Young Chronicles XVIII: Saskatoon to Whitehorse, Yukon

July 20, 1983 Mileage 365 miles

The Young Chronicles details my 1983 hitchhiking trip across Canada. Having completed the journey east and much of the journey west, I head north to the Yukon.

Ride One: Saskatoon to North Battleford. Souped-up racing car. Native guy who used to be a drug dealer. Offered to put me up in North Battleford. “Fucking this and fucking that.”

Ride Two: North Battleford to Peynton. Camper. Older native guy with weathered skin. Lived on a reserve. Very friendly. Two boys work in hospital.

Open road of Saskatchewan to Alberta

Ride Three: Peynton to Lloydsminster, Alberta. Air-conditioned Oldsmobile. Stuck -up singer with goatee. Prejudiced against Native Americans. Said that they put holes in the side of their houses so that the horses and cows could drink from bathtub. Jerk.

Ride Four: Lloydsminster to Vermillion. Blue Phoenix. Mild-mannered older guy. Worked at Lakeland College, only provincial college in Canada.

Ride Five: Vermillion to Edmonton. AMC Meteor station wagon. Sausage buyer. Had a water tower for sale. Son has pessimistic dreams of being stuck working at McDonald’s.

Stayed with Lori McClennan, a crush from the year before. We went to the Edmonton Fort with her younger brother. Nothing else happened.

Looking north on the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton

July 19-20 Mileage 1237

Greyhound Bus: $99 one way. I was scared of the immense wilderness, especially being left on the side of the road for hours and getting mauled by a bear. Laziness had a lot to do with it as well. The rain clouds have given out, letting loose a mild lightning storm in Grand Prairie.

Time flies when you’re lost in a sleepy darkness, so I smoke my way to sleep.

July 20-23 Whitehorse, Yukon. Stayed in hostel. Amazed by the late evening light, past 11pm. Forgotten old woman sleeping at railway station.

Hiked up Gray Mountain, scared again of the bears. Graffiti at top of the mountain dates bake to 1957. Moth at peak – why?

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.”

Young Chronicles XVI: Ahmic Harbour, Ontario to Winnipeg, Manitoba

The Young Chronicles details my 1983 hitchhiking trip across Canada. Having completed the Toronto-Newfoundland leg, I continue west through Ontario into Manitoba.

July 3, 1983 Mileage 335 miles

Ride One: Ahmic Harbour to Parry Sound. Buick Electra (with dad and Sue). Listened to Bach and Vangelis. Pleasantries.

Ride Two: Parry Sound to Sudbury Turnoff. Rabbit. Twerp of a driver who irritated another hitchhiker in the car from El Salvador and stayed quiet throughout.

Hitchhiker from El Salvador walking ahead between Parry Sound and Sault Saint Marie

Ride Three: Sudbury Turnoff to Sault Saint Marie. Sal driving from a wedding in Toronto, despondent about splitting up with wife. Picked up his brother Paul at a marina. Listened to Stravinsky’s The Right of Spring.

July 4 Mileage: 435 miles

Ride One: Thunder Bay to Wawa. Blue Custom Chevy Van. Married guy with mustache and fancy track pants. Loves Canada and understands the power of the weather.

Long wait by Wawa sign. Graffiti underneath sign included: Wawa sucks! Fuck Wawa! Jerky Fuckwell, I slept here. Truck pulled over and then took off when I approached

Ride Two: Wawa to Thunder Bay. Silver Rabbit. Alison and Jane. Very nice and happy people. “I am so happy to be alive!” Strong belief in Socialism. Big collection of pillows in the back seat with me. Stayed at same hostel in Thunder Bay.

Alison and Jane on the road to Thunder Bay

July 6 Mileage: 29 miles

Ride One: Thunder Bay to four miles up the road. Pickup truck. Kirk Douglas lookalike.

Ride Two: Six miles up the road. VW Bug. Blonde guy going to Lakehead University.

Ride Three: Three miles up the road. Brown Rabbit. Jesus lookalike. “You have to like sitting on the side of the road.”

Ride Four: Ten miles up the road to Sunshine. Old car with California plates. Mike. “You can stay the night, if you need to.” (I did.)

