The de Havilland Dash 7 lifted off the gravel runway, rose above the water, and then banked over the main lodge at Big Sand Lake.
As it did what flooded my mind beyond the memories of four days of exceptional peace and camaraderie was the question of why more, Canadian companies and individuals alike, don’t make this a serious vacation or sales incentive option.
We will fly all day and night if necessary to see the beaches in Spain or Portugal. We will spend thousands of dollars to visit the archeological digs in Greece, or the natural wonders in Australia or the Galapagos Islands. We’ll arrange corporate retreats in Phoenix or Northern Ontario, all exceptional places to visit and do business. Yet we give little serious consideration to the wonders of our own Northern retreats.
Our trip took place some time back but the memories are as vivid as ever.
The guests at Big Sand Lake Lodge included two couples vacationing together, a family with two boys under sixteen, a corporate group from a large US printing company on a combination business planning and relaxation outing, plus a dozen or more dedicated fishermen from all over the United States.
Fly in lodges all over Canada are filled with these kind of American couples, families and companies who choose to experience our convenient wilderness.
It may be that we don’t have a real sense of what we can expect when we ‘go north’. At lodges in Big Sand Lake in Northern Manitoba there is no roughing it.
These are genuine full service resorts with meals that are as good as you will find in most destination properties in the Caribbean or overseas. Accommodations may not be in multi-storied hotel type complexes, but clean comfortable private cabins with coffee brought right to your door every morning is not too hard to take.
While fishing is the focus during the spring and summer, you don’t have to be experienced or hesitant if you are a complete novice.
The guides in most northern fly in resorts will bait your hooks as well as remove the fish your catch. Anyone who has shared the camaraderie, ambiance and exquisite taste of a shore lunch prepared with the fish you caught less than an hour before, will recall the experience many times over.
Big Sand also offers the options of flying into one of their outpost camps, which can lead to some real monsters, and a sense of quiet in the evening as you, for the most part, control the lake you are in.
Even the most jaded corporate client or executive who has never dreamed of touching a fishing pole will be caught up in the excitement of catching a truly big fish. And the friendships built through a week or a few days in this free yet controlled environment is certain to bond the team or cement any business relationship.
Someone once said that an expert consultant was a person with a briefcase fifty miles from home.
It is perhaps this sense of distance and lack of awareness that keeps us from thinking of what truly awaits us in our Northern region. But as interesting and exciting foreign destinations are for business meetings or vacation travel, as our American friends have found, there are few places in the world where you can experience more discovery or tranquility than what is as close at hand as our own back yard.