Fly Fishing Healing on the Albany

FLY FISHING IN NORTHERN ONTARIO

Contributed by Gervais Jeffrey

I’m just back from a joint fly fishing venture with our American counterparts at  Project Healing Waters.  We went on a fabulous fishing trip in Northern Ontario.

This adventure starts on the morning of July 19th. I travel from Ottawa to Thunder Bay with 2 other participants, Marina and Mercier.

On arriving, we meet at the Thunder Bay airport with the US trip leader, and proceed to the Prince Arthur Hotel for an overnight stay. We finally meet Carl, our Canadian participant, who is from Timmins.

settling in

We get all settled into our rooms then we gather in the hotel lobby.We are to finally meet the rest of the US participants, Tom, John, Ed and Bruce. Then we go to dinner and continue to mingle until we part ways around 9 pm after a long day of travel for all of us.

There’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep before getting up, bright and early, the next morning for the flight. It will take us to our final destination at the Miminiska Lodge where we will be fishing for the next six days.

fly fishing
Raising the flags

Finally arriving at our final destination, we get settled into our assigned cabin and rooms. We then got all our fishing rods ready for our first evening of fishing.

Right after a healthy dinner, some of us went out fly fishing and scouting around the lodge. It didn’t take too long for some of us to hook our first fish of this upcoming memorable fishing trip to come.

I stayed behind in order to get the tying room ready for making our own and special flies in the days to come. We all retired early that night due to the travelling done and the early starts of those previous days before arriving to the camp.

fly fishing
The Healing on the Albany group
first day

On our first morning after an excellent breakfast, we had a small flag raising ceremony to underline the camaraderie and friendship of being brothers-in- arms. The American and Canadian flags flew for the entire time of this great venture.

From that morning on, we visited and fished various parts of Miminiska Lake and tributaries. Each and everyone of us caught our fair share of walleye (pickerel for Carl) and northern pike.

the big catch

The largest walleye was caught by Marina, a whopping 261/2 inches, and granted her the walleye Master Angler pin. As for the largest northern pike caught, this was a nice, 371/2 inches catch by John.  Unfortunately it was missing a small 2 1/2 in for qualifying for the northern pike Master Angler pin.

fly fishing
Marina with her catch
fly fishing
John with his catch

Those dreams days came to an end.  Early morning of the 26th July, we all boarded the plane that brought us back to Thunder Bay.

Upon our arrival, we went to the Prince Arthur hotel where our American counterpart had to stay an overnight before returning home. For us Canadians, we had to kill few hours before our own departure, either for Ottawa or Timmins.

This gave us the time to have our last lunch as a group and to say our goodbyes before going our separate ways. Each of us departed with memories that will remain for the rest of our lives. We all hope to meet each other again on the water somewhere.

fly fishing
Ready to catch the plane

In conclusion, I would like to extend our sincerest thanks to Allan and Krista Cheeseman. They provided the opportunity for Project Healing Waters (US) and Project Healing Waters Canada to live the exceptional experience of fly fishing in this pristine water. Thanks also to their Miminiska staff who gave us exceptional service when we were at the lodge.

Thank you very much for caring those who serve.

about gervais
fly fishing
Gervais Jeffrey

Gervais Jeffrey is the national director of Project Healing Waters Canada. He retired in 2012 from the Canadian Armed Forces, at the rank of Warrant Officer, after 41 years of service. Gervais has been volunteering with the program since 2010. He opened programs in Quebec and Montreal. He has moved to the Ottawa area and is now working to expand the program within Canada.

Let ‘Er Fly

LET ‘ER FLY: the ballad of jack and hana

The Vietnam War ended in April 1975. For military veteran, Jack Simpson, while the physical war may be over, the emotional and mental scars of that period in American history remain.

'Let 'Er Fly' Hana
Veteran and fly fisherman Jack Simpson

 

 

WOUNDED WARRIOR CONNECTION

A seemingly gruff man but actually with a kind heart, Jack is well known to many.  He is active in both the Wounded Warriors Canada and Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Canada communities. Currently residing in Williams Lake, B.C., Jack has always possessed a love of fly fishing. He runs his own fishing and fly tying business, Sandpiper Fly Fishing. The store supplies some of the best quality rods available.

HANA

Working at Blue Mountain Gunsmithing, red-haired Hana Eastmond was aware of Jack and his fishing business. Occasionally they would chat. At 26 years-old, Hana’s sense of the world around her was still small so Jack’s stories intrigued her. He didn’t spell out everything he had experienced, but she realized that fishing to Jack was more than just a hobby or sport. Still fighting the demons inside him after his military service years ago,  it was a way to help him calm them. Together with his beloved wife, Grace, fishing for the couple was a shared experience. The sport allowed Jack to find some peace of mind. It enabled him to let go of everything.

Let 'Er Fly
Hana Eastmond
fly fishing

Hana herself hadn’t really done any fly fishing; what fishing she’d enjoyed was mostly from being on boats. Jack’s descriptions of being out on the water, and his obvious passion for fishing, means she now fly fishes a little more. She has been helped along by Jack giving her a small fly rod to try.

