May 29th – “Thunder Bay”
I started the day at Fort William. I was excited because as soon as I read the word “fort” I figured I was going to see soldiers, muskets, and stories of epic battles against the Americans. Boy was I wrong. It was a “fort” in name only. Fort William was the place where the Voyageurs of the west, met with traders from the east who represented the Northwest Trading Company. The Voyageurs arrived in their canoes after an eight week journey from the Canadian mountains and prairies, laden with animal pelts (beaver, elk, bear). The traders arrived in even bigger canoes, after a six week paddle through the great lakes from Montreal, carrying pots and pans, clothes, blankets, liquor and tobacco. For a few weeks in the spring and summer of the early 1800’s, within the walls of the fort, deals would be done between the two sides. After days of trading and negotiating, the Voyageurs would make their way back out west carrying supplies to trade with the First Nations people, and the traders would return to Montreal taking the animal pelts which would be sent to aristocrats in Europe. All of this was done peacefully, amicably and without a shot fired. In fact, not a single soldier was posted in Fort William. It was an example of old world capitalism.
Later in the morning, I went to see the memorial statue to Terry Fox. It is perched high on a hill, overlooking the place where he had to end his Marathon of Hope. There were maybe a dozen people at the memorial, but not a word was spoken. It felt like holy ground. If a statue could be said to have life, this one buzzed with an energy that was nearly palpable. I cannot know what was going through the minds of the others who were there, but I couldn’t help but think of those in my life who were lost to cancer. But I also thought about all those who were beating cancer thanks in part to the attention brought to the disease by Terry Fox. I have had both the privilege and challenge of running a marathon. I trained for it for months, and then was so happy when it was done and I could rest. Terry Fox ran a marathon every single day (42 kms) from Newfoundland to Thunder Bay, on one leg. That is beyond incredible. I’m so glad I stopped on my journey to pay homage to this amazing man, and his amazing courage.
Looking forward to what tomorrow will bring as I complete the first part of this amazing adventure. Can’t wait to get to the Yukon. J