Posted 4/13/22

AN OUTDOORSMAN’S Journal BY MARK WALTERS PROUDLY SPONSORED BY STANLEY TIRE North of the Border / 1989 to 2022 Hello friends, This week’s column is different and tells a heck of a story. It dates …

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North of the Border / 1989 to 2022

Hello friends,

This week’s column is different and tells a heck of a story. It dates back to 1989 when I first started writing and was living in the Canadian bush while I was the camp manager at Chimo Lodge and carries on to last week when I went to Red Lake, Ontario Canada to visit with former Chimo owners Peter and Elizabeth Hagedorn for Pete’s 84th birthday. I also spent time with my good friends Duane Riddel and Doug Vandussen who have been friends of mine since 1988.

This column was called North of the Border back in 89, and I wrote for The Poynette Press. I would hand write it from a bear stand on Friday nights and give it to an American who would mail it once they crossed the border.

September 1st 1989

I am living at Bear Berry Outpost which is 110 air miles from Red Lake. Pete flew me and my golden retriever Ben here with about 12 hours’ notice and my job is to cut all the timber for a 28×24 foot cabin and then build as much of it as possible as time would allow.

To do this I would travel by boat from where we had an existing cabin and would tow an empty boat behind me. Pete did not want me working alone and so he had Zygmunt Wesolowski and Andy Novak as my helpers. Zygmunt was a retired gold mine worker and Andy was a retired Red Lake postmaster.

A side story is that Pete was going to Europe with Zygmunt’s son George on a longterm hunt and vacation and Duane Riddel would do check flights to bring in gear and food every Friday.

A typical day, I was the cook and the boss, and we worked hard each day dropping the biggest, straightest jack pine and spruce that we could find which often was about a mile away from camp. Everything was hand peeled and the boats were heavily loaded.

Zygmunt was from Poland and in 1939 was captured by the Germans when he was 17 and put into a labor camp until 1945. Andy Novak joined the English 2nd corps after the Germans invaded Poland and saw a lot of action.

Our best timber was on a ridge line and the entire forest floor had a foot of moss. Most of my day was spent cutting or loading and unloading boats. Zygmunt ran a saw, peeled, and loaded, Zygmunt was incredibly strong. Andy was a laborer and a very good man.

On one particular day of cutting, I am by the boats, Zygmunt is on top of the ridge and drops a big jack. I watch it directly fall on Andy and it appears he is dead and is 100-percent under the tree. Zygmunt is crying uncontrollably. We cut a chunk of jack below and above Andy and lift it off from him. Andy appears dead. A minute later Andy opens his eyes, ten minutes later he is back to work. That foot of moss on the forest floor no doubt helped save Andy from getting hurt.

March 2019

Pete Hagedorn is at my house; Selina is in her senior year at Necedah High School. Pete tells me that he has sold Chimo Lodge and Outposts, though I did not show it, that really hurt. Pete was 79 and still a bush pilot, but it was time.

One of the buyers was Daniel Wesolowski, Zygmunts grandson who was probably the best bushmen that I ever knew. Daniel could build, plumb, wire and got his pilot’s license just after the purchase.

In 2019, the first year after the sale the main camp burnt down in a forest fire along with one outpost.

In 2020 Covid hit and there was no season, Daniel and helpers rebuilt Chimo. Last May, the border was still closed and so another season was in peril.

Daniel actually flew "NPO" November Papa Oscar, which was Pete's Cessna 180 float plane and was a very popu- lar and influential man in Red Lake. In my day which was over about 12 seasons I probably was in NPO for at least 500 take offs and landings.

Last May, Daniel Wesolowski was dropping an aspen tree for a friend, something that he had done thousands of times. When the tree fell Daniel ran the wrong way and unlike Andy Novak did not come out of the hit.

My trip to see my friends this past week was quality time with people that I consider family.

It was very hard to get Daniel Wesolowski off my mind!

Chimo Lodge moments before a forest fire destroyed it.