Saturday, December 31, 2005 - Cochrane, Ontario
Backyard rink at Luc’s place - photo by Lee Johnson
It’s been a hectic few weeks. Because of some unexpected problems with my house in Red Deer which lead to some significant expenses, I had to cut my Thailand trip short (I ran out of money). I booked my return ticket and two days later I was leaving beautiful Thailand and making my way to Alberta. After two days in Alberta running errands and getting my winter gear, I was on a flight to Prince George, BC for a week of training with Vancouver Island Helicopters. Following my week of training I was again on a flight, this time to Toronto. I spent the night in Toronto then took the train to Cochrane, Ontario to spend Christmas with my some friends and relatives and primarily with my brother Luc and his three kids. It was so nice to be back in Northern Ontario where it still feels like home. After being away for so long I forgot how wonderful it is and how warm the people are.
I know we all hear the stories of those little towns where you can leave your doors unlocked and where neighbours look out for each other but I thought those days had long passed. That is until I went back to Cochrane. Helping Luc prepare dinner, I volunteered to head to the grocery store and pick up a few things. Not finding the keys hanging on the key rack, I asked for his car keys. He gave me this quizzical look and with a slight ‘tisk’, mater-of-factly said “where else would they be; they’re in the car.” Ah yes. Northern Ontario.
One evening we cleared out a section in my brother’s back yard to play some hockey. In the evenings, along with his friend Chantal and the kids, we played childish, laughter-inducing, roll-in-the-snow hockey. Another nice part of my visit was the music. Throughout my time there the house was constantly filled with music; with Luc and Chantal on guitar, me learning the piano, and the kids making their contributions. Being French Canadian, traditional music was big part of my childhood. Historically, when families got together music featured prominently with everyone playing an instrument and singing and dancing. The tradition was generally passed on to sons and daughters who usually learned by ear. My grandfather, for instance, played fiddle but regretfully, he never passed it down. I am thankful though that I still know all the old songs.
After a week at my brother’s place I headed back to Toronto for a few days and then it was time to go to work. I caught a flight to Fort St. John, BC where I got my assignment, loaded my helicopter and departed for Tumbler Ridge, BC. After a week there I now find myself in Peace River, Alberta. In a couple of days I will be back in Tumbler Ridge for a week then it’s off to Vancouver for a week off.