Indian Country – Eastern Ontario

As a traveller, one has a certain restlessness within oneself; as soon as one sits somewhere for a few days, one wants to continue; the inner restlessness drives one to move on.

After a few relaxing and nice days with our relatives in Pembroke we packed up our seven things and followed the Ottawa River in a northwestern direction into the expanses of the country. But, already at Rapides-des-Joachims we had enough of the tar tape and turned into the Z.E.C.’s (zones d’éxploitation contrôles) of Pontiac and Témiscamingue – in Québec. Through wide forest landscapes, lined by countless lakes and wild rivers, Chantal loosened me over countless wooden and hunting paths, always accompanied by a certain uncertainty whether we will get through at all or not. Late in the evening and in pouring rain we reached civilization again. The huge industrial plant in the middle of the bush was remarkable, where the worldwide hunger for cellulose is satisfied from the many logs.

We again followed the tar strip in a south-westerly direction; again forests and again forests. The few settlements were short alternations of a certain monotony in the wilderness.

North Bay was once considered an important point in the development of the vast prairie of present-day Ontario and was an important hub in trade with the local population of the time. Furs and other products from nature were considered commodities, whereby the trade relations presumably had a one-sided profit maximization and exploitation of the opposite side. Today, the village is rather rolled down by through traffic and hardly invites you to linger. Also for us the place offered hardly anything for a longer stay and therefore soon once turned to the west.

On the way west again wide landscapes with forests, lakes, smaller settlements and again huge farms with even bigger silos and monster tractors followed. Livestock farming has partly given way to arable farming, and combine harvesters were already dusting through the wide fields on countless fields.

As soon as we got used to the sight of the farms we reached Sudbury, a place where once there was really nothing but forest and again forest. Today, the miners in Sudbury are extracting nickel from the ground, making the town the world’s largest producer of nickel. The larges regulations of the past brought immense environmental problems to the place, and even today great efforts must be made to reduce or eliminate the sins and effects on man and the environment in the past. But once the astronauts of the first moon mission trained in the wide excavation hills and perhaps breathed a certain mythical life into the barren and dead landscape………….

After leaving the highway, which leads further west, we finally reached the long-awaited land of the many Indian groups. The northern part of Lake Huron has countless smaller and larger islands and peninsulas. Many “primitive men” – today called First Nations – settled here and gave the area a mystical-spiritual touch. We had read a lot about it and were curious what we would find.

Maybe our expectations were a little too high and the following disappointment accordingly. On Manitoulin-Islands are still 6 different “tribes” today; however, the today’s Indians live in houses and usually pursue an occupation. The traditional events, where also the pale faces are allowed, are held according to their rhythms and folklore cannot be spoken of. If you can take a little more time, you can book special tours and adventures for the corresponding dollars to experience the former simple life of the natives at first hand, including an air-conditioned tepee. Slightly disappointed we moved on. Perhaps we had also expected a kind of “Ballenberg”, where the past would be shown off.

The wide landscapes between Lake Huron and Lake Erie are now firmly under white hands. Presumably the indigenous population was soon expelled from the fields and near shore areas by the settlers. While the Bruce Peninsulas are a holiday paradise, where you can hardly ever get to the lake between the many holiday homes and resorts, soon big farms followed again. For many Canadians from the metropolitan areas, three or more hours of driving into the countryside is no problem and – in addition to the huge price increases on the ground – wide and untouched landscapes are being added.

Surprisingly, in these added second home areas near the shore there are always small oases, which are designated as a national or provincial park and allow you to dive into untouched nature. We also enjoyed these parks again and again and dived into the small

After countless kilometres through farmlands and villages, which have “borrowed” their name from England, we reached Lake Erie. From the south coast we marveled into the expanse of the lake and the sandy embankments, which break off meter by meter and sink into the lake. Years ago, Lake Erie was said to have more resembled a cesspool than a lake with many maritime life.

The waste water from the major industries in North America and Canada, as well as the many people, polluted the water extremely severely and it was only thanks to great efforts that the situation could be brought under control again. Nevertheless, the distortion of fish and other products from the lake is not recommended. The many signs on the banks always point to this sad fact.

Soon we dived into the big tourist stream around Niagara and despite the hype the falls of the same name are always worth a visit. And, although a lot of water is diverted for electricity production, the cases were again a mythical event for us. According to our book, the water mass of one million bathtubs per second plunges 100 meters into the depth. And also here: for dollars you can have and do almost anything, but this time without us.

We followed the waterway leisurely to lower altitudes and reached the plains around Niagara-on-the-Lake and St.-Catherines, the vegetable and vineyard of Canada. Under almost the same conditions as in Provence, world-famous juices thrive here and invite you to some rounds of enjoyment. Well then: “Cheers and to a long life!”

The landscape changed abruptly on reaching Hamilton. Heavy industry and office towers changed the landscape. The towns and villas on Lake Ontario and the industrial areas in the hinterland provide jobs for many people and occasionally cause chaotic situations. We were part of it too and fought our way through the canyons of Toronto.

Only thanks to satellite support we found the way out of this jungle in 4 hours and sometime late in the evening a place where we could spend the night in a park.

We left the skyscrapers and street canyons, the many people and their hustle and bustle behind us and again reached the wide landscapes as we Europeans imagine Canada; fields and forests, tranquil places and great people. After the southern part of the Algonquin National Park we wanted some adventure again. Over countless byways and bushes we sought the thrill of the pioneers of bygone times until it became too much for our jeep and forced us to turn back.

Satisfied we again reached our relatives on the “Île des allumettes” and Pembroke, enjoyed again a few days in a relaxed atmosphere and prepared for our journey through the francophone part; there was also some work to be done on the jeep.

We are curious to see how Québec will surprise us with all its facets.

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