Transcript: Steve Gresham | Oct 17, 1991

(music plays)

The opening sequence begins.
Fast clips show the daybreak on a lake, birds flying in the sky, and a house covered with snow.

A song says TALK TO ME, SO I CAN HEAR
YOUR VOICE LIKE A LAKE
SO DEEP AND CLEAR
SOARING THROUGH THE
TOPS OF THE TREES,
DANCING BY MY WINDOW
LIKE A WIND BLOWING THROUGH
MY DOOR, DISTANT VOICES,
DISTANT VOICES
DISTANT VOICES
DISTANT VOICES

(music plays)
The scene opens with Steve Gresham sitting on a foggy dock.
Steve is in his forties with a thick, brown mustache. He is wearing a black baseball cap, and a colourful, striped shirt. A caption reads "Steve Gresham. Trapper."

Steve Gresham says POPULATED
AREAS PEOPLE HAVE RUINED THE
HABITAT FOR THE ANIMALS.
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN A NICE
MARSH FILLED WITH MUSKRATS,
NOW IT'S BEEN FILLED IN AND
THERE'S BEEN A PARKING LOT PUT.
WHEN CIVILIZATION DOES THESE
THINGS, THEY DON'T THINK
ABOUT... I SUPPOSE A FEW
PEOPLE THINK ABOUT WHAT'S
GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE
MUSKRATS THAT LIVED THERE
OR THE FAMILY OF DUCKS.
BUT THEY THINK WELL, THEY'LL
JUST MOVE TO ANOTHER MARSH.
BUT IT DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY
BECAUSE THAT OTHER MARSH
ALREADY HAS A POPULATION
OF MUSKRATS OR DUCKS IN IT
SO THEY'RE JUST MOVED OUT
AND THEY STARVE AND THEY DIE.
BUT PEOPLE, I DON'T THINK
THAT PEOPLE IN THE BIG CITIES,
A LOT OF THEM DON'T REALIZE
THAT THINGS WORK THAT WAY.
YOU KNOW, THEY THINK WELL,
YOU CAN JUST MOVE THOSE
ANIMALS SOMEWHERE ELSE, YOU
KNOW, BECAUSE THERE'S SO
MUCH SPACE OUT THERE THAT
THEY'LL FIND A PLACE TO LIVE IN.
IT DOESN'T HAPPEN.

The scene changes to a duck swimming across a foggy pond.
The title of the show appears in yellow letters. It reads "Distant Voices, with Eva Solomon, CSJ."
[loon calling]

Eva is shown sitting in a wood-paneled room full of large windows. Light streams in as she sits in an alcove of the house. She is in her forties with long, wavy brown hair. Eva is wearing a lavender shirt, salmon pants, and a necklace of glossy stones.

Eva says STEVE GRESHAM IS CONVINCED
THAT ANYONE WHO HAS EVER
DRUNK THE WATER OF
NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO
COULD NEVER LEAVE.
BORN IN WHITBY, ONTARIO, NEAR
TORONTO, HE BEGAN TRAPPING
WHILE STILL IN PUBLIC SCHOOL
AND FOUND THE BEGINNING OF
HIS LIFE'S WORK IN AN AREA
THAT WAS THEN TEEMING WITH
SMALL ANIMALS.
TO ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS
THE FACT THAT STEVE KILLS
THE ANIMALS HE SO LOVES
MIGHT SEEM CONTRADICTORY.
BUT THESE FACETS OF HIS
CAREER ARE ONLY THE MODERN
VERSION OF AN
ANCIENT TRADITION.
IN NORTHERN ONTARIO, PEOPLE
HAVE BEEN LIVING OFF THE
LAND FOR AT LEAST
10,000 YEARS.
WHEN STEVE HASN'T BEEN
ABLE TO EARN ENOUGH MONEY
TRAPPING FURS TO SUPPORT
HIS FAMILY, HE HAS WORKED
TRAPPING MINNOWS
AND GUIDING.

Photographs flash on the screen of a riverbed followed by Steve standing in a wooded area.

Eva continues
MOST RECENTLY, HE HAS BEEN
AN UNDERGROUND DRIFT MINER
AT GOLDEN PATRICIA MINE NEAR
PICKLE LAKE, A SMALL BUT
SUCCESSFUL FLY-IN GOLD MINE.

Back on the dock, Steve says YOU DON'T LIKE TO KILL THE
ANIMALS BECAUSE YOU LOVE
THEM, BUT IT'S
PART OF THE JOB.
IT'S JUST LIKE
A BEEF FARMER.
HE HAS... HE RAISES BEEF AND
HE MIGHT LOVE FARMING, BUT
I'M SURE HE DOESN'T ENJOY
WHEN THE TIME COMES FOR HIM
TO KILL HIS BEEF OR FOR
THE CHICKEN FARMER TO KILL
HIS CHICKENS.
TRAPPING'S THE SAME.
A MARTEN OR AN OTTER OR A
MINK IS FAR MORE BEAUTIFUL
WHEN YOU SEE HIM RUNNING
THROUGH THE BUSH THAN WHEN
YOU SEE HIM IN THE TRAP.
EVEN THOUGH YOU KNOW HE
DIDN'T SUFFER IN THE TRAP,
YOU STILL DON'T LIKE TO...
YOU DON'T LIKE TO KILL HIM,
BUT I MEAN IF YOU DON'T,
HE'S GOING TO DIE ANYWAY, AND
HE'S PROBABLY GOING TO BE
PICKED OFF BY AN EAGLE OR A
HAWK OR A TIMBER WOLF AND
THAT'S GOING TO BE A LOT
WORSE DEATH FOR HIM THAN
A FAST DEATH IN A TRAP.

