01 Aug, 2009 A Taste of Home

As my flight out to Pond Inlet isn’t for a couple more days, I’m trying to figure out the best way to spend my time here in Yellowknife. I definitely want to check out the place a little as I couldn’t on my way though to Bathurst Inlet. Yet I don’t want to spend it walking around as a tourist the whole time. After all, this isn’t a holiday for me, though some might argue that. Sitting at the edge of Great Slave Lake there are obviously painting opportunities around here as well. So Max and I hiked into town to have a little look around and to meet with Gary Steel, a fellow that I had been speaking with while planning my time in Bathurst region. As a guide on the Coppermine River for 18 years, he helped me assess my options for my time in Grizzly country. Gary also had mentioned something about a boat, and with that in mind, I thought I would chat about possibilities with him.

We found him manning the Dawn Oman gallery for the weekend. Dawn’s his partner, and is a fabulous artist with a unique style that marries cultural imagery and modern style with bold colour. She is well known in the region and beyond, and among her many commissions, she created the Canadian North logo. What a small world: they are one of my project sponsors. She was unfortunately out of town, and as her help fell through, Gary was picking up the slack and covering the gallery for her. Before long we had a plan: Gary offered to take us out by boat, after the gallery closed, and drop us off at an island on the big lake where Eagles were nesting. We could camp out there for the night and he would return tomorrow evening to pick us up. I left the gallery elated at the chance to get back out, even if just for one night. And also very pleased with the small Dawn Oman original that I purchased as well.

That left us a couple more hours to kill, so we headed back to Jean’s place. She had offered us a guided tour of Yellowknife, by car and that would fill the rest of the afternoon perfectly. It’s amazing how much we packed into that hour, how many places we saw, and how much info Jean shared with us about the history of the place.

The whirlwind tour ended just in time to allow Max and I to finish packing our gear for the overnighter before Gary and his son Jay arrived. A short time later we were cutting waves on Great Slave Lake, heading towards the islands. Though a bit windy, the clear skies were setting up for a beautiful sunset. It was easy to tell when we arrived at the right island: 3 Bald Eagles were perched atop the trees, looking majestic. Max and I step ashore the hard Canadian Shield rock, and eased our way along as we filmed and photographed them. The young ones were hardly young anymore: there were the same size and flying around. As Gary and Jay headed back to town, I looked around and got a real comfortable feeling. On this island, with its orange lichen-covered rock and windswept pines, I got a taste of home. Not home as in my house in Caledon, but more like one of the many places I’ve canoed and painted back on Lake Superior and Georgian Bay in Ontario. Although these places are hours away from Caledon, I’ve spent enough time in them that my new surroundings were now making that connection for me. Watching the big sun slowly set over the horizon just added to the feeling, and made me think of camping with Janet and the girls back home. Two weeks to go, and I get to see them again. Can’t wait.

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