July 7 Mileage: 385 miles

Ride One: Sunshine to Winnipeg. Blue Colt junker. Dave and his nephew Sean. Dealer in native art. Enjoys silence and forest fire trivia. Obsessed with sex. “You never know. Maybe I’ll get lucky.”

Dave and Sean on the Blue Colt in their Winnipeg backyard

Took me to his house for dinner (chicken, salad, baked potatoes and beer) with his wife and sister-in-law. “Now you can tell people you had dinner with Indians and they didn’t eat you!”

Young Chronicles XXV: Metis, PQ to Ahmic Harbour, Ontario

The Young Chronicles details my 1983 hitchhiking trip across Canada. Having completed the Toronto-Newfoundland leg, I continue west into Ontario.

June 26, 1983 Mileage 226 miles

Ride One: Metis Beach to Levi, PQ. Beige Subaru with a dashboard like a cockpit. Jane (forceful, elitist), Daphne (said little) and their dog Rocky (stunk of sea water).

Walked a few kilometers and took ferry into Quebec City. Sat on the boardwalk and watched a juggler get all of the attention while the flautist was ignored.

Quebec City at night

June 27, 1983 Mileage 268 miles

Ride One: Quebec City to Pont du Quebec (just across the damn bridge). Blue Rabbit.

Ride Two: Pont du Quebec to St. Georges. Beige Subaru (same as Jane’s). French anesthetist. Colt cigarettes, moose hunter. “The separation meant nothing.”

Ride Three: St. Georges to East Montreal. Brown Honda. Young Quebecois.

Ride Four: East Montreal to West Montreal. White Fury. Wore sunglasses, was stopped for speeding and played “Judge’s Card”. Gave me a pack of smokes. “We’re on this earth to help each other, man.” Gave me a soul shake.

Ride Five: East Montreal to Hawkesbury. Brown Rabbit. Old guy with sideburns and woman. Misdirected them so that I could get closer to Ottawa. (They were going to Lachute.)

Ride Six: Hawkesbury to Ottawa, Ontario. Fancy sports car. French guy with bushy mustache. Smoked a spliff. “All right, all right.”

Stayed with Tara (friend from Queen’s University) and George.

Tara and George in their Ottawa apartment

June 29, 1983 Mileage 268 miles

Ride One: Ottawa to Carleton Place Turnoff. White Cadillac with digital read-outs. Clean-shaven, curly haired guy. Took scenic route along the river. From a small German village.

Ride Two: Carleton Place Turnoff to Pembroke. Dark red Rabbit. Liked The Who, The Dead and David Bowie, but not a fan of “peace and love shit”. Owns a VCR and apartment.

Stayed two night with Rene Zwiegle (friend from 1982 Europe Bike Trip) and her family. Her mother (Japanese) taught in Africa and broke her family ties temporarily to marry Rene who is German. He encouraged Rene and I to go on ‘midnight walks’. Mouse turd on my desk.

Rene Zwiegle jumping in the Ottawa River

July 1, 1983 Mileage 181 miles

Waited for 3 1/2 hours.

Ride One: Pembroke to North Bay. Grey sports car. Guy in his 50s who had just retired and had worked on the Trans Canada Pipeline. Daughter going to Western University.

Ride Two: North Bay to Ahmic Habour. Brown Rabbit. Tanned guy with mustache, very well travelled because of his work in telecommunications. Constantly talked about all of “the twats he had snatched.” Hung around while I waited for my father to pick me up in the boat.

My father and I on Ahmic Lake.

Writing Process: My Precious Photos

I have been on a sentimental journey of late, going through old images – photographs, slides and negatives – to give visual support for the Young Chronicles section of this blog.

A early selfie with Tim Paquette at his home, the end of my first day hitchhiking.

While some shots work, like the one above, I now realize that most do not because I was trying too hard to be arty with landscapes and the like.

It’s a lot of emptiness, which does reflect my feelings of much of that summer, but comes across today as repetitive and unengaging.

The process of searching through my images and notes is the journey now; and the aim is to make it so for others.

The route out from Toronto to Nova Scotia and then back across Quebec and Ontario.

Young Chronicles XXIV: Kouchibouguac National Park to Metis Beach, Quebec

The Young Chronicles details my 1983 hitchhiking trip across Canada. Having completed the Toronto-Newfoundland leg, I continue west through New Brunswick into Quebec.

