Young Chronicles VII: Der Schinken Isn’t Chicken

Young Chronicles I-IV details a 1972 school trip to Northern Ontario, while Young Chronicles V-VI offers a brief account of a family car trip to Prince Edward Island in 1974. This section of Young Chronicles jumps ahead nine years to my hitchhiking trip across Canada. The adventure took 71 days, covering over 10,000 miles in 110 different cars along with two extensive bus rides. I made copious notes, much of which is embarrassingly trite, but that’s the point of this, right? Anyway, I aim to share the most interesting and amusing bits and see where that takes me.

I had just finished my first year at university and I thought I knew everything there was to know and decided to set out to discover “The Canadian Soul”. Yes, I wrote that phrase down. My aim was to ask everyone what they thought about Canada, what it meant to them, where the country was going. I think I asked a total of five people in the end. That said, I did document every ride and many of the things I saw and thought (ad nauseum) along the way.

Day One (June 3, 1983) Mileage 0-344

Ride One: Toronto to Ajax in Rally STX van (blue) with John Hulme, who told me that picking up hitchhikers was “against company policy”.

Ride Two: Ajx to Hwy 115 Turnoff in VW Rabbit (beige) with Buecklie, originally from West Germany. He gave me a Medallion cigarette and told a long anecdote about ordering what he thought was a chicken sandwich because the word “Der Schinken” sounded so much like chicken. It turned out to be ham. He and the waiter thought this was very funny and later became friends.

Ride Three: Hwy 115 Turnoff to Ottawa Turnoff in 1977 MGB with a large red-bearded man. His daughter did Pepsi commercials but hated the stuff.

Ride Four: Ottawa Turnoff to Cornwall in a 1979 Thunderbird with Eugene Bugala who was a Catholic priest. He liked Canada because it was free and nice with a European flavor. He also considered the maple leaf a satisfactory symbol for the country.

Ride Five: Ottawa Turnoff to Montreal 1977 Dart (brown) with Tim Paquette. He lit a joint, played Peter Gabriel’s San Jacinto on his car stereo and then explained his video concept for the song which involved blue spotlights and children running through the jungle. He took me around the neighborhood as he delivered pizzas and then picked up his girlfriend Cathy before heading out to The Maples Tavern. It was a low-key place that was later busted by the Quebec police who were arrogant, their thumbs in their pockets and hats tilted back. I stayed the night at Tim’s house.

Young Chronicles V: To Prince Edward Island

Three years after going up into Northern Ontario with my school, I went on a family car trip to Prince Edward Island. It was 1974. I kept another chronicle, this one with post cards glued in. I threw that out long ago but still have a few notes.

Mom said, “One of you kids will have to come in the front seat.” So we were quiet the rest of the way.

Deadline: We are halfway to Montreal from Kingston and I just saw an old train station! End of Deadline.

Martha came out to where we were and picked up an Ajax bottle and a stick and started whamming the Ajax bottle with the stick. Soon me and Bobby went back and caught smelt. Of course we threw them back. Martha thought we ate them.

We were arriving in Charlottetown and we never got there because we never got the right course. Well, we were turning around and dad backed the car right into a ditch and there was a house right there. The man came out and told us about more accidents that have happened there. Soon the tow truck pulled us out of the ditch. It was probably easy.

It rained so-so-so-so hard that you could barely see through the windshield. It was raining so hard, some cars had to stop. But my dad kept going.

The next day, I woke up with the dog on my bed and the door was open! Well, I had breakfast.

Words XX: Adventurer

The word adventurer was initially synonymous with gambling. The gambler would yell out “Adventure!” for help at the roulette table much as a modern gambler might yell “Come on, Seven!” at craps.

Adventurer
Casino Royale (Campbell, 2006)

To be an adventurer was to be without responsibility or care. Quite often ‘adventurer’ was hurled as an insult.

