It’s crazy to think that two years ago, Cedric and I had just “won” the Woods Canada’s Dream Job campaign. I’ve been recapping our experience as Woods Explorers for a little while now – if you’re so inclined, you can catch up on our legs in PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec (Charlevoix), Quebec (Gatineau), Ontario (Huntsville), Ontario (Pukaskwa), and some more Ontario (Quetico). Whew.
Our next location was Whiteshell, Manitoba. Prior to this trip, I had never been to Manitoba before, so I was excited to check it out.
Manitoba turned out to be sort of a weird, surreal leg. I think part of it was due to its placement – we’d just finished two backcountry trips and, after Manitoba, we’d be heading to the Northwest Territories for what was sure to be the most hardcore leg of all. Whiteshell was a provincial park with designated campsites, a healthy number of RVs, and more people than we’d seen in the past few weeks. In a way, I think we experienced a brief bout of culture shock.
Truthfully, I was happy to have a more restful leg – one where we could easily hop in the car and drive to get an ice cream cone. We did that many times, because this was the ONE and ONLY leg where the weather was actually hot. It still boggles my mind that we spent five months camping across the country and only experienced one true week of sweltering summer weather.
As we drove from Winnipeg to Whiteshell, we passed a billboard advertising a fudgerie in a town called Beausejour. (My sister has previously noted that Beausejour is one of the towns that you see on the Air Canada map as you’re flying across the country.) I had never heard the term “fudgerie” before, but I loved it and I insisted that we stop to check out the fudgerie. This turned out to be an EXCELLENT decision. I can honestly, truthfully say that I ate the best fudge of my life in Beausejour, Manitoba. The place is called Le Beau Cafe, and if you ever have the chance to check it out, GO! And PLEASE bring me back some fudge.
We did a few different things in Whiteshell, but two activities stand out to be: canoeing the Caddy Lake tunnels and chainsawing stuff.
The Caddy Lake Tunnels
We enjoyed a pleasant afternoon paddling along Caddy Lake and checking out these neat manmade tunnels that you can canoe right through. We’d just spent a week canoeing in Quetico, and canoeing in Caddy Lake felt like the polar opposite. Quetico is the type of place where you dip your cup into the lake and drink the water without purifying it, and the only sounds are loons off in the distance. Caddy Lake was pretty, but there were motorboats buzzing around and the water didn’t look quite so pristine.
Thus far in my recaps, I haven’t mentioned Cedric’s struggles with sunglasses. Now, Cedric takes impeccable care of all of his gear (you should see how meticulous he is about packing everything up and keeping it all organized) – but for some reason, on this trip, he could not seem to keep a pair of sunglasses for more than a week. He’d gone through many pairs of sunglasses already that summer, each meeting its demise in a different way. I confess that I was responsible for the death of his most recent pair. We’d been filming a product review in the tent and I stepped on them, crushing them beyond repair. I made amends by buying another pair for him at our next Canadian Tire stop.
Cedric was wearing this pair – a yellow pair – for the first time on the day we paddled Caddy Lake. We were sitting in the canoe, paddling away, when I heard a small splash. I turned back to see Cedric sitting there, without his sunglasses. Somehow – I still can’t figure out how this happened – his sunglasses fell off and sunk to the bottom of Caddy Lake. Classic.
Throughout out summer, the behind-the-scenes people managed our activities to varying degrees. Sometimes, there would be little direction (like in Charlevoix). Often, there would be equipment rentals, so we’d know what activity we’d be doing (canoeing, biking, etc.) And a couple of times – Whiteshell included – we were booked into specific activities.
Our Manitoba activity was easily the most random activity of all: using chainsaws to make sculptures out of wood. I actually really enjoyed this activity and I definitely never would have got to try it otherwise – but I’m still scratching my head as to how this ties into the whole Woods Canada thing. We met an artist at an old timey pioneer village and he let us play (safely) with chainsaws. I’d never actually used a chainsaw in my life. I had a blast. I don’t know why we did this, but I loved it.
We had two different camping spots at two different campsites in Whiteshell Provincial Park. The first one was fine – pretty low key, but it was quiet and felt private. The second one – not so much. The neighbour to our left was an RV, parked just a couple of feet from our tent. I remember lying in the tent one night, the air so humid that I lay on top of, not inside of, my sleeping bag, and being unable to sleep because the RV was playing Shania Twain’s Come on Over album in its entirety. It’s not that the music was disrespectfully loud – it’s just that we were that close to it. Luckily, I like that CD and I couldn’t fall asleep anyway because I was too hot.
The following evening, Cedric and I were partaking in our evening routine of playing cards (it’s kind of like the watching Netflix of camping). I left to go to the bathroom or something, and when I got back, a little boy was talking with Cedric. He was from the campsite to our right (not the Shania Twain one). We got talking with his family and eventually, they invited us over to join their campfire. We had a lovely night with them. It still gives me warm, fuzzy feelings thinking of all the people we met that summer. People really are awesome in every corner of this country.
Naturally, the ornament we chose to commemorate our time in Whiteshell is Santa on a Seadoo. He’s probably ripping around Caddy Lake, and I’m pretty sure the critter on his back is wearing Cedric’s long lost sunglasses.