A photograph shows Steve holding up game caught in a trap.

He continues
WELL, THE TRAPPERS
DON'T MESS ANYTHING UP.
THE TRAPPERS MAKE A LOT OF
TRAILS INTO THESE LAKES FOR
THE FISHERMEN TO
USE, GET INTO.
ON MY TRAPLINE I MEET A LOT
OF FISHERMEN AND I MEET A
LOT OF MOOSE HUNTERS AND
EVERY ONE I MEET I TRY AND
GET TO KNOW AND I'VE MADE A
LOT OF PRETTY GOOD FRIENDS
THAT WAY.
YOU'LL MEET A GUY UP THERE
MOOSE HUNTING AND YOU SEE
HIM YEAR AFTER YEAR AND NEXT
THING YOU KNOW YOU'VE GOT A
FRIEND, AND HE KIND OF
LOOK OUT FOR YOU, TOO.
HE'LL TELL YOU IF... WHAT
HE'S SEEN FOR FUR BEARERS
AROUND ON YOUR TRAP LINE AND
I'LL TELL HIM WHERE I'VE
SEEN A BULL MOOSE OR A
COW MOOSE OR WHATEVER.
AND WE ALL GET
ALONG PRETTY WELL.

A clip plays of a pair of moose munching on leaves in the forest.

Steve continues
A LOT OF TIMES IN TRAPPING
YOU'LL COME ACROSS A
PARTICULARLY SMART ANIMAL,
A REALLY... ONE THAT AVOIDS
YOUR TRAPS, AND HE BEATS YOU
PRETTY WELL EVERY TIME.
AND SO YOU... YOU KEEP
DEVISING NEW METHODS OF
TRYING TO TRICK HIM TOO AND
THEN PARTICULARLY YOU'LL GET
WITH BEAVER AND
TIMBER WOLVES, TOO.
YOU'LL GET SOME OF THEM THAT
IT'S JUST UNCANNY HOW
INTELLIGENT THEY ARE,
BUT SOONER OR LATER
YOU CATCH HIM.
HE MAKES A MISTAKE AND, FOR
MYSELF, WHEN I DO CATCH THIS
REAL SMART OLD BEAVER, A BIG
OLD BUCK, WHEN I FINALLY
CATCH HIM I FEEL KIND
OF SORRY FOR HIM.
BUT FOR, YOU KNOW, FOR A
WHILE, BUT THEN YOU GOT TO
REALIZE, WELL, YOU GOT A
BIG BUCK BEAVER LIVING BY
HIMSELF IN A POND.
HE WON'T LET ANY OTHER
BEAVER MOVE IN THERE AND
THAT'S ALL YOU'RE EVER GOING
TO HAVE IN THAT POND IS
THAT ONE BEAVER.

A clip plays of beaver swimmingly in a pond. A moment later, it dives into the pond.

Steve continues
YOU GOT LIKE A BACHELOR MALE
BEAVER WON'T ALLOW OTHER
BEAVER IN THE POND WITH HIM.
HE WON'T TAKE ANOTHER FEMALE
AND HE WON'T... AND ANY OTHER
BEAVER THAT TRY AND MOVE IN
THAT AREA HE'LL KILL THEM.
SO HE MIGHT BE SMART, BUT HE'S
NOT SUCH A NICE GUY EITHER.
I'VE SEEN AT TIMES WHEN IF
YOU CATCH A FEMALE BEAVER BY
ACCIDENT... USUALLY WE TRY
AND CATCH THE BUCK FIRST,
THE BIG BUCK AND MAYBE A
COUPLE OF THE WORKERS OR THE
SMALLER ONES THAT
ARE IN A COLONY.
BUT IF YOU HAPPEN TO CATCH
THE FEMALE FIRST, WELL THE
BUCK, HE'LL JUST CHASE THE
OTHER ONES OUT ANYWAY AND
THE YOUNG ONES,
HE'LL KILL THEM.
YOU'LL FIND THEM FLOATING IN
THE POND, YOU KNOW, A FEW
DAYS LATER OR HE'LL CHASE
THEM AWAY FROM THE HOUSE,
AND THEY GOT NOWHERE
TO LIVE IN THE WINTER.
THEY FREEZE TO
DEATH ANYWAY.
SO YOU CAN... HE'S A SMART
OLD ANIMAL BUT HE CAN BE
PRETTY MEAN, TOO.
WELL, BEAVER, PARTICULARLY,
WE FLY OUR TRAP LINES
EVERY FALL.
WE FLY AND... OR
MOST TRAPPERS DO.
WE FLY AND WE DO
AN AERIAL SURVEY.

