September 21, 2017 Groundwood Books

Canoeing on Pickerel Lake with Jean E. Pendziwol

There’s nothing quite like waking up to the haunting laugh of a loon and the wind whispering through the pine trees, then slipping out of a warm sleeping bag to peek through the tent screen and watch the sun rise.

We’ve canoed as a family since our children were young, paddling the Boundary Waters along the Canada / US border, Quetico Provincial Park, and once, into an isolated and somewhat mysterious wooden castle built on White Otter Lake. We fell in love with being on the water, the scent of pine needles under our bare feet, swimming off the rocks, watching wildlife, cooking over the campfire and, of course, fishing.

I wrote Me and You and the Red Canoe to capture the magical moment of early morning on a lake, of that special time when the world is just waking up and the fish are, hopefully, biting. It was inspired by our many canoe trips, and is as much about simply slowing down, looking around and appreciating the amazing world around us as it is about the beauty of the Canadian landscape.

The stunning illustrations by Phil capture the scenery of my Northwestern Ontario paddling adventures and the Algonquin Park area that he is more familiar with. This August, I was able to take a short trip into Quetico Provincial Park’s Pickerel Lake and I snapped a few pictures of our time there.

Here’s hoping you get the chance to slip away to a quiet lake and trail a lure through the blue-green depths, spinning, twirling, dancing.

Our campsite this year was on a small island close to several other islands. On the one adjacent to us was an aerie, and the eaglet called continuously for its mother. Only the mature birds have white heads and tails.

My daughter, Erin, who is now grown and living in BC, came along on this trip. I’m paddling in the helmsman position, steering the canoe, and she’s in the bow, the avant in voyageur terms.

Not an early-morning paddle, but this captures some of the Quetico scenery.

There are sandy beaches as well as lovely rocky areas, perfect for camping on.

We had a loon or two visit us every day, and we could hear them calling, especially in the evenings.

The root system of this pine almost seemed to be gripping the rocks.

Our campsite had the perfect spot to sit and watch the sunset.

Sometimes we cast a line right from shore. You never know!

And sure enough! There was a smallmouth bass lurking in the rocks just off the point.

The best breakfast ever: fresh pickerel (walleye) cooked over the open fire.

This brigade passed by our campsite just as the sun was setting.


Me and You and the Red Canoe
Written by Jean E. Pendziwol
Illustrated by Phil

In the stillness of a summer dawn, two siblings leave their campsite with fishing rods, tackle and bait, and push a red canoe into the lake. A perfect morning on the water unfolds, with thrilling glimpses of wildlife along the way.

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