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Or... Here to Christmas 2000

Merry Christmas!
And all the best in 2002!

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December 21, 2001.

The First Year of the Third Millenium. Now Closing!
A lot of us had trouble figuring out all those numbers.
The twenty first century…? What was 2000? THE THIRD Millenium? How does that work again…??? What happened to…??? How Come…??? So many numbers, and all so confusing…

Any way, confusing or not, for the Ritchie's of Porcupine (and of late, Kingston) 2001 was another year in the big cycle of life. I got older, my wife became more venerable, my kids reached a level of maturity that I have not yet achieved.

All in all, it was a very good year. 2001. Here it is, in all its Christmas-letter-tackiness! It began in….

January 2001:
New Year's Eve was uneventful. I had spent a good part of the day wrapping up a financial report for my First Nation, and had finished of the day with an e-mail to my daughter, Laurie. We entered the period quietly. Christmas over, Laura had already left for Kingston, and Allan was still at home, but out with friends.

The first week of January saw me involved in some Chapleau Cree First Nation activity that would unfold into a yearlong endurance run of economic development analyses, writing and editing constitutions, planning and litigation.

Unbeknownst at the time, I had entered into an environment that would teach me a lot in the areas of will, influence, power and intimidation. Other people call it politics. It was small politics of course, but it was indeed, politics.

It would be the seeds that would lead me to read a book called 'Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics' by Warren Kinsella. It was recommended to me by my son Allan, who knows of such things… If you have an interest in how things actually work, American or Canadian, read that book. More later…

In January, I also spent a bit of time updating the Chapleau Cree Web Pages at http://www.oocities.com/chapleaucree/

Special Days: January 9th - Laura's birthday,
January 18th - Laurie's birthday.

Special Things:
Allan had applied for and been selected to attend the Harvard National Model United Nations simulations in Boston, February 15 -18, 2001.

Laura was involved in the coordination and fundraising for the Queen's University Contingent traveling to the Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference in Halifax (planned for August 2001). She also attended a lecture by a visiting U. of T. professor on tissue engineering. Both the talk and the speaker (Dr. Kimberly Woodhouse) impressed Laura so much, she mustered up the nerve to approach the lecturer and discuss the topic and Laura's own interests and ambitions in the field. It was an impulsive act that would lead her further in the next few months. During the conversation, Dr. Woodhouse suggested Laura apply for a position in her lab for the summer months. Laura applied.

Research in the development of artificial skin has established Dr. Kim Woodhouse as a leader in the field of tissue engineering. Using a combination of tissue and polymer materials, Woodhouse hopes to encourage cell growth and limit water loss when treating chronic wounds and burns.

Supervising a team at the University of Toronto, Woodhouse is developing three forms of tissue - human and animal protein and genetically engineered human protein - that are combined with various forms of polymer. Investigation is already underway to develop a biodegradeable skin that may improve patient compliance and further promote cell growth.

February 2001…
We flew to the Dominican Republic for a week. (Punta Cana) It was my first trip out of the swamp. Well, really.... I had traveled as far as Los Angeles and Dallas and Orlando, but I had never been to the edges of Eden, which is where I felt I had come on the shores of Punta Cana.

We drove down from Timmins via highway 144 to Sudbury, spending a night with brother Allan and Aunt Laura , who live in Lively, Ontario. We narrowly missed an ice storm that continued into the night. Early the next day, we made our way towards Orillia in sunshine, to spend an hour with Connie's mom, Ruth. The trees were crystalline and sparkled like a billion diamonds in the early morning sun; the beauty of Nature can never be surpassed.

On the way, we were detoured off highway 11 at Washego because of an accident caused by a large snowsquall. On the detour, we encountered that same storm, setting a nice contrast for the trip down south.
After a visit in Orillia, it was off to Cathy's (Connie's sister in Toronto) where we left our van, and bummed a ride to the airport.


You can skip this paragraph should you not want a Ritchie-Rave/Unraveling…. In the Dominican Republic, I had an epiphany; I understood the terms 'natural environment' and 'natural habitat' in their oldest anthropological and zoological senses. If ever there is a climate that was ideal for human existence, it had to be much like that of the Dominican Republic. The air, water, humidity, temperature, wind, all coincided to create within me a peace that was deeper than anything I could have imagined. (We stayed at the Bavaro Beach Hotel - We thought it was great; a clean middle of the road place.)

