Experiencing the wilderness with my father at an early age was likely a catalyst responsible for my love of the outdoors. Seeing forests, streams and rivers filled with a variety of creatures was fuel for my imagination and the thought of pursuing them intrigued me.
My father enjoyed explaining the various habits of animals and the connection to their surroundings. As a boy in Switzerland during the Second World War he spent many hours living on a farm caring for the farm animals and hunting wildlife for sustenance. His experience as a young man was dealing with horses and cattle while dreaming of Canada, a vast nation with forests, mountains and wilderness - the perfect home.
The years I spent with my father in Ontario provided many hours of fishing and hunting for various game. A trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia created special memories where we hunted blacktail deer and fished for salmon. That was one of many treasures he nurtured in me and it is, indirectly, a reason for my involvement with the creation of Accessible Canadian Adventures.
In 2001 I was asked to take photographs for an organization at their annual golf tournament. As I sat in the clubhouse waiting for golfers to arrive, I noticed Wylie in the wheelchair. We began chatting about events and experiences when the topic of hunting and fishing came up. His passion for the outdoors was engaging. He spoke of a time (before his disability) when his days were spent trekking through the bush in Newfoundland hunting moose, snaring rabbits and fishing the Atlantic coast for salmon.
Wylie’s disability occurred ten years ago due to a serious highway collision. Immediately following the accident he was airlifted to hospitals twice but could not be administered painkillers for almost 12 hours because the trauma teams had to decipher the severity of his injuries before numbing his pain. He spent six intense months in rehab with many other victims who faced challenges they never could have imagined. He now has amazing upper body strength which is maintained by a dedicated regime of weight training.
Wylie lost his freedom to do what most hunters take for granted; stepping out of a car, walking through the bush and not falling backwards while discharging a firearm. In all the years I had gone in pursuit of game I never considered these types of situations before meeting him. My awareness has developed through observing him and how he deals with being disabled. For Wylie, hunting is not the independent activity it once was; he needs someone with him when he wants to engage this aspect of his life.
Through in-depth discussions and hundreds of hours of sourcing, we know the market that can cater to the disabled sportsman is limited. It is an exciting prospect for us to be able to provide clients with the best outfitters and guides who understood these specific needs. Whether fishing the Great Barrier Reef in Australia for 1,000 pound black marlin or hunting whitetail deer in Northern Ontario, these adventures can be made possible by combining the desire of the client with the skill and concern of the outfitter/guide.
For some it may take tremendous mental and physical effort to arrive at one of our adventure sites, but being in “The Great Outdoors” and experiencing the thrill of the chase will far out-weigh any obstacles. My friendship with Wylie has changed me. We have spent many hours together hunting big game and fishing. When Wylie sets his mind to take on a challenge, nothing deters his spirit. Here we are years later looking to represent disabled sportsmen and women internationally, by encouraging them and offering hunting or fishing adventures of a lifetime through outfitters who can meet their requirements.