Saturday, June 30, 2007


Gloria and I try to go out for an anniversary dinner each year. This time we chose the Dinner Cruise on the Chi-Cheemaun and I wish we’d done this way before now. The food was great (prime rib & yorkshire pudding), our server (Jude) excellent, and the dessert a fantastic bread pudding with a caramel sauce. Of course the scenery was the best in the country as there’s nothing quite like watching the sun set as you sail along the shores of Canada’s 12th Wonder on a calm, clear evening.

There was a fine selection of Ontario, Australian and other world wines available to choose from although we did not try any on this occasion. (Still had to drive home, you know) The cost of the evening surprised me as well as it was only $46.00 per person including the return passage to Tobermory and the full meal. I know that a feast like this one would run at least that much in a fancy restaurant so this was quite reasonable and we’ll most likely do it again before the end of the summer.

Bottom line? I recommend that you book yourself a reservation on the Chi-Cheemaun Dinner Cruise today. It leaves South Baymouth on Thursdays at 5:50 in the evening and gets you back at around 9:45, which still gives you plenty of time for a that nightcap after you get home. See you onboard!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

It's what I am...

Within the next couple months I will reach the 34-year mark in my northern career and I admit to mixed emotions. Yes, it's been mostly fun and I've certainly seen more of the country than most people, but at what cost?

My body is shot, I’m overweight, my back and right hip hurt constantly, I have arthritis in my hands, gout and who know what else. I have no place that I can truly call home as even "Haven" on Manitoulin is a stranger to me because I'm seldom there for more than a few days at a time.

The concept of a family life is completely foreign, and I often have people on the island call me by name that I am certain I have never ever seen before and I have absolutely no idea of who they are. Gloria tells me later that “Oh, that was your nephew” or niece or some other type of relation that I may have seen when they were two feet tall but are now grown up. How am I supposed to know when I only see them once every 2 or 3 years?

On the other hand I have Gloria, my wife, my rock, my inspiration and the reason that everything is worthwhile. If I'd never headed north I never would have met her and that would have been a true tragedy. I’m proud to announce that as of today we're at 29 years, still counting, and I hope for another 29 to come.

So I'll hold out for a while longer and put up with the 7 day, 70-hour work weeks and the 40+ day long trips that keep me out of touch and in limbo most of the time. I will endure until retirement in 3 years and 6 days... unless the “powers that be” farm me out earlier. It's happened to others better than I that it should NOT have happened to and if my turn comes sooner than later then so be it. I've had a good run, and have more than enough plans, schemes and dreams to keep me busy for several lifetimes.

Here's to the future!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Almost a victim…

Well I almost fell prey to the “Northern Truism” that I wrote about before. The people who I was replacing in Kangiqsujuaq were supposed to arrive back in town Wednesday afternoon so I could leave Thursday morning. Wednesday arrived with huge winds whistling through the mountains and for some reason or other the pilots didn’t want to try a landing with gusting 80kph crosswinds. Personally I think it makes for some exciting seconds or minutes as you are looking out the side windows of the plane straight down the runway with the nose of the aircraft pointed 10 degrees or so off to the side. Some of the other passengers seem to think there is a danger to this however and have a nasty habit of screaming and squealing as you bounce up, down, sideways, backwards, inside out… Lots of fun and since we’re all going to kick off some day anyway I’d rather it be on a plane than on Highway 400!

Anyway, they turned back to Kuujjuaq on Wednesday but made the run back up when the winds calmed down on Thursday morning. John and Debbie got off the plane, I handed them the store and truck keys, gave them a few hints as to what I thought of their cat and got on the same plane they had arrived on. Just the way things go sometimes and I still made it to Kuujjuaq in time to make my connection to Montreal. And I get to do it all again next week!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New look!

For anyone that hasn’t checked it out yet our main Watkins site has a great new look. I’ll be placing another order before the end of this month so let me know your needs and we’ll get your items on the way to you as soon as we can. Arrangements can be made for direct shipment to you from Watkins if you live outside our immediate area on Manitoulin, or we can deliver to your door when we are near you. If you do deal directly with Watkins please use our Independent Associate ID#369469. This will allow us to learn and fill your needs better in the future.

