Happy Father's Day!
Today's post is dedicated to the one person who showed me that the prairies were a place worth living: my dad. Before I can remember, he has been dragging my brother and I into the boggy depths of the Duck Mountains to camp, fish and trek through the bush. I remember us tenting out at Batka Lake, eating canned sardines into the night...not like that would attract bears or anything. He did however, stay up the entire night and stand guard over our fishy camp. It was a lot of fun.
That little bit of recklessness is something I now appreciate in my mid-twenties. It's a matter of calculated risk and not being hard on yourself for looking stupid occasionally. Sometimes our best memories were made with a little wilful danger and my dad never brought us into situations he wasn't ready to handle. As a family, we routinely pushed the boundaries of practicality for the sake of enjoyment. But therein lies the fun of it all, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
He drives an '89 Bonneville, which he keeps because “it’s like driving your favourite couch around”. That ship has set sail on countless fishing trips, but it has never capsized. On some of the back roads where we've parked, you would think someone abandoned the car and left it for target practice. As a proud 4-door sedan owner myself, I've also inherited this trait — much to the chagrin of my car's suspension. We were never meant to own trucks.
My dad was born into a military family which meant a lot of moving around across Canada. He lived out east, as far as St. Adolphe d'Howard, QC, and re-situated several times throughout Ontario. Having to change schools so often meant that he rarely made good friends. But the friends he did have shared his affection for venturing upstream and searching for wild brook and rainbow trout.
When he finally moved to Yorkton, Saskatchewan, my Dad was just finishing high school. It was in this small city that he started a family and met some of his closest friends. They fed off each other's energy - continuously fishing and camping - often finding themselves in perilous danger yet coming out bold faced. In the pursuit of fish, he fell through the ice at Wilson Lake. He got his car stuck deep down the Fir River road and had to hike several kilometers through mud to find enough lumber and build a makeshift bridge. There were countless scares and late returns, but he always made it back home smiling - albeit a little sweaty.
Today, my father, brother and I still routinely make trips to our stomping grounds in the Duck Mountains. We camp, fish and make fun of everything, which is easy to do. My brother and I share our own stories of the trips we've had, often to rivers and lakes my dad had visited decades before. The look of excitement that this brings to his face is my biggest motivator to continue exploring the outdoors.
I owe everything to my dad. His persistence in bringing me and my brother into the wilderness has granted us an appreciation for nature and a resilience that keeps us moving no matter what obstacles cross our path. He showed us the excitement of the road less taken and taught us to pay no mind to those who judge. My brother and I carry on our adventures knowing that avoiding danger and uncertainty at all costs is a sure way to lead a boring life. We will do our best to stay open-minded, not take ourselves too seriously and always have fun. And we will always love our dad.