Adventures from a Gooner Abroad

An Arsenal fans adventures in Northern Ontario.


Here are some key facts about Ontario:  In summer, temperatures can soar above 30°C (86°F), while in winter they can
drop below -40°C (-40°F)  Ontario is Canada’s second largest province, covering more than 1 million square
kilometres (415,000 square miles) – an area larger than France and Spain
combined. Ontario is bounded by Quebec to the east, Manitoba to the west,
Hudson Bay and James Bay to the north, and the St. Lawrence River and the
Great Lakes to the south.  Ontario is home to 2 time zones: the boundary line between the Central Time
Zone and Eastern Time Zone is just west of Thunder Bay, running north from the
United States border to Hudson Bay.  Ontario’s more than 250,000 lakes contain about one-fifth of the world’s fresh
water. The Great Lakes include Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake
Erie and Lake Ontario.  The combined shoreline of the Great Lakes is equal to about 45% of the earth’s
circumference.  The 5 Great Lakes are the world’s biggest continuous body of fresh water.  The Great Lakes Basin covers an area of 750,000 square kilometres – this basin
includes 8 US states, most of southern Ontario and extends into northern Ontario.  Ontario’s varied climate and geography support habitat for more than 3,600
species of plants, 154 species of fish, 50 species of amphibians and reptiles, 483
species of birds, and more than 81 species of mammals. In Ontario’s southernmost
regions, you will find prickly pear cactus and sassafras trees, while polar bears
roam our northern tundra.  Common fish in Ontario include yellow perch, bluegill, northern pike, salmon,
walleye, brook trout, brown trout, speckled trout, lake trout and rainbow trout.
The mammals that call Ontario home include beavers, black bears, muskrats, gray
wolves, white-tailed deer and walrus. Familiar birds include blue jays, northern
cardinals, great blue herons, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls and pileated
woodpeckers. Look carefully and you might see some reptiles and amphibians,
including eastern garter snakes, northern leopard frogs, eastern massasauga
rattlesnakes, midland painted turtles or one of 11 types of salamanders and newts.
Leaving England behind to move to Canada was not an easy choice but leaving
my beloved Arsenal was far worse; but that’s another story. My wife and I docked in
Quebec City on the first day of June after 8 glorious and somewhat riotous days abroad
the Empress of Canada (yet another story). We had arranged to temporarily stay in
Toronto with my sister Gloria and her husband Barry. Ontario’s 250,000 lakes and
100,000 miles of rivers created endless opportunities for Barry who was an avid
outdoorsman and he was passionate about fresh water fishing while I’d never cast a line
in my life – after all there weren’t too many fishing spots to find in Highbury.

