They come along all through your life; those who influence you, often in small ways, when you need them the most. Even if you don’t realize it at the time. One of them for me was H. H. North, the head mining engineer at Hardy Mines, north of Sudbury, Ontario.
I had been dating his daughter at the University of Western Ontario – now known as Western University. I was to start a second-year summer job at a nickel refinery in Port Colborne when I got a phone call from H. H., as he was affectionately called, suggesting I come up there and learn about the other end of the operation.
There I was, a journalism student among 40-odd engineering types from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Falconbridge had put us in empty company houses in the tight community. We didn’t last long, after inviting the local young women to a party.
What killed it was putting a red light out on the porch. Parents went berzerk, and we guys were moved to the local arena. I was one of 10 assigned to bunk beds set up in the Women’s Washroom.
H.H North and I became friends. He had a dry sense of humor, took no cockamamy nonsense from anyone. Including me. His daughter wasn’t there; she was working at Cleveland’s House in the Muskokas for the summer.
Her father and I spent weekends fishing in lakes that for all I knew had never seen by humans. We’d park the car and walk into this utter wilderness. I carried the cedar canoe, with strips of wood leaving wide open spaces of fragile canvas between these boards. Be so careful climbing in, he warned me.
I was carrying the canoe, the yoke resting on my shoulders, when we approached a sheer rockface leading down to the small pristine lake. I started down, and tripped. “Drop the canoe, Wallace,” he yelled at me, “and you’ll be walking back, alone, without a compass.”
Author’s comment: I’ll write from time to time about those who’ve been influential in my life, In small yet important ways. Like H.H. North. I ‘m hoping it might trigger you in remembering those who changed your life for the better; when you least expected it.