A writer should write every day, even if he has nothing to say.
Well, I have something to say, even if you say it’s nothing. I find most of my subjects in my backyard.
My backyard extends several hundred miles in each of the cardinal directions. Some days it extends around the planet. It has shifting boundaries. So I guess you could say I have several backyards. And I set out on different days to become more acquainted with my backyards.
Olga and I live on a big lake in a big cabin just outside of Geraldton. It takes me twenty minutes to get to town. When people ask me where I live, I say Geraldton, because that’s what they expect me to say. But we live in the bush on a big lake in a big cabin.
This past weekend I didn’t go far – just a three-hour trip, one-way. Went to visit my brother John in Manitouwadge. Manitouwadge is a community smack in the middle of the bush, off the beaten track (and the track I took was well beaten, let me tell you – “beaten-up” would le mot juste).
Manitouwadge sprang up in the ’50s after a trio of weekend prospectors discovered some base metal mines there. Just amateurs, really. Roy Barker and Bill Dawidowich were the guys with hammers, and Jack Forster had a small float plane to fly the guys down there from Geraldton, where they lived, so he shared in the wealth they found.
The mines are now closed, many houses empty, many bread-winners now commuting to various parts of North America to win the bread for their families.
After they became rich, Jack Forster moved to sunnier climes. Bill Dawidowich (his son anglicized the surname to Dawd) built a home in The Big Berry (Thunder Bay), and Roy, Roy Barker, he sank his roots deeper in Geraldton. Built a mansion on the hill overlooking the town and devoted his life to collecting royalties and growing potatoes, his first love. The farming, I mean.
And so Geraldton, the little metropolis that sprang from the muskeg in the ’30s when a crusty old bachelor, a professional prospector, found gold on the shores of Lake Kenogamisis, Geraldton gave birth to three more millionaires. Today, Geraldtonians, caught up in the economic depression that has engulfed the region, live mostly from hand to mouth.
But I was going to tell you about my trip to find a subject.
If you’re ready for it.
(Continued in Chapter 2)