Here's what we saw from our bedroom...
(Click the picture to see a large panorama... a second window will pop-up..)

Although I love the wilderness of Northern Ontario, the enviroment here is one to which the human species has adapted. I truly know how to survive in these elements, but it is not 'exactly' where all of the human organs do their best work.

After our flight back, we met our daughter Laura, who had spent a bit of time with her Gramma Rowlands in Orillia, and had bussed down to Toronto to hitch a ride back to Kingston with us. In Kingston we met with son Allan. - Both of 'em were students (and still are) at Queens. We visited for a day, then back into the real world of northern Ontario. Laura had applied for a research grant from NSERC (National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada) which would ensure her summer job.

Allan did his Harvard trip, and enjoyed it. While there, he saw the Harvard residence rooms where JFK, Anthony Hopkins and one of the creators of the 'Simpsons' tv show had stayed as students.

March 2001…
We all persevered through an uneventful month for our family. The kids at struggling through school, Connie and I at home. My First Nation struggled with a constitution. I had the good fortune of meeting Don Jackson, of Algoma University at one of our constitutional sessions. Eventually the Chief called for an election in May, breaking a tradition of a June election. A confused March 17, nomination meeting for chief and councilors and the denial of eligibility of one candidate would lead to a circuitous appeal to the Federal Courts.

I added a bit more to the CCFN Pages about my grandmother. And a bit more on ancestry.

Laura receives the NSERC grant and subsequently receives confirmation that she is accepted to the research job at U. of T. under Dr. Woodhouse. Her boyfriend, Ben accepted a summer position in British Columbia, on the Pacific Coast.

April 2001
I lost a dear hunting friend, Lloyd Romanello, on April 4, 2001. You can read about Lloyd here…

The kids wrap up their year at Queen's, find apartments for the next year, and pack up their belongings in preparation for the move at the end of the month.

Special Days:
Maria Chesa (Nonna Sonego) April 18, 1899

May 2001
I traveled Orillia, where I met my brother Brian for an evening chat, then on to Kingston to move Allan from Residence into his apartment, and to bring him home to Timmins. At the same time Laura travelled to B.C. with Ben before starting her summer employment. On the way back home from Kingston, Allan decided he will take three courses during the summer to allow him to 'fast-track his B.A. degree, so he can move on to Law School. He plans to write the LSAT in October. We talk about it, weigh the pro's and con's, and we (Connie and I) support his decision.. --- errrr… what else can we do???)

May 11: Allan's final marks are official - all courses passed. Laura also made her year.

Allan starts a job with HRDC as a student Placement Officer. His duties included a one minute radio spot daily, tv spots now and then, media submissions, employer / job seeker interviews, and HRDC program promotion.
Laura started her job at U. of T.in third week of May; at first a bit apprehensive, but gradually adjusting to Lab-Life.

May 18, I headed to Chapleau to visit my mom, and on the 19th, I planned to go fishing with two Chapleau Cree Elders, Ian and Donald White. On that morning, on my way out to their camp, I saw a cow moose not 500 yards from their cabin. On the lake, we catch a mess of Walleye...

During the day we fished from the boat with Ian and I learned a more of the history of the Chapleau Cree, and a bit more on moosehunting. Ian and I saw a Golden Eagle flying overhead. We took it as a good sign. Later in the day, I cooked up a mean pork stir-fry for supper for my hosts, and spent some time talking about hunting and some of the strange reactions Mother Nature as a result of how we hunt. It was a good day, and many people and animals were remembered and again, became alive.

The next week, the Chapleau Cree First Nation held an election; new slate of councilors replaced previous incumbents. The Chief acclaims himself, and the April nomination appeal process continues.

Special Days:
May 2; Allan John Ritchie's Birthday
May 22 1893 Allan Erland Ritchie's Birthday May 24, 1961 Allan Erland Ritchie Dies

June 2001…
The CCFN council mandates myself and another member and a KPMG partner to begin an operational review at CCFN.
We put a deck in the back yard (here's a look at it from upstairs)

And from out in the back yard...

Back at Fox Lake, Chapleau, the CCFN Council hears the nominations appeal, declares the denial of nomination invalid, and calls for new Nominations. The incumbent Chief submits application for judicial review, which will eventually fail.

