Lake Superior gets a little unruly at this time of year. Visitors arrive to see the fall storms, when ocean-like waves crash upon the rocky shores. But it is one thing to watch the weather and another to truly experience it. At this time of year, most of the shipping traffic sticks close to the leeward North Shore. Imagine what it is like for the sailors who are out there on the cold, rolling lake.
On Nov. 10, the beacon at Split Rock Lighthouse will be lit to commemorate the 1975 wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and the 29 crew members who were lost. The event also gives us a moment to contemplate the many lives that have been lost to the stormy lake over the centuries. The loss of lives and vessels motivated the construction of Split Rock and dozens of other lighthouses and beacons along the North Shore. For many years, the lights were operated by on-site lightkeepers, a lonely and at times dangerous occupation. In this issue, Elle Andra-Warner shares some stories from the early lightkeepers, who sometimes risked their lives travelling alone in small boats as they left their remote posts to reach civilization at the end of the shipping season.
Many readers know that Elle is an accomplished writer and historian from reading her Strange Tales column in this magazine. We are pleased to announce that her newest book, Lighthouses of Lake Superior’s North Shore, The Historic Beacons of Minnesota, Isle Royale and Ontario has just been released by North Shore Press (the book publishing arm of Northern Wilds). This comprehensive, full-color guide to the North Shore’s lighthouses includes photographs and maps, as well as painstakingly researched information about the construction, operation and history of each light and stories about lightkeepers and shipwrecks. It’s a great book to curl up with on a stormy November night.
The same can be said for this issue of Northern Wilds. The issue theme is Volunteers, which we find appropriate during the year of a pandemic. Rae Poynter looks at various programs along the North Shore that provide home delivery of meals to seniors and others who have trouble getting out. Peter Fergus-Moore reports on the relatively new phenomenon of death doulas, who assist individuals and families coping with the final stage of life. Amy Schmidt shows us ways to stay safe from Covid this fall and winter.
November is also hunting season. Gord Ellis provides an update on Northwestern Ontario’s moose and deer populations, both of which significantly declined during the past decade. Joe Shead leads us to Ninemile Lake, where he reports you can catch sizeable walleye and pike. Chuck Viren takes us into the world of sausage making with North Shore butchers. On an adventurous note, Julia Prinselaar tells us about her recent visit to Iceland.
As always, we’ve made sure there are enough interesting stories and photos in this issue of Northern Wilds to keep you turning the pages. It’s beginning to get cold and dark outside, so settle in and enjoy a good read.—Shawn Perich and Amber Pratt
The latest issue for November 2020 is out!
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