A clip plays of an airplane surveying the wooded area below.

Steve continues
WE COUNT OUR BEAVER HOUSES
AND MARK ON THE MAP WHERE
THEY ARE AND THEN WE TAKE
ONE AND A HALF BEAVER
PER HOUSE OUT.
SO IF YOU HAD A HUNDRED
BEAVER HOUSES, YOU WOULD
TAKE OUT 150 BEAVER.
THAT'S HOW MANY ANIMALS
YOU WOULD TAKE OFF.
THEN YOU KNOW NEXT YEAR
YOU CAN GO BACK AND TAKE
ANOTHER 150.
THAT WAY YOU
KEEP THE BALANCE.
AND WHEN YOU GO IN AND TRAP
THE BEAVER, YOU TRAP THE
OTHER ANIMALS AT THE SAME
TIME THAT LIVE AROUND THE
BEAVER POND.
MARTEN OR OTTER OR MINK.
YOU LOOK AT HOW MANY TRACKS
ARE AROUND IN THE FALL.
YOU START TRAPPING AND WHEN
THEY SEEM TO BE GETTING A
LITTLE BIT SCARCER YOU STOP
AND YOU MOVE SOMEWHERE ELSE.
BUT YOU'RE PART
OF THE BALANCE.
AND WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU
STOP TRAPPING THE BEAVER
IS TULAREMIA.
THAT'S NATURE'S WAY
OF CONTROLLING THE
BEAVER POPULATION.
A clip plays of a beaver methodically placing sticks together in its dam.

Steve continues
TULAREMIA SETS IN AND IT
AFFECTS EVERYTHING THAT
DRINKS THAT WATER OR LIVES
IN THE WATER, INCLUDING
HUMANS, IF HUMANS DRINK
WATER THAT'S INFECTED
WITH TULAREMIA.
WELL, YOU COULD DIE FROM IT
TOO, YOU KNOW, AND PEOPLE HAVE.
YOU'RE SURE GOING TO GET
REALLY, REALLY SICK AND IF
THEY DON'T FIND OUT WHY YOU'RE
SICK YOU'RE GOING TO DIE.
IT'S... WE HAVE A PROVINCIAL
PARK HERE NEAR THUNDER BAY
WHERE THIS HAPPENED
TO THE MOOSE.
SIBLEY PARK.
KILLARNEY PROVINCIAL PARK,
ALGONQUIN PARK, QUETICO PARK.
THEY'VE ALL HAD OUTBREAKS OF
TULAREMIA, AND THERE WAS JUST
HEAVY POPULATIONS OF BEAVER
THERE, WHICH IS GREAT FOR
CANOEISTS TO GO THROUGH
AND THEY'RE SEEING ALL
THIS WILDLIFE.
THEY'RE SEEING BEAVER ALL
OVER, BUT THEY DON'T REALIZE
THAT THERE'S TOO MANY OF
THEM AND WHEN YOU'RE SEEING
THAT MANY ANIMALS, THERE'S
SOMETHING WRONG WITH
THE POPULATION.
SOME AREAS THE GOVERNMENT
PUT QUOTAS ON AND ONLY ALLOWED
TRAPPERS TO TAKE MAYBE ONE
LYNX A YEAR OR SOMETIMES
ZERO, AND IN THIS AREA OF
THUNDER BAY DISTRICT THE
TRAPPERS JUST SET THEIR OWN
QUOTAS, AND THE GUYS JUST
STOPPED TRAPPING LYNX.
NOW WE HAVE OUR
LYNX BACK AGAIN.
BUT THEY HAD JUST FOLLOWED
THE CYCLE OF THE SNOWSHOE HARE.
THAT'S WHAT LYNX EAT.
THEY EAT SNOWSHOE HARES
AND THE RABBIT POPULATION
DROPPED AND THE LYNX
POPULATION FOLLOWED IT DOWN.
SO THEN YOU LEAVE THEM ALONE
UNTIL THE RABBITS COME BACK
UP AND IN A FEW YEARS YOU
GOT LOTS OF THEM AGAIN.

A photograph shows Steve in his house with the pelts of several animals laid out before him. A caption reads "According to Ministry of Natural Resources statistics, the total value of the 1987 furbearer harvest of 21.6 million dollars; by 1989, that amount had shrunk to 12.2 million dollars."