In this month Roger Bartz passes away. Roger was a long time customer at our fishing lodge at Praire Bee Lake who, along with members of his family, and especially his daughter Christine, loved the lake as much as we did.

In the months before this, we had discovered each other over e-mail, and reminisced about 'Prairie Bee.' On Thursday, 14 Jun 2001 I received this e-mail:

"Lark, I am Roger's wife, Cheryl. I wanted to let you know Roger passed away last week. He had a battle with cancer and just couldn't beat it. I know his favorite place on earth was at Prairie B. He hadn't been there for several years, but talked about it often. He thought so much of your Dad & Mom. We still get Christmas cards from your Mom, so would you please let her know of his passing? The last month has been pretty rough for him and I know his heart and soul are in Northern Michigan and Prairie B. We were so happy to find your website. It gave him much enjoyment. Thank you! Cheryl Bartz

And in my mind, Roger, you will be remembered when we're on the water, and when we fish and when we talk of the beauty of nature and the people who love being in it.

Special days;
June 15, 1956 Allan Carl Ritchie (Lively) Birthday (and his son William's birthday)
June 21, 1919; Bill Ritchie's birthday, Longest day of the year. Summer Solstice - Moving back into winter...

July 2001
July was busy… The Town of Chapleau held its 100th anniversary celebrations. And in 'True-North' fashion, the weather brought us cold winds and snow on the first of July. We enjoyed a Ritchie reunion is at Mulligan's Bay, July 1st weekend compliments of brother Darryl and wife Jane. All the Ritchie's made it up for at least two full days… not a long time.. but a good time…

During that event, Auntie Laura (the Sudbury Ritchie's) announces that the Sudbury crew will visit Allan and Laura in Kingston during Thanksgiving. It sounds like a good Idea. End of a good reunion.

Shortly after, I traveled to Toronto to take two courses at HP to become certified in a thing called ITSM (Information Technology Service Management). During that time, I get to visit with Laura, and get a look at 'THE LAB'…. Verrrry interrrestingggg….. (it reminds me of another trip to a Lab some years back) During our visit, Laura agrees to be 'cook' for the first two weeks of the hunt during a walk through the U. of T. campus.

Mid July I begin preparations for the fall hunt, which keeps me busy through the rest of the month and into August.

Special Days;
July 17th, 1960 - Brian Ritchie's Birthday.

August 2001
Laura returns to Timmins August 24, and along with Allan and Connie, we head out to Fool lake to set up camp. It goes well, and we have a good time working late into the night as a family, laughing and joking through it all.

One of the tents at Fool Lake

The hunt started August 26, with Ron Wing, Laura and Allan working with me. Go here to see more about the hunt. Allan works first days of first week, then heads out to Orillia. We become good friends with Don Hulslander, Pat McLaughlin, Dennis Boyles, Brett Reetz, Rick Hoyerman, Jay Beel, and Tim Warise. That's the fascinating thing about hunting. Ya meet some nice people!

Special Days;
August 14 Darryl's birthday
August 15; start of bear season

September 2001
We are into the hunt in the first week of September, and Laura is enjoying it immensely. She has worked every facet of the hunt, right down to paws and ears.

At the end of the second week, Laura heads out from camp with Connie, and I stay on for one more week. We are joined by Walter Hines, Jim Rollins, and John Kovacs. During that time, Walter gets to see a wolf up close, and has a chance to sing with them for an evening. September 9th, brings us John Smith, Dannie Nasters, Bo Starke, Gary Deluke, and Ed Wiltrout. The third week of the hunt begins.

September 11. It hit us square between the eyes. Sitting at the White Birch Restaurant, at 8:50, John Smith from Punta Gorda, Florida, tells us "the Twin Towers have been hit by a plane." We do not believe it. The day unfolds as it did for each of you… only we were away from the crowd, in the wilderness, and more than anything, it did not make sense. In fact, I am sure that many of us wondered whether mankind was really 'on the right track' these days… Eventually, things cleared up, and those hunting that week were able to return home to the USA. For me, as for you, the week will remain vividly clear in my memories.

While I am hunting, the CCFN litigation proceeds with discovery work taking place in Timmins.

