More Travels with the Bear in Northern Ontario

Of course, the one place in Wawa where you have to stop is by the Big Goose.

Though there are actually THREE Big Gooses (geese) in Wawa.   (Which I consider a disproportionate amount for a town of 3000-4000.)

One of the geese is a 10 foot replica over a motel entrance.  Another larger one (about 15 feet) is next to a trading post.

But the BIGGEST goose of all is right at the exit, near the Trans Canada Highway turn-off.

(By the way, can you spot the Bear?).

This marks the spot where the final stretch of the Trans Canada Highway was completed, in 1960.

Think about that for a second.  The U.S. and Russia were already working at putting men in space.  Yet in Canada, we hadn’t even completed a road across the top of Lake Superior.   Almost within my lifetime, you couldn’t drive across Ontario.   Even today, there’s a four lane Interstate that takes you to the Soo, but as soon as you cross the bridge to Canada, it’s still mostly single lane.

That just goes to show you how wild and remote Northern Ontario was (and parts still are…).    Which is why I go fishing here.

If you go beyond Wawa, the road pulls away from the Lake, and the scenery becomes somewhat less interesting.

Though you can see the trees start to change.  Within 10-15 miles, there are no longer any pine trees or maples, it’s just black spruce and white birch.    The eco-region has sharply transitioned from Mixed Forest to Boreal Forest.

After about a fifty miles of bush, you’ll arrive at the bustling Metropolis of White River (population 841).   Not much there, really.  A few hotels, and a railway station.

But the one claim to fame for this town is it’s the Birthplace of Winnie the Pooh. They have a park there commemorating it.

So naturally, I had to stop and take a look.   

Plus, the Bear’s a big fan of Winnie, and asked to have his photo taken with him.

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37 Comments on “More Travels with the Bear in Northern Ontario”


  1. ROTFL! I haven’t gotten past the first goose picture because it brought back SO many hilarious memories. You see, I spent a week one day in Wawa. That was thee longest day of my life.

    OK, now I shall rewind and actually read your post. Forgive me. 🙂


  2. Wait, Winnie the Pooh was born in White River? Huh, no kiddin’. Now that’s a handy piece of trivia to keep in my pocket for a rainy day.

  3. Friar Says:

    @Nicole

    Yeah, you can make it a two-fer, and see the Big Goose and Winnie the Pooh, BOTH on the same day!.

    Then, if you really want, you can drive another hour, and go see Marathon (Which is a BIG CITY, even bigger than Splat Creek!).


  4. I’ve been to Marathon too, but only by boat. 🙂

  5. Friar Says:

    @Nicole

    Wow..that’s pretty impressive sailing, right across the lake like that. I’ve seen how nasty Superior can get (even on a sunny day).

  6. Steph Says:

    I see Bear…in BOTH pics!! Hooray for me!

    Really, you have to do a book about Bear and his travels.

  7. Friar Says:

    @Steph

    Good eye! (The Bear is tiny in the first pic).

    A book about the Bear? Hmmm..?!?

    PS. What are you doing up so late? (Come to think of it, what am I doing up so late too?)

  8. Karen JL Says:

    I see him too! He’s not in the second and third pic, right? Or do I need to look harder? I think the Winnie the Pooh thing is totally cool.

    And what is it with our country and giant statues of animals and stuff? There’s a commercial on TV right now that mentions it and it’s kinda freaky. Geese, beaver, lobster…all sorts of things. Is it because of all the open space we have? WTF?

  9. Kelly Says:

    Friar,

    I saw him this time! Yay for me!

    WRITE IT! Easiest book you ever wrote. Travels with Bear, all your best pics, and a bare sentence or two to explain where bear is under each. For kids. With just an intro to explain yourself to parents a bit. You could be done in two weeks. And it would sell.

    Brett can bring you with him on Oprah, but I want to buy the first copy for my kid. (Remember my post “don’t listen to them unless they say they want to be your first customer” on Monday? I want to be your first customer!)

    Ooh, ooh, do it!

    Oh, yes, and nice post. The big geese remind me too much of when the darn things come down here in the spring. Eeek.

    Regards,

    Kelly

  10. Writer Dad Says:

    Friar,

    You live in a much cooler place than I do. But I get better weather.

  11. Steph Says:

    @Friar: ooh, I know. I was exhausted too. But I was writing my ebook and then decided to write a post and then check everyone’s blogs…this new laptop has made the Internet all the more addictive!