A few weeks after our arrival Barry mentioned that he had saved up some vacation time
and wanted to go on a canoe trip in Northern Ontario, he asked if I would like to
accompany him on the trip and assured me that he was an experienced canoeist. I was
somewhat worried as I was a poor swimmer but he showed me the maps of the planned
route and assured me that he had selected calm rivers that had no rapids or stretches of
white water – so I reluctantly agreed to go. Over the next few weeks we put together the
equipment and supplies that we would need for my first outdoors adventure.
Our only means of transport was Barry’s MG Coupe, the canoe was strapped onto the
roof and our backpacks and minimal supplies were stuffed into the rear of the car which
completely blocked the view out of the rear window. On our 1,000 kilometre journey up
Route 101 to Groundhog River we got many strange sideways glances from other drivers.
Arriving at our destination we simply drove the MG into the bushes and covered it with
foliage – we were out in the middle of nowhere so it did not seem that illogical to Barry.
We had to make several reconnoitring trips back and forth to find the best route down to
the river and spot to launch from but finally we made our decision got all of our gear
down to the river; once the canoe was loaded we set off on our journey into parts
unknown.
It was now late afternoon and even though we were tired from the last part of our road
journey we had made up our minds to camp on a certain loop in the river. An hour or so
later we were approaching the spot where we had planned on camping when the sound of
rushing water caught our attention, as we turned the next bend we were confronted by a
very long stretch of fast moving white water. We made a valiant attempt to negotiate our
way around the rocks but to our dismay the canoe tipped; we were in the water and our
supplies were bobbing off down the river. Not being a strong swimmer I feared the worst
but you can imagine my relief when I discovered that the water was only thigh deep.
Even though Barry had misjudged the “calmness” of the river he had been smart enough
to insist on packing all of our supplies and provisions in air tight plastic bags – so we
hoped that we would be able to recover them once we got ourselves together, however
our birch-bark canoe was wedged between two very large rocks and it had a sizeable hole
in the side. Barry’s outdoors knowledge now came in very handy, he cut a strip of bark
from a Balsam fir tree which he whittled into shape then used that plus the tree’s natural
sap to patch up the hole; we then propped the canoe up get a good air flow and simply
waited for the sap to harden and seal the hole.
I stayed with the canoe and lit a fire for our overnight camp while Barry who was big,
strong and swam like a fish, set off down the river looking for our missing gear. He
returned about an hour later with the oar we were missing and one bag of supplies which
he found snagged up at the side of the river. Fortunately the bag contained our fishing
gear so we were able to catch some Pickerel (Walleye) which we cleaned and then
cooked by skewering them on sticks and grilling them over our camp fire – they tasted
absolutely delicious! The night was uneventful, other than the sound of wolves howlingno supplies we ate more fish for breakfast, it was to become our
in the distance. Having no supplies we ate more fish for breakfast, it was to become our main food source.

The “Barry” patch had completely dried, no water was leaking into the canoe and it lasted
for the entire trip. We didn’t want to risk the rapids again so we portaged around them
and set off again once the river calmed down; it was to turn out to be a beautiful early
morning row along a very calm river – we had no idea of the time as we had neglected to
bring along a watch. Later in the day we found our other two bags of gear, snagged up at
the riverside, so all was going well – until we saw moose grazing in the shallows just
down the river, they are huge animals and a bull moose can stand 7 feet tall and weigh
900 lbs, so we made the only sensible choice we could and stopped right where we were
until they had eaten their fill. We found a clearing and set up camp for the night, our
“tent” was simply our canoe turned upside down and propped up with some sticks, Barry
slept with his head at one end and GN5 at the other end, we had each purchased a US
army surplus mummy type sleeping bag, which proved to be a very wise buy.
With our recovered bags we now had some provisions for a “slap up” meal – fresh
walleye and dried veggies; we had taken along two small tin saucepans, one frying pan,
and two knives and forks. Having no oil or grease we filled the frying pan with river
water and poached the fish, we boiled the dried vegetables in a saucepan and in the
second one we boiled water for our coffee. This was our diet until we ran out of
vegetables and from then on we just ate whatever species of fish we caught – so we had
to catch fish or go hungry!
Day 3 started off wet and windy which made for some very difficult canoeing; we passed
under a railway bridge; the only means of transportation for hundreds of square miles was
by rail, river or lake, there were no roads, we had noted on our maps that there was an
abandoned gold mine near the bridge – so we decided to see if we could locate the mine.
We could not get up to ground level on the mine side of the river as it was a sheer rock
face while the other side was an earth embankment. As we had canoed up we had heard a
train so we felt safe in walking across the trestle bridge but to our horror when we were
on the bridge we heard another train in the distance and had to get over to the other side
in a real hurry, we stood at the side as the train passed and incredibly it slowed down and
stopped. Shortly afterwards the engineer walked back, he had seen us and thought we
were waiting for a ride, he explained that it was normal for them to pick up random
people along the route. He inquired about our well being (most likely worried about our
sanity); this was to be typical of the friendly, concerned manner of the Northern Ontario
people that we met on the trip.
The train went on its way, we took a compass setting and trekked off in the direction of
the Joburg mine, we found an old overgrown trail which could only have been created by
the constant flow of people between the railway line and the mine so off we went down
the trail. Reality and fear crept in when we saw bear paw prints in the muddy trail and
then moose prints so we quickly turned tail and headed back to the bridge as our Bowie
knives would have been no defence at all. Our choices left us in a real quandary – bears
and moose behind or the bridge ahead, obviously we choose the bridge and lived to tell that take dozens, maybe hundreds, of times.

