The Grayson Chronicles: The Journey Begins

Written by Harold McNeill on August 22nd, 2012. Posted in Adventure


Grayson Walker and his Grandpa

Photo (2012): Five year old Grayson and his Grandpa get set to go hiking in the hills behind his mom’s home in Kamloops, BC. It was during the trek the two hatched their summer plans.  Join us for the Journey Begins.

Dear Reader,

The following chronicles were written during the magical summer of 2012 when five-year old Grayson Edward Walker, along with his Grandpa, Harold David McNeill, his Uncle, Jay Wesley McNeill and a family friend, Bjorn Oscar Simonsen, completed an exploratory expedition through British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. While the trip through British Columbia was relatively peaceful, once they hit the Alberta border, they entered a new and perilous world.

Fighting massive lightening and thunder storms, flooded highways, tens of thousands of monster trucks and flocks of giant, blood sucking mosquitoes hatched in the primordial settling ponds of Fort MacMurray, the intrepid explorers bravely marched across Alberta and into the largely unknown wilderness that is now known as  Saskatchewan, an immense flatland whose name originated from a river the Cree originally called “Kisiskatchewani Sipi“.  In that harsh land the group encountered buffalo as big as barns, tractors that were even bigger and giant, round bales of hay that once set rolling in a land that has become known as Tornado Alley North, farms, cities and towns were placed in immanent danger of being wiped off the map.

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Canada Day Parade in Sidney, British Columbia

Written by Harold McNeill on July 2nd, 2012. Posted in Adventure


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Lynn and I have been to many parades in the Greater Victoria area over the years. but never to Sidney. This year we made the trip with Linda and Bjorn, as Bjorn was in the parade along with other seafaring sorts confidently sailing the Son’s of Norway club ship  down Beacon Avenue.

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The Roaming Riot Flash Mob

Written by Harold McNeill on May 7th, 2012. Posted in Adventure


Roaming Riot Flash Mob

Yesterday morning, May 6, 2012, shortly after Lynn and I popped by Calgary for a quick breakfast while enroute to Vancouver and Victoria, a flash mob, The Roaming Riot, invaded our Airport Pub Restaurant.

When spontaneous events like this appear on your doorstep, we have found the best thing to do is get in the spirit and join the festivities. As it turned out his group of men were enroute to Cabo San Lucas to celebrate the pending wedding of Jeff (photo centre, white hat, hanging on the shoulder of the guy with the t-shirt “Proud to be Something” or words to that effect). 

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The Pumpkin Family

Written by Harold McNeill on October 30th, 2011. Posted in Adventure


Family Portrait (2011)

The Pumpkin Family

Family & Friends (left to right)

Top row: Harold and Lynn McNeill, Sean McNeill:
Second Row: Kari and Ed Walker with son Grayson, Jay McNeill:
Bottom Row: Brother-in-law, Michel Payeur and sister, Dianne McNeill-Payeur; Chris and Christine LeClair with baby Audrey:
Far Right: Sister Louise and Brother-in-law Frank Yochim

A few neighbours from the field joined the party: Mr. Scarecrow, Jack the Vampire Bat and, on of our favourites, Creepy Spider.

Unfortunately the gourds, pumpkins, grand-pumpkins and great-grand pumpkins of Frank, Louise, Dianne and Michele could not make the week-end celebrations as many remained in the field due to work commitments.

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Leif Eriksson Day: The New Canadians

Written by Harold McNeill on October 10th, 2011. Posted in Adventure


A Nordic History Lesson

The New Canadians

Two fine Nordic specimes, one with traces to another culture, stand with young women
they captured in earlier raiding parties in Eastern Canada. Even a casual comparison
to the painting of Erik the Red (below), demonstrates an
amazing resemblance to these modern day men.

EriksonDay07

A Day of Celebration

As October 9th again rolled around we took the city by storm in our Norwegian horned helmets and ninth century Nordic sweaters. With a plentiful supply of mild tasting Aquavit (45% alcohol by volume), delicate lutefisk appetizers and singing the ever popular Norwegian folk song “There Ain’t No Norwegians in Dickeyville”, we spent the evening celebrating the life and times of Leif Erikson, son of the famous Nordic Explorer, Erik the Red.

While last year we had braved heavy winds and rough weather in our trek around the downtown pubs, this year the wool sweaters and helmets took their toll and we had to carry a few who succumbed to heat exhaustion, well, at least that’s what we assumed, as no one ever heard of anyone getting sick from to much aquavit while eating lutefisk appetizers!  

