My name is Steve and I have always been enamoured with the idea of a travelling adventure. As a kid I would spend hours reading National Geographic magazine and flip through the pages of my dad's atlas thinking about where I could go in the world and what I could see there. My favourite classes in elementary school were the ones about the explorers. I wondered what it must have been like for Marco Polo or Samuel de Champlain to travel to a new land, seeing landscapes and sights that they'd never experienced before and encountering the people who lived there for the first time. In my second year of university I read Jack Kerouac's On the Road and knew that I would be a travelling adventurer. This led to reading other travel writers like Paul Theroux, Peter Matthiessen and Bruce Chatwin. I started reading about Tony Wheeler and his wife, and how he started the Lonely Planet backpacking empire - seeing the world from a grassroots level and experiencing all the "life" a location can offer.
Shortly after university I bummed rides from people I knew and hitchhiked from my hometown of Peterborough, Ontario to western Canada. I remember staying for a couple of nights on a beach somewhere between Tofino and Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island and, after finally getting about as far west as I could in my own country, I promised myself that I would see as much of the world as I could. Not long after that I accepted a job to teach English in South Korea. In March of 1995, I was on an airplane to Seoul and spent the better part of the following 19 years living and working in Asia. In addition to my time in Korea, I lived and worked as a teacher in Tokyo, Dubai and Hong Kong. I have backpacked and travelled extensively through Asia, Australia and Europe. After marrying my Korean girlfriend in 1998, we had two lovely daughters who have joined us on our many travels. In the summer of 2014, our family returned to Peterborough where I began teaching in the local school board.
That first summer back in Peterborough, my brother, Joe, booked a site on Bottle Lake in Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park, a mere 35-minute drive north of my house. Although it was hardly a backcountry wilderness trip with the parking lot only a few hundred meters from the lake, I fell in love with the idea of being on the water on a site that is only accessible by canoe. The next site was over half a kilometre away and no one was on it! We had a fantastic little beach oasis next to the mouth of a creek and the bass fishing was good. I knew I would be back for more trips like this!
Later that fall, my kids and I were invited on a weekend canoe trip to Cold Lake, another location in Kawartha Highlands, with some old high school friends. Again, we had a fantastic time around the campfire in the Canadian Shield. This time I was hooked. By the following summer, I had my own canoe, started buying my own backcountry gear and was learning to go on adventures just a short drive north of my home.
Now I try to go out as much as I can. Being a high school teacher with free time in the summer certainly helps. Each year I go a little further away, for a little longer and take on a route that is just a little more challenging. I love going with family and friends, but if no one is willing or able, I go on my own. My kids, now teenagers, are busy with their own friends and interests, but I still convince them to come along every now and again. My wife loves being out there, but has difficulty with the backcountry plumbing situation, i.e., a distinct lack of toilets that flush. I'm working on her to get over that.
Each trip is a learning experience, and with each trip I see and do a little more than the last. Most importantly, each trip is another adventure that I can look back on and enjoy. I feel so lucky and, dare I say it, blessed that I live so close to an Eden that contains the majority of the world's supply of freshwater. If this website can inspire an appreciation of the Canadian backcountry and an increased willingness to protect it, then the time spent sharing my trips and writing about them will be worth it.