Tuesday, June 26, 2018

High Beach

Finding High Beach

Kejick Bay is actually an island. It used to be a Bay until the lake was flooded. As I walk around the community It seems to be mostly sand. I have yet so see any solid rock anywhere. I think I discovered the entire island is composed of sand.

There are two nice sand beaches the community use. Yes, in tropical Northern Ontario it seems that although they have a brutal winter, they also have a nice hot summer and people are already swimming in the lake here. The main beach is called “low Beach”, and it is a regular sort of beach, with sand and driftwood. You get to it down a short road/path off the road into the community.

The other beach, as you might have guessed, is called “High Beach”. I had heard about this spot, and Alisha had insisted that I had to go see High Beach; it was pretty amazing. So, on a morning with no chores to do – the boat was in the water, and Derek was doing drywall (Not my best skill), Alisha dropped me off at a path leading into the forest, pointing up a hill. Her only instruction was “Don't go
down to the lake, or you won't get back up.”. Confusing instructions since I thought I was supposed to go see this beach.

The path was a well worn but twisting route through a forest of mature red pine trees. After a couple of minutes, I came out into a clearing in the forest with tall pine trees and a sandy beach. Walking to the edge of the clearing, I peered down at Lac Seul. I was standing on a beautiful sandy beach 100 feet above the lake. A steeply sloping incline led down to the shore of the lake. I now knew why she warned me not to go down to the lake. Climbing up a 100 foot sand dune would have been a difficult task.

As you walk around the community there is sand everywhere, but the community is on a lake so you do not think so much about it, but standing on sand 100 feet high you cannot help but be awed by how this island was formed. This area must have been part of an ocean or a desert at one time and all this sand was deposited here over eons many many years ago.

Alisha was right, High Beach really was amazing. As I stood in the sand overlooking the spectacular views out over the lake, I had to agree that this is definitely a “Must see” location in Kejick Bay. Later the same day I got to see the same sight from a boat out on the lake as we searched out a good fishing spot, and it was as spectacular from that viewpoint.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Messing about in Boats

launching the boat
Remember that quote from “Wind In the Willows” about “Messing about in boats”? Kejick Bay is on a large lake and everyone has a boat. Well almost everyone; Alisha & Derek did not have a boat . . . YET.

When we arrived Derek was pleased to show me a boat with a 20 hp Johnson outboard on it. Nice, except the outboard did not work, and the boat had not been in the water for years, and designed for a motor controlled with a wheel and remote forward controls, while the outboard was a simple tiller model.

This looks like it needs work
The outboard was purchased in an “As-is” condition and was not pumping water, so needed a rebuild. Fortunately I have a friend who can fix anything on speed-dial, and he gave me advice on what was likely needing repair. I pulled everything apart discovering a seriously damaged water pump so with a new impeller and a couple hours cleaning up the housing, I was able to rebuild everything and get it back together. A few more adjustments and a big garbage can of water proved
everything was working as it should.

The boat was a good solid aluminum 14 foot model, but the wooden transom was in bad shape and was not going to hold the motor. A morning in the front yard had all the rusted screws extracted and the rotten wood thrown on the fire-pit. New plywood was cut and attached with nice shiny bolts and screws, and the rebuilt motor fitted. It all looked good.

Now this is a good working boat.
Now if only we could find a car and a trailer that would fit together to get the boat to the lake. After a borrowed trailer, and trailer ball, we got the boat to 'Archie's Landing” and into the water. Derek took a quick celebratory lap around the causeway bay and proved everything was working as expected before coming back to take us out for a ride.

Yes, here I am once more “messing about in boats . . . .”
The confident chief engineer - he knows the engine is GOOD!

The passengers - not so much!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Kejick Bay

Welcome to Kejick (By Road)

In 1929, Ontario Hydro built a Dam and raised the level of Lac Seul to create a reservoir to generate hydro power. This flooded Kekick Bay and created an island. There was a Native community on this piece of land, and this cut them off from the mainland. In the last few years a causeway has been built connecting Kejick to the mainland once again. According to Wikipedia, there is a population of 400 living in Kejick Bay now. This is where Alisha lives and works as Principal of the school in the community, and it where I am now visiting. The people living here are of the Lac Seul first nation group and consist of three separate communities, Kejick Bay, Whitefish Bay and Frenchman's Head. The Lac Seul First Nation is part of the Ojibwa First Nation, and has an area of just over 100 square miles.

The community of Kejick itself is on an island in the middle of Lac Seul, so it is a beautiful setting with a lake surrounding it. I was surprised with the weather, I know they have harsh winters and Alisha has complained about the amount of snow and the freezing temperatures in the long brutal winter, but right now when I am visiting it is down-right tropical with temperatures warmer than at home. Yesterday it was 33º C, and even today in the rain it is still 23º C.

