It is not unusual for Premier to work in remote northern areas of Canada. Nevertheless, you never know when an adventure awaits. Getting to a project located in Northern Ontario would normally entail flying into Winnipeg Airport, renting a car and driving two hours across the border into Ontario where I would then board a float plane and fly into the sites. In September of 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 restrictions, flying into Manitoba wasn’t possible; anyone entering the province was subject to a week’s quarantine. For the job to proceed on time we decided it best to fly into Thunder Bay and drive 6 hours to the site.
When Everything Starts to Go Wrong
Eager to get a start on the job I left for Thunder Bay on a holiday Monday, which I now know was a mistake. I was left standing bagless and alone at an empty, revolving baggage carousel as the airline informed me not only had they lost my luggage, but they wouldn’t be able to get it to me for three days – after the project was planned to be completed. My bag included a few changes of clothes, tools I needed for the project and clothing for inclement weather. I knew a quick trip to a local store would solve my problem but was instantly reminded that I had chosen to travel on a holiday, and that nothing would be open. I called the float plane operator and was thankfully able to postpone the flight a day while I restocked. So I picked up my rental car and set out but quickly ran into another issue – a flat tire. After the tow truck left I limped the car back to the airport and replaced it, finally setting off. The drive through the winding roads of the Trans-Canada Highway, surrounded by the Canadian Shield and dense woods was amazing. I made a few stops along the way including lakes, exposed rock outcrops, and the border of the Arctic watershed. Having never been to this part of the country it was a treat to explore.
Settling in to the Landscape
I arrived at my planned stop and settled into my hotel. There wasn’t much to do in town because of the pandemic but in-person dining had just reopened so I was able to go out for dinner at the very least. After a day of stocking up on what I needed and exploring the area I arrived at the dock, boarded the 4 seat float-plane and took off for our destination. We flew to three sites, over 500 km in total, at an altitude of just under 3,000 ft. The landscape was a stunning mosaic of the Lake of the Woods and islands of dense forest, every so often sprinkled with remote cottages only accessible by boat. After the headache of travel the work actually went very smoothly and we were able to get all three sites done at once. The following day I made the trip back to the Thunder Bay airport, where I collected my missing luggage. What I was given back could barely be called a suitcase as the bag was caught on an airport conveyor belt, torn completely open and was now being held together with packing tape. Wonderful.
Travelling to out of the way places has always been my favourite part of working at Premier. It has allowed me to see parts of the country and experience things that I would never get to otherwise. These kinds of trips come with their challenges but are always exciting and rewarding.