Back on the dock, Steve says THERE'S SOME BLOOD WHEN
YOU'RE SKINNING THE ANIMAL,
BUT THERE'S VERY LITTLE
BLOOD EVER WHEN THE ANIMAL
IS IN THE TRAP AND THERE'S
VERY LITTLE SUFFERING WHEN
THE ANIMAL'S IN THE TRAP.
THERE'S THIS LITTLE... WHEN
YOU SET A TRAP FOR AN
ANIMAL, YOU DON'T WANT IT TO
LIVE FOR HOURS BECAUSE IT'S
GOING TO RUB ITS FUR OFF ON
THE BRUSH AND DAMAGE ITSELF
AND THE PELT IS GOING
TO BE WORTH LESS MONEY.
IT'S THE SAME AS
A FUR RANCHER.
WHEN HE HAS HIS ANIMALS IN
PENS, HE KEEPS... HE FEEDS
THEM WELL AND HE MAKES
SURE THAT THEY'RE HEALTHY,
BECAUSE THEY'RE GOING TO
PRODUCE A BETTER FUR THEN
AND MORE MONEY FOR HIM.
MY CAREER IN TRAPPING
ACTUALLY STARTED, I FOUND A
DEAD MINK ON THE ROAD AND IT
WAS THE FIRST ONE I HAD SEEN
AND I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO
WITH IT, SO I PHONED A GAME
WARDEN AND HE TOLD ME TO GO
AND SEE THIS OTHER FELLOW
WHO WAS AN OLDER FELLOW WHO
WAS A TRAPPER AND HE'D SHOW
ME HOW TO SKIN IT.

A photograph shows Steve holding up a grey-and-white pelt of a mink.

He continues
AND I WENT TO HIS PLACE AND
JESUS, I WENT DOWN IN THIS
GUY'S BASEMENT AND IT WAS...
HE HAD A COUPLE HUNDRED
MUSKRATS HANGING IN THERE
AND A BUNCH OF MINK AND
RACCOONS AND THAT'S HOW I
GOT INTERESTED IN IT, AND OF
COURSE YOU CAN'T GET A
TRAPPER'S LICENCE UNTIL
YOU'RE 16, BUT STILL WE USED
TO GO AFTER SCHOOL AND
TRAP A FEW MUSKRATS AND WE'D
GET SOMEONE TO SELL THEM FOR
US, YOU KNOW, ONE OF THE
OTHER TRAPPERS AND...
WHICH KIDS STILL
DO NOWADAYS.
THERE'S NOTHING
WRONG WITH IT.
IT'S BETTER THAN THE KIDS
HANGING AROUND SOME,
YOU KNOW, SOMEWHERE ELSE.

A photograph shows Steve standing in the snow in thick coat standing in front of a wooden trap.

Steve continues
AND WE STARTED LIKE THAT AND,
YOU KNOW, MUSKRAT SKINS
THEN WERE WORTH THREE OR
FOUR DOLLARS APIECE WHICH
WAS, YOU KNOW, ABOUT...
MORE THAN THEY'RE WORTH
NOW ACTUALLY.
SO AS KIDS WE'D
CATCH MAYBE 100 MUSKRATS
IN THE SPRING.
WE'D HAVE A FEW HUNDRED
DOLLARS THAT THE OTHER KIDS
DIDN'T HAVE AND OF COURSE AS
WE GOT OLDER WE STARTED
TRAPPING MORE AND MORE
AND FINALLY WE WERE
MAKING A FAIRLY
GOOD DOLLAR AT IT.
WHEN I WENT TO COLLEGE I
PAID MY WAY THROUGH COLLEGE
MAINLY BY TRAPPING.

A photograph shows a slightly larger Steve wearing a yellow apron holding up the carcass of an animal. A caption reads "There were 3,205 registered trapping licences issued in 1989 to 1990. People applying for their first licence are required to complete a Fur Harvest, Fur Management and Conservation Course, generally given through community colleges."

Steve continues
IT TAKES ABOUT PROBABLY
THREE OR FOUR DAYS TO COVER
MY TRAPLINE AT AN ONE TIME
OF THE YEAR TO GET TO ALL MY
TRAPS, AND I MIGHT HAVE ABOUT
100 OR 150 TRAPS AT A TIME
EVEN... LIKE MARTEN TRAPS,
BEAVER TRAPS, OTTER, MINK,
EVERYTHING AND I HAVE THREE
CABINS, AND THEY'RE ABOUT
A DAY'S TRAVEL APART.
IN THE FALL I USE FOUR-WHEEL
DRIVE TRUCK AND SIX-WHEEL
DRIVE ATV MAINLY.
AND THE CABINS ARE SET UP
SO THERE'S ABOUT A DAY'S
TRAPPING FROM... I LEAVE
THIS CABIN IN THE MORNING.

A photograph shows Steve standing before a white cabin with camping equipment strewn out in front.

