Transitions-Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga Real Estate Blog: Loon Calls and Gentle Giants~The Spirit of the North

Real Estate blog about property, home buying and selling, life in Burlington, Oakville and Mississauga Regions of Ontario, Canada.

Loon Calls and Gentle Giants~The Spirit of the North

The sun is beginning to peek over the billowy grey-white cumulous clouds that are swiftly moving across a deep blue sky as I write this. Summer is less than a month away. We've had quite cool weather here lately and summer clothes have been tucked back away temporarily. Everyone bemoans having to turn their heat on in the morning to take the chill off of the previous night's air.

The weather has followed my mood somewhat for the past week and a half. I've been a bit mellow and contemplative as I settle into the fact that my dear Uncle Bear is gone. He's my first Uncle/Aunt to pass away and I will miss him greatly.

Uncle Bear, Dad, Curt, John, Me and LynnAn avid outdoorsman, he and my Dad were my co-teachers on the road to becoming a fine fisherwoman. In addition to his regular job, he often worked as a guide on Lake Nippissing for the numerous Americans who came up to fish for pickerel (walleye).
He knew that lake like the back of his palm.

During the many lake crossings I took in his boat, when headed to Sandy Island for holidays, I was never afraid; no matter how rough the lake became. He could handle a boat on rough water better than anyone I've ever known and he had a 6th instinct for the waves and the wind and could find his way through thick fog long before modern GPS systems became available.

I recall many times sitting beside him in his small sunporch, at his cottage on Sandy Island, watching for loons and passing boats.
He could spot a loon instantly and seemed to know them all as individuals. He would hand me the binoculars and point in the direction where he'd last seen the loon and a gentle peace would encompass us as a loon call echoed across the lake, seemingly in his directionUncle Bear and I~Sturgeon Falls.
He knew every boat that crossed the Nippissing and he would announce who was arriving at the island as the boat slowly came into view.

When I was young, I couldn't wait to get to my Aunt and Uncle's on our trips north to Sturgeon Falls every summer and sometimes during holidays.
Immediately after receiving one of my Aunt's warm and welcoming hugs, I would wait for my Uncle to sit down knowing that if I stood in his vicinity, he would swoop me up and sit me on his knee and then talk like Donald Duck while I sat enthralled in a child's heaven.

His ashes now lay scattered across his beloved Sandy Island and as his spirit gazes down upon the many generations of his family, the loons will call to him and remind him that all of the universe is one and no one is ever lost to anyone else, as long as we have memories and keep love in our hearts.

On the 5 1/2 hour drive home from Sturgeon Falls, where his memorial service was held, I drove through Algonquin Park.

Moose In Algonquin Park~May 2008There, near the side of the road and a small wetland, was a great and peaceful creature. I thought of my Uncle when I spotted her  and stopped to take a picture.
Moose are quite prevalent in Algonquin Park, however not every trip through the park yeilds such a magnificent view as this.

The north feels like home to me and it's where my heart always longs to be.
My soul feels completely content and in total peace when the pine needles crunch beneath my feet against sandy soil and lichened granite. At night the lonely call of the Whip-Poor-Will carries out across the tall treetops seeming to pause when a lone wolf howls in the distance. 

The north is made of hardy landscapes that stand out against the test of time and, much like my Uncle had done, they follow the seasons closely, adapting as they go.
Each season has it's beauty, each creature has it's uniquely beautiful contribution to make to the song that is the north, and each person who's heart abides there, leaves a piece of themselves that can never be forgotten.


There You ARE!Ā  I've Been Waiting For You!!!
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Comment balloon 27 commentsJo-Anne Smith • May 22 2008 03:50PM


Jo-Anne, condolences on the loss of your uncle.  He sounds like a great man of your north.  I enjoyed having a glimpse of his view through your eyes and your words.  It looks like a place to long for, beautiful and peaceful.  It sounds like a place from a long time ago, one that we are lucky is not just an echo, but is here now.  May you find peace in your smiles about him.

