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Minaki Memories Print E-mail
Minaki News - Stories
Tuesday, 04 December 2012 00:00

[Editor's note: the following reminiscences of Minaki from Bill Mitchell, were originally posted in the Minaki News last June.  Bill Mitchell passed away December 3, 2012]

Bill Mitchell, age 93, is a resident of Bloomington, Minnesota.  He has had a long affiliation with Minaki, as these notes show.   He first came to the Lodge at age 15.  He and his brothers Bud and Don served in the US military in the Pacific in World War II.  Bill and Bud returned to Minaki as cottagers at the entrance to Little Sand Lake, starting in 1949.  These memories were recorded by Bill in about 2004, so they do not reflect Minaki’s present conditions.

Chapter 1:  Introduction to Minaki Lodge

My earliest memories of Minaki country date from the summer of either 1934 or 1935.  My parents and brother Bud had driven to Winnipeg, but took the Canadian National train from Winnipeg because there were no roads to Minaki.  We left Winnipeg about 7:00 PM and watched people (campers, as they were called) get off at places like Malachi and Wade before arriving well after dark at the bustling Minaki Station.  This was before Daylight Savings time had spread westward, so we were still on Central Standard time, which explains the darkness at our arrival time.  All the stations along the way vied with each other over rock gardens, window boxes, etc., and Minaki looked the best to us.  Baggage carts with steel tires were hurried to the baggage car to unload that which was destined for Minaki.  Bellboys in tan uniforms picked out that which should go to the Lodge and put it on a truck.  We guests were led down a long steep stairway to a lighted dock, where we boarded a launch which took us through dark waters until we came under the railroad bridge and saw the lights of the Lodge’s powerhouse and the lights of the Lodge itself.

The Legend Print E-mail
Minaki News - Stories
Wednesday, 15 June 2011 17:39

Story submitted by Carol Carlson, originally written in 2004

It was 1952 – 52 years ago today that Lorac and Mij moved to a place called Minaki with their Mom and Dad. They had always lived in a big city so it was going to be very different living in a place everyone called The Lake. They arrived very late at night by train and the first thing they saw were big huge high rocks. Mij said to Lorac, this is going to be a great place to play cowboys and Indians.

The house where they lived was right on the edge of the water. There was a big ramshackle, rickety, old boathouse, kind of spooky. It use to be a sawmill and there were lots of rooms and the whole place was very dirty and falling apart. There was a rickety dock where Lorac and Mij liked to go and throw rocks in the water. Neither one of the children could swim and their parents told them to be very careful down there. An old man named Roy lived up on the top of the hill, he didn't like these two kids – mind you – he didn't like anybody. He saw the two kids playing on the dock one day and said 'be careful you don't fall in the water – The Legend might get you'. Mij asked him 'what's the legend?' Roy said 'it's a big ole fish that likes to eat little children'. Mij and Lorac asked their Mom if this was true. Absolutely Not' she said, fish do not eat kids – kids eat fish.

Gentle Ben Print E-mail
Minaki News - Stories
Wednesday, 18 August 2010 20:27

Gentle Ben

By Jake MacDonald

After a long career in the NHL, centre Randy Gilhen and his Veloy were looking for a place where they could teach their kids Scott and Alexandra about nature. In 1991 they bought a cottage at West Hawk Lake, Manitoba. The forests around their cottage are full of wildlife and, during a Christmas visit in 1999 they saw a large whitetail buck in the yard. Randy says, “He acted unusual, just staring at us. I was wary, because his neck was still swollen from the rut, but he seemed friendly so I gave him an apple.”

Veloy looked into the buck's eyes and saw a “gentle expression I had never seen before.” They saw the deer again in the summer. “He started coming every day at dusk,” says Veloy. “He loved to have his velvet antlers rubbed, and one day he started licking my leg. We started calling him 'Gentle Ben.' We gave him cracked corn, but I don't think it was just the food that interested him, because if we put the food out, he’d leave unless we stayed with him. It was like he wanted to socialize.”

