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Back Roads Bill: Find sense of place at Bobby's place

This week Bill discovers more than meets the eye and why some locations are important to people

The following story is not so unreal and the best word, so far, is uncanny to describe this unnatural happenstance.

We all have favourite nature spots. That’s why many people in northern Ontario have camps and cottages. And we share these locations sometimes unknowingly. These destinations may be expansive vistas or waterfalls or a place to see the sunrise or sunset often on the back roads or off the dock or from the porch.

During COVID there were authored 411 daily, consecutive haiku, with a photo and a description created by this scribe. You may wish to see these on Facebook, here is an example of a favourite. It took discipline, an endurance run of sorts. A book is in the offing.

Sit spot

Recently, and again daily, I have been drawn to visit what is called a “me” or “sit spot,” a reflective or mindful place that has intrinsic and extrinsic values.

The Woodland Woman was contacted on Instagram and other social media, she advocates sit spots for therapeutic reasons. Jenna Armirault says, “A sit spot is a place you visit to watch the natural world unfold. It’s a simple and effective way to connect with nature and develop a deeper understanding of your local environment.

“By visiting the same spot on a regular basis, you’ll begin to notice patterns. The more often you go, the more apparent these will become. Spending time in nature can reduce stress, boost concentration, and improve overall well-being. It has even been shown to decrease all-cause mortality.”

The spot

This nearby stop had photo potential. From a photographer’s perspective, it had to catch the eye. Enduring landscape photos have one or two elements that gain the initial interest of the viewer, like bold colours, textures, shapes, and a variety of appealing curves or lines that give depth. It had all of this.

There are tall and ragged boreal conifers bracketing an irregularly shaped wetland that takes you off into the horizon. It is a micro northern setting alright. You’ll see the naked beauty in the photos.

Not sure why I began to revisit the site daily, but there have been connections to mediums before in these Village Media stories.

And each day, consecutively, I return to take a photo and not necessarily at the same time. Upon each visit, there were new revelations due to the changing light and the weather conditions and you will see these in the composition. The makeup or formation remained the same as I stood at the same vantage point. Of course, the pictures weren’t identical, but unique and they were posted on social media.

In this instance, it was a different time-lapse. I didn't shoot the photo, wait a couple of seconds, shoot another photo, wait the same duration again before I took another photo, and so on and so on until you've got a reasonable number of pictures. If you’re happy with the number, you can combine the pictures to create a “moving” video file.

Not knowing much about this I went to Google: “You just need to follow this simple formula: Number of photos / 30 = The duration of the final video clip. In most situations, a clip lasting 10 to 15 seconds is more than enough for an effective time-lapse. To create one of this length, between 300 and 450 are necessary. are necessary."

This seemed to be another COVID-like daunting task, but the daily vigil has become habitual.


People can 'like' social media posts, post emojis or comment on them. Some people become social media 'influencers' and have followers like this story from a couple of years back. There is some affection for the title: ‘Influencing an influencer. Back Roads Bill hangs out with Alexis Outdoors (6 photos, video)’. Village Media tells me I have a following throughout the north and beyond.

So as the list of consecutive photos grew the comments increased. I asked followers to help me with one word and then the one-line poems that were daily additions to the photo.

Strangely enough, an avid follower, Wayne Reid, from Mattawa revealed some information. He identified someone else who knew the location intimately.

“Bobby Thibert, we had always chatted when we met and the stories we reminisced about were of the bush and this particular spot. It was his favourite spot and made him feel good when he was there so one day we went there by car and sat for close to an hour.

“His illness did not offer him any relief so one day we went back and I snapped the picture, although I believe it was early summer then back in 2017. I had it enlarged for him and if my memory serves me right I told him that Duvals would frame it for him.”

The Duval is well known French-Canadian artist Clermont Duval featured in two earlier stories.

“Yes, I have seen that spot several times, way back in the 90’s I painted that scene outdoors,” Clermont has no file of that first painting.

“Bob who was a friend, and after his windfall lottery he asked me to paint that scene in detail for him, from the photo Wayne took for him. I took several studio pictures to show him the painting in progress. He was fighting cancer. He came and saw the artwork at the gallery once it was finished. Gladly he was pleased with it. He paid for it, it was on a Thursday, he said he would pick it up on the coming Monday. He died (August 30, 2017) on the weekend.”

He was sixty years old.

The painting

Garry Thibert, a member of Mattawa town council said his brother, from a family of ten, was affectionately known as “Bobby,” he was an “outdoors guy.” “He was a caretaker at a camp across the Ottawa River. He also did some guiding for fishermen.”

Bobby’s sister-in-law, Michaelene Ouwendyk, married to another brother Elmer, from Mississauga filled in more of the blanks.

“From what we didn’t know, until after his passing, was that the painting was commissioned for us to show his appreciation. He had very little in life, was not a well-off person, but he had a heart of gold.”

About one month prior to his passing was the recipient of a sizeable amount of money from a scratch-and-win ticket.

“He gave back to the people who had helped him along life’s highway.”

She said during the past part of his life he did not have a car. “So, it is interesting that this spot was so magnetic.”

A digital time-lapse is in the making. Here is the map of the painting/photos.

We share the back roads because they have special destinations for various reasons. It is time, perhaps, for you to visit or find your sit spot naturally.

Share usually implies the original holder grants to another the partial use, enjoyment, or possession of something.

The daily photos continue at Bobby’s spot.

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Bill Steer

About the Author: Bill Steer

Back Roads Bill Steer is an avid outdoorsman and is founder of the Canadian Ecology Centre
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