White River is a story set in the Canadian wilderness, north of Sault St. Marie and east of Lake Superior. It’s a wild area that is a popular haven for fishing and hunting and numerous camps can be found. It’s not very populated and you can still hear the call of the loon and see moose grazing in the lake shallows.
I went with my dad, uncle, “extended uncles,” cousins and “extended cousins” to a fishing camp on Negwazu Lake one summer when I was 15. We took the train from White River to our fishing camp consisting of three cabins and a boat house. It was a beautiful place. Right across from our camp was Bear Island, so named because bear would frequent the small dump looking for food scraps. Fresh walleye were large and tasted extraordinary. One day we hiked north, took a canoe across a pond, then hiked to a rowboat and spent the day fishing on Pike Lake, so named because Northern Pike were plentiful and big.
My dad snagged a branch, or so he thought, but when it got close to the boat it turned out to be a big pike that didn’t make a move until it was next to the boat–and immediately flipped his body and broke the line and swam away as casual as you please. How big I hesitate to say–the memory of a young lad, coupled with the distortion in the water and the surprise of the moment blur memory and reality.
I drank my first beer there–Molson Canadian, which three of us boys snuck out fishing one day. (OK, a couple of days.) I heard the call of the loons as the fog lingered over the lake. I swatted horseflies big enough to carry luggage, and felt blood dribbling down my cheek from the ones I missed. I waterskiied in water cold enough to make one a soprano.
My first seaplane ride, in fact my first small airplane ride, happened at the end of that trip. My uncle’s brother-in-law and owner of the camp chartered a Beaver and the larger Otter to fly us back to White River. I was “stuck” in the Beaver with my dad, uncle and cousin and our gear. I was disappointed at first, but then I got to ride up front in the passenger seat.
The pilot fired up that big radial in front of us and the sound was intoxicating. We taxied out towards Bear Island and took off towards the east, lifting off in practically no time and climbing over the trees and back to town. The sight was incredible! Lakes and rivers and trees and hilly terrain everywhere.
I never forgot that experience.
The rugged beauty from that trip and my passion for flying are the background for the story.
The camp I stayed at on Negwazu Lake is a rough template for the camp in the story. White River Air really exists, they fly a Beaver and a Turbo Otter to their own lodges and other private facilities throughout the area. The sights and sounds in the story are as realistic as I can write them.
White River is an adventure story, with danger, high-tech espionage, a beautiful girl. But really, it’s a story about bush flying a seaplane in Canada. For a pilot, it doesn’t get much better than that.
White River is available on Amazon.com.
The DeHavilland Beaver
Thanks to Airliners.net for the great pics of the DeHavilland Beaver. I highly recommend checking out their site for your airplane fix–they’ve got pics of everything!