Country of Origin:
Identity & Heritage
Browse while you listen: images with relate to audio
Patricia Reid was born in Sault Ste Marie, Ont in 1940. She lived a nomadic lifestyle in tents and one room dirt floor cabins on her father's isolated trapline in northwestern Ontario in the 1950's. She learned to hunt and build cabins and a lot of other chores as well as storytelling in the dark winter evenings. When she immigrated to the city of Winnipeg she carried a change of clothes and a few dollars and of course learned a whole new way of life. She worked as a nanny seven days per week until she learned that workers were given time off. Later she came to Toronto and learned a lot more about life. In between all her jobs she always did storytelling to show people how she grew up. She was a professional storyteller and a member of Mariposa in the Schools for many years in Toronto.
I lived a nomadic life as a child, living in tents and one room dirt floor cabins. When I was eight my father was granted a registered isolated trapline and we all moved into Donald Lake. We landed on the snow covered lake in early spring and set up a tent in the snow until we could build a small cabin.
I grew up shooting partridge to eat as well as snaring fish and rabbits. We also hunted oyster mushrooms for food and cat-tail sprouts in the spring.
I brushed my teeth with a piece of charcoal and if we had salt a little would be put on a rag to brush our teeth. I had a unique childhood struggling to survive on the trapline which taught me strength of character and a deep respect and reverence for the earth as well.
Below is a wonderful short piece I wrote that was put into a collection of stories by many others:
"My stories are old photographs- verbal photographs from the past.
Life on Donald Lake didn't come in big adventures- the way of life came in little snippets.
It was waking up in the morning and going out the door for the trip to the outhouse and coming face to face with a moose and her calf on the pathway.
It was having a fisher run by me, almost brushing my leg as I was standing still watching a bird.
It was coming face to face with a black bear, so close we could touch- and turning tail and running away as fast as I could- glancing back to see the bear running away in the opposite direction. Both of us seeking our own safety.
It was taking the baking pans that we used to bake the fish and going down to the beach. Then taking a little sand with the short green moss- the moss that cuts grease as well as any soap and scouring the pan.
Looking up while doing this and seeing a pair of otters playfully sliding down the rocks into the lake.
It was having the Whisky Jacks eat from my hands.
It was father making the Alder Bush talk by cutting a whistle from the bush for me
It was the constant hunger gnawing inside my body. Going without food for days.
And going out to tend my rabbits snares on such a hungry day I saw a rabbit still alive in one snare. On catching him, he bit my mitt and screamed. It was the first time I'd ever heard a rabbit make a sound and I cried for it seemed so unfair that he had to die that I would live.
And then the feeling that I had when I returned home bringing the rabbit which was the only food we had for three or four days . How ecstatic and proud I felt."
( This excerpt taken from a portion of Tales Of Donald Lake, published in Tales For an Unknown City collected by Dan Yashinsky, published by McGill Queens)