By Gary Koehler
Intermittent rain from an angry black sky splatters the windshield as I travel north on Highway 11 en route to Kapuskasing. An Ontario road map is unfolded on the seat beside me. All clues are welcome on this journey into the wilderness. Mallards and black ducks await. So, too, does Willie Nelson, who, upon my switching on the radio, croons a golden oldie delivered by the grace of 93.1 FM, a station known locally as “The Moose.” Waylon, Kenny, Dolly, and others string together a medley of country hits that soothe a tired soul for more than an hour, until the signal fades into oblivion and is ultimately lost. Alone again.
This has been a long day, my luggage having been misplaced somewhere in the bowels of the Toronto airport. A nearly three-hour wait for the bags to catch up in Timmins results in a quick tour of the city. Country singer homegirl Shania Twain is not to be found, although the front page of the Daily Press reports that she is scheduled to return to her roots for a visit.
After donating more than a million dollars worth of memorabilia to the Shania Twain Centre, she is coming back for her first closeup look. No word whether her husband, Mutt Lange, will be accompanying her on the trip from Switzerland . But enough on that.
More important, my host, Peter Martin, is awaiting my arrival in Kapuskasing, a historic lumber town with a decidedly French accent. Fifteen years ago, Martin packed up the family and moved his chiropractic practice to this pristine outpost. A longtime hunter, fisherman, dog trainer, and Ducks Unlimited Sponsor, it did not take him long to discover clouds of puddle ducks frequenting the Kapuskasing River . The best part was, he had the stream all to himself.