Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Alan Cheeseman grew up fishing and camping with his family in the wilds of Canada. After a career as a marine engineer, Alan realized that life on the open seas wasn’t for him. So in 1993 he returned to Ontario to join the team at Wilderness North, a sanctuary for outdoor enthusiasts and anglers in search for the definitive Canadian adventure. Twenty-two years later he and his wife Krista now own and operate this pristine Northern Ontario retreat.
But getting visitors to their remote hideaway is the hard part—which is why, along with the tourism business, they also own and operate an air charter service. Their fleet of wheeled and float planes can transport any ambitious angler or relaxation seeker right to the front door of many of their secluded outpost cabins and lodges, and do it in style.
Here’s Alan on his love for the great outdoors, what to expect at Wilderness North and crazy run-ins with nature.
On Wilderness North’s early days: “Wilderness North was created in the early 1990s by our partner Jack, who was an aviation buff, businessman and lover of the great outdoors. He would make several trips to Canada each year and then just decided he’d like to be a part of it. So he bought out several outfitters and started Wilderness North.”
On what to expect at Wilderness North: “Wilderness North’s 5 lodges and 16 outpost camps are located in Wabakimi Provincial Park and the areas surrounding it. There are no roads inside the park, so we have to fly-in or boat-in all of our visitors. The park itself is huge—we’ve got more than 2,000 km of lakes and rivers, which basically makes it an angler’s dream.”
On working at the lodge: “Lodge life is exciting, but it’s also hard work. Thankfully, our guests make it all worthwhile. I’m usually fixing water systems or generators, and Krista is usually in the kitchen baking bread or making her famous ribs. We both load the planes and greet the guests, as well.”
On the expected and unexpected run-ins with nature: “We’ve had bears wander in camp sometimes, but it’s rare. We see all kinds of wildlife, though, like moose, caribou, eagles and groundhogs. Our lodges are in the migratory paths of many different types of birds from mergansers to geese to blue jays. And of course, there’s more fish than you can imagine—walleye, northern pike and brook trout, for example. If you like to fish, this is the place to do it.”
On the soothing effects of nature at Wilderness North: “Something awesome happens when you get up north. Your blood pressure goes down, and you can breathe easier. Whether you’re fishing, paddling or doing sunset yoga on the dock, it doesn’t matter. Somehow being one with nature strikes a chord. Being able to unplug from the world—even if it’s just for a few days—always does the soul good.”
Learn more about Wilderness North at www.wildernessnorth.com
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