On February 16, 2012, I, along with close friends, were given the privilege of accompanying some members of the Tragically Hip on an ice fishing excursion down the winter road.
At mid-morning we arrived at a small, pristine river to fish for Brook Trout. A day earlier we had scouted the river and caught a fair size trout—this indicated a promise of more fish the next day.
The Tragically Hip were in the community of Fort Albany to attend and perform in the Great Moon Gathering, which celebrates the winter and the new spring ahead.
While we did not catch any additional trout, the time spent allowed for the exchange of stories between us, and even laughter.
The river empties into the James Bay. The slow action in the fishing permitted others to sightsee the coast close by.
READ JOSEPH AND AMANDA BOYDEN’S REPORT FROM THE GREAT MOON GATHERING AND THE REFLECTIONS OF SOME OF ITS PARTICIPANTS:
The day ended at lunchtime with a bowl of chili served up from an improvised setup of a woodstove on the ice. The Hip had to return to the community to prepare for the concert that night. Their venue would be at the school gym which would hold approximately 450 fans from all of the surrounding communities.
One of the additional thrills was the knowledge my son, who plays the drums, would be performing and opening for the Tragically Hip along with his friends who belong to a group called the Northern Revolution. My wife has also been a long-time dedicated fan of the Hip but had always failed to connect with them. The concert was a great success and experience for all.
In the course of the night during a private gathering of the performers, I experienced a brief moment of adoration from a radio personality who mistook me for a singer. I eventually broke the secret to her that I did not sing a chord nor did I play an instrument… I just looked like I did.
I hope our guests will return one day, for they are always welcome. They have brought something positive to our community.
Robert Gillies is a friend of the Tragically Hip and a championship ice fisherman.