“The kids loved that deer,” says Randy. “Sometimes we’d leave Alexandra baby-sitting Scott, and when we got home they’d have all these stories about how they’d spent the evening patting the deer. He was like a member of the family.”

Judging by its body size and mature antlers, the deer was already four or five years old when they first met him. Most adult white-tailed bucks don’t live much longer than that, but ‘Gentle Ben’ endured. “Every summer we were afraid it had passed away,” says Veloy. “But then I'd be working in the garden and see this big head coming down out of the woods.” As the years passed, the buck grew old and lame, and they tried not to worry about him. Says Randy, “We’re pretty realistic people. I’m a hunter, and Veloy is the daughter of a resource officer, so we knew the story would have an unhappy ending. That’s the way of Nature – it would get killed by wolves or break a leg or something like that.”

This year, on Boxing Day, they were going for a walk when Randy noticed something back in the woods. It was the tip of an antler. They walked in and found the buck's fresh body in the snow. He’d died a few days before, probably on Christmas Eve. Incredibly, he’d lived to be eleven or twelve years old. “I backtracked him for a ways,” says Randy. “There was no blood and he hadn’t been hit by a car. He just walked into the woods, curled up under a tree and went to sleep. We were sad to lose him, but we were all glad to know how he passed away.”

Randy plans to mount the antlers, along with some photographs, as a memento of their old friend. 

The Day of Days: Predicting and maximizing feeding windows Print E-mail
Minaki News - Stories
Sunday, 11 April 2010 12:59

By J.J. Ross       

picture_060Why do you fish? Is it the serenity of nature? Is it the social aspect that comes with sharing the boat with your buddies? Is it to spend time with a good friend or a significant other? Or maybe just to get away from that significant other? I fish to catch more than I ever have or better my previous biggest fish. As a muskie angler I am in search of what I call the day of days! Please do not misinterpret this statement as I thoroughly enjoy drowning minnows or just hanging out with my wife and kids. Yet when I am chasing muskies, I genuinely feel that every time I get in the boat I have the opportunity for the day of days.

Aladdin Lamps Print E-mail
Minaki News - Stories
Sunday, 11 April 2010 12:44

By Jake MacDonald

            To brighten up the cottage on a dark night all you need is one of those pressurized gas lanterns. Twenty strokes of the plunger and whomp, presto, you¹ve got about 100 watts of white-hot light. And the easiest way to satisfy your hunger, for that matter, is to stand in front of an open fridge and stuff big handfuls of smoked ham in your mouth. Sooner or later, though, you reach a point where you want to show a little class, and that’s when it’s time to put some thought into your lighting.

A Fish out of Water: How Long Can You Hold Your Breath? Print E-mail
Minaki News - Stories
Written by J.J. Ross   
Tuesday, 30 June 2009 17:06

J.J. Ross demonstrates muskie handling techniquesThe muskie season  is open!  Don’t get me wrong: I like walleye fishing, but nothing can beat the anticipation of getting in the boat and casting for big muskies. However, no matter how much we intend on catching a certain species we inevitably hook into something we never intended. As a guide I have the opportunity to fish everyday in the summer, and I have witnessed many “incidental” catches in other boats. Some very poor fish handling sometimes meant that the fish did not make it back in the water alive. If you find yourself catching large pike and muskies during an outing for walleye, here are some helpful hints to allow these freshwater predators to get back into the lake with minimal harm to you and the fish.

Book Excerpt from Grizzlyville - A new book by Jake MacDonald Print E-mail
Minaki News - Stories
Written by Jake MacDonald   
Tuesday, 30 June 2009 16:38

Round up the Usual Suspects.

Kenora, Ontario (pop. 15,000) calls itself a city but it’s more of a small town, a picturesque resort community with a business district of four or five square blocks. Until a few years ago, the Trans-Canada Highway ran right through the middle of town, and every car, motor home, and semi-trailer crossing the country had to negotiate the main drag. Every day, hundreds of big transport trucks came wheezing and lurching down Main Street, bouncing up onto the sidewalk as the drivers cursed and cranked their way through the hard turn at the pharmacy.