Buckslide resident takes A Long Paddle Home
By Chad Ingram
Wood smoke rises from the top of the tipi overlooking a beaver pond on Rob Wright’s Buckslide Road property.
The tipi, which Wright fashioned himself, was where he wrote his novel, a thriller called A Long Paddle Home, during the past five years.
“The book is really . . . it’s kind of a deep dive into the human psyche,” says Wright, who works as an outdoor educator, speaker and guide.
Wright, who’s lived in what is now Algonquin Highlands for the past 30 years, was an acquaintance of the late naturalist, author and Haliburton County legend R.D. Lawrence, whom he describes as one of his mentors.
“Him and I, we had this conversation one night . . . this was years and years ago . . . he said, ‘Have you ever felt it?’ and I said, ‘What are you talking about, Ron?’” Wright says. “He said, ‘Have you ever felt that presence in the bush?’ I said, ‘Yeah, if I’m reading you right, I know what you’re saying’ ... I said, ‘Ron, are you referring to that energy that’s out there, that you just feel? Like you feel you’re being watched?’ He said, ‘yeah.’ This book is predicated on that energy.”
The book is set in fictional locations based on real ones – water trails and campsites stretching from northern Haliburton County through Algonquin Park. “Because I lead canoe trips and things, all of this comes from my experience with canoeing,” Wright says.
Wright has written books before – four novels – but this is the first one he’s published, through a B.C. company called Tellwell.
The influence of Indigenous spirituality on Wright, who grew up adjacent to a First Nation community near Parry Sound, is evident all around his property; from the tipi (the one where he wrote the book is one of three on his 60-acre property) to a canoe he made himself to the bear claw hanging around his neck. It is also evident in his writing, which is imbued with a certain mysticism. The novel is centred on a protagonist named Steven Stiles, a park ranger.
“Steven Stiles prefers the company of trees to that of people,” Wright says, reading a synopsis of his book. “Patrolling the waterways of a wilderness park, he unwittingly engages forces which will alter the very essence of what he believed he was. Through a series of seemingly random encounters, Steven’s world suddenly expands to include friends he had not sought, the love he had always yearned for, and the companionship of a two-year old dog named Rusty. He will have to trust them if he’s going to survive the energy which is determined to consume him.”
“This is a journey that will take you to unexpected places,” Wright says.
A Long Paddle Home, published under the name R.G. Wright, is available for order online on amazon.ca, chapters.indigo.ca. and at barnesandnoble.com.
Wright will be doing a book launch at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge on June 23, the event scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m.