A long road back

The Road Less Travelled

By Terri Windover, Connect Columnist

RLT - Long road back

Matt Young with a 19-inch speckled trout caught in Lake Nipigon, Ontario. Photo by Terri Windover, Connect Weekly


I left Ontario eight years ago to make a new life in Fort McMurray when Kevin landed a job with Shell Albian. I had spent roughly ten years in Thunder Bay, Ontario after leaving Toronto with my daughter in 2000.

I had tired of the big city life and wanted to raise her in a quieter environment. Although my personal training business boomed there and I had an amazing circle of friends, Thunder Bay never truly felt like home to me. I was always looking somewhere on the horizon and thinking of where I would end up instead of planning my future life there.

When the opportunity to move out west presented itself, I jumped at the chance. I flew out with Kevin to look at homes and arranged an interview with MacDonald Island Park in their fitness division. The interview went well.
And by the time I landed back in Ontario, there was a message on my phone offering me the job. With a start date two weeks away for their grand opening, I had an incredible amount of work to do to ready my Ontario house, pack and get my butt out there. And so the fast paced, Fort Mac life began. Strangely enough, I rejoiced in the high energy of the town. Unlike Toronto, I had access to nature in all her glory without the aging, tired feeling of Thunder Bay.

I don’t go to Thunder Bay often and when I do it is the people that draw me there. Weddings, newborn babies or Christmas gatherings are usually the reasons. This trip back, we decided to drive so we could bring the jet boat and hit up the plentiful lakes for some epic salmon, speck and pickerel fishing.

I miss catching and eating pickerel every weekend. It’s one of the few things Northern Ontario has on Alberta. Walleye, walleye, everywhere!

This road trip usually feels like a chore, especially through the prairies, where after 20 minutes it all just blends together visually. Oh look a fence post, oh look a fence post… OH MY GOD a rainbow!

It’s not good when a rainbow is the highlight of a ten-hour day in the truck. The monotony of Saskatchewan and Manitoba makes crossing into Ontario that much more exciting. Suddenly there are rock faces, lakes, winding roads and pine forests.

I wish I could just click my heels like Dorothy and zap from Alberta to Ontario without having to traverse through the flatlands. Seriously, I don’t even understand how there can possibly be road kill in the Prairies. You can see the animal for two miles minimum and they can see you. I figure it is four-legged suicide… that’s just a theory though.

Although I basically ran a whiny monologue in my head the entire way: “Why can’t everyone I love just move out west for Pete’s sake?” and “I can’t believe I’m doing this drive again, this is the last time I swear.”

Once I arrived at my moms’ house, it was all worth it. Just getting to see her and chat like old times, eat her blueberry muffins and feel like I don’t have to deal with any stress for a few days was a priceless feeling. Something I’ve needed since the fire – mom time. You are never too old to be a child to your mother.

Over the next few days, I have babies to kiss, weddings to attend and gluten-free recipes to make with my cousin. After that, I leave Thunder Bay to make the hour drive up the highway to Red Rock, Kevins’ hometown.

Then it’s fishing, camping and adventures in the Northern wilds of Ontario. From the look of the salmon our friends have been catching, I should have a few good stories for you guys next week. Until then, I’ll see you on the Road Less Travelled.

– Connect Weekly –