was in 1998 when I took the train to Vancouver from Toronto.)
When I was a kid, my family made several camping trips to Northern Ontario, and Thunder Bay and the Lake Superior shore are part of my childhood memories. These early trips were the seeds of my wanderlust. I remember the endlessness of the trees and the restlessness that I felt as a result of the sheer emptiness of these places. What was there to see in this world other than trees? I wanted mountains, castles, cobblestones.
I often joke about the European (particularly German) romantic notions of nature. In Germany, there is always something and someone else on the other side of the forest, and Germans approach nature with unabashed enthusiasm. In Canada, the forest can be dangerous and devastating lonely. The beauty of these places always draws out some discomfort for me: an undercurrent of fear built on old stories of lost children, failed pioneers, stolen land, and monstrous animals and insects.
Now have seen some of the world, I also saw something different here beyond the trees, lakes and abandoned motels: the rarity of such emptiness and its purity. I never noticed this as a child because it was all that I knew. Now I know how special it is. I also know just how many frigging bugs there are here!
Edmonton > Saskatchewan
Photos from Saskatoon and on the road.
A visit to my Aunt Jay and Uncle Joe on Island Lake north of Thunder Bay.
Camping and fishing on Lake Superior (Rabbit Blanket Lake, and Agawa Bay). Agawa Rock Pictographs.