Sioux Narrows Provincial Park sits on one of the thousands of picturesque inlets that comprise Lake of the Woods, a vast lake system that straddles the Ontario-Minnesota border west of Thunder Bay. In the summer its shores are lushly green, and haunting loon calls from mid-lake usher in its otherwise-silent dewy mornings.
That’s what I woke to on the morning of July 9, 1997 — unknowingly, my last as a Canadian resident. As I had been doing most nights on the road when someone hadn’t offered to put me up, I had been camping. I don’t remember what drew me to this tiny park off the main road. It was about forty miles south of Route 17, the Trans-Canada Highway that had carried me west over Lake Huron and Lake Superior, the same highway I expected to travel into Manitoba. But here I was. After scribbling a few postcards, I broke camp and drove a few miles south into town to mail the cards. My plan was to return to westbound 17 and the Winnipeg Folk Festival, which was to open a few days later. Once again my car had its own plan. Without fully realizing what I was doing, I turned right instead of left out of the parking lot. My new direction was south — toward Minnesota, the United States and, unbeknownst to me, my new country.
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