In the remote communities of Northern Ontario, climate change has lit a fuse on reconciliation – by Tom Kehoe (CBC News Opinion – July 19, 2022)

These communities are already in a hole. Climate change is digging that hole deeper every season

Pickle Lake, Ont., is where the road ends. Put any community north of there into Google Maps and it returns “No Routes Found.” You are at the terminus of Highway 599 and the most northern point of the provincial highway system; almost 300 kilometres from where you turned off the Trans Canada Highway in Ignace. There is nowhere farther to drive. Except for one month of the year.

First the muskeg freezes, then the lakes and finally the many bridge-free rivers. At that point the province gives the green light and the ice roads open. It begins with light loads and, weather-dependent, increases as the ice thickens.

The trucks begin staging at Pickle in advance. Loads approaching 100,000 pounds of anything that is too heavy, too bulky or too volatile to be flown in during the other 11 months of the year. Building materials, medical equipment, heavy machinery, vehicles… the list is too long to detail.

Missed turn leaves you stranded

This is truly no country for old men. The drive is physically and mentally taxing. Hundreds of kilometres of black spruce and ice. Daylight is at a premium. No rest stops along the route. The ice will get chopped up very quickly by the heavy loads, making for a bone-rattling ride. A missed turn will leave you stranded for hours or days.

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