Tag Archives: Dryden


We are traveling from our large and rambling farm home in Saskatchewan to stay in a tiny studio apartment in Saint John, New Brunswick for a few months. Just getting out the door to leave on a trip is incredibly difficult for me. Even with lots of practice, I don’t seem to get better at readying myself to leave home. I imagine all the things that could go wrong!!

Once in the car, and on my way, everything changes. I am glad to be on the road. Worries fly out the back window as home recedes in the distance.

It’s a perilous traveling season – late March and early April. We can expect any kind of weather. And we get just about every kind of weather, starting with a blizzard blowing into Northwestern Ontario. Roads will likely be closed, even for a few days. A few hours later, we  found ourselves stranded in Dryden, Ontario.

With a warm motel room to nest in,  I  instantly I remembered how much I have enjoyed being stranded in the past. A few days to allow our spirits catch up to our bodies!

We can curl up under the sheets and dive into a novel, vaguely aware of  the steady rhythm of semi trucks passing by through the blowing snow on the #1. Until even the semis stop because the highway is now officially CLOSED. We are in limbo, safe in a cocoon of sorts. Limbo is a delicious place to be.

Shane tucked in at the inviting and warm Dryden Public Library

When we tire of cocooning, we can walk anywhere in Dryden, as long as we can get through the thick drifts of snow. Off to the library – a  welcoming  and light-filled space where we  spend a few hours and get a feel for this community. We explore Main Street, cross a bridge which goes over the many rail lines that run through Dryden, and cross the Sky Walk which goes over and rail and the Trans Canada Highway. We cross another bridge over the Wabigoon River which powers the towering pulp and paper mills. The river, the rail line, the Trans Canada – the arteries that connect this small city to the outside world. Shane and I like to search out the restaurant frequented by locals that is not a chain. We find the Patricia Inn Family Restaurant, clearly the spot to gather, and the food is savoury. We eavesdrop shamelessly.

The Dryden skywalk crossing the #1 highway and the rail lines


Art in the Dryden Skywalk








Art covering a now vacant building front

Next day, Shane goes off to check out the museum. I set off to find a community created mosaic, aptly called “Pieces of Dryden”. Tucked into a forest above the river, the mosaic is made up of thousands of pieces of dishes, ceramics, mirrors. wall and floor tiles and other fragments of glass donated by citizens of Dryden. Lead artist Willene Moffatt writes, ” The natural beauty of Dryden’s Northwestern Ontario surrounding area is expressed in the flowing and continuous lines that move around the entire structure. The basic elements of nature, earth, air, fire and water are represented in the total design.” The four surrounding benches are situated precisely in the four directions – North, South, East and West. A team of 15 artists and volunteers spent many hours creating the sculpture using 18,000 pieces.” I have passed this very place dozens of times driving from East to West but drove right on by – eyes on the next town, city, camp site. Now I know it is there.

“Pieces of Dryden” – community art 2010

Close ups of “Pieces of Dryden”







This respite has had the feel of a “snow day” – stolen time. The unexpected gift of not having things go according to plan slows us down. We have no choice – Mother Nature calls the shots. Every time! Besides, Northern Ontario, like the rest of us, has not had much snow. As we travel East, people celebrate the first real blizzard of the season and the much needed moisture it brings.