We will also soon be taking booking for “Good Tastings” events during which you (as the host) can earn some great bonus products. Are you interested in getting free Watkins merchandise by hosting an event?

We also have a new catalogue coming out soon and if you would like to be added to our monthly “Highlights” mailing please e-mail me at and we'll put you on the list. One final note… there are many openings and benefits for operating your own home business as a Watkins Associate and if you are interested just go to my Summit Group web site, enter in code MD4399, and well get in touch right away. You need not do any selling if this doesn't interest you but can simply become an associate just to get yourself a great discount on items you buy every week anyway. Ask me how!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Northern truism…

I’ve seen it happen time and time again and it seems to be a rule in the north. Whenever the teachers are trying to head south at Xmas or at the end of the year in June (today) the weather goes out. This creates a very annoyed and disgruntled group of people just sitting in their houses, afraid to go out in case they miss the telephone ringing to let them know the plane is on the way. Today we had slushy snow falling in the morning, which was probably freezing somewhere up in the air meaning… no aircraft. Such is the reality of life up here and after you’ve been around a few years you realize that you can’t rely on the weather and just because it may be nice where you are that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s nice wherever the aircraft is coming from!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sunday morning...

So how did you spend your Sunday morning? In my case it started with a telephone call advising me that our Air Inuit “pop charter” was landing in 45 minutes. For you un-initiated southern types that means that the store has run out of soft drinks that were brought in on sealift last summer. When that happens and there is still too much time before the first ship of this year we fly it in. That’s right… 1,100 12 packs of Pepsi, Coke and other assorted flavours and just about the only item that actually uses up more litres of fuel to fly in than the total litres of pop actually carried.

Oh, and I was lucky in that we had some great guys to offload and move it all into the warehouse for us. Big THANKS to Danny, Josh and Bobby.

By the way… the freight alone on each of these individual cans is just about equal to what you pay for an entire 12 pack on sale at your local “big box” department store!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Salluit next?

So they want me to head up to Salluit next after a 10-day layoff. I’d hoped for a bit more time at home than that as I’d like to get some serious Watkins recruiting done but that's not to be this time. I’ll still try to get a presentation or two completed while I'm back on Manitoulin but not the series that I had hoped for.

Salluit is a great little town and I first went there somewhere around 1979 as the Manager for the Hudson’s Bay Company. The only downside to this trip will be that two sealifts scheduled for the period that I will be there. As long as the current Manager has all his warehouses organized and has someone who knows where everything is to go it shouldn’t be a problem, but if there is no preparation done it will be a nightmare.

The good side about another trip this soon is that is brings me one tour closer to getting my year done. After this one I will only owe the company about another 60 days and then I’m off for three months or so unless there is an emergency somewhere. I know I complain about the hours and the workload sometimes but where else can I get all the great benefits that The North West Company offers including up to four months a year off, with pay, and the pension cheque really isn't that far away!

Above is a photo of the MV Umiuvat. You can get more information on it and other northern freighting activies on the Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping web site.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

1991 - 2007

It’s been great, it’s been fun, we’ve covered a lot of road together… but it’s over. After almost 310,000 km and a lot of memories we have to say goodbye. I’m glad you’ve decided to donate your parts because I’ll still be able to visit you occasionally. I won’t know when though… a door here, a mirror there, a seat, your still good transmission. What’s that? Do I hear the rumble of a familiar tailpipe? I’m going to miss you, old friend.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


This is the animal that's been making problems for me lately. Looks harmless,eh? Well, check out that gleam in his eye. This de-clawed feline still has some sharp teeth and takes great pleasure in trying to draw blood from an exposed leg or hand. This “wee beastie” is also having some other problems and keeps leaving semi-digested piles of breakfast on the carpet for me.

John and Debbie... if you’re keeping tabs on this blog while you’re on vacation be advised that there are a few new stains for you to deal with. I’m in the store 12 hours a day and it's surprising how well “Chicken Chunks with Gravy” can soak in during that time. :-)