This is only up to day 3 of a 30 plus day trip – but for now I’ll stop right there and test
your interest for more tales.
Barry Stuart Harvey passed away December17th 2014 but his stories will live on……

RIP MY GOOD FRIEND.

By GunnerNr5

66 thoughts on “Adventures from a Gooner Abroad

  • Great post GN5, you have me hooked! 😁

    What an adventure and start to your life in Ontario!

    Had to post this by phone so apologies for crap layout and editing. Also could not get your pictures in.

  • Here are last weeks results:-

    For the week :-

    1st GN5 & Kev with 5/6, plus one correct score and 3 way tie for most correct predictions = 8.33 points.
    3rd Eris with 5/6 plus 3 way tie for most correct predictions = 6.33 points.
    4th OX10 with 2/6 plus 1 correct score = 4.0 points.
    5th Total,PB & Madhu with 3/6 = 3.0 points.
    ”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””’
    For the season to date:-

    1st PB with 48.13
    2nd Eris with 47.46
    3rd GN5 with 43.13
    4th OX10 with 40.13
    5th Madhu with 32.66
    6th Kev with 30.33
    7th Total 28.13.

  • That’s a great post GN5. Enough to bring me out of blogging retirement. We had 5 five great holidays in Canada. One cruise from Quebec City down to Boston and the other four were flying to Calgary and then making our way to Vancouver Island where we hired a house overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I had expected to see a lot more wildlife and had to admit to being a little disappointed. Then one day we hired a local guide in Jasper. Within minutes we he had seen moose, deer, Coyotes, and a multitude of other animals.. I guess you just need to know where to look. Great post I loved it. Great memories for you and your family. Many thanks

    Whilst I will always be an Arsenal fan I must admit I have found football in general to be a little boring recently. I think this is partly because we had so much. Football on T G during the lockdown and being a lttle old school am not a fan of presses and all this passing around at the back mallarky. I don’t particularly like seeing players passing backwards from the kick off either. Just me I guess.

    Best regards to TA, Kev and all the old and new crew. I always read Bergkampesque for a measured view.

  • Really good to hear from you, Retsub.

    Hope you and family are well. I get your point re football becoming more boring with the passing out from the back. Yet it worked a treat v the Spuddies 😂

    I like the thought of needing to use a guide/expert to get the full value out of an experience. You did and then saw just so much more. 👍🏼

  • As expected no Saka in the line up (as yet). Hopefully the Hungarians will behave tonight, and if not they will get dealt with appropriately. A stance will then need to be made.

  • OX10

    I wrote that back in 2014 and due to the death of my dear brother in law Barry it was very difficult to write but I wanted his family and friends to get a deeper insight into our relationship. I have been asked many times when I will write another chapter but each time I start I become overcome with emotion and have been forced to abandon my effort.
    It’s even worse now because his wife (my beloved sister passed away last last) but one day I will pluck up the courage for the sake of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

    Glad you enjoyed it Retsub, like yourself I’ve visited many parts of this wonderful country and Vancouver it’s one of my favourite places – I must have been there on 30 plus occasions, mostly on business trips.

    Here in Ontario you only have to drive 5/600 miles north and you are in the beautiful untouched wilderness full of wonderful clean lakes with incredible fishing and full of wild life. It’s easy to write about the wonders of Ontario when it’s not so personal – maybe I should continue my story as if I was a third party – I’ll give it a shot.

  • GN5 whichever route you choose I am sure you will succeed. Would love to see your updates.

