Young Chronicles XVII: Winnipeg, to Saskatoon

The Young Chronicles details my 1983 hitchhiking trip across Canada. Having completed the Toronto-Newfoundland leg, I continue west from Manitoba to Saskatchewan.

July 8-10, 1983 Stayed at hostel and attended Winnipeg Folk Festival. Queen Ida and her Zydeco Band was the highlight of the event.

July 11, 1983 Mileage 356 miles

Ride One: Downtown Winnipeg to outskirts of Winnipeg. Old blue Volvo. Guy who had been to St. John’s. Had a hard time of it and has vowed to help others.

Ride Two: Highway 16 to Brandon, Manitoba. Red pickup truck. Group of Native Americans going to The Gathering. Woman gave me six cookies.

Ride Three: Brandon to Regina, Saskatchewan. Chevette with Illinois plates. Jeff Gibbs headed to Alaska. Had been stationed in Germany as a computer programmer on Pershing missiles. Went to jail for drunk driving with 1.5% blood alcohol.

Jeff Gibbs shows his Reaper drawing in Saskatchewan

July 13 Middle-aged couple. Woman said that I reminded her of the dawn. She had just won the lottery and was frying a salmon in the park. I was invited to join. Man became abusive when he was drunk and accused me of sponging. Returned to hostel, locked out.

July 15, 1983 Mileage 164 miles

Ride One: Regina to Wattrous, Saskatchewan. Old pickup truck. Wild looking man in a dirty green shirt. “No matter what you have, it always has value somewhere.”

Ride Two: Wattrous to outskirts of Saskatoon. Blue station wagon. Middle-aged woman with two kids. Drive past me but her kids insisted that she go back. “You’ve been nice company.”

Farm equipment outside Wattrous, Saskatchewan

Ride Three: Outskirts to Saskatoon hostel. Early ’70s car. Long-haired smoker. “You do your thing, and I’ll do mine.”

Embarrassing Letters II: My Response

My parents gave me all the financial support I would need for my 1983 hitchhiking trip. I sent the following letter after the trip, in November:     

Dear Mom and Dad,

Hello, it’s me, it may be cliché, but time certainly goes by very quickly. I find it amazing that I’ve been alive for nearly twenty years – that’s a long time for me – a lifetime in fact.

Throughout my life, or at least the at eight years I have rebelled against so many things ranging from private school to civilization. This may have all seemed ludicrous and counter-productive to you, but I think that I have achieved much in my personal development. Now, I see a very unpredictable future for me, but that’s the way I want it. I am happy. I love writing, filming and creating.

I don’t want you to be upset if I fail (not that I plan to) or drop out (again, not that I plan to), I refuse to enter any life that is not artistically creative. For me to achieve anything that I will be satisfied by, I must leave the norm, the average ‘desk job’; otherwise I will have failed my liberal goals. I doubt that this is what you will have wished for me, but there it is. I am what I am, and I won’t pretend to be anything else. (I feel that the Canada trip was brilliantly successful as it opened my mind to so many things and has motivated me to write a book of some sort.)

What can I say, I intend to stay in an artistic and undependable (sic) field, and I thank you for your love and help. So there you have it, no bullshit (there isn’t a suitable word), just honesty.

McP

Letter From My Embarrassing Youth

April 14/83

Dear Mom and Dad;

Hi, it’s me. I guess you’re wondering why I’m writing, and I guess you’re wondering what I plan to do this summer. Well, I’m going to answer both of those questions. I’d like to hitchhike across Canada.

Now I’m sure your first reaction to this will be that I should work an (sic) make money and pay my way through university next year, but I don’t feel that way. You see, I have the energy, the spirit and the enthusiasm to try this venture right now. The problem with getting a job is that I feel it would stifle me and my artistic (that is in my writing, etc.) talents.

What I plan for this journey is intended to release my mind and make it easier for me to write creatively. The trip wouldn’t just be me running all over the country, doing nothing but looking for a good time. The whole journey is planned for two reasons: one to give me more to write about by giving me more attitudes and angles on different issues – in essence to broaden be (sic) horizon to help me write more knowledgeably. The second reason is that I, ideally, would like to write a book about the search for the Canadian identity (if there is one). The book, of course, would take a couple of years to compile and edit, but I’d like to try it. Of course if it fails, I’ve still learned a lot, haven’t I? A lot more than I might learn working at some job.

Now I’d need about $1,000 for this trip. As well, I’d again need your full financial support for university. (I guess this whole scheme sounds like I’m just as impossible as ever, but I’d like to challenge that.) All the courses I’ve taken and plan to take at university all deal with the opening of my mind – philosophically; so to get better grasp of it and my understanding and development of these ideas I think this cross-country venture would be very helpful. If I get a job, instead I work at a set amount of hours at some specified (or despecified (sic), depending on how you look at it) job. I feel this would be very stifling and, in fact, harmful to my potential as a writer, film-maker or whatever in that general field.

There is some danger in this idea, but danger is part of life and it makes life more exhilarating, does it now? What I’m trying to do is give myself more to work with creatively – I want to be as artistic and fluent in literature (film) as possible and feel this to (sic) an excellent route to such.

Thanx.