Steve continues
IT TAKES ME ABOUT A DAY TO
GET TO THE NEXT ONE CHECKING
TRAPS ALL THE WAY THERE.
I GET TO MY CABIN AT NIGHT
AND USUALLY JUST BEFORE DARK
AND PUT SUPPER ON AND GET
THE WOOD STOVE GOING AND
SKIN SOME OF THE ANIMALS
THAT I'VE CAUGHT DURING THE
DAY AND I BRING THEM ALL
HOME FOR DRYING, HAUL THE
SKINS HOME FOR
DRYING GREEN SKINS.
IT'S JUST ROLLED UP AND
WE DRY THEM AT HOME.
USUALLY GET UP FAIRLY EARLY
IN THE MORNING AND BIG
BREAKFAST AND GO AGAIN AND
YOU TRAVEL TO THE NEXT CABIN
AND CHECK YOUR TRAPS
ALL ALONG THE WAY.
IN THE FALL IT'S
PARTICULARLY REALLY BUSY.
YOU'RE TRAPPING FROM
DAYLIGHT UNTIL DARK AND
YOU'RE SKINNING UNTIL LATE
AT NIGHT, AND THAT'S ALL
RIGHT SOMETIMES WHEN
THE FUR PRICES ARE HIGH.
YOU'RE ALWAYS PRETTY HAPPY
BECAUSE YOU'RE MAKING A LOT
OF MONEY.
OR WHAT SEEMS LIKE
A LOT OF MONEY.
BUT EVEN WHEN THE FUR PRICES
ARE LOW, IT'S STILL...
YOU'RE STILL BUSY AND IT'S STILL
JUST AS MUCH FUN AND JUST
AS INTERESTING.
IT'S NOT REALLY
THE MONEY THING.
TRAPPING ISN'T SOMETHING
YOU GO INTO TO GET RICH.
I DON'T THINK THERE'S ANY...
I KNOW THERE'S NO
RICH TRAPPERS.
IT'S A LIFESTYLE.
IT'S A LIVELIHOOD.
IT'S SO NICE TO BE ABLE OUT
THERE DOING YOUR OWN THING,
BEING WITH NATURE
ALL THE TIME.
YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE A PART OF
NATURE WHEN YOU'RE OUT THERE.
IT'S CLEAN, FRESH AIR AND
IT'S HARD WORK, BUT YOU EAT
WELL AND YOU ALWAYS FEEL
GOOD WHEN YOU'RE OUT
ON THE LINE.

Images show an aerial view of the woods, a squirrel munching on a nut, a brook, and a snow-covered clearing.

Eva narrates
ALTHOUGH NONE OF HIS
FAMILY WERE TRAPPERS, STEVE
AND HIS WIFE PATTY MOVED
TO THUNDER BAY IN 1974
IN ORDER TO MAKE A
CAREER OF TRAPPING.

A photograph shows Steve kissing his wife on her cheek on their wedding day.

Eva continues
HE'S BEEN THE PRESIDENT
OF THE ONTARIO TRAPPERS'
ASSOCIATION AND ALSO ACTS AS
A SPOKESMAN FOR NORTHWESTERN
FUR TRAPPERS INCORPORATED.

A clip plays of Steve, his wife, and their two sons sitting outside on a bench. Steve is brushing out a pelt.

Back on the dock, Steve says WELL, THE TRAPPER, HE KNOWS
MORE ABOUT WHAT'S GOING ON IN
THAT SECTION OF FOREST AND
THESE ARE BIG TRAPLINES, TOO.
IN THIS DISTRICT HERE, YOU
KNOW, SOME OF THEM ARE 200,
250 SQUARE MILE AREAS.
BUT THE TRAPPER KNOWS MORE
ABOUT WHAT'S GOING ON IN
THAT AREA THAN ANYBODY ELSE
FOR SURE, BECAUSE HE'S
THERE ALL THE TIME.
HE KNOWS HOW MANY MOOSE ARE
THERE AND WHERE THEY ARE,
WHERE THEY'RE WINTERING AND
HOW MANY CALVES THEY HAD AND IF
THE WOLVES ARE, YOU KNOW,
TAKING TOO MANY OF THEM
OR WHATEVER.
TRAPPER KNOWS.
NOBODY ELSE KNOWS.
GOVERNMENT KNOWS THEY FLY A
SURVEY WITH A HELICOPTER OR
SOMETHING AND THEY FLY A
SPOT HERE AND THERE AND HERE
AND THERE, BUT THEY DON'T
REALLY KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON
ON THE GROUND.
YOU KNOW, THE
TRAPPER, HE KNOWS.
HE'S THE EXPERT ON THE
WILDLIFE IN THAT AREA.

A clip shows an aerial view of the woods that is devoid of trees and covered in snow.

Steve continues
USUALLY LOGGING IS... IN THE
SHORT TERM, IT'S BAD FOR
TRAPPING EXCEPT THAT WHEN
LOGGING ROADS GO IN IT
PROVIDES SOME ACCESS FOR
THE TRAPPER TO GET IN.
HE CAN DRIVE IN TO HIS LINE
RATHER THAN WALKING THROUGH
THE BUSH OR CANOEING.
BUT SHORT-TERM EFFECTS, THE
LOGGING METHODS THAT ARE
BEING USED NOW, THESE
MASSIVE CLEAR CUTS,
IT'S REALLY BAD
FOR TRAPPING.
IT'S REALLY BAD FOR
ALL THE WILDLIFE.
IT'S BAD FOR HUNTING, TOO.
IT JUST LEAVES THE ANIMAL
WITH NO... ANIMALS WITH NO
PLACE TO LIVE.
THEY'RE PUSHED OUT INTO
AREAS WHERE THERE'S ALREADY
ANIMALS AND THEY DON'T GET
ALONG WITH THE OTHER ONES
AND ONLY SO MANY OF THEM
ARE GOING TO SURVIVE.
BUT IN THE LONG TERM,
LOGGING IS GOOD BECAUSE IT
LETS THE NEW GROWTH COME UP
AND THERE'S LOTS OF FEED FOR
RABBITS AND MICE AT FIRST,
AND WHEN THEY COME IN, THEN
THE FOX COME IN AND THE
MARTEN, AND FISHER AND
EVERYTHING THAT FEEDS ON
THOSE SMALLER RODENTS.
SO 15 OR 20 YEARS AFTER
LOGGING IS DONE, YOU HAVE
REALLY GOOD TRAPPING.
YOU HAVE LOTS OF FUR, LOTS
OF ALL KINDS OF ANIMALS.