June 21, 1983 Mileage 174 miles

Ride One: Kouchibouguac National Park to 20 miles down the road. Pick-up Camper. Middle-aged couple who gave me Jiff Peanut Butter.

Ride Two: 2 miles down the road to gas station (after one hour wait). Pickup truck. In the back with some kind of acid in barrels. Old squat guy with younger guy and two girls.

Ride Three: To Chatham. Car n/a. 43-year-old guy with mustache named Murphy. Considered himself a philosopher, believes in ESP and living life by moving around. Owner of a chain of furniture stores. Loved Pavarotti.

Ride Four: To Bathurst. Beige Phoenix. Old couple. Man said that hitchhiking today is a picnic compared to his days as a ‘hobo’ when he couldn’t find anything to eat for 5 days.

Bridge toward Bathurst, New Brunswick

Ride Five: To Nigadoo. Car n/a. Radio station promotional guy. Offered to take me to an Acadian Fishing Village tomorrow morning.

Ride Six: To Quebec border. Pickup truck with dirt in back. Middle-aged guy with mustache. Worked hard and loved beer.

Ride Seven: To Chateau Hostel (outside Carleton Sur Mer). Pickup truck. Army guy. Very quiet. Bought lunch at McDonald’s. Recommended Elie Wiesel.

June 22: Worked for the day (construction of addition to Chateau Hostel) for food and lodging. Owned by Jean, an ardent separatist, his word is law. Had an annoying tendency to talk about me to others in French. Jean’s father worked non-stop, deep tan, called me “Herc”. Sven, a carpenter from Norway, very good-natured; told story of running through field of oats on acid.

Carleton-Sur-Mer construction site

Sylvie, the cook and Jean’s daughter, very nice, smoked hash. Dominic, petite, gorgeous, no English, always reading. Went to the lake with her. Nothing happened.

June 23, 1983 Mileage 120 miles

Ride One: Chateau Auberge to Saint Fleure. 1969 Mercedes. Excessively nice man named Michel Valley. Apologized for his poor English. Cameraman for Radio Canada and electrician for Rimouski radio station. Very proud of his car – 250 safety features – although there was a hole in the floor.

Ride Two: Saint Fleure to Metis. Custom Deluxe Camper. French guy in his 50s, missing a tooth. Little English.

Ride Three: Metis to Metis Sur Mer. White pickup truck. Local guy with a big white furry dog. Staying with my Aunt Margery in her house on the St. Lawrence.

Aunt Margery serving lunch in Metis-Sur-Mer

Young Chronicles XXIII: Sydney to Kouchibouguac National Park

The Young Chronicles detail my 1983 hitchhiking trip across Canada. Having completed the initial eastward bound leg, I now head west from Newfoundland through the Maritime provinces.

June 19, 1983 Mileage 292 miles

Ride One: Sydney to Kelley’s Mountain, Nova Scotia. Red pick up. Drivers works for CN Marines, dives on wrecks and has seen many sharks, whales and trout.

Ride Two: To Baddeck, Nova Scotia. Green car. Red cap, beard, knives. (Wait: 3 1/2 hours.)

Ride Three: To Truro Turnoff. Car n/a. Boring history teacher, sweaty chin and shorts.

Ride Four: To Moncton, New Brunswick. Car n/a. Beers and quarter pound of cheese. Former Mountie, works as a bartender now. Has driven Sydney to Edmonton straight.

Overnight in Moncton. No hostel. YMCA closed. Only have $15. Walked around, followed by a silver Mazda camper pickup truck. Went to the A&W and left my bags there and ran after the camper as it sped away.

No one at the A&W was willing to put me up for the night. Went to the police station to report the stalker but didn’t have the license plate. Policeman: “I don’t know what to tell you.” Asked to sleep in a jail. He called The Sunset Inn and guaranteed that I would pay the next day. Front desk clerk told me of a guy who left a gold chain as collateral and then skipped.

June 20, 1983 Mileage 61 miles

Waited outside of Moncton for a long time, looking at their signs of community pride: Moncton, You’re Okay! Hey, Moncton, Picture This! 4H Thinks Greater Moncton Is Great! Welcome One And All From Moncton With Love.