    Way back in the early 70,s. Shortly after king Charlie scored that double winning goal at Wembley, 6 sixteen year old lads, hired a 36 foot cruiser on the Norfolk Broads. Why they let us hire the boat I have no idea. But for one week we caused chaos on the Broads, culminating in the sinking of our vessel just outside Oulton .Broad. Now aged 65 in the recent lockdown four of us got together and via a weekly zoom call managed to creat a 31 page book. Highly unlikely we will ever win a literary prize, but we had so much fun piecing together the various disasters. We last met at my wedding 38 years ago, that is until a reunion a few weeks ago.

    Small beer compared to your epic adventures, but we are now considering having hard copy book created for our own purposes.

    Canada truly is a beautiful country and the people are very friendly. Once things get back to normal, a great place for a holiday.

    T A yes it did work against Spurs and on occasions other teams as well. But I doubt I will ever be a fan of it. I have faith in some of the youngsters, Kierney, Smith Rowe and Saka in particular, but they are going to need a lot of support from the rest of the side to make this season a success.. Ramsdale looks like he might be a good asset. He seems to be a part of the team already scolding and praising his teammates. Leno is good keeper, but lacks personality imho. It’s easy to say. In retrospect but I wish we had kept Martinez, when Leno was injured at Brighton, Martinelli made such a difference commanding his box.

  • N5, really pleasant reading. It sounds like heaven to me. I’m a total city boy, never been an outdoors person, and have always admired that kind of lifestyle.

    My dream is to someday live somewhere closer to such places and learn to appreciate nature more. I get along better with non city folk anyway. I’d like to get the J out of the NYC.

  • Gn5, love your story as a tribute to Barry. I am sure the adventure was something scary and fun at the same time, and driving the vehicle into bushes and covering with foilage sure reminded me of my army days (compulsory national service).

  • GN5, that’s such an engaging story you’ve told there and what an adventure! Those are memories to cherish forever, for you, I imagine. May the souls of your dear departed Rest In Peace.

    Canada is such a beautiful country; pity I am not that adventurous as taking boat rides over rapids or going close to nature and be looking forward to seeing wildlife, like Retsub1; closest I have been to real wildlife was when I took the family to a game reserve in South Africa, Monateng safari lodge, Wallmannstal, in Pretoria. We had Impalas, Nyalas -I think they were called- (Deer breeds) and Ostriches come close to the Chalets while the rest of the wildlife may be seen on trips to the reserve. It was scary at times and my wife was never comfortable walking outside. She didn’t see how there couldn’t be a “break-in” into the chalets by the wildlife behind the electrified fences around us.

    I made a promise to my wife we would spend time going around the other provinces and Territories of Canada to take in the beauty…. in our retirement years. 😁. One of my To-dos before …….

  • GN5 great post on your adventures in canada.
    I lived for 3 yrs from 2016 to 2019 in Edmonton Canada. It’s indeed a beautiful country with sparse population which has kept its beauty intact. My abiding memory of Canada is the presence of 9 months of snow in a year. So I didn’t get much to travel around but still visited Victoria Island, Vancouver, Niagara falls and Jasper. Summers are beautiful but hardly 3 months where you have to cram your travels. Winters are long and brutal with consistent weeks of -40 and blizzards. Having grown up on tropical.climate all my life and experiencing Las Vegas temp of +40 I was amazed at the adaptability of human body.
    I had a great opportunity to see an Edmonton Oilers vs Calgary flames hockey match from a corporate box. It’s a local derby abd so the atmosphere was electric. Honestly just couldnt see the puck most of the times, but was exciting.
    It was in Canada that I had my first Steak the famous AAA+ Canadian steak. I just couldn’t believe that the meat just melted in my mouth.
    All in all a great experience and happy 3 years spent in beautiful part of Canada.
    All the best on your adventures GN5.

  • Madhu, The climate is Canada is really varied from one Province to another and the winters are long (5 plus months in Ontario) but we are accustomed to it and dress accordingly.