    And YES. You should totally do a series of Bear books. Like Winnie the Pooh books, maybe. Only he has real adventures, rather than traipsing around looking for heffalumps. It would be cool!! Bear and Friar’s excellent adventures. 🙂

  12. Steph Says:

    WD: I read your comment and I was like, of *course* you get better weather, it’s cooler up here!! (I hate the cold.) And then I was like OHHHHH, that’s what he meant by cool!!

    DUH.

  13. Friar Says:

    @Karen
    No, there isnt’ a bear in the 2nd and 3rd photos. Just with the goose and with Winnie.

    Did you ever see the “Worlds biggest Teepee” in Medicine Hat? (OMG!). It’s so LAME. It’s just huge a Tee-pee shape of steel girders. (REAL traditional!) 😉

    @Kelly
    I’ll have to dig through my photos. The Bear’s been all over the continent (and parts of Australia too).

    I never thought this would be so popular (I was afraid people would think it was just stupid!). But with a cheering section like you and Steph, I’m beginning to think I SHOULD write a book.

    @Writer Dad
    “Cool”, is in “interesting”, or “cool”, as in less hot?

    (I suspect the latter…:-) )

    @Steph
    I was just not in the mood to sleep (and Ihave no wife or kids). I end up going to bed around 1:00 AM usually.

    (ARGH!) Those Heffalumps. (I hate ’em!). They creep me out, with their hollow black eyes.


  14. LOL Bear and Pooh. I bet it was the happiest day of his life. Kind of like visiting Santa for kids. I second the motion for a book on “travels with bear.” People of all ages would love it!


  15. Friar,
    Listen to Kelly, Don’t SOMEDAY this, do it NOW. The Bear’s Travels would be awesome, especially with some fun pictures where the kids have to find the bear, and other pictures where the bear is in some really awesome places and the kids can learn about neat places, learn some adventures have a funny story get a lauch. Parents and kids alike are going to love this and I bet it’s more than half done already. Don’t even think “Well I should wait until I go fifty more places. Slam the door on that thought. That’s for book Two.

    I also promise to buy to the first day. That’s two of us guarenteed.

  16. Friar Says:

    @Rebecca

    Somewhere in my photo albums, I have photos of the Bear with some REAL bears…in the wild!

    I’ll have to dig those out and post them.

    @Wendi
    Oh, I definitely be putting this into a book.

    But the question is…WHEN? It depends. (I’m already working on two other books). Which one gets priority?

    (It’s hard to fit everything in, given the full-time job at the Widget Factory)

    …I guess I’ll have to re-evaluate which extra-curricular project gets priority (???).

  17. Karen JL Says:

    @ Friar – I’m on the ‘Travels with Bear’ bandwagon too. It could be for adults and kids. And don’t *just* describe where he is or anything.

    Create small stories and funny ‘words of wisdom’ for each photo. Like what he’s learned from his travels and how he’s grown as a bear. That kind of stuff. 🙂

  18. Steph Says:

    Oh my God, *stupid*?? NO WAY!! This is the most endearing thing ever!! And you are great at writing and drawing for kids and your photos are hilarious and excellent!!

    Cheer, cheer, cheer!! 🙂

    PS. Notice all the exclamation points? That’s me being excited for you.

  19. Steph Says:

    Yup, what Karen said, exactly!


  20. @Friar It gets a bit creepy when you get out far enough to not see shore, but it was a fun trip. Granted it was about 20 years ago, so what I remember is sketchy at best. We usually did our boating east of the Sault and avoided Superior all together. Once was enough for me. 🙂

  21. Friar Says:

    @Steph and Karen

    You guys are just PLANTING all kinds of great ideas on my head!)

    (At this rate, I’ll have to quit my day-job and write full-time!)

    @Nicole
    That sounds pretty cool, actually. I’ve only met one ohter person who said they’ve sailed Lake Superior. I can just imagine, not seeing any shore, like you’re on the ocean, and it’s a LAKE.

    A pretty COLD lake, too!

  22. Kelly Says:

    Friar,

    Picking the photos would be the toughest part. I don’t know how big the archives are but I’m guessing that’s 10 hours of work (1 week). Then seriously, if it’s to be for kids, be BRIEF and not too clever, 1-2 sentences per page max. Where you were, what’s cool, what bear thought. Another 5-10 hours. Sounds simple, but you already did the years of legwork to make it happen “overnight”!

    At that point you already have the bones to show to a children’s publisher or an agent. (I’m not a published author, keep in mind.)

    Maybe you end up having to design/publish it yourself, but if it’s good (which it would be from you), they’ll get a book designer involved. So forget the “I can make it beautiful” thoughts and DO it!

    Oh, yeah, and then borrow Rita’s cojones and take some editor to lunch. 🙂

    Later,

    Kelly

  23. Steph Says:

    @Friar: Is that not the point, my friend?

