Take Off to the Great White North

Great White North

“Canada has too many rivers to count”

Do you remember Bob & Doug McKenzie? You know those “take off, eh” dudes from back in the early 80s… They would sit around, pound down some brewskis and talk about donuts and Canadian back bacon. I thought those guys were funny as hell and I actually learned from them too. For example, never in my life had I heard anyone in Canada say, “take off, eh.” Nor, did I ever hear someone refer to a Canadian as a “hoser.” It’s always good to learn…

Those guys were pretty damn funny though… and it wasn’t long before countless Canucks were walkin’ around calling each other “hoser” and “hosehead.” I’ll bet the sale of donuts and back bacon soared too. I think the Americans really got a kick out of these guys, Bob & Doug, with their “packs ‘o smokes,” bush jackets and toques. Most Americans don’t know what the hell a toque is… They play it smart (and safe) and just call it a hat. I’ve travelled through the states quite a bit and I quickly learned that the vast majority of Americans really don’t know much at all about us frostbitten Canadians.

Back in 2002, I was hunting ducks in the flooded rice fields of Arkansas. One of the local guys I was hunting with started asking a lot of questions about Canada. He had never been “that far north” and he really was genuinely interested. “Say, RD, what part o’ Canadia do ya’ll come from anyhow?” Holy shit… he called our country Canadia. I had to explain to him that the country used to be called “Canadia,” but there was a civil war about 100 years ago and since the war ended in a stalemate, a coin was tossed and the winner got to choose the name…

Canada.

Either he honestly believed me, or he was a very good actor. “Hmm, that’s very interesting. I didn’t know that.” I must have been a good actor too, because somehow… SOMEHOW, I was able to keep a straight face too.

When I travel across Canadia, OOOOPS, I mean, Canada, I often run into Americans who are up here fishing and hunting, or just on some type of summer holiday. 99.9% of the people I’ve met sure are nice folks, really in awe of our forests, lakes, rivers and streams. I usually mention to them that there are many areas of the US that are every bit as beautiful or “breathtaking” as anywhere in Canada. Have you ever driven through Idaho or the state of Washington? You wouldn’t believe those mountains and the lakes… wow! That’s just one region.

But, we sure do have some “breathtaking” scenery up here in the Great White North. And, admittedly, we MUST have more donut shops per capita than any other country in the world. (Don’t we have ENOUGH goddam Tim Hortons around here yet?) We definitely have more toques. And, more snowshoes… and snowmobiles… and hockey rinks… and moose… and polar bears… and ice fishing shacks (rugged!)

We also have Don Cherry. (Okay, so not everyone is impressed by that!)

So have a look at these photos taken on some of my travels across Canadia. (Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself!) Most of these were taken either by me or by one of my photographers (video dudes) while taping a show on a fishing or hunting trip. I can guarantee that the better ones were taken by one of the photographers, not me. “Hey, Steve, what button do I push again?”

I’m not exactly “Joe Photographer.”

Great White North

“This shot was taken in northwestern Manitoba.  We were taping a walleye show on Jordan Lake when we saw this killer sunset.  I started to think instead of fishing, I was actually at a Pink Floyd concert or something… “

Great White North

“This was one of those days when it would rain like hell for ten minutes, then the sun would blast through.  Then, it would rain again… and then the sun would shine.  Ogoki Reservoir in Northwestern Ontario.”

Great White North

“I was hunting for muskox on Victoria island in the Northwest Territories. I didn’t shoot a muskox because it was minus 70 C with the wind chill for 6 days of the 7 we were there. Yes, I AM rugged, but the video cameras weren’t. They froze up… and it was just too cold to ride 8 hours by snowmobile and dog sled to get to the hunting grounds.

Truth be told, the cameras were not the only things that froze… my friggin’ onions did too! That’s me with the ultra-rugged winter camo… it was COLD!”

Great White North

“Here is great scenery shot from the same trip. Not a tree for miles and miles and miles. Just rocks, lakes and rivers. Gorgeous really.”

Great White North

“We flew in a helicopter over Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland.  Pretty wild stuff!”

Great White North

“Here is another shot from that trip.  We were moose hunting near the Salmon River and flew over the park to get there.”

Great White North

“One of my favourite rivers of all time… the Winisk River in Northwestern Ontario.  The river flows into Hudson Bay.  The word, “Winisk” means groundhog in the Cree language.  The place is FULL of big speckled trout and walleye.  Some of the best fly fishing I have ever seen.”

Great White North

“I was out salmon fishing on Lake Superior (out from the Thunder Bay harbour) and we got this shot of the famous Sleeping Giant.  “Nanabijou” in the Ojibwe language.”

Great White North

“Unreal sunset… Edward Lake in northern Manitoba.  This is one of those pictures that I definitely did not take… my camera dude, Adam, did.”

Great White North

“A double rainbow… Digby, Nova Scotia.  I made a wish, but damn it, I didn’t win 649!  I think that whole thing is fixed…”

Great White North

“It’s almost dark on Gull Lake in Northwestern Ontario.  Still plenty of light to catch fish though!”

Great White North

“Meat Cove on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.  Not sure where the name came from… maybe, was there was a butcher shop there back in the day?  Wow, what a place!”

Great White North

“Caribou hunting in the Northwest Territories… you really have to see this place to appreciate it.  The lakes and rivers are everywhere and they’re SO clear, you can see 25 feet down to the bottom.”

Great White North

“Chipchase Lake on the Ogoki Frontier, Northwestern Ontario.  Great sunsets and even better walleye!”

Great White North

“Wicked clouds… on the Ogoki River, northwestern Ontario.  We caught over 100 walleyes off that small rocky island that afternoon.  And, 3 of them ended up in my belly… RUGGED!”

Great White North

“The Beaulieu River in the Northwest Territories.  I caught about a million lake trout just off to the side of that waterfall.”

Great White North

“Another incredible speckled trout factory… the Asheweig River in northwestern Ontario.  It flows into Hudson Bay, just like the Winisk.”

Great White North

“Reindeer Lake, northern Saskatchewan.  This is one big-ass lake full of trout and northern pike.”

Great White North

“Here’s a real beauty courtesy of Waskaiowaka Lake, northeast of Thompson, Manitoba.  This lake has big northerns and too many walleye to be believed.”

Great White North

“The Lynx River in northwestern Ontario is one very pretty place.  Can something be pretty and rugged at the same time?  Hell ya!”

Great White North

“Eabamet Lake is part of the mighty Albany River in northwestern Ontario.  This picture was taken just out from the Eabametoong First Nation.  I was fishing for walleyes with Leo Atlookan when this picture presented itself.”

Great White North

“I honestly can’t remember the name of this lake, but I do know it was about an hour north (by float plane) of Dryden, Ontario.  We must have caught a million walleyes off that cliff.  Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating slightly… just slightly.”

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