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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A great article in the Sun about the Lake Simcoe community

ON LAKE SIMCOE -- Not everybody is looking forward to winter's end.

In fact the forecast that there could be more wintry conditions coming our way was greeted with glee up here near the town of Sutton. Many love winter. Hate to see it go.

True in the city there was thunderstorms and rain yesterday and everybody can taste that long awaited, much anticipated first breath of spring on their tongues. It's also nice to think about no more tuques, boots and winter coats and the start of baseball.

But they look at it differently up here. It's amazing the different perspectives on the year's first season when you drive a little more than an hour north of the city. "I am in Heaven," says Rod Baker, a firefighter.

Sound fishy? Well he smells fishy too. And loving it. But he and the hundreds of others out on the ice have until just the end of tomorrow to get off.


There's no choice. The ice is melting. It's the end of the season. Where the heck did it go? Some already can't wait until next winter. "It is a little more convenient for the locals," said Alicia Trivett at the Georgina Island Police station.

It's much easier to get around for sure. The snowmobile is the number one form of transportation out here. And lets not forget about the ice highway across the lake from near Sutton to the beautiful island. "I wouldn't recommend driving on it now," says Alicia. "I came over in the jet air boat."

But you know people will still fish, still snowmobile and still drive their vehicles on the ice. People were doing just that yesterday. Hopefully they are careful because even a return of Old Man Winter does not mean the ice is safe.

It's amazing the difference a few days and a few points in temperature make. Last week it was still a winter wonderland and there were hundreds of cars, skidoos and fishing huts out there. The ice seemed like it could survive until July.

Last night people were crossing their fingers for more winter. The summer up here is divine but, when it's frozen, it's a fascinating little city on the ice. Winter is where it's at on Lake Simcoe.

"It's a special area," said Steve Woolhead of Sutton's RnR Cycle and ATV, who sell and service an awful lot of the area's snow machines.

HIGHWAYS OF TRAILS

It's not uncommon to see Canadian sleds parked in front of the Virginia Lakefront Restaurant, right off the ice, where people line up for one of Anna Silva's famous giant hamburgers. There's a real sense of community here. They know each other and help each other. Your battery is dead or your truck is stuck -- there's always someone to assist. No CAA needed and no credit cards necessary.

It's old fashioned courtesy and caring in action. Characters like local Charlie Warren, who just gets a kick out helping people. "That's what we do," he said, while heading out to help a young couple in a snowbank.

Each town of fishing huts is connected by a highway of snowmobile trails -- a very interesting illustration of Canada and a collection of Canadians. There's something cool about seeing a Ski-Doo parked in front of a fishing hut. It's old time Canada. "It just doesn't get any better than this," says Baker. "I have got everything I need here."

He does. In his tiny fishing hut there's a stove and all the supplies needed to survive a night out. "I've got fishing line, some food and some beverages," he says, adding there's nothing quite like a pan full of fried perch.

Not too far away others pull up in their snow machines to the Peninsula Resort -- which has a motel and restaurant and of course happy hour. Summer or winter, boaters or sledders, it's always warm and friendly in the Peninsula where Jerry Kucharchuk and his mom Helen have been serving patrons for 45 years. Jerry has no plans to leave.

Nor does Baker. There's no trip to Florida planned for him.

There must be some big fish down there to catch.

If not he can always stop into the Peninsula. "We love it," Jerry said of all the locals and tourists alike. "It's nice meeting all of the people."

Of course, they are good, old time Canadians hanging on to the end of another beautiful winter.

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