No matter how far you stray from your roots, for the rest of your life it will always call to you. Cherished connections with the land and the people alike live on in the memories of days past. The call may be strong, like a constant yearning for simpler times. Perhaps it’s that little voice in the back of your head, or the flash of a childhood memory now and again.

For Sarain Fox, Anishinaabekwe storyteller, artist, choreographer, and TV host, that call brought her back to her roots in Ontario’s Highlands. Sarain set out on a quest to relive her story, a tale woven together with the landscape and people of the Ottawa Valley. Fueled by her love of snowmobiling and her memories of early morning ice fishing with her uncle, Sarain’s journey began with the familiar and ultimately led to the discovery of coveted spaces and new experiences in Ontario.

Sarain and her uncle Gordon set up a fire at her cabin in Golden Lake.

The Ottawa Valley: A Place Like Home

Sarain’s first stop on the road to rediscovery was the Ottawa Valley, where fond memories of time spent at her cabin came rushing back. Waking in the hushed quiet of the early morning hours at Sandy Beach Cottages on Lake Clear, Sarain relived cherished childhood memories with her uncle, heading out to the lake long before the winter sun crested the horizon, eager to see which fish would choose to take a bite.

Sand Beach Cottages' Lake House Bunkie was the perfect place for Sarain to rest her head while she dreamed of winters gone by. Out on the chilly quiet of the ice, Sandy Lake Cottages provided the essentials for Sarain's ice fishing experience, leaving Sarain free to wait for the gentle tug on her line from the dark waters below.

Early morning ice fishing, on the scenic Lake Clear at Sandy Beach Cottages.

As both Sarain and the snow-covered wilds came awake, the day and the terrain sped past with a snowmobile ride near Barry’s Bay.  Sarain's snowmobile pushed its way over hills in pursuit of a breathtaking view of the valley below. Spectacular lookout points waited at the crest of every hill and mountain in the Ottawa Valley, an open invitation to pause and enjoy the view.

Taking in the beautiful Ottawa Valley lookout points.

Finding excitement in the Haliburton Highlands

With the past relived, and with a permanent smile affixed, it was time to forge new memories. Sarain’s journey took her west to the endless forests of Haliburton Highlands, and a cozy fishing hut on Mountain Lake at Ogopogo Resort. Here, mittened hands held fast while fishing lines danced and pickerel circled, eventually biting after a morning of teasing.

Testing out her ice fishing skills at Ogopogo Resort.

Sarain's next adventure brought her to the private snowmobile trails at Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve. After a hearty lunch at Haliburton Forest's Truss Foodworks, she explored the 400 kilometres of trails, with cliffs rising high above McDonald Lake and frozen waterfalls dotting the landscape, a reminder of how majestic a world we are in.

Discovering a network of 400-kilometres of snowmobile trails at Haliburton Forest & WildLife Reserve.

End on a high note in Hastings County

There’s truth in the saying “all good things must come to an end,” and Sarain’s final day of discovery was a special one spent in Hastings County. As was typical with the trip, the day started early when the fish are most active.  Setting up on Moira Lake in Madoc, snow drifted gently as Sarain crouched next to her fishing hole, taking in the advice of experienced locals on what was biting that day.

Finishing up her ice fishing journey on Moira Lake in Hastings County.

As the snow continued to fall, the itch to hit the snowmobile trails settled in, and it was time to bid new friends goodbye and head north to Coe Hill. The fresh snow covered trails created a magical wintry playground; animal tracks were spotted, an invitation to play in the snow.

Rounding out the discovery of the snowmobile network with Old Hastings Snow Riders.

Travel companions gathered as the trip’s completion loomed, and smiling from cheek to rosy cheek, Sarain embraced her newfound friends in farewell. The journey to relive her past and paint fresh memories brought Sarain one of the greatest gifts of all: new friends and new discoveries.

Making snow angels in the bountiful snow of Coe Hill.

Whether it’s a familiar place or entirely new to you, if you’re eager to explore on snowmobile or see what fish you can catch, a journey to Ontario’s Highlands is always like coming home.