Canadian Bushwacker: A Lifetime in the Wilderness by Robert Cuerrier
I was lucky to have spent my early years in the bush at a time when the old-timers were still there. There were many of them bunked up in little cabins up and down the line: old men, many crippled by accidents, arthritis or age, fellows just waiting for the end. Yet they were still strong of spirit, content and pleased to share their story.
The vital times in the lives of these men were spent on the other side of the great historical hinge. Their experiences went back to the axe and cross-cut saw, the dog team, the raft and canoe, ice houses, salt pork, and rugged individualism—to trap-lines, logging, guiding, and the quest for gold.They saw the passage of time differently, worked very hard but rarely felt rushed.
With the perfection of nature as a foil, they were able to see the comic absurdities in their lives, and their adventures are a telling witness. They were all men with amplified personalities, which is what happens when you spend a lot of time alone in the wilderness. You grow distinct and singular, you don’t care who sees it and make no attempt to bend to imposed conventions like city people do. You just can’t and, best of all, out there you don’t have to. They were different.
These old fellows shaped how I viewed and lived my own life in the bush and were my inspiration for writing these stories. And if my scribblings are just a little hand-hewn, hell, I know they wouldn’t care.
Robert Cuerrier has lived on the land traditionally most of his life. He has built wilderness log cabins, logged, guided, prospected, and presently owns a rustic horse-drawn farm. He was the first recipient of the CBC/Big Brothers “Northern Moose Award” for best personifying the spirit of Northern Ontario.
The author, Robert Cuerrier, lives on his Mockingbrid Hill Homestead Farm in beautiful Hiawatha Highlands, which back onto Odena, Mile 9 on the Algoma Central Line. The farm is a singular burst of colour and beauty and one of Sault Ste. Marie’s premier attractions. It is open to the public year round.
Mockingbird Hill is a horsedrawn replica of a Metis homestead in the thirties and forties. In summer the farm features wagon rides, market gardening, a petting barn, a corn maze, and a spectacular wild flower walk.