When you reach the causeway, the road road changes to gravel, and the soil is sandy, so it is
Or By Boat.
impossible to keep things clean. I was reminded of Cairo, where the dust and sand gets into everything; it is like that here. Alisha had her car detailed on one of her trips to Winnipeg and was appalled at how quickly it reverted to a dusty dirty mess once she was back here.

The town itself has one convenience store that also sells gas. When Alisha first arrived the store sold chips and pop, but she is pleased that they now carry many more healthy groceries. There is Alisha's K-9 school, a community centre, an outdoor rink, one church a band office and a health centre. There are two well used beaches and boat docks everywhere. The community is patrolled by the Lac Seul Police force, and has fire hydrants, but no fire department. In fact the second night we were here Derek was called to help fight a house fire. They had a good 2” fire hose but someone had left the actual nozzle in Frenchman's Head even though they tried they could not save the house.

That is a little about the community of Kejick Bay. Although somewhat isolated, they are an open and friendly community and I have been made to feel at home. Most community members know Alisha, so when I am introduced to anyone they smile and welcome me to their community, and as I walk around the streets, the people wave with a friendly greeting and the dogs all wag their tails as they stop for a pat or a scritch.
The Ferry

The Complex (Community Centre)

The Health Ctntre

Alisha's House (The Teachery)

The Dogs of Kejick

Oh, I'm sorry did you need this truck?

Although I think I am slightly allergic, I love dogs, and discovered that I do not have to actually own a dog to enjoy them. I have friends who seem to be willing to lend me their dogs and that works great. Kejick Bay has some great dogs, and sitting around a fire one night I got to meet a lot of them.

When Alisha first moved to Kejick she was concerned about the number of seemingly feral dogs wandering the neighbourhood, but fortunately she met a dog named Bear who convinced her the dogs of Kejick were okay. With a name that suited him, bear was a big dog, but Alisha discovered he was really a big teddy bear, and I heard about him through e-mail and facebook. She also discovered that the people in the community have made a conscious decision to only allow dogs that get along with people.

Now that I am in Kejick I have started to meet these amazing dogs. First I met “Drea” who was a rescue from a fly in community. Although she was supposed to be wary of men, all it took was one dog treat and she was my friend. Than I met “Nibbles”, who looked like the “not so friendly” Egyptian street dogs, but was an amazing friendly dog, and he also became my friend. Nibbles is the alpha dog in the neighbourhood, and every other dog except Buddy (more about her later) cow-tow to him even though he is almost 10 years old. When Nibbles barks and takes of on a tear, every other dog follows. Who names their dog “Nibbles” when he is the Alpha dog? Obviously his name among his dog friends in his pack is something “Butch”or “Killer”. It's a good thing dogs don't actually understand our language.

Hey mister . . . pet me please! (not Buddy)
I had heard about “Buddy”. She was the talk of the firepit when people realized I was a “dog person”. I was told she was really not a dog, she was half wolf. Apparently one of her owner actually had her DNA tested and sure enough she is half wolf. One night sitting around the fire someone noticed her walking by, and called to her. Although the Kejick dogs seem almost feral and wild, they have names and answer to them. Hearing her name, Buddy and a couple other dogs running with her immediately turned and trotted over to our firepit. She brought “Magic” with her along with “Surviver”. Buddy is a massive dog of almost pure white and she does look like a wolf, but she is gentle as a puppy. Her tail wags and she demands your attention, but then a 120 lb wolf/dog does get your attention. Nibbles does not like her however and was not happy with her intruding on our gathering, but with Buddy's size and heritage, she literally does not care. No one messes with Buddy and she knows it, even if “She” cannot be Alpha dog, she is in a category of her own.

Alisha tells me that the people of Kejic will not allow any dog that even growls at a child to live in the community and dogs that do not get along with people get shot. It sounds cruel, but the dogs of Kejick are amazing; they are friendly and love people. I saw a little two year old baby toddle over and maul a dog laying in the sand outside the school. She pulled his ears. Stuck her hand in his mouth and twisted his paw, but he just lay there. Yes, I have come to like the dogs of Kejick Bay.

These are all the pictures I have of the dogs, but I will add more when I get them. 


Kejick Island Ferry
When I was four or five my father took me fishing. We lived in a fishing community, so he took me out in a boat and we fished . . . . After a while he asked me how I liked fishing? I replied “Dad to be serious, it's boring . . . .”. “Oh, good, I'm not real fond of it either, but I thought I should at least introduce you to it”, he replied. We never fished again. Like my dad, I felt it was my fatherly duty to at least introduce my son to fishing, so I took him out once – I don't think I succeeded in turning him into an angler. . .

