Rik Hudson

by FORP on August 19th, 2013

Sandbar Lake Junior Ranger, 1977
It began several months before the summer of 1977.  I got a letter from the Ministry of Natural Resources that advised I was accepted into what was then the “Ontario Junior Ranger Program.”  My dad brought the mail in and said “Here’s something for you.  What’s this all about?”
 
You see, I applied for the program on my own accord and did not tell my family until, well, until that notice came.  The fact I took the initiative to apply and was not only accepted, but stationed “half way to the arctic circle” impressed my dad.
 
When I said where I was going, my sister said “Wow, that’s way up there!”  My whole family was both delighted I was going to be a part of this incredible adventure and impressed that I had taken the initiative to make it happen.  I matured that day.  The following months were filled with preparing for the summer in the north and getting me there.
 
The train ride up to northern Ontario was an experience in and of itself.  What seemed like hundreds of 17-year old were heading off for the adventure they had no idea was in store for them.
 
I met Mike Wood at Union Station in Toronto.  Mike, from Kingston, had already been on the road for several hours and we struck a friendship immediately when we discovered we were both heading to Ignace.  Mike was my “room-mate” for the remainder of the summer.  We were buddies and shared a section of the bunkhouse.  Other than the 1 week I was out on a canoe trip and the week he was out on a canoe trip, we were room-mates.
The summer was filled with much of the activities you read elsewhere on this blog.  It is an incredible time and an experience I will never forget.
 
The “Sandbar Lake Boys Camp” and the “Sioux Lookout Girls Camp” had several “interactions.”  This was highlighted by the “JR Olympics” Sandbar Lake hosted.  Several camps from Thunder Bay through to Dryden and up to “the Sioux” met at Ignace for a weekend of sport, interaction, and, well, just plain old partying.  It was a weekend that made great experience even better.
 
We learned about forestry, natural resources, and all that goes along with the outdoors.  We became friends with people who up until a month or two before, did not know existed.  There were clashes as one would expect when you get 2 dozen 17-year olds together for 2 months but these were always ended with a hand-shake and a better understanding of our fellow man.  That’s what I take away from the summer of 1977.
On our way home the train tracks were washed out about 75 miles south of Thunder Bay.  The train had to reverse to the “Lake Head” where we were quite literally “cattled” onto a plane to take us to Toronto.  I am sure for many, this was their plane trip, making an awesome summer even more so.  Once at Toronto International Airport we were advised the buses to take us to Union Station would be a couple of hours.  Mike and I decided a cab to Union couldn’t cost “that much” and agreed to split the fare.
 
Into the cab we got and 45 minutes later we paid the $40 fare.  As we got into Union Station I don’t recall how we parted.  I truly wish I did for Mike and I became very good friends that summer.  I have not heard from him since.  I find that a bit strange but that’s life.
 
It is my sincere hope other 17-year old Ontarians get to experience a summer like I did in 1977.  It appears the current government again doesn’t “get it” and has deemed this program a “luxury” Ontario cannot afford.  My question is this: if this program and the great things it achieves are axed, how will the work Ontario Rangers did, be completed?


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