A truck side-swiped a car just past me. The sideview mirror skittered twenty feet ahead. A bystander picked up for the driver. “Sir, are you all right?”

Ride One: Moncton to Shediac. Family car. Shared Moosehead beer and cigarettes. A painter by trade.

Ride Two: To Kouchibouguac National Park. Silver Honda sports car. Comical laugh. Loved Bach’s Variations. Anti-Wagner. Teaches education at University of Maine.

Camped on the ocean side.

Young Chronicles XXII: Fortune to Port-Aux-Basque, Newfoundland

The Young Chronicles detail my 1983 hitchhiking trip across Canada. Having completed the initial Toronto to St. John’s, Newfoundland leg of the journey, this section covers the return trip back across Newfoundland.

June 16, 1983 Mileage 35 miles

Ride One: Fortune to Grand Bank, Newfoundland. Old turquoise pickup truck. 23-year-old man with toothy grin. Wants to get out of Fortune.

Ride Two: Grand Bank to four miles down road. Old pickup truck. Toolbox. Nice man.

Ride Three: To Marystown. Pickup truck. Young guy, moose hunter, works on the oil platforms, six months on, six months off. Off to fish in Gander, Labrador soon.

Stayed in Mariner’s Lodge run by an old guy. “Been everywhere and know everything.”

June 17, 1983 Mileage 418 miles

Ride One: Marystown to Clarenville. Old car. Squeaky 200-pound moose hunter.

Ride Two: Clarenville to Trans Canada Turnoff. Blue pickup truck. Middle-aged guy with no right hand index finger. Electrician moose hunter. Loves screech and special mild cigarettes.

Ride Three: TCH Turnoff too Gander. Old Blue car. Old lady who told story of mongoloid children from a little red bible. “God bless you.”

Ride Four: Gander to Corner Brook. Old Buick. Young guy who took pictures and hunted moose. Quiet except about moose.

Stayed in Bridgeway Motel with two beds. Upcoming Red Rider concert advertised heavily on radio. Ate a hamburger at an old diner. Still cold. High of 24.

June 18, 1983 Mileage 137 miles PLUS ferry trip back to mainland

Ride One: To “a better exit”. Small car with a guy and girl. “I’ll show you a better exit.”

Ride Two: Corner Brook to Stephenville. Canadian army truck. Guy looked a cartoon character with lips jutting out. Moose hunter

Ride Three: Stephenville to roadside bar 25 north of Port-Aux-Basques. Three guys on a multi-day bender. Doug (groom-to-be, bearded, driver, calm, scar on cheek), Pat (married two years, former speed user), Brian (married three years drinker, mustache) and Tefel (fellow hitchhiker, insecure, loves high speed driving).

Doug, Pat, Brian and Tefel holding the spare tires that acted as back seats.

These guys are all moose poachers and have been jailed four times each. No back seat in the car. Spare tires instead. Shared bottles of beer. I had four. They took us to dump to look for bears and threw empties into the garbage pile. Left them at the bar.

Ride Four: Roadside bar to Port-Aux-Basques Ferry Terminal. Light brown sedan. Mustache and overweight. “Keep all your lanes open in music.”

Overnight ferry to Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Young Chronicles XI: St. John’s to Fortune, Newfoundland

Young Chronicles is my record of a 1983 Cross-Canada hitchhiking trip. This section details my first few days in Newfoundland.

June 11-13, 1983 St. John’s

Stayed at Will and Helen’s house. (Will was my ride into St. John’s.) They insisted that I sleep in their son’s room who moved into the living room. Sat in the kitchen as Helen rolled cigarettes with a small machine and Will did the crossword. Incredibly friendly people who left me on my own during the day and had dinner with me every night. Treated me to fish and chips on my final night.

Went to Signal Hill where I photographed an iceberg and mused: The massive shiny white behemoth silently watches the land as its turquoise blood seeps ever so slowly into the sea. It knows its time is limited yet continues its silent vigil with its very own evaporation. Its powers is incredible, its size immense, yet it is unable to combat the pleasant rays of the sun. The beast sinks to its mother. A gull glides past and defecates upon its melting brow. The mortal evaporative wisdom of an iceberg, never understood, yet always cursed. The giant melts, and I do not. Does the shining beast acknowledge my presence? I say nay. (Yes, indeed, I really did write all of that.)