Fishing from the Ferry
Years later my good friend Jim asked me if I wanted to go fishing with him. Jim always asks me to do stuff with him and I appreciate it, so I said I'd go. I discovered that fishing was still boring. I didn't catch anything; didn't even get a nibble. I am told it is not about catching fish, it's about being out in a boat, being on a lake, being with nature, relaxing . . . . . some sort of fishing zen, philosophy thing. I guess I just do not get it . . .

Well, here in Kejick, fishing is big. The lake is huge and complicated, and there are lots of fish, even big fish. On the drive here we frequently saw fishing resorts and lodges, so the fishing must be good. Derek threatened to take me fishing and finally I agreed.

Someone was catching fish
On the way into Kekick there is a deserted ferry that once was used to ferry workers machinery and materials to and from a mine. I thought it had been the ferry to Kejick Island, but Alisha tells me that when Kejick Bay became an island, the only way back and forth was by boat in the summer or snowmobile in winter and occasionally an ice road. the deserted ferry has become a convenient place to fish. It's a boat, and it is out in the water, but you can walk onto it and easily get to deep enough water to fish, so we went there one afternoon to fish. A couple of people did catch fish but not me. I got bored and went to take photos of and old boat washed up on the shore down the lake.

Determined to convert me, Derek insisted we would have better luck at his favourite spot. Plus here we would really be out in a boat. Fishing poles, life jackets, tackle box, minnow bucket, net, gas can, we headed out. Under the causeway bridge to a spot that “We were guaranteed to catch our limit in 20 minutes”.
A rare photo . . . me with fish

Well, we were out for more than 20 minutes, but I can report that I actually did pull out four fish, and a couple were good sized, but I threw three back and Derek promised to cook our catch up so I can sample the Kejick Bay fish. And really, it almost wasn't boring.
I'd rather go take photos of this cool old boat

Fishing . . . . it's a zen thing . . . . .

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Driving Around

In the truck driving around

Kejick Bay is 75 km from Sioux Lookout, the nearest real city, and 48 km to Hudson, the nearest town where there is a post office, a garage and a LCBO, but not a real grocery store. So, living in Kejick Bay involves a lot of driving for anything you need.

On our first full day visiting Alisha and Derek, We spent part of the day with Alisha at the school. We tried to help clean up, I read a story to the younger students, and we helped out with a community breakfast. This being my first visit back into a school since I retired ten years ago, I did not want to overdo it, so when an opportunity to help Derek with his maintenance duties arose, I jumped at the chance; I'd rather be driving around in a big GMC 2500 than cleaning up Alisha's office. I left Regis to help Alisha and I went to help Derek.
STOP, I need a picture of that old truck!

First stop was the band dump where the school's garbage was unloaded. I was warned to be on the lookout for bears as they have been known to hang around the dump, but no such luck.

Next stop was the beach where we unloaded a load of firewood so the teachers could light a campfire to cook hot dogs for a school outing to the beach in the afternoon. Somehow I feel that having a fire on an unsupervised beach with students might not be approved back home, but here it is not only perfectly acceptable, but expected; part of the “outdoor ed” program.

A load of chairs now had to be moved to one of three schools in the Band School Board, Frenchman's Head. This school was 49 km away, but moving chairs was one of my specialities back in the day, so I was comfortable stacking, loading and transporting them. A drum set had to be moved as well, so the truck was loaded to accommodate everything. When it is an hour away, you do not make two trips.
Scenery on the drive

One of Dereks duties is to maintain the band-owned houses used by the teachers, and one needed flooring installed, so while in Frenchman's Head we convinced the “powers to be” to cut us a PO and we headed to Sioux Lookout for a truckload of flooring. It was easy, because we did not have to shop around; there is only one hardware store. That was a 40 km drive and then another 75 km back to Kejick Bay.

One of the Band's outdoor ed facilities
This is life in Kejick Bay. The actual jobs we had to do did not take long, but we spent over three hours just driving over twisting rough roads to get to places, get things, or get things done. Derek commented that he felt like he had been driving around all day. Then when we finished for the day, he decided we deserved a cold beer, so we had to go back into Hudson, 48 km away to stock up the beer fridge. BUT that beer was good after a day driving around.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Day in Thunder Bay

Kakabecka Falls
On the way to visit our daughter in Northern Ontario, we have been stopping to meet the future In-Laws, and Derek's dad and his wife live in Thunder Bay, which was also a convenient stop on the trip. We arrived in time for a meet & greet evening meal and then the next day, we were given a tour of the city of Thunder Bay.

