I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked “Are you related to Kevin Callan?” OK I can tell you – it’s 4. That may not seem like a lot, but how many times have you been asked if you are related to someone you are not related to? They even tell me that I talk like Kevin and I laugh like Kevin. We are not related, however, I take this as a compliment.
I have been to two of Kevin’s presentations and awkwardly stopped him once on the street so I could thank him for his books. We lived less than a block away from each other for years and I would always come home to report seeing him heading out on a trip. He likely had the canoe on the vehicle all summer, but that didn’t matter, I liked to imagine he was heading off on a big adventure.
I just devoured his most recent book – autographed by both Kevin and Andy Baxter. The book has so much history about Algonquin Park that I was fascinated. I could not put it down.
My Algonquin experience is limited. We rented a canoe to test it before buying – at the end of the trip we bought the canoe at Algonquin Outfitters. I have skied in Algonquin Park, I have read books about the history and the routes in Algonquin. I have family members who are always raving about Algonquin and telling us about ‘secret lakes’ that we must visit. But, in terms of canoeing I have only gone there once.
My only Algonquin trip was a great trip to the Barron River Canyon with another couple about 19 years ago. We spent a few nights on Opalescent Lake, and a few other lakes along the way. The site we stayed on had a ‘Flintstone’ living room. A rock couch and loveseat, a coffee table, a fireplace. It was amazing and so comfortable, it was hard to believe it was all rock. We later heard that it was built by a group of engineers and that many people were upset because they felt it ‘defaced’ the natural beauty of the park. I am sure it is gone now, but I must confess, we enjoyed it and still talk about it.
So why don’t we go to Algonquin? I think there are many reasons. I have heard stories about crowds, challenging portages, big lakes and bears. But I think the main reason I am not drawn to the park is because I grew up listening to my parents tell the story about their ill fated trip to Algonquin in 1962.
When I was 6 months old my grandparents offered to look after me while my parents had a little holiday. They dropped me off and went on to Algonquin with another couple, pulling a rented trailer. My parents are both outdoor people, they know their way around the forest and are skilled in reading animal sign and identifying plants to eat. My mom spent her teenage years in the bush with her logging/trapping father and my dad grew up on a farm. When I was 7 they built a cabin surrounded by 50 acres of forest. We spent every weekend at this cabin for years. That being said, I would not call them campers.
Back to my parent’s Algonquin story.
They stayed at Butterfly Lake the first night near Bala. They drove on to Algonquin the next day through miles and miles of construction. When they arrived at Lake of Two Rivers they realized they had left the rear window of the trailer open. The trailer was absolutely full of dust. It took them hours to clean up (well the women cleaned and the guys went for a walk because it was 1962). The next morning they stepped out of the trailer to find a clothesline full of diapers and a crying baby at the next site, the very thing they were actually trying to escape.
So they decided to go canoeing to get away from the crowds, but when they arrived on the next lake they met a large group of Boy Scouts. Although they will admit that they enjoyed the paddling, hiking and a trip to the museum – the story I heard for years was all about the diapers, kids and crowds. Did I mention their gas tank fell off too? But it was 1962, so they tied it back on the car with a rope and drove home.
So once again Kevin has inspired me. So perhaps, next year I will book a trip in Algonquin. Even in my younger days I would not have considered the trip the book is based on, but I am sure I can find a gentle trip. A friend’s nephew is currently on a 50 day canoe trip in Algonquin. That is not for me! I think I will start with a 4 day trip.
You too can enjoy Kevin’s entertaining read, Once Around Algonquin by ordering a copy from Recreational Barrel Works. Order your copy and get your very own personalized inscription.