By Bill Gaedke
The best summer vacation I ever had was in 1947 when I accompanied my grandfather on a fishing trip to Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Canada.
I had just turned 17. We left Milwaukee in my grandmother’s 1946 Oldsmobile, and the first great experience of the trip was that my grandfather let me drive part of the way.
Along the route between Milwaukee and International Falls, Minn., we passed through Virginia, Minn., the center of the great Mesabi Iron Range.
When we arrived in Virginia, the time was almost noon; the stores were boarded up, because this was the time every day that blasting took place on the range. Were the stores not boarded up, the blasting would have shattered windows all over town.
I wondered what it would have been like to live in a town that experienced the equivalent of an earthquake a day.
The next big experience was in Kenora, Ontario, where, on a bumpy dirt road, the gas tank was pierced. With little time to spare, my grandfather arranged to have the car fixed during the week we would be at Sioux Lookout, and he would have the car delivered to the lodge on Lake Vermillion in time for our return home.
We got a ride to the lodge from Kenora and checked in for a week of fishing. Business associates of my grandfather joined us. I was provided a guide of my own, and we fished a respectable distance from my grandfather’s party.
All in the party were musky fishermen; the muskellunge is a large North American pike, known particularly as an aggressive fighter.
We were always out early in the morning, and every day at 11 a.m. the party would change fishing gear to heavier lines, bigger sinkers, and drop the lines in deep parts of the huge lake. The purpose was to haul in the large lake trout that spend most of their time at the bottom.
Unlike musky fishing, which can be tedious, lake trout are hauled up one after the other until there is a bountiful supply for the shore dinner.
Midweek my grandather, my guide, and I were flown by a pontoon-equipped airplane to a remote lake for two days of fishing. On this side trip I landed an 8-pound walleye pike, which was the largest fish we caught on our side trip and which pleased my grandfather immensely!
Near the end of the week, my grandfather learned that the Oldsmobile would not be ready for our return to Milwaukee. So he arranged for one of the young men to drive the car to Milwaukee when it was ready. And he arranged for tickets on the train from Sioux Lookout to Winnipeg and then through Minneapolis/St Paul to Milwaukee.
In Winnipeg, we stayed an evening at the Fort Garry hotel, and at the evening meal my grandfather was informed that I needed to have on a jacket or a tie. I breathed a sigh of relief when my grandfather was told the jacket I had worn for fishing would be OK.
I also remember that whenever I took a sip of water, a waiter was there immediately with a pitcher to top off the glass. It made me nervous.
The rest of the trip was made without significant incident. I don’t know what my grandfather’s total expenses were, but I’m sure he hadn’t expected to pay for car repairs, delivery of the car over 800 miles, and train tickets across part of Canada, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Bill Gaedke, 71, participates in Project: Reader Reaction in which weekly questions from the Clovis News Journal are answered via e-mail. This column addressed a question about a favorite summer vacation.
Anyone interested in Project: Reader Reaction may contact Editor David Stevens at 763-6991 or by e-mail: email@example.com