June 14 St. John’s to Marystown

Ride One: To Trans Canada Highway. Mother and young girl

Ride Two: To Kelce Goose Turnoff. Brown Rabbit. Old guy. Hair all over back seat.

Ride Three: To Argentia Turnoff. Military man from Maine. No talk by his request.

Ride Four: To Marystown Turnoff. Red LTD. Cool Scottish guy with wife and kid. “Watch yourself down there. It’s backwood-sy.”

Ride Five: To Swift Current. Three guys. Quiet times.

Ride Six: To Marystown. Avis Rental. Money-minded Oil jerk.

Ride Seven: 45 Kilometers short of Fortune. Silver car. “If you don’t get a ride, drop out.”

Ride Eight: 30 kilometers short of Fortune. Chrome pickup. Local who loved Red Rider.

Ride Nine: 10 kilometers short of Fortune. Red car. Man named Schneider; hates Toronto.

Ride Ten: Fortune. Young couple from Toronto.

Stayed in Seaview Lounge and Motel. A dump. Cheap curtains, chipped walls, ugly lamps, semi-intact luggage rack and rude inhospitable staff. Went to see the capelin run where many were out with buckets to catch them on the beach. “Hey, kids, out of the water. Let ’em come in!” A number of teenaged boys approached me. One thought I was an undercover cop. He was a bootlegger who dealt acid. Another boy, Corry, was formal. “When you address him, do it politely.”

The ferry to St. Pierre/Miquelon, France was cancelled. I tried to get a ride with a fishing boat but they left without me. Cold and foggy. I went to camp in the bog the second night but was too cold and freaked out by all the bog noises. Went back to Seaview Lounge and Motel and watched Butterflies are Free with Goldie Hawn.

Young Chronicles X: Prince Edward Island to Newfoundland

The following excerpts are from my journal from hitchhiking across Canada in 1983, heading out east from Toronto to Newfoundland and then back across to British Columbia.

Day Nine Mileage 1345-1507 (Includes PEI-Nova Scotia Ferry)

Ride One (Cavendish to Hunters River) Ford Granada. Nice old farmer. Talked about weather, bugs, gas, cars and tourist season.

Ride Two (Hunters River to Charlottetown) Beat-up brown pick-up. Sailing fanatic. Said that the “Hey Hey” song originated in Chicago.

Ride Three (Charlottetown to Georgetown turnoff) Old Chevy. Older woman with daughter and son. Many stories of getting out of the jailhouse.

Ride Four (Georgetown turnoff to Harbour Island Ferry Terminal) Sports car. A continual interrupter who talked about drugs, including snorting coke and shrooms in the school yard.

Ride Five (Caribou Island N.S. to Westville) Old green two-door. John Lennon look-a-like and attractive girlfriend.

Ride Six (Westville to Port Hawksbury) Company van. Terry, a native of St. John’s, an oil rig inspector. Very little conversation.

Ride Seven (Port Hawksbury to North Sydney, Ferry to Newfoundland) White Cougar. Clive on his way home to Newfoundland from Toronto. Very tired. Did some weaving and shoulder sliding. Prefers female hitchhikers “because you never know”.

I learned the following Newfie expressions from Clive on the ferry: Proper Ting (affirming a proposed action), Mare (tomorrow) and Nipper (mosquito). Ferry cost: $10

Day Ten Mileage 1507-2207 (Includes Newfoundland Ferry)

Ride One (Portes-Aux-Basques to Grand Falls) This terrain, flat and deserted, is much better suited to Clive’s wild style of driving.

Ride Two (Grand Falls to Clarenville) Old manual pick-up, slow on the upgrades. Very friendly moose hunter. Average moose gives 1000 pounds of meat. Stories of the Screwdriver Murders. Belief in capital punishment.

Ride Three (Clarenville to St. John’s with a stopover at Finney’s Pond) Small white pickup. Will and Bob. Very friendly guys took me fishing in mostly frozen pond. Bobby appeared in the film Orca. Will loved junk food. Truck couldn’t make it back up the hill. We had to leave the truck behind and hitchhike together to St. John’s with a drunk van driver who nearly had several accidents on the drive.