A clip plays of a fox wondering around a snow bank. He looks in the distance and runs off.

Steve continues
LOTS OF RABBITS, EVERYTHING.
ACTUALLY THE FUR INDUSTRY
IS STILL FAIRLY HEALTHY.
THESE EMOTIONALLY CHARGED
ADVERTISEMENTS HAVEN'T HURT
THE SALE OF FUR COATS ANY.
THERE WERE MORE FUR COATS
SOLD IN NORTH AMERICA LAST
YEAR THAN THERE HAVE BEEN
EVER SOLD ANY OTHER YEAR.
MIND YOU, THEY WERE SOLD AT
LOWER PRICES, BUT THEY WERE
STILL... PEOPLE ARE BUYING
FUR AND THE FUR INDUSTRY IS
PICKING UP PRETTY
WELL RIGHT NOW.
WE'VE HAD TWO AUCTIONS THIS
WINTER, AND THE PRICE HAS
STARTED TO CLIMB AGAIN.
IT'S CYCLIC.
WHEN THE FUR PRICES GET DOWN
TO ROCK BOTTOM, AS THEY WERE
LAST YEAR AND THIS YEAR, THE
ANIMAL RIGHTS PEOPLE THEY
IMMEDIATELY... YOU KNOW, WE
FINALLY FINISHED OFF THE
FUR TRADE, BUT IT
HASN'T HAPPENED.
IT'S A CYCLIC THING, AND
I'VE BEEN THROUGH THE CYCLE
SEVERAL TIMES BEFORE.
YOU KNOW, EVERY FIVE OR
SIX YEARS IT PEAKS AND THE
PRICES GET REALLY GOOD, AND
FUR RANCHERS START TO MAYBE
OVER PRODUCE A LITTLE BIT
AND THE PEOPLE THAT ARE OUT
IN THE BUSH TRAPPING, THEY
TRAP A LITTLE BIT HARDER.
PEOPLE WHO HAVEN'T TRAPPED
FOR YEARS, THEY GET BACK
INTO IT AND THEY KIND OF
FLOOD THE MARKET OUT, AND
WHEN THAT HAPPENS, THEN OF
COURSE IT TAKES A COUPLE OF
YEARS BEFORE THE FUR PRICES
DROP BACK DOWN AND THEN UP
AND DOWN, UP AND DOWN.
IT'S BEEN LIKE THAT FOR 300
AND SOME YEARS, YOU KNOW,
SINCE THE FUR TRADE
BEGAN IN CANADA.
AND IT'S ALWAYS GOING
TO BE LIKE THAT.

A clip plays of Steve and his family brushing out pelts on the bench.

Steve continues
THE FUTURE OF THE FUR
INDUSTRY AS IT IS NOW
DEPENDS ON THE INDUSTRY
GETTING TOGETHER AND GETTING
THAT MESSAGE OUT, EDUCATING
PEOPLE AND TELLING THEM THE
REAL STORY, TELLING THEM
ABOUT THE NEED FOR TRAPPING
AND THE NEED TO PRESERVE THE
LIFESTYLE OF THE TRAPPER
AND PRESERVE THE LIFESTYLE
OF ALL TRAPPERS.
YOU KNOW, THE PEOPLE
IN THE FAR NORTH.
NATIVE PEOPLE.
THAT'S A CULTURE THAT'S GOT
TO BE PRESERVED, AND THAT'S
THE ONLY WAY IT'S
GOING TO BE PRESERVED.
IF PEOPLE DON'T BUY FUR
COATS ANY MORE, IF EUROPE
BANS IMPORTING FURS THAT
WERE TRAPPED WITH LEG HOLD
TRAPS AND STUFF LIKE THIS,
IT HURTS THOSE PEOPLE UP
THERE THAT HAVE
TO TRAP TO LIVE.

A photograph shows a cabin situated in the woods. An undisturbed clearing of snow lays before it.

