We live in a beautiful country. I was reminded of this when our Cessna flew over the remote regions of Ontario on our way to Miminiska Lodge. This is one of the many fly-in lodges and outpost cabins operated by Wilderness North, a company offering “an iconic wilderness retreat” in the northwest of Ontario. Check them out here.
Commissioned by Ontario Tourism and Northwest Ontario I was excited to explore the Canadian north with my favourite pioneer. I envisioned us deep in the forest, living off the land, battling the elements while trekking on foot or paddling upstream by canoe. Not convinced of my outdoor adventure chops I knew this would be a test. I would have to journey inward and give rise to my rough and tumble roots, unleashing the explorer within. In hindsight this assumption was a bit dramatic. We were treated like Kings and Queens, enjoying saunas and home cooked meals under the northern light sky. Those close to me will know this is a good thing.
This area - the Boreal forest – is only accessible by float plane in the summer and ice roads in the winter. During our two hour flight north of Thunder Bay, I couldn’t help but harken back to a sad memory of myself and two childhood friends trying to rescue an overturned float plane from a murky lake near my home. That experience never triggered a fear of flying but our upright landing did bring a sense of relief.
We spent the first day familiarizing ourselves with the Lodge, getting to know the staff and planning our shoot schedule for the following two days of filming. I would be remiss to not also mention the time spent nourishing our bodies with freshly baked sweets - chocolate cake, lemon pie, crepes – in preparation for the “work” ahead.
On this particular project, Goh had to rely on me to capture the video so he could focus on the primary objective – stills. Sometimes challenges that push me outside of my familiar role as a producer can make me quite anxious and frankly, I’ll decline. On the flipside, if I’m able to embrace that anxiety I’m almost always rewarded with an undeniable sense of personal satisfaction. This experience was no exception and so with a slight bit of trepidation here’s one of the videos I filmed (drone shots aside – those were filmed by Goh).
Early the next morning, our guide steered us along the Miminiska Lake. The scene was beautifully eerie. A layer of fog covered the placid water. Our kayaker paddled toward the rising sun while Goh flew his drone overhead. The fog slowly dissipated and the sun warmed us. Nature’s allure found its way to our own backyard. The shots were stunning.
For lunch the staff prepared a shore lunch menu of fresh walleye – caught moments before by our guide - beans, corn on the cob, bannock, potatoes and zucchini. At this point it was clear we weren’t pioneers settling a new territory but more out-of-towners enjoying this truly wonderful hideout, reconnecting with nature and capturing its beauty on film.
That night we built an impressive fire, roasted marshmallows and listened to our pilot’s angelic voice sing songs about rowing on the lakes of Canada. It was reminiscent of my late teens when my friends and I would camp around a fire and get drunk on (cheap) wine while songs of the 90s lulled us into the night. I felt right at home.
It’s always nice to simplify, to get back to nature, to withdraw from the distractions of urban life and rejuvenate. It’s also nice to beat complacency and design a life that is so refreshing and as some of you can attest, very needed. Not to discount my years as a dedicated producer but this past year has provided a whole slew of opportunities where making uncomfortable decisions has led to amazing outcomes.
I was sad to leave the Lodge, our new friends and the peace that comes from being in the depths of nature. I’m sure there will be another adventure that forces me to connect with my rough and tumble roots but this was the perfect way to surrender to the beauty of the Canadian wilderness.