Posted by Elaine Hanson, REALTOR - Topanga, CA Real Estate Agent (Partners Trust Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Jo, I am so sorry to hear about the passing of your uncle.....Your pictures and your memories are precious and he left behind a wonderful legacy that you can always find some confort in.

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) about 9 years ago

Thank you Elaine.
He was a 'great man of the north' and will be fondly remembered by many.
North Central Ontario is very beautiful with many pristine freshwater lakes and beaches with excellent fishing and starlit nights. It's something everyone should experience in their lifetime.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith (Your Choice Realty Corporation, Brokerage) about 9 years ago


Thank you for visiting this post and for your kind thoughts and sentiments. He did leave a wonderful and lasting legacy to all of those who knew him.

I hope you get a chance to visit the north sometime in your's very beautiful and serene. I believe you would really love it.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith (Your Choice Realty Corporation, Brokerage) about 9 years ago

Howdy Jo-Anne

My condolences to you, on the loss of your Uncle. Know he will be looking over you.

Take care!


Posted by Dale Baker, New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information (Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections) about 9 years ago

Hi Dale,

Thank you. I do believe that those who we love and who have passed on are always watching over all of us....


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith (Your Choice Realty Corporation, Brokerage) about 9 years ago

Hello Jo,
Losing someone we love is very difficult.  I believe it is important to go through the grieving process and it sounds like that is what you have been doing.    The memories you made together will continue to live in you and those with whom you share them. 

Posted by Cynthia Tilghman, RealtorĀ® Onslow County NC Home Specialist (Kingsbridge Realty, Inc) about 9 years ago

Jo...I remember you talking about that Uncle last year when you were writing about your Dad. He was obviously an important piece of this collage we call life.

Thank God for our memories! I'm sorry about your Uncle..

Posted by Joan Mirantz, Realtor, GRI, CBR, SRES - Concord New Hampshire (Homequest Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Jo-Anne, what a beautiful ThemThem tribute to Uncle Bear, I'm sorry for your loss. He sounds like a wonderful man who loved life and had the respect of those around him.

Thank you for sharing with the ThemThem Group I'm making your tribute a feature in Uncle Bears honor.

Posted by * Rate A Home (Rate A Home) about 9 years ago

You have a sad heart today.  I'm sorry.  Uncle Bear sounds like someone who touched souls and I'm sure later you will be all heart smiles whenever his name and memory are brought up.

Posted by Kris Wales, Real Estate Blog & Homes for Sale search site, Macomb County MI (Keller Williams Realty - Lakeside Market Center) about 9 years ago


Thanks for visiting this post with your kind words. The grieving process is definitely made to help people heal from their loss and with the support of their family and friends, it goes along much easier. I worry most over my Aunt and my cousins, especially my Aunt as they were together since she was a teenager.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith (Your Choice Realty Corporation, Brokerage) about 9 years ago

Hi Joan,

Oh my, you do have an amazing memory. Thank you.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith (Your Choice Realty Corporation, Brokerage) about 9 years ago


That's very kind of you, thank you so much. And thank you also for your kind and thoughtful sentiments.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith (Your Choice Realty Corporation, Brokerage) about 9 years ago

Hi Kris,

Thank for stopping by! I believe you're right and your words will apply to all of those who know and love my Uncle. thanks.



Posted by Jo-Anne Smith (Your Choice Realty Corporation, Brokerage) about 9 years ago

Jo, what a wonderful and poetic tribute to your uncle. I think the first "loved" one we lose is an eye opener. Remembering all of your wonderful memories is what we have left of them. To this day, I remember many special moments and times with and of my dad - gone over 20 years now.

I see why cold weather is rather common to you.....;-) Still snowing her today, although much of it has melted from last night. ;-)



Posted by Mesa, Arizona Real Estate Mesa Arizona Realtor, AzLadyInRed (Homes Arizona Real Estate LLC) about 9 years ago

Thank you Teri.
I'm sorry you lost your Dad so early in life. It must have been incredibly hard for you and I'm glad you have many good memories of him and are able to talk openly about him.
I'm very fortunate in that my parents are still here and live fairly close to me and that  I see them quite often. I never take this for granted and every day am amazed at how lucky I am.