Steve continues
IT'S THE ONLY JOB
THERE IS FOR THEM.
THAT'S THE ONLY INCOME AND
MAYBE A LOT OF TIMES IT'S
NOT A BIG INCOME, BUT IT
PROVIDES THEM WITH ENOUGH
MONEY TO BUY EQUIPMENT THEY
NEED TO GO AND HUNT FOR MEAT
OR TO GO FISHING.
YOU KNOW, BECAUSE IF... FOR
SOMEONE WHO HASN'T SEEN HOW
EXPENSIVE FOOD IS IN ONE OF
THESE NORTHERN COMMUNITIES,
IF YOU HAVE TO BUY YOUR
FOOD... I MEAN A CAN OF
BEANS CAN COST FIVE
DOLLARS, YOU KNOW.
AND A POUND OF BACON MAYBE
SEVEN OR EIGHT DOLLARS.
YOU KNOW, BUTTER, YOU
KNOW, FIVE OR SIX DOLLARS.
EVERYTHING'S DOUBLED.
GASOLINE, EVERYTHING, IS
DOUBLED IN THESE NORTHERN
COMMUNITIES COMPARED TO WHAT
IT IS IN THE CITY OR EVEN
IN A TOWN IN
NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO.
YOU GOT TO HAVE MONEY TO BUY
THE BARE NECESSITIES THERE
AND THE ONLY WAY TO GET IT
IF YOU'RE IN ONE OF THESE
NORTHERN COMMUNITIES
IS BY TRAPPING.
THERE'S NOTHING ELSE.
I DON'T KNOW WHAT THESE
PEOPLE IN... THESE PEOPLE ARE
AGAINST TRAPPING, WHAT DO
THEY EXPECT THESE PEOPLE TO DO?
WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO?
BRING ALL THESE
PEOPLE INTO THE CITY?
YOU KNOW, BRING THEM OUT OF
THE BUSH WHERE THEY WANT TO BE?
BRING THEM INTO THE CITY
WHERE THERE'S NO JOB EITHER?
YOU KNOW, WHAT DO THEY
WANT PEOPLE TO DO?
WHAT DO THEY EXPECT?
THEY'VE BEEN LIVING OFF
THOSE ANIMALS FOR THOUSANDS
AND THOUSANDS OF YEARS, AND
THEY'LL CONTINUE TO IF
THEY'RE LEFT ALONE.
THAT TYPE OF LIFESTYLE
SHOULD BE PROMOTED,
NOT TORN DOWN.

A photograph of a fox appears on the screen. A caption reads "There were 3,507 licences granted to registered treaty Indians in 1989 to 1990."

Steve continues
THERE'S ALWAYS SOMETHING
TO DO IN THE BUSH.
YOU CAN GO... FOR SOMEONE WHO
LIKES THE BUSH, YOU CAN
GO TRAPPING.
YOU CAN GO GUIDING.
YOU COULD BE A
TOURIST OUTFITTER.
YOU COULD GO AND BE... YOU
COULD BE A PROSPECTOR.
YOU COULD GO AND CUT CLAIM
LINES FOR A MINING COMPANY.
THERE'S ALL SORTS OF THINGS,
BUT YOU HAVE TO... YOU HAVE
TO LIKE WORKING IN THE BUSH,
FOR ONE THING, AND YOU
HAVE TO BE, YOU KNOW, GET TO
BE FAIRLY GOOD IN THE BUSH
TO BE ABLE TO MAKE A LIVING
DOING THOSE THINGS.
BUT THERE'S ALWAYS
SOMETHING TO DO.
I KNOW IN SOUTHERN ONTARIO,
A LOT OF TIMES THERE'S NOT
ENOUGH... THERE'S NOT
A LOT TO DO, YOU KNOW.
THERE'S ONLY SO MANY JOBS
TO GO AROUND I GUESS.
BUT UP HERE THERE'S... I
CAN'T IMAGINE SOMEBODY
SAYING THAT THEY CAN'T GET
SOME KIND OF A JOB BECAUSE
THERE'S ALWAYS SOMETHING.
MINING COMPANIES ARE ALWAYS
HIRING PEOPLE TO GO AND CUT
CLAIM LINES AND PROSPECTING,
YOU KNOW, AND DIAMOND DRILLING.
THERE'S ALL KINDS OF STUFF
GOING ON UP HERE IF A PERSON
DOESN'T MIND LIVING OUT
AWAY FROM CIVILIZATION
AND CAN PUT UP WITH
THE WEATHER AND SO ON.

An aerial clip of the woods plays.