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726) spun adventure on its head, using the word to imply bravery and daring. Captain James Cook, sailing 40 years later, would become synonymous with the word, now often meaning one imbued with courage and class.

*Gleaned from Martin Dugard’s Farther Than Any Man: The Rise and Fall of Captain James Cook.

Young Chronicles IV: Moosonee to New Liskeard

June 8

8:45 am Waiting for the train from Toronto. We were one hour and five minutes late.

1:15 pm We have been on the train for four hours and 45 minutes. I have seen two moose and seven rabbit. And the trip isn’t that exciting.

3:30 pm We came to Moosonee on the train. We took a boat to Moose Factory, and it was raining hard. I got a headband at our hotel.

Young Chronicles IV: Moosonee to New Liskeard

June 9

We had breakfast. Then we walked to the train station. It was raining really hard. We left Moosonee and are going to Cochrane.

2:20 pm We came to Cochrane and now we are going to New Liskeard. 8715 is the mileage now. I was drawing two pictures on the train.

Mileage 8855

Arrived in New Liskeard and we had a pajama party. And this is what we did. 1. Cooked marshmallows 2. Played horseshoes 3. Tried to skip rocks 4. We would launch a board in the water and then see how many times we could hit it 5. We had Kool Aid 6. We began to try to get the a grownup down 7. The grownups would try to get us down 8. We had super fights 9. We gave three cheers for Mr. Fleming because he thought of the trip 10. We played Hide and Go Seek, but in a different way. If you were caught by Mr. Fleming, you would have to go to bed. Soon I was caught and went to bed at 10:40. I went to sleep at 11:00

Young Chronicles III: Cochrane to Timmins

Mileage 8573

I phoned my mom last night and everybody is fine. And me and Nigel had a party last night. We had three cookies and we watched TV. Then everybody went to bed and a pillow fell on me. And we saw two mouse like in the picture.

Mileage 8638

We are arriving in Timmins and we are ahead of the two cars, Mr. Fleming and Mrs. Cohen. We went to an open pit mine. It is 4/3 of a mile long and 1/2 a mile wide and 500 feet deep. They told us they have been working for seven years and they are going to work for three more years!

Then we went on a tour of a Timmins. We got magazine called The Golden Porcupine. The weather changed and it began to rain. Then we saw a skating rink and Frank Mahovlich learned to skate there. And I got one rock for dad, one for mom, and two for my sister and two for my brother. And one for me.

Young Chronicles II: Cochrane to Iroquois Falls

Mileage 8506

Last night there was a bad fight in our hotel. So the cops had to come and the police sent the two men away because they were hurting a lady. When the two men left, the room was a mess. Bottles were on the floor and the bed was torn apart.

Soon Nigel and I went to sleep, but Nigel couldn’t sleep because there was music downstairs right under us. But I went to sleep because I liked the music. Nobody went to sleep except me. So we moved to a motel and it had a TV, a shower, a cot and two beds and other things. Then we had breakfast at a park. Now we are going to Iroquois Falls.

Mileage 8539

We arrived in Iroquois Falls. We saw a sort of tractor and it was called a skidder. It looked like this.

Then we went to have lunch. I had some peas and four peaches. They were good.

Young Chronicles I: Driving to Northern Ontario

June 3, 1973, Mileage 8240

We made a visit to the Marten River. There was about 20,000 black flies, and it was quite pretty. There was a little stream, and we saw the Marten River. Soon we had lunch. Then we went down to the pond and I saw a fish. It looked like this.

I past a lot of bees on dandelions. Me and Nigel had some fun playing soccer. We had to clean up a mess because the car stopped and all of a sudden a box fell full of food. That was our mess.

June 5, 1973 Mileage 8341

We are leaving New Liskeard and going to Cochran. We went to an agricultural farm. We saw the cows first, and one of the cows went to the bathroom on her baby. It looked like it had a hairdo. And then we saw sheep. They were cute except one because it was eating hay and he blew it at me.