  24. Karen JL Says:

    @ Friar – yeah…what Steph said. 🙂

  25. Rita Says:

    Friar,

    This was an incredibly interesting and well-written blog! I learned stuff from Friar that I found absolutely fascinating!

    First, about the “biggest” goose commemorating the competion of the highway…I gotta say it: 1960? That’s the year I was born (though you were NOT that far behind!). I’m not even 48 yet, and that’ when the highway was completed? LESS than 50 years ago? That’s amazing. Reminds me of growing up and watching the “twin towers” being built. They, too, were FAR less than 50 years old before 9/11.
    And the first time I drove by the skyline AFTER 9/11, after the awesome sadness left me, I remembered being a VERYlittle girl and watching them go up. And here it is, one day away from 9/11, which has probably been on the mind of quite a few Americans today, and I can remember the “before” and “after.”
    Perhaps the goose is not as “significant” as the Twin Towers, but why not? When you think about it, they were offices buildings! Big ol’ OFFICE BUILDINGS!
    You have REALLY touched my heart today, Friar, with that goose. Imagine going there and NOT seeing it? Though it doesn’t contain people, it is a landmark. And landmarks are called such for a reason.

    This was a great – and timely – post for me, at least.

    Thanks, Friar.

    Rita

  26. Friar Says:

    @Rita

    That’s what amazes even me…that within your lifetime (and almost within mine, hahah) Wawa didn’t have a road to it. You could only get there by rail.

    I read that the town wanted a road since 1952. They finally got one (sort of) in 1959…a very rough gravel road to the Soo, going over home-made log bridges and stuff, and the 120 mile drive took 8 hours! So when they got a PAVED road in 1960, it was a big deal!

    Driving across Canada, the roughest and most hilly roads are in Northern Ontario. (It’s actually EASIER crossing the Rockies, as they’ve made more effort in grading the highways and including more passing in the West.

    I was in New York 8 years ago. We had a limited amount of time, and we wanted to the top of the big building. Empire State building, or the World Trade Center.

    We opted for the first one…and I missed out on seeing the Twin Towers close up. What a shame. (But who would ever have guessed what would happen a year later?)

  27. Friar Says:

    @Kelly, Karen JL and Steph:

    Okay, now you got me working on another project! 🙂

  28. Friar Says:

    “What Steph said…”
    “What Karen said…”

    Geez, the two of you are tag-teaming today..!! What are you, the Bobsey Twins? 😀

  29. Rita Says:

    Friar,

    As to your post: Wow. Seriously, pwerfully wow. I have NOT stopped thinking about it, having lost people I KNEW that day. Not acquaintances. I KNEW them. And until I read your post, I was starting to forget them.

    As to the view: for Manhattan itself, the Empire State Buidling is still the best. For ALL of the boroughs, waterways, bridges – you, unfortunately lost an opportunity. And the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island RIGHT THERE. I’m truly sorry that you missed out on 2 of America’s greatest symbols of freedom – not the towers themselves, but the unbelievable views of the Statue and Eliss Island.

    Rita

  30. Karen JL Says:

    @ Friar – we’re beating you into creative submission… 😉

  31. veredd Says:

    Did I mention that I am very much a city girl?

    🙂

  32. Friar Says:

    @Karen

    Oh…that sounds “interesting” 🙂

    @veredd
    Oh, there are “Big cities” in Northern Ontario.

    Wawa, The Soo, Manitouadge, Hornepayne, Kapuskasing, Marathon, Hearst, Oba, Dubreuville….

    Bustling metropolisses, ALL of them! 🙂

  33. Friar Says:

    @Rita
    Oh, my post wasn’t THAT powerful. But it started a discussion on the Twin Towers, which itself is quite the intense subject.

    What ever the reason, I’m glad it got people thinking and discussing.

    Would definitely like to get back to NYC one of these days. (It boggles my mind how the metropolitain area can have ONE THIRD the population of Canada!)

  34. Karen JL Says:

    @ Friar – but…uh…not in a hot, sexy way like the way it read.

    Cause that would be, like, all wrong and shit…

    *tries to erase computer screen*

  35. Friar Says:

    @Karen

    Well, you did specify “creative submission”, so that kinda implies it only has to do with writing. (Oh, darn). 😉

    (Okay, better behave here…in case Friar’s Mom or someone else I know reads this).

    At least you didn’t mention vibrators. Unlike (ahem) OTHER readers.

  36. Karen JL Says:

    VIBRATORS!!! 🙂

  37. Friar Says:

    Well, there you go.

    My traffic and spam count is going to increase, now!


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