WOODS ‘N’ WATER: So wonderful, once clear of the border

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: So wonderful, once clear of the border


Just about every outdoorsman dreams of making that once-in-a-lifetime trip to a faraway place.

I was one of those, and thanks to my membership in the New England Outdoor Writers Association (NEOWA) it looked like my dream was going to come true.

A trip to a remote lodge in Canada was donated to our scholarship fund by the owner and I and a fellow writer, Tim Lajoi of Massachusetts, were the lucky recipients of the trip.

It consisted of a cabin to stay on Lake Gogama in north Ontario, plus daily fly-in trips to remote bodies of water to fish in.

The best part? We would be the only ones on the lake.

Tim and I made plans to start our trip from the place that Edna and I had in New York, and then head off to Canada.

Things went well as we hit the U.S.-Canada border. Then trouble raised its ugly head. We were in a line of vehicles waiting to get the OK to go into Canada, and then our turn came to meet the person manning the border booth.

At that time I had a pickup truck with a cap on it, and the cap was loaded with outdoor stickers, including one from the National Rifle Association (NRA). The young lady gave the truck a hard look and then handed me a piece of paper and told me to pull over to the office.

I asked if there was a problem, but got no response and did as I was directed.

Another border guard came out and asked us to get out of the truck. When I asked if there was a problem, she replied, “We are going to search your truck for firearms.”

I became irate and demanded to speak to someone in charge. I was told to see a gent standing on a balcony looking down at us. I went up to talk to him and ask why we were singled out and was taken back by the tirade of angry words he spat at me.

“Do you think you crossed the border from one state to another? You are in my nation now and, if I want, I will keep you here as long as I have to and if I want I will have them take your truck apart!”

I backed off and then Tim came up and said, “We are in trouble now; they found a shotgun shell in you back seat.”

I tried to esplain that we were on a fishing trip and the shotgun shell was in a small box in which I put odds and ends to keep them from rolling around.

It made no difference to the border guards. They proceeded to unload the entire contents in the pickup onto the ground.

Their efforts were fruitless. There were no firearms to be found.

I tried to tell them that we were on a fishing trip to promote fishing in Canada, but that also fell on deaf ears.

Since there were no firearms to be found, we were allowed to reload the pickup truck and proceed on our way, but I have to admit that it left a bitter taste in my mouth and have never returned to Canada since.

However, the rest of the trip went very well. When we told our host about our experience at the border, he became angry. I know he made some phone calls, but I do not know if he got any reaction from them.

Upon reaching Gogama Lodge, we were shown to our cottage and also got a tour of the place. It was awesome beyond description. They had a fleet of float planes that they used to ferry their fishermen to the various lakes in the area, and there were many.

Each day was a new adventure. Along with our fishing gear, we took some bottled water and a brown bag lunch that was provided each day. We were dropped off on a remote lake that had walleye, northern pike and smallmouth bass.

Each lake had a boat, equipped with motor and gas, for the fishermen to use. How they ever got them to some of these places still mystifies me.

We also packed rain gear and small first-aid kits because, once you were dropped off, you would not see your ride back to the lodge until afternoon. If a storm came up, you could spend

a night in the bush. But that was part of the adventure.

One of the lakes was called “Hanover,” and it gave us the adventure of getting a fish hook stuck in the calf of my leg and a small smoldering fire that Tim and I came across. It must have been started by a lightning strike. We were able to contain it using our coolers for water buckets.

Over the years, I have tried to put that border crossing out of my mind, but it still bugs me. The people of Canada that we ran into were very sympathetic to what happened to us and were a joy to be with.

Each day brought a new lake and a new adventure. Our hosts at Gogama Lodge were super and the meals were out of sight, especially the fish fries.

I would recommend a trip to such a wonderful spot, but make sure you leave your firearms and any loose ammo at home.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving our great country.