The first stop was Kakabeka Falls just outside the city. This was a truly spectacular waterfall with trails and viewing stands all around. An especially nice feature is a walking bridge just above the falls allowing you to see them from above. I took lots of photos, but no photo really does a waterfall justice. Apparently a native legend says a native princess who was captured by a rival band lured an invading party of warriors over the falls to save her band from probable defeat.
The falls from above

Next we visited a cheese farm/factory making amazing Gouda. We have an excellent gouda cheese master back in Nova Scotia, and I hesitate to switch loyalties, but I think this cheese is better. BUT it could just be because they have so many interesting varieties. Imagine cumin & cloves gouda? Delicious. The biggest problem was deciding which ones I wanted. I think we left with six different packages. I hope “That Dutchman” doesn't find out.

A trip to a look-off on one of the native reserves provided a wonderful view across Thunder Bay and a perfect spot to see the famous “Sleeping Giant” land formation across the harbour which we missed on the trip up in the fog and rain. And, we did not have to climb to the look-off; there was a paved road right to the top.

Thunder Bay waterfront
A drive into Thunder Bay proper brought us to the Marina and the waterfront. I always admire cities that resist the temptation to allow big hotel chains or luxury condo developments to have exclusive waterfront access, and Thunder bay have done their waterfront nicely with a Marina, parks and lots of public spaces that allow everyone to enjoy the waterfront. Those exclusive condos are right across the street and still have lovely waterfront views.

Even the birds enjoyed it.
By this time I was getting pretty tired, and I felt I had seen a lot of this city, so a stop at a local watering hole was in order for a beer and dinner.
The Sleeping Giant

Thunder Bay from the look-off


Monday, June 18, 2018

Where is Lake Superior?

Aguasabon River Gorge (And fog)

Canada has the famous Great Lakes, and the most spectacular is Lake Superior. I am not sure of the exact statistic, but I believe it is the biggest lake in the world in some aspect, total size, area, volume . . .something? Years ago we drove all the way around Lake Superior on a trip to BC and it was a boring, nerve-rattling trip with two young children on terrible roads filled with one large logging truck after another. We swore never to do that route again, and on subsequent trips we took a route through United States. Then just to spite us one of those children grew up and moved to Northern Ontario, giving us no choice but to make the trip again. This year's “Road Trip” takes us once more around Lake Superior.

Well, you can sort of see a lake . . .
The roads are better, we drove on a Saturday so there were no logging trucks, and it was just the two of us. However, we did not get to see Lake Superior. The trip started in Sault Ste Marie in a rainstorm, and the rain continued off and on all day, some times raining so hard you could not see; complete torrential downpour. When it was not raining the fog rolled in, sometimes so thick I had to slow down to see the road ahead. It is a seven hour drive and most of the day we were not far from the shoreline of Lake Superior, but the famous lake eluded us, we caught very few glimpses of the huge body of water. I stopped at one designated “Lookoff”, and could not see anything of the lake. Coming into Thunder Bay there is a beautiful memorial to Terry Fox that is supposed to provide a lovely view out over Lake Superior – still no luck. There was, I am sure a big lake somewhere out there, but all we could see was fog and rain.
Fog but no lake

Fortunately, we have to take the same route on the way home in a few weeks, so I am hoping for better weather.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


120 Garlic Plants

I enjoy gardening, but not as much as my friend the “Garden Consultant” (Many of my readers will know who I mean). Since I retired however it gets more difficult to maintain a garden. I planted a nice patch of Garlic one year and was traveling when it should have been picked. My nice patch of cilantro went to seed before I could take advantage of it, and although my front flower garden is beautiful in June, I completely missed enjoying it one year while we were away. The advantage to being retired is being able to travel during the “off season” when rates for rentals and flights are reasonable, but then it means I am often gone in the spring when things should be planted or in the fall when they have to be harvested. So being retired allows me time to garden, but not at the correct times.

On this trip, we are meeting our daughter's prospective “parents-in-law” for the first time, and arriving at their house in Peterborough, we were presented with a serious garden and a dedicated gardener. Nolan has the most amazing garden. I think he grows a few of everything. I first recognized a large raised bed of garlic. He tells me he has 120 garlic plants. On a tour of his garden we found horseradish, pears, dwarf apple trees, 28 large tomato plants, a patch of potatoes,
and he reports he is attempting sweet potatoes for the first time this year. In the centre of the yard is a raised herb garden with every herb you might need. Against the back fence were onions happily growing beside a grape vine. Lettuce, Swiss chard, beans, peas, spinach cherries, etc, etc, etc . . . .and mixed in were a pleasant selection of beautiful flowers.

I wonder how my little patch of spinach, cilantro, carrots and peppers is doing back home.