Steve continues
THERE'S ALWAYS A JOB.
IT'S NOT BAD STAYING IN A
TENT IN THE WINTERTIME.
IT'S PRETTY COMFORTABLE
ONCE YOU GET USED TO IT.
IT'S HARDER COMING FROM
STAYING IN A TENT IN THE
WINTERTIME, IT'S HARD
TO GO AND LIVE INSIDE.
YOU FEEL SUFFOCATED IF YOU
HAVE TO SLEEP IN A REGULAR
BED, YOU KNOW,
INSIDE OF A HOUSE.
YOU GET USED TO A TENT.
YOU HAVE A WOOD STOVE IN
THERE AND WHEN YOU GO TO BED
AT NIGHT YOU FILL UP THE
STOVE AND TURN IT OFF AND
YOU HAVE A GOOD
WARM SLEEPING BAG.
STAY WARM UNTIL MORNING.
BUT THE HARDEST PART IS
GETTING OUT OF THE SLEEPING
BAG IN THE MORNING AND
GETTING THE STOVE GOING AGAIN.
BUT IT'S A HEALTHY
LIFE, YOU KNOW.
I'VE SLEPT OUT IN THE BUSH
MANY NIGHTS JUST UNDER...
SLEEP RIGHT OUT IN, YOU
KNOW, 30, 40 BELOW WEATHER.
JUST DIG A... YOU DIG A ROUND
HOLE IN THE SNOW WITH YOUR
SNOWSHOES AND PUT A LAYER OF
SPRUCE BOUGHS DOWN AND BUILD
A FIRE IN THE MIDDLE.
PUT A FEW... WHICHEVER WAY
THE WIND IS COMING FROM YOU
PUT A LINE OF SPRUCE BOUGHS
THERE AND YOU CAN SLEEP
PRETTY COMFORTABLY THERE
WITHOUT EVEN A SLEEPING BAG.
WHEN YOU GET
COLD, YOU WAKE UP.
YOU'RE NOT GOING TO FREEZE
TO DEATH LIKE THAT.
YOU START TO SHIVER FIRST
AND YOU WAKE UP, PUT SOME
WOOD ON THE FIRE.
YOU'VE GOT TO CUT A GOOD
SUPPLY OF FIREWOOD BEFORE,
YOU KNOW, WHEN
YOU MAKE YOUR CAMP.
YOU HAVE TO STOP AN HOUR OR
SO BEFORE DARK AND MAKE SURE
YOU GOT ENOUGH
WOOD FOR THE NIGHT.
BUT YOU GET UP IN THE
MORNING AND EAT SOME BACON
AND SOME BANNOCK AND SOME
TEA AND AWAY YOU GO.

Clips of the woods and animals foraging for food flash on the screen.

Back in the alcove, Eva says STEVE GRESHAM'S
LIVELIHOOD AND THAT OF MANY
OTHER TRAPPERS IN NORTHERN
ONTARIO COULD BE LEGISLATED
AND BLACKBALLED OUT OF
EXISTENCE IF ANIMAL RIGHTS
ACTIVISTS IN SOUTHERN
ONTARIO HAVE THEIR WAY.
BUT THE ISSUES AROUND THIS
TRADITIONAL PRACTICE ARE
MUCH MORE COMPLEX THAN
JUST LEG HOLD TRAPS.
STEVE AND THE WAY OF LIFE HE
EMBODIES HARK BACK TO THE
DISTANT VOICES OF A
TRADITION OLDER THAN TIME.

The scene changes to Steve on the dock.

He says ONE TIME THIS OLDER FELLOW
AND ME WERE TRAPPING UP...
THIS IS NOT TOO FAR
FROM THUNDER BAY HERE.
WE WERE ON THE WEST
SIDE OF DOG LAKE.
WE WERE TRAPPING TOGETHER, A
REMOTE PART OF HIS TRAPLINE.
AND WE'D LEAVE OUR... LEAVE
OUR CABIN EARLY IN THE
MORNING AND WE'D EACH TAKE A
DIFFERENT CIRCLE AND AT THE
END OF THE DAY WE'D MEET
BACK AT THE END OF OUR
CIRCLES AND WE HAD A BOAT
THERE AND WE'D GO BACK DOWN
TO THE CABIN, WHICH
WAS TWO OR THREE MILES.
SO WE HAD BOTH LEFT THIS
MORNING AND... THIS ONE
MORNING, AND HE
WENT HIS WAY.
I WENT MINE.
AND I WALKED MAYBE A MILE OR
TWO AND I HAD SOME BEAVER
MEAT STORED UP IN A TREE AND
I WOULD LEAVE IT STORED HERE
AND THERE ALONG THAT LINE SO
YOU DON'T HAVE TO CARRY IT
AROUND WITH YOU ALL DAY.
YOU JUST TAKE WHAT YOU
NEED WHEN YOU GO BY.
AND THE BEAVER MEAT WAS FOR
BAIT FOR MARTEN TRAPPING.
BUT ANYWAY, I CAME TO THE
SPOT AND I LOOKED UP IN THE
TREE AND THE BEAVER MEAT WAS
GONE AND IT HAD BEEN...
IT WAS ON A BIG POLE AND
WIRED UP THERE SO I COULDN'T
FIGURE WHAT WOULD
TAKE THAT MEAT.
IT WAS LATE IN THE FALL.
IT WAS AROUND THE FIRST PART
OF DECEMBER AND THE BEARS,
THEY'D BEEN HIBERNATING
FOR A COUPLE OF MONTHS.
THERE WAS NO SNOW THAT FALL.
IT WAS JUST KIND OF A HARD
CRUST ON THE GROUND OF ICE.
WE HAD A LATE FALL RAIN.
SO THERE WERE NO
TRACKS EITHER.
SO ANYWAY I COULDN'T FIGURE
OUT WHAT HAD TAKEN THAT MEAT.
I STARTED WALKING
FURTHER ALONG THE TRAIL.
I THOUGHT, OH, I'LL GET SOME
FROM MY NEXT CACHE THERE.
AND I WALKED A LITTLE WAY,
AND THERE WAS A REALLY BIG
BEAR LAYING OFF TO THE SIDE
OF THE TRAIL