Day 27 – July 3 – Hearst, ON to Timmins, ON

We left Hearst at our normal 10ish and made several quick photo stops before we got to Cochrane. We were doing an Adventure Lab geocache that is part of a series being set up along the full length of the Trans-Canada Highway. Adventure Labs are a new add-on to the regular geocache hunt, but they do no have a log paper to sign; instead, as you approach each part of the Adventure Lab, your phone will display a question, the answer to which is on signs or plaques at your location. Most Adventure Labs take you around towns to point out the points of interest. The Trans-Canada Highway project has select points of interest along sections of the highway that eventually will all be connected into one long hunt. Most of the TCH labs are about 10 stops. We enjoyed being directed to memorials, or town mascots or advertising displays. The Labs are quick and fun and you see many things you would never otherwise notice as you drive along.

The first stop was at a memorial for a young man from Hearst who was killed on a NATO mission in Afghanistan. He was only 20. The memorial also has photos and names of men from the town who died overseas in WW II.

The Voyaguer statue at Mattice.

A fellow built this big T-Rex to advertise his hotel. The hotel is gone but the T-Rex still stands.

This tall memorial stands to commemorate the death of three pulp mill workers who were on strike here in 1963. Independent contractors crossed the picket lines and provided logs to the pulp mills. Over 400 pulp mill workers heard about a secret shipment of logs going to the mill and went to prevent it. The contractors shot at them. Three died and 8 were wounded. 20 of the contractors were charged with murder. It was the most violent labour strike in Canadian history.

I have no idea who built this big bear or why. It was just up on a small hill by itself.

The community of Moonbeam has it’s own alien space ship.

Cochrane, Ontario has a polar bear habitat and there are bears and bear signs all around town. There are three bears at the habitat. They have three large enclosures, each with a pool, plus an air conditioned shelter where they spend the night and the entire lake beside the habitat is fenced and the bears have access to swim in it. Two of the bears are related. Inukshuk is the father of Ganuk and are both on loan from the Toronto Zoo. Inukshuk goes back and forth to sire more bears, Ganuk has been in Cochrane for quite a few years. Henry was born at Sea World on the Gold Coast of Australia and when his mother was beginning to distance herself, as they do when their cubs are about 2 years of age, Henry was brought to Cochrane.

Inukshuk was getting his pre-dinner dry food mixture that is specifically made for polar bears. He took every mouthful of the spoon so very gently. They get fed moose meat, seal meat, this kibble mix and fruits and vegetables. They get the fruit and veg mainly in the summer to give them food that does not contribute a lot to their weight so they can manage the heat better. They love watermelon.

After he had a few spoonfulls sitting up, he sprawled on his belly with both back legs extended and just lay there waiting for the next serving.

This is Ganuk. He just came out of the pool in his enclosure and is soaking wet. He walked into the grass and had a good long roll to help dry off.

Inukshuk finished his snack and wandered along the back of the enclosure. Henry stayed in the house in the air conditioning.

After we left the polar bear habitat we drove over to the Tim Horton Area and toured museum.

John and I both grew up in the golden age of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens and John’s brother was a big Leafs fan and really liked Tim Horton. Tim was called the steadiest defenceman in hockey and when he died in a car crash at age 42 the hockey world was stunned. He is a household name in Canada due to the donut shop franchise that he started and are located in almost every town across the country – and internationally. There is even a Timmies in Dubai.

We arrived in Timmins at supper time and settled into our hotel for the night. Tomorrow we continue on our way toward Ottawa but are only going as far as Temiskaming Shores. There are several things we plan to see along the way.

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