Earlier this year Jack mentioned to Hana that he was planning a fly fishing event in the Caribou region to support Caribou Wounded Warriors. This event would bring in veterans from around the province and drum up support from many wonderful, community-spirited local businesses. He happened to mention that he wished he had a theme song for the event.

music

As it happens, Hana is an accomplished musician. From the age of 5 she had started singing and doing little events in her local area. Eventually she attended the University of Calgary where she studied classical and opera music. After graduation, Hana knew going the classical route might not be entirely for her. Such good educational grounding meant that she could turn her musical talent to almost anything. She found she had a taste for country music so she and her guitar performed at many individual events. Soon Hana decided to attend a week-long songwriting workshop in Wells, just outside of Barkerville, B.C. Writing comes mostly from her gut feelings so the workshop helped her to hone and finesse some of the songs whirling around in her heart and mind.

Like a confluence of rivers, Jack’s stories and Hana’s music were meant to join together: when he said he was looking for a theme song, Hana was inspired by all the stories he’d told which sparked the music within her. Hana began songwriting the same day, the words and music tumbling out about the healing powers of fishing and water.

After a week, Hana had a complete song but she had never been inside a recording studio. She consulted a trusted friend for feedback. It wasn’t long before she was in Vancouver, at the Saga recording studio. Here, along with Canadian C.M.A. fiddle player, Mike Sanyshyn, and producer, Mike Nowak, she recorded her lyrics and music. This session led to ‘Let ‘Er Fly’, the Caribou weekend’s theme song.

let ‘er fly song

Since then, the story behind ‘Let ‘Er Fly’ and the song itself have really taken off.  Social media, local television channels and radio stations have featured the story and Hana.

Hana, though self-effacing and extremely modest about her talent, is anxious that only the cause is promoted. However she has been noticed by many influential people, including a record label producer. We should be hearing more about her in the future.

What makes this story remarkable and poignant is how, through shared passions for fishing and music, two different generations connected. Jack and Hana understood that hurt and healing are not mutually exclusive or restricted to gender, race or age: they are universal emotions and experiences. People are brought together through listening, sharing and communicating to promote comfort, understanding and peace.

For more information about the Caribou Wounded Warriors event, go to their Facebook page at Caribou Wounded Warriors. The Williams Lake community and the Mayor, Walt Cobb, have proclaimed 13-21 September, 2015 ‘Wounded Warriors of Canada’ week. Please show your support for all the local businesses and news media who have embraced the event. Thanks go to Fly BC and others who have donated materials and equipment.

'Let 'Er Fly'
Williams Lake welcomes the Wounded Warriors

To donate to the event or to Wounded Warriors Canada, please click here.

Veterans attending this weekend will almost certainly enjoy the outstanding scenery and hospitality of Williams Lake. The water, fly fishing equipment, lessons and experts will provide a fantastic fly fishing experience in the spirit of healing, camaraderie and friendship.

Project Healing Waters Canada Calendar

Project Healing Waters Canada Calendar – a must have for fans and supporters. Some of you may have seen tweets from us recently about it.

Project Healing Waters Canada Calendar
Cover of the 2015 Project Healing Waters Canada Calendar © Corvidae Studios

The calendar is the brainchild of Jonathan Edwards and Ann Allain who run a photography business, Corvidae Studios, in Ottawa, Ontario. Jonathan is a cousin of Ryan Edwards. Ryan is the program coordinator for a Project Healing Waters chapter in Newfoundland.

Both Jonathan and Ann are proud of the veterans who serve our country and also of Ryan and his contribution. Knowing that funds are always welcome by Project Healing Waters Canada, and realizing that they had some great aviation photographs, Jonathan and Ann decided that if the two were combined, a colourful calendar could be put together.

The talented duo contacted our Program team to ask about working with us to produce the calendar. Following discussions by phone and email, there was a friendly meeting over coffee. Project Healing Waters Canada was delighted at the idea and is exploring the options for future calendar promotions as well.

Project Healing Waters Canada Calendar images

So far the calendar sales have been doing well though we still have a few left. Take a look at some of the great images below.

Project Healing Waters Canada Calendar
January Photo – Mustang © Corvidae Studios
Project Healing Waters Canada Calendar
March Photo – Mako Shark © Corvidae Studios
Project Healing Waters Canada Calendar
June Photo – Sabre Hawk One © Corvidae Studios

If you still haven’t got a calendar at home or in the office, den – wherever! – please contact Corvidae here and place your order. Cost is now $18 (down from $20) with some of the proceeds going towards the activities in Ryan’s area. Follow Corvidae, too, on Twitter where they are @CorvidaePhotos.

It is therefore the project’s hope that another calendar can be produced for 2016. The goal is to have a larger number printed, more features and information, and more funds raised to work across more PHWFFC chapters.

Most of all, thank you to Jonathan and Ann for their hard work and support of veterans. The funds raised will help us with more rehabilitation and healing.