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second morning out at Dryden Ontario

Taking the house with you
July 3, 2016
by:Timothy W. Shire

Since we first acquired the motorhome in 2011 we have made good use of it heading out on short trips to Saskatchewan regional parks and touring in trips of up to three weeks each in the Dakotas, Minnesota and as far as Osoyoos in British Columbia. But our trips were confined and definitely not open ended. The whole idea of travelling and taking your home with you is something I think it takes six years to get into and so this year we planned to set out into eastern Canada with the arrival of spring.

I had the unit licensed April 1, but various appointments tied us up. On May 18 the future was opened up for us and though a shorter time than we had wanted, we still had the rest of May and all of June to give it a go. It took us a couple of days to refit from our short trips of the past to something a little more substantial, but May 21 we had made it to Neepawa Manitoba, the trip was underway.

After all, with five previous years of experience, we have the motorhome and the tow sorted out. Most of the details are now down to a routine. The adventure of this trip was that we were heading into unknown territory. We had never had the motorhome beyond Kenora Ontario and only once in the late sixties driven through to Toronto. Out of necessity we were doing the trip one day, one stay at a time. Our iPads to do both the campground searches and then handle the actual navigation using Apple maps as our GPS.

Day three we made a brief stop in Winnipeg and made the campground in Dryden that night. The picture at the top of the page was taken as we were about to pull out of our campsite.
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The whole business of travel is that it expands your knowledge, widens your experiences and drastically increases your awareness. The picture above, just east of Kenora was for much of our journey the kind of picture we could and did take of highways to the Atlantic ocean and back. Who would have thought Canada was made up of so many trees and rocks?

The first of many observation was that perhaps Ontario doesn’t take Canada as a whole, seriously. It is pretty easy to make a blanket statement like that based on what may or may not be appropriate evidence, but confederation was based on agreements between parts of what was British North America to come together and form a single entity. To this day, that entity is in question, as in the news today we see criticism of the prime minister because in his speech on Canada Day, referring to the forming of one nation 149 years ago. A Quebec politician took exception to the statement, demanding he retract the statement, because Canada is “two” nations. So as you can see, despite the compromises of 149 years, some in Quebec do not feel included.
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Part of the deal to get British Columbia to join the Dominion of Canada was the agreement to build a transcontinental railroad to link the west with Upper and Lower Canada. In 1867 both confederation and the railroad were completed but driving east of Manitoba one wonders about the commitment made by Lower Canada. The railway is really a sort of anachronism in the world of today and roads, public highways link a country together. The national highway is called the TransCanada highway is called number One in the Western Provinces but in Ontario it is the lowly “17”. I thought that was bad until we entered Quebec where it is relegated to “20”.

At the Manitoba border the four lane divided highway that stretches from there to Vancouver, becomes a 90kph twisting secondary highway with ridiculously heavy traffic. Improvements appear to be underway as the highway does have frequent widened passing areas but it is virtually without a shoulder of more than a couple of feet and there are no places to pull off and take a break or deal with some emergency.

My immediate reaction was that this is the essentially the same turkey trail we took in 1968. What have they been doing all this time?

It was on our fourth day east of Dryden that I realised what the fathers of confederation and the fur traders before them knew. Not only is Canada big, but it is difficult.
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Right up to the entrance to our campsite of the fourth day was a massive construction zone where an attempt to turn the turkey trail into a four lane divided highway is being undertaken. The bridge in the picture above is at Nipagon and each metre of highway would turn any province into a “have not” part of the country. Still in all of the years since confederation, we in western Canada have had to pay for shipping of everything both ways. The shipping of what we buy and what we sell, has always be coming from our pockets and you would think that Ontario would value its link with the rest of the country just a little bit higher.

Below is what is involved in building a road in any part of the Canadian Shield region.
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I want to tell you more and show you more about our trip and it the coming weeks I hope that will be possible.

(to be continued)