Words on the Whiteshell

I was awarded one of the Eric and Jack Wells Journalism Awards for the following story. I was certainly surprised, but I was also definitely inspired by the environment the story is about. All the work I produced in the scope of that assignment I am proud of. My respect for the Creative Communications program grows daily. Anyway, here it is...

As you roll into Whiteshell Provincial Park, the first thing you notice is the Earth, untamed and unruly. Nature reigns here. The buildings are dwarfed by towering birches and evergreens. The urban din of automobiles and industry replaced by songbirds’ conversing calls. The sky is bluer, the clouds whiter, the sun glowing more gloriously than ever before. And that’s just on your way in.

During the 90 minute drive east to the Whiteshell (whiteshell.mb.ca), the prairies stretch endlessly in every direction. Largely devoid of the constructs of man, the almost infrastructure-less commute prepares you for the environmental awakening that awaits you in the park. In the Whiteshell you encounter more birds than pedestrians, more deer than vehicles, more silence and solitude than civilization often offers.

Danielle Benson, U of M student and employee of the Falcon Trails Resort, notes this is precisely why people flock to the park, to escape the congestion and cacophony that is city life. Benson was born and raised in West Hawk Lake, and is so used to the environmental expanse that venturing into the city leaves her stricken with claustrophobia. “That’s why people come out here,” she says, “to be immersed in nature. I feel connected to my surroundings out here. I never feel that way in the city.”

The stark separation between life in the urban sprawl and life out beyond the smog and sirens does more than influence an individual’s comfort. The nature versus nurture debate is still ongoing, but this much is clear; when nature itself nurtures, it leaves a lasting impression. Murray Imrie can attest to that.

Imrie is the owner of the Falcon Beach Ranch (falconbeachranch.com). He grew up on a Saskatchewan farm and was a wilderness man from day one. All his life he‘s been in direct contact with the environment, even if he had to go out of his way to reach it. “I’m from the age where we went to school on horseback. It’s a little harder, more physical life. You haul wood, you do everything yourself. But I prefer this.”

Love of the natural world seems to be embedded in the Imrie blood, for Imrie’s children are all active in environmental industry. His youngest son is a fur and seal manager in Nunavut. His daughter, Olympic biathlete Megan Imrie, has become a spokesperson for the fur industry. This June Winnipeg will host a fur industry conference that will feature Megan as the guest speaker.

Imrie says that this style of living, forgoing sky-scraping civilization for more serene surroundings, is becoming less and less common. But, raising his kids outside the city has clearly instilled in his children an abiding appreciation for such lifestyles.

There is something catching about Whiteshell Provincial Park, something that calls to the part of your soul which feels at home in the unbound wilderness. Something supremely natural that resonates with your humanity. Something you can’t find amid galvanized girders and metal monoliths. Something we’ve forgotten, but waits there to remind us.


Knapsacker said...

Awesome job Chuka!

Post a Comment