    I’m now to old to embark on the journeys of yesterday but I have wonderful memories and plenty of photographic reminders.

  • TA, did you pull down the post after this one? I had a strange experience as I tried to get into the site for the last article. Do confirm.

  • Okay then. That explains it. Cheers, man.

    PB, missed your round up of “Arsenal in the internationals” after the last round of games. Our lads had a few goals which should augur well for the team.

  • TA was wondering but happened to the new post. I was about to respond but was not available. Thanks for the clarification

  • Sorry guy’s but I just noticed that I’d inadvertently shown Leeds as the home team against Southampton – whereas the reverse was true. I feel that the only fair way to everybody is to void that game – so sorry.

  • I thought you’d notice that too, GN5. I guess it happens.

    Your solution is the sensible option. 👌

  • OX10, I did not see any predictions from you for this weekend – if I missed then could you kindly repeat them. However if you did not then you still have the opportunity to predict the Tottenham game today and the Arsenal game tomorrow.

  • Off topic. Just glad to read that Reiss Nelson has had his first involvement for Feyenoord, after being considered as lacking match readiness by the Feyenoord Manager. Came on as a 60th minute sub vs RCK Waalwijk, with the game at 2-2; same scoreline it finished. I wager it won’t be long until he gets to start and become a fan favourite. Just needs to keep fit, is all.

  • GN5, Oh flip, I must have missed the match selection post. Tomorrow I think it will be Arsenal 3 Palace 1.

  • Here are my selections for next weekend:-

    England Ladies v Northern Ireland Ladies *
    Everton v Watford
    Brentford v Leicester
    West Ham v Tottenham *
    Manchester United v Liverpool *
    Athletic Bilboa v Villarreal

  • Here’s our latest team news ahead of Monday’s match against Crystal Palace.

    Granit Xhaka
    Right knee. Granit is making good progress in the initial stages of his recovery from a medial knee ligament injury sustained on September 26. The current aim is for Granit to be back in full training early in the New Year.

    All other players in the men’s first-team squad are currently fit and available for selection, with all players returning from international duty with no significant current issues.

    As part of Premier League protocol, all members of our first-team squad and support staff continue to be regularly tested for COVID-19.

    Copyright 2021 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source.
    Match preview

  • Only Xhaka unavailable – I can’t remember a time when Arsenal had only one injury. It will make for a very difficult choice for Arteta – but it will mean that we will have both a strong starting eleven plus a strong bench.

  • I had better get my predictions in early this week!

    England Ladies v Northern Ireland Ladies * H 5-0
    Everton v Watford D
    Brentford v Leicester A
    West Ham v Tottenham * H 2-1
    Manchester United v Liverpool * A 1-2
    Athletic Bilboa v Villarreal H

  • Hi all

    No time for a preview but you can all guess Arteta’s lineup to a large extent; it may even be the same as our last game v BHA.

    Great to see PV at the home of football and I hope he will succeed. The PL desperately needs successful black trainers and Paddy has a lot to offer. But tonight we need the three home points badly and let’s hope they can do it.

    Getting the midfield balance right is of course key.

    CoyrrGs!!!

  • Anticipation well built up in the Angus household. It is a beautiful Spring Kiwi morning out there but curtains are drawn, sofa, breakfast and scarf all prepared. Great to see PV4 again at the Arsenal. After DB10, my all time fave player. Loved his defence of Xhaka in the press, requoted recently. Paddy knew a thing or two about getting on the wrong side of ref’s and the press, I always admired his steely gaze, that prolonged, intense and mirthless look which he would fix upon all who crossed his path with challenge in mind.
    Come on Arsenal…

  • 32 Ramsdale
    18 Tomiyasu
    3 Tierney
    4 White
    6 Gabriel
    5 Thomas
    19 Pepe
    7 Saka
    10 Smith Rowe
    8 Odegaard
    14 Aubameyang (c)

    Substitutes
    1 Leno
    15 Maitland-Niles
    9 Lacazette
    23 Lokonga
    20 Tavares
    16 Holding
    17 Cedric
    25 Elneny
    35 Martinelli

  • Strong enough line up. Wonder why Wilfred Zaha isn’t starting for them and not even on the bench.

