Canada and to the Moon
Copyright 2013 by Patricia M. Snell
Photo by Richard Loller.
traveling in a
remote area of Canada, an historic event happened, and we learned that
camping on a remote island is really like camping in our backyard.
In the summer of 1969, I was
between high school and college. I didn't have a summer job to keep
me busy, but my summers were never boring for very long. My father
was a bit of an adventure-seeker, and every year my parents planned
trips that took my brother and me to a variety of destinations. In
July of that year, our adventure was a canoe trip on Lake Temagami in
Ontario Canada. The lake is in a remote, sparsely populated part of
Canada, about 400 miles from our home in Rochester, NY.
packed our supplies and loaded two canoes onto the car for the long
drive to the lake. Along the way, my aunt, uncle, and two cousins
joined us with their canoe, as they had done on previous trips. I
don't remember most of the events of our weeklong trip, but the
passing of over forty years has not erased my memory of a tiny island
where we camped for a couple of days.
The island was really
just a big slab of rock, with a few scraggly plants. We had chosen it
as our campsite because the thick forest on the mainland was filled
with hungry mosquitoes. There were several things about this treeless
island that made it a poor choice for a campsite. One was the lack of
privacy. We dubbed it "no-john island" and used a canoe to
ferry over to an outhouse on the shore where there were some
uninhabited cabins. The island was also a poor place to pitch tents.
The hard ground would not accept tent stakes, so heavy rocks were
used to anchor the tents. Inside the tents, the slab of rock made a
The most memorable event on the island happened
as we huddled around my father and his small transistor radio on July
20. My father was holding the radio against his ear and straining to
hear the historic news broadcast about the Eagle spacecraft's landing
on the moon. Radio reception was poor in our remote location, but my
father could hear the dramatic details, and he repeated the news to
us as he heard it. The landing wasn't proceeding as planned, but
finally the historic words were announced from the moon, to Houston,
to TV's and radios around the world, and to my father's ear. My
father repeated the words to us; "The Eagle has landed."
was a strange experience to be camping on a remote island while we
heard news from a far more remote place. There was an odd perception
that we were just in our backyard, compared to the thousands of miles
the astronauts had traveled into space. Our island seemed more like
home. We lacked comfort and privacy, but we had air to breathe and
Any comparisons between our canoe trip and space
exploration are presumptuous. The only comparison I dare make is that
we were all adventure seekers who were challenged by our adventures,
and we all succeeded. Astronauts would continue to seek adventure in
space, and my father would continue to seek adventure where he could
find it on Earth.
I did not accompany my family on any more
trips after the summer of 1969 because I had my own adventures to
experience in college and in my future work. I am grateful that my
last family adventure was a memorable one, thanks to the astronauts
and a tiny island on Lake Temagami.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
Patricia's Story List and Biography
Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher