It’s the time of year for canoe trips.
Algonquin Provincial Park lies northwest of Ottawa, and several of my acquaintances have headed to Ontario’s oldest provincial park for pleasure jaunts to the wild solitude of its lakes and canyons.
They dip paddles in still waters. They drift slowly by moose munching shoreside water plants. They dive into the deep, cold waters of the Canadian Shield lakes.
Their trips remind me of John Shaw. I learned of him and his wife during a trip to the Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre. He was a miller from Inverness, Scotland, who travelled to the area in 1847 from what was then Bytown [now Ottawa]. He and his wife, Barbara Thompson, made the trip by canoe.
Today, people make the trip by car in less than two hours, but in 1847 it would have taken days and days by canoe. They would have paddled against the prevailing wind. They might have battled pouring rain while balancing cumbersome loads. They would have portaged around rapids, carrying the heavy canoe and all their worldly goods.
What a hardship.
AND, they did it with two-year-old son in tow.
Toddlers in warm, safe homes are challenging enough. Imagine travelling by canoe for days with one. (Were there even life jackets in 1847?)
Those hardships put any of our petty little problems into perspective.
Whatever comes at me today, at least I’m not paddling a canoe in the rain with all my worldly goods and a two-year-old.