Friday, October 19, 2012

Considering James Bay, Pt. 1

Andrew has been invited to the hiring test for the James Bay Ambulance Service. Jobs in this area have been hard to come by, and the longer he's been out of school, the less optimistic he's been feeling about his shot at getting hired up against all these starry eyed kids fresh out of georgian or centennial or wherever else they went to school. He's been losing hope, he's been losing direction, and drive. And this is his dream! There's a little bit of his self worth and personal identity tied up in being a paramedic, and it's been really hard watching him get squashed down time and again. So, he's started looking a little further afield. He and his work buddy Andy have both applied for jobs up in James bay.

For those of you not so familiar with the geography of this great land of ours, let me walk you through how to get to James bay. Start in Toronto. Hop on the 400, and head all the way (about an hour driving time) north to Barrie. OOh, rural Barrie. Torontonians are already calling this "up north". Then keep going about the same distance and you hit Orillia, and keep going through places like huntsville, gravenhurst, etc. The lily dippers among us might already tentatively be calling this northern ontario. But we all know we're not really there yet. Around this area, 400 changes into Hwy. 11. Stick with it, and keep on trucking north. Unless you need to pee. Do that here, because it's two hours to North Bay, with little in the way of polite rest stops in between. Plenty of trees though. So, North Bay. This is bonafide Northern Ontario. You get the tax credits that say so and everything. Normally, when we go to visit grand mamman we stop for lunch here, it seems to be the half way point. No coffee though, oh no. I bet that there are two toilets between here and grandma's house that are not inside a private dwelling. Then we hit the road again for grandmamman's house, which is in New Liskeard. Easily another 2.5-3 hours, sometimes more since in places the road is a single lane each direction, and there are lots of farmers, loggers and miners up here, and all of them have road hogging, slow moving vehicles. Whew! We've made it to New Liskeard, and let's say for argument's sake that it's taken us around 7 hours. Now drive about another 3 hours north to Cochrane. Here Hwy 11 veers off west, and travels all the way to BC. We stop the ride at Cochrane. After about 10 hours in a car, we're ready to ditch the car. Actually, we have to. There are no roads north of here. We've run out of civilization as we know it (ok, dramatic, but we've run out of paved road). There is however, a train station. That's right, we're going to hop aboard the iconic Polar Bear Express, and sit on our asses in it for a further 5 hours. When we hop off in Moosonee, we will be 150 km north of those paved roads. Now sit down, look around and sigh. We've maybe made it. Moosonee is the southern most town where Andrew might get posted. The other five... er... well settlements anyways, some don't deserve to be called towns, lie along the western rim of James Bay, with the northern most place (Attiwapiskat) another 150 km or so north of Moosonee. Yeah, that's up north. Attiwapiskat requires a flight, unless you're in the magical season where one might traverse the ice road. Scary thought.

So you think I'm cringing in a corner, right? Hell no! At least not yet. See, Andrew really needs this I think, to help bolster his confidence. I think it will be one of the easier jobs to get. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think when it comes to going aaaaaalllllllllllll the way up there, pretty much showing up for the interview will get ya the job. I don't see there being a huge queue clamouring for the the opportunity to move up there. And up in James Bay there will be all kinds of opportunities to do upgrades, like the chopper medic stuff that he couldn't afford to do if it weren't for the service paying for them. So, we head up to Moosenuts, Northern Ontario, spend a year or two making friendly with the locals, and then when we come back south, my honey bear will be super hire-able, and hopefully finally land his dream job with Toronto EMS. I really don't want him to give up on his dreams, but at this point, I think he's getting close to doing just that.

At first when he was contemplating this move he had a very lone ranger attitude towards the whole thing. I guess he figured I'd either stay here or move back in with my folks while he braved the wilds alone. I'm not that girl. I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty and live without certain modern conveniences. And I sure as hell couldn't stand being away from him for over a year. I'd be worried sick... and I would miss him like crazy. I've said more than once that I'd go to the ends of the earth for him. I never thought it would be tested in quite such a literal way, but there you have it. I love that man like crazy, I'm going to make a husband of him shortly (gosh, won't that be fun, planning a toronto wedding from the arctic tundra... hmm...) and darn it all, if he's off on an adventure, well then I'm coming too.


small farm girl said...

Wow! That does sound like an adventure!!!!! Just think of what you could blog about now!!!lol

Katou said...

I think you are doing the right thing to go with him up North; you will be living this adventure together. That is important.

When I was a young married woman in the 70s, my husband was working for Hydro-Qu├ębec on the future Bay James project and it was from Matagami. Because they're was nothing for me at the time in Matagami and I had a good job in Rouyn, we decided that he would go alone. He came down to Rouyn about once a month but after two years of the regime, we officially separated because we had grown apart, living different lives. I always regretted not going with him.

And, just for the fum of telling you, I live about 1h30 from New Liskeard and my mother was from the Tri-Town area and I still have cousins living there. I usually go once a year to visit and shop.

And, going to Moosenee on the train from Cockrane was one of my dreams. It was a thing I wanted to do in my life but I delayed to much and now I don't have the energy and the finances to do such a thing.

So, if you want to do special things in your life, do them while you are young and capable of doing them.

Sam Murray said...

It's never too late! I'll let ya know where we end up, you can come visit.

Samantha Perruzza said...

Did you make it up there? I randomly searched James Bay Ambulance in google and came across this. I am actually in the same boat as your partner, and I am scheduled to write the test for James Bay Ambulance on the 23rd of August!