Special Days;
September 1 start of rabbit season.
September 14 - the day before hunting season and a very special day
September 15 - used to be the first day of duck season

October 2001
CCFN reaches a settlement, Judge agrees that a new election is the way to resolve the dispute. Legal costs for the proceedings initiated by the Chief are paid by the First Nation. Jerry McCauley intends to stand for nomination.

Allan has applied for and is scheduled to write the LSAT on Thanksgiving weekend. Connie and I leave to visit him for Thanksgiving.

We make a trip to Kingston to be with Laura and Allan. Unca Allan, Unca Brian, and wives and family also show up for a mini-reunion and tour of Queen's for William, Adam, Kaitlin, Zack, and Jared. Laura's boyfriend, Ben, Gramma's Ritchie and Rowlands also attend.

The Gang on a walking tour of Queen's Campus

Click the Picture for a close-up... a second window will pop-up

October 16th, Jerry McCauley candidate for chief, dies.

Laura made her trip to Halifax. Ben, with a contingent from U. of Toronto, meets here there, and they tour parts of Halifax.

On her way back, Laura brings back four live lobster; two for Ben's parents, and two for Allan and Ken Jamison, who relished the feast at Laura's apartment.

Allan, in a house with four other guys, begins to learn a lot about personalities and attitudes, and the demands of maintaining and sharing a household.

Allan (Right) and room mates in their house, on their way to masquerade.
Note the Fireplace - Student Days were not like this...?

Special Days:
October 1, my first moose at 11 yrs of age.
October 3rd; Vicki Russel's Birthday
Ocober 5th, Megan Ritchie's birthday
October 18, Pierre Trudeau's Birthday, Paul Howard's Birthday
October 23, best day hunting partridge in my life.
October 28, Bill and Hilda Ritchie's wedding anniversary.

November 2001
This must have been a quiet month… Or.. maybe busy.. anyway.. not much of note…
I tried to see the Leonid Meteors. I happened to be in Chapleau on November 18th, but at 5:30 in the morning, the cloud cover hid the stars from me. But… while I was out, I moved close the the river to get away from the lights.. There I met with a beaver who was cutting through a Poplar on the shore. So while I waited for the clouds to clear, I stood and watched that beaver, and he did the same with me. For forty minutes he would try to return to his tree, but could not feel secure. He scolded me several times, then hit the water, slapped his tail and gave it up for the morning. The clouds did not clear, so I went back in and snuggled into bed for a couple more hours. Later, I found out that Walter Hines and his son got a peek at those shootin' stars in Tennessee, and so did Gary Rodgers in Ohio..

Gary's e-mail says "It was spectacular. The sky was absolutely clear. I started watching them at about 4:30am. I was in a tree stand in southern Ohio at around 5:45am the last one I saw was at 6:32am. I just wish I would of seen a Deer."

Walter, in his e-mail says "my son and both saw it. it was great"

This is an actual shot taken Nov. 17th by George Varros,Mount Airy, MD,USA

…. That same weekend, CCFN held the nominations for the third time in 2001.

And.. I bought a 1991 Tracker 4X4 to get me around in the bush. Neat little vehicle.

Special Days:
November 4 1986 Bill Ritchie deceased.
November 28th, 1951; Connie's birthday.

December 2001
December 1, 2001; CCFN Election re-affirms councilors, and results in a new Chief, Wade Cachagee.
Laura received notice that she is awarded a $2500 scholarship from General Electric.
Allan receives notice of acceptance at U. of Toronto Law School.
I made a trip to Niagara Falls to bring some hides to one of this season's hunters. Allan meets me in Toronto after his exams, and comes with me.

December 22.. if all goes well... we will head out to Huntsville for Christmas with Connies family, and drop in on Laurie...

Special days;
December 20, 1948 Lark's birthday
December 21 shortest day of the year. Winter Solstice, the return to summer
December 24, 1954 With God as my witness, I saw Santa Claus bring presents into my house.
December 27, 1923 Hilda Ritchie's Birthday

The Gang and Laurie and Scott, Taken December 27th,
Hilda's 78th birthday, at Huntsville

Click the Picture for a close-up...
Front Row: Jared, Zac, and their Daddy-Brian, and Golden Boy Allan
Back Row: Kaitlin, Gramma-Hilda, Laura, Laurie, and Scott.

---- and that's a year in the life.....