I hope it warms up for you for your Memorial Day weekend and you have sometime to spend outside sunning on your deck or enjoying nature.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith (Your Choice Realty Corporation, Brokerage) about 9 years ago

Jo-Anne - The haunting call of the loonat the cottage is something of my youth that I will always remember. The string of fish reminded me of the fresh caught fish fried in batter along with fresh picked blueberry pancakes my grandmother used to make for us whenever she was at our island cottage.

Posted by Barrie Clulow (My Time Is My Own) about 9 years ago

Jo, I would like to compliment you on your excellent writing on this post. I felt I was out sitting on the front porch with just you and me and you were telling me about your life and the strong impact Uncle Bear had in your life, the love of the lake, the communing with nature with walking in the brush and seeing the moose. Overall, you are someone whom is very much in harmony with her surroundings. I like to see that in a person, as it reflects a congruence between your inner and outer self. I don't see that with a lot of people I meet. Too much turmoil, particularly with their inner selves. You are a GREAT writer. My condolences to you on the passing of your uncle. From your words he made a significant and loving impact in your life. Don't you love people who touch you, and even though they are gone physically, they remain to be carried on in our hearts?

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) about 9 years ago

Hi Barrie,

Your memories are beautiful and remind me of Sandy Island.
We always have a number of dinners that include fresh pickerel lightly fried with a scant batter and since the island is covered in blueberry bushes, my Aunt makes fresh blueberry pies when the season is right. There's nothing like a meal like that cooked on an old camp cookstove and eaten under the towering pines overlooking the beach and lake.
We're so fortunate to have grown up in Ontario and have these memories....I'm going to spend a week on Sandy Island this summer and I can hardly wait.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith (Your Choice Realty Corporation, Brokerage) about 9 years ago


Thank you for your very insightful, beautiful words and thoughts. I greatly appreciate them. My Uncle will always remain in my heart and soul and whenever I am on a lake or spending time appreciating our beautiful natural surroundings and wildlife, I will reflect on him and smile.

I'm very fortunate to have known him and to have had him in my life.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith (Your Choice Realty Corporation, Brokerage) about 9 years ago


This was a fine tribute to your Uncle Bear.  I'm glad you have such nice memories of your childhood with your aunt and uncle.  Your description of the north country was quite educational as well, especially for those of us who live so far south of you.

I have only been close to a moose once in my life - in Massachusetts a few years ago.  He was peaceful at that moment - but he was quite intimidating, with eyes seemingly as big as saucers!


Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Thank you Brian.
I spent so much time in the north country when I was a child ( I was born in North Bay which is about 5 hours north of here) and I guess it got in my blood. I love it up there.
I hope that some day you get to experience northern Ontario...I believe, from your posts, that you love nature and I think you would really love some of the beautiful lakes and forests up there. It's very warm in the summer months too...perfect for water activities and for camping/cottaging.  The mosquitoes only come out for about 2 hours at night (from about 8:30 pm til about 10:30 or so).

Moose can be very intimidating and should not be approached too closely as they can be unpredictable if they or their young are threatened....what amazes me is how graceful their movements are considering their size and body shape.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith (Your Choice Realty Corporation, Brokerage) about 9 years ago

Jo - Such a lovely tribute to your uncle. I can feel what a speciallace he holds in your heart.

Posted by Tom Plant ( about 9 years ago

Thanks Tom.
It's good to see you and I'm glad you stopped by.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith (Your Choice Realty Corporation, Brokerage) about 9 years ago

Hi Jo,

Very nice tribute to your Uncle Bear. Sorry about his passing. You have such great memories and those are wonderful things to carry in your heart.

Posted by Trace Galle (Designs by Trace) about 9 years ago

Thank you Trace. You're so right about memories...


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith (Your Choice Realty Corporation, Brokerage) about 9 years ago

Hi Deborah,

Thank you for stopping by. My Uncle was a very wonderful man and will be sadly missed by his family and numerous friends.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith (Your Choice Realty Corporation, Brokerage) almost 9 years ago

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