    It don’t matter. COYG!!!

  • Love the description of your game prep, Stuart. Good to hear from you.

    Yes Paddy is also one of my favourite Gunners ever and he indeed had that focused look.

  • Good to be ahead with a fine goal by Auba, but…..

    Arteta needs to get the midfield strengthened for the second half. Palace have us in their grasp and we need to break this up. We are not getting enough from the four in front of Partey.

  • Well said there, TA. The problem is with the midfield. Odegaard doesn’t look a good fit beside Partey for such a good passing side. Maybe, I troduce Elneny, who runs a lot more than anyone else, and disrupt the cohesion they appear to have in midfield. Partey seems to get nervous at times; lost the ball a couple of times but someone else saved his bacon.

    What was McCarthy doing kicking Saka in the calf like that yet he remained on the pitch.

    We can get a second if we can just gather ourselves together and focus.

  • Lokonga is on for Saka. We’ll, that may give Odegaard the impetus to go forward. ESR may shift to the left for Saka.

  • Ugly foul on Saka. Pundit called it “professional”. It was common assault! Ugly performance generally from our boys. Laca and Martinelli came on with something to prove and turned our frowns into blushes. Credit to PV4 and the way he has the Eagles playing.
    Yes Total, I can hear your thoughts. Our midfield is like a Swiss cheese, full of holes without Xhaka.

  • Laca to the rescue! What a difference he made. Why isn’t he getting more minutes? It’s clear that he has a special understanding with Auba. Arteta should tap find ways to utilise that more. I’ve said before that he should be starting more matches. He gave a very humble and honest interview after the match too. The biggest issue for Arteta though is to try and work out what happened to us after we scored our first goal and to make sure we never repeat that again!

  • It was such a nervy game for both players and fans. The players still struggling for confidence; Palace looked more assured with the ball and when playing out from the back (what happened with that “philosophy?) while we weren’t willing to take risks….at home.

    Despite being the one whose pocket was picked for their second goal, Lokonga did well with his use of space and helping to apply the forward press. Martinelli looked sharp and may have posed more of a problem for Palace had he started. But Laca was just a fired up breath of fresh air at the home of football tonight. Auba came alive with some neat combination play and more aggression. It was just right that Laca got our second goal to pull things level?

    Like OX10 stated, the puzzle for Arteta should be why we did not sustain the level of play we started the game with, instead of backing away and egging the opposition on. This team needs to learn to kill off teams as Palace. Early days, though.

  • If McArthur gets the red card he deserved then it’s a different game with Palace down to 10 players and probably a different result and a much more calmer time on this blog, but once again the officials and VAR fail to do their job.

    Interesting to see Dean ignore quite a few fouls by Palace players but immediately produce a yellow for the first foul by Saka just before he was kicked out of the game.

    I don’t expect favouritism for Arsenal just even handedness by the officials but as usual we get the rough end of the stick.

  • England Ladies v N.Ireland… 6-0
    Everton v Watford”……………..H
    Brentford v Leicester…………..H
    West Ham v Tottenham………3-1
    Man United v Liverpool………1-3
    Athletic Bilbao v Villarreal….. H

  • Impressed with Vierra he has made palace look better. That’s what the coach is all about. I cannot belive that man to man they are better than us but collectively they played far better than us. Thier talisman and best player was out but you wouldn’t know by the way they played. We played such a drab game and were lucky to escape with a draw. I don’t see that we are moving forward and our creativity is a huge problem. It’s pretty boring to watch us.
    Defense is also a worry. Tomi had his worst game and our structure goes horribly wrong when we loose balls high up on the pitch. Really worrying times an lot of work to be done.

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