It was the fall of 2013. Our long time family friend, Stan Comber, was in a battle with poor health. A true entrepreneur of the North, Stan was the original commercial harvester of wild rice on Trout Lake. As Stan’s health faded, he was faced with the difficulty of access to the remote location of Jackfish Bay. His cabin was showing its age after nearly 50 years of facing the elements. He asked my mother and her sister to purchase the cabin and make sure it was loved and taken care of.
I began spending my time in my Kookum’s home of Trout Lake at a very young age. I’ve been told of stories where my mother would frantically chase me down the trail as I ran into the bush. With my infant sister in her arms, she was never quite able to catch up to my ever curious mind and legs! It was at this young age my love for Trout Lake was established. I knew one day I wanted to have a presence in Trout Lake, a “homestead” one might say.
Work began on the cabin shortly after its purchase from Stan. A new roof, doors, and tool shed all had to be built. In the Spring my father, friends and I hauled in many trips of lumber and supplies across the frozen lake. We installed a new kitchen, added a deck as well as a new wood stove. Restoring a true palace of the North. At this point, the lush rice fields that lay adjacent to the cabin were an afterthought.
It began as a far fetched idea late one night accompanied by family alongside a game of euchre and fried bannock. To have such an amazing nutritious resource not being utilized was agreed by all to be a waste. The license was still valid, it had come with the purchase of the cabin. We decided then to try our luck at harvesting the wild rice.
This business has never been easy. Weather, boat design flaws, breaking down, and the access to the lake make most days presenting an uphill battle. Maybe that's what causes this business to occupy my thoughts. How to improve, make it better, easier.