There are many beginnings to a story. We’ll begin our story with our parents because they saw Nature as our finest teacher, our healthiest playground and our most trustworthy Companion. Rachel Carson once said “Every child needs one caring guide into Nature”. Gary’s Mom and Dad grew up on farms outside of London Ontario. They shared a love of hunting, fishing, paddling and exploring the North —Georgian Bay, Temagami, northern Saskatchewan. When Gary was born they took him everywhere with them. My parents, British born, met at Jasper Park Lodge in the Rockies. Their love of Canada’s wilderness brought them together and has held them together for 60 years. I grew up in a household where composting, recycling and growing your own food were second nature long before anyone even thought about such things. During early childhood, both our parents built cottages –for Gary it was Temagami’s Rabbit Lake and for me Muskoka’s Lake Joseph. We each lived in two worlds—the urban and wilderness. Gary in London and Temagami, myself in Thornhill and Muskoka. Our favourite was summertime– climbing trees, running through woods, paddling along lakeshores, hanging out under night skies to watch stars. Summer = swimming, paddling, sailing, fishing.
We loved the other seasons, too. Spring was maple sugaring, birdwatching. Fall was bicycling, grouse hunting. Winter was cross-country skiing, tobogganing, skating. And our parents did these things with us.
Once finished high school and thinking of our futures, we were wondering “How do I make a living in the outdoors?” From the time Gary started reading National Geographic stories of world travellers, he began imagining a profession as an adventurer and photographer. I had a notion that I could guide expeditions for wildlife biologists on their field trips to study polar bears and whooping cranes. When we met at Seneca College in 1979 enrolled in the two-year Outdoor Recreation Technology program, we were forging a path toward our dreams.
After year one, we were planning adventures together. While on a canoe trip down the Missinaibi River, Gary asked if I would like to hike the Appalachian Trail with him when we graduated.
When I quickly responded with an enthusiastic “Sure, what is it… where is it?”, the answer “a 5-month, 2000-mile hiking trip through the Appalachian Mountains” didn’t deter me despite my limited experience —- one weekend backpacking trip in Algonquin Park. Our youthful enthusiasm and bliss propelled us forward through the years until 1999 when our daughter Sila was born. A whole new wonderful adventure! In her first few weeks, her cradle was the canoe. Enveloped in the gentle sound of water and wind in white pines, she slept soundly in the bow at my feet. At 18 months, her first steps were made at a run on a portage trail in Algonquin Park. At 3 years, during our 3-month Great Lakes Heritage Coast journey, she was riding the bow of our canoe, Mariah, as if it were a horse. Now she’s a fun-loving spirited teenager with dreams of her own adventurous life ahead.
Perhaps we’ve kept our life on a fairly good course for over 30 years together because we see it as a river run – catch the quiet eddies often, try to work like a team particularly in the difficult parts, but most of all, pay attention to the journey and enjoy the ride.
Conservation Photographer and Explorer
Explorer, Author, and Public Speaker.
Sila and Luna
Sila loves Life, Friends, and Sports. Luna loves Trails and Winter!