Espanola to Manitowaning
We learned today that a couple from Ontario, who were also cycling across Canada, were killed yesterday after being struck by a pick-up truck on Highway 17 (the TransCanada), east of Thunder Bay. Robert and Irene Booth were part of a Tour du Canada group cycling from Vancouver. They were just slightly older than us. We knew that the group was a week behind us. The accident happened on the stretch of road before Nipigon that we had found to be particularly dangerous. We are shaken and saddened by this news, and our hearts go out to the couple’s family, friends and fellow cyclists.
We would like to reassure everyone that we are cycling as defensively as possible. Unfortunately, it is impossible to avoid the TransCanada at times on a cross-country tour like this and an absent/narrow shoulder means having to cycle on the highway. The gravel shoulder is not manageable with the tires of a touring bike. While vehicles generally give us a wide berth when passing, they rarely slow down in doing so. Now that we have turned off Highway 17 to head south, we hope that traffic will be lighter, even if the shoulder issues continue, and, when we are in more populated areas, there will be more secondary road options. It is a sad reality that the only province in Canada with designated cycle routes outside urban areas is Quebec and that cyclists wanting to experience crossing Canada cannot do so in a consistently safe manner on the highway that joins the country together.
The weather, traffic and road conditions will vary from day to day. This is part of the adventure and we know that some days will be better than others. We are still enjoying the trip and look forward to what comes next. Today was particularly good, with blue skies, a helpful wind for most of the time, lovely scenery and a good shoulder for some of the way. The news of the accident was disturbing, but we will continue our journey and keep as safe as we can.
We are on the traditional territory of the First Nations of the Manitoulin Treaties. As you can see on the plaque in the photo gallery, the island was, in 1836, set aside as a refuge for all First Nations. However, the colonists’ expectations that the Aboriginal people would give up hunting and move to take up farming were not realised, and, under pressure from farmers and fishers, resident Chiefs relinquished most of the island to the Crown in 1862. The Wikwemikong People refused to cooperate and still retain Aboriginal title to the eastern peninsula of the island.