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Cornucopia Traditions – Alive and Well in Victoria

Written by Harold McNeill on April 21st, 2011. Posted in Adventure


Jamie, Kia and Liala

Traditions

Jamie and Kia Charko

 April 16, 2011

 

The matt upon which Jamie and Kia were married has been in the Simonsen family for over 300 years. During this time dozens of family members have been married. Here their daughter, Liala, shares in the celebration.

Cornucopia Cake: The Cornucopia (korn-yoo-KO-pee-uh) symbol stretches across many cultures and peoples from Ancient Greece to modern day. That it is part of many wedding celebrations is only natural.

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Kinosoo Search: Sampi Gets Hooked, Chapter 5 of 6

Written by Harold McNeill on February 5th, 2011. Posted in Adventure


Kinosoo Attack

Photo (by Sampie’s Brother in Law, Darren Riley): Later at the campsite he explained: “About two hundred meters toward the shore I noticed a a swirl in the water, then spray that was at least five meters in length. Suddenly, a large dark object briefly surfaced. I had the camera in hand so snapped one quick photo as I hollered at Sampi.”  By the time Sampi turned the water had calmed and the shadow was long gone.

Link to Next Post: Dangerous Waters Run Deep
Link to Last Post:  Fish Attack.
Link Back to Adventures Index

Chapter 5: Sampie Gets Hooked – The van Rensburg Story Begins

Darren hollered: “Sampie, get moving, it’s coming straight toward us!” Sampie: “I can’t Darren, the downriggers are still out, give me a second…”  Sampi was still hunched over replacing the line on his rod. Nicole was still busy admiring her catch, so both she and her dad were blissfully unaware of the approaching danger. These words were spoken less than 24 hours after admonitions to the Sampie and Darren to take great care while venturing forth on their first fishing trip on Cold Lake.

The van Rensburg story began in August 2009 while Lynn and I were camping at Cold Lake while visiting my sister Louise Yochim and her family. We chanced to meet a delightful young man from South Africa, Sampie van Rensburg, who set up camp in the site next to ours. Sampie, a gregarious man in his late thirties, was accompanied by his youngest daughter, Nicole, and his brother-in-law, Darren Riley. It was their first time visiting Cold Lake having heard many stories about the giant fish the filled these waters. 

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Chapter 4: Fish Attack – A Military Aircraft Down in French Bay

Written by Harold McNeill on February 5th, 2011. Posted in Flying Log Book, Adventure


 

RCAF DHC 3 Otter at Cold Lake

Photo (From the files of a High School friend and former workmate, Guy Venne).  The RCAF often moored their DHC-3 Otters at the main dock in Cold Lake and the above aircraft appears to be the same one that is the subject of this post.  Guy had taken several photos of the crash scene in French Bay, but all those photos were seized by the Air Force as part of their investigation.

 The three photos displayed in this story were also taken taken by Guy, one before the crash (above) and two after the craft had been towed to the main dock at Cold Lake. Damage to floats suggested a collision, but the Air Force had other ideas. The whole story was to become cloaked in secrecy (photos in footer).

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Comments

  • Mike Fedorowich

    September 1, 2023 |

    I have gone through the above noted text and have found it quite informative.
    I am a former member with several law enforcement agencies from across Canada.
    I worked in the First Nations service under the authority of the RCMP with the over sight of the OPP. My law enforcement service was conducted under the authority of the Nishnawbe – Aski Police Service in North West Ontario the Louis Bull Police Sevice in Hobbema AB, the Kitasoo Xaixais Police Service in Northern in side passage on Swindle Island, the Lac Suel Police Service North West Ontario and the Vancouver Transit Authority Sky Train Police Service. I’m presently dealing with an RCMP member for falsifying a report against me for a road rage event. Court case is finished and the charge was dropped but I have an on going complaint with the member and have forwarded to the WATCH DOGS IN OTTAWA FOR the RCMP review and consideration. I believe the said officer is in violation of his oath of office and should be held accountable for falsifying his RTCC all the while dragging me through the court system here in Nanaimo. RCMP continue to stonewall the appeal but Ottawa and the crowns office are still looking into the matter. if your able and find the time or the interest in this very brief introduction, I would very much like to speak with you and would be grateful to hear any wisdom that may come across from your end. I served with First Nations Police Services for ten years in isolation and six years with Transit Police out of New West Minster. I do value and appreciate any time you could spare to chat for a bit on this particular subject matter. Respectfully with out anger but an open mind, Mike Fedorowich Nanaimo BC 250 667 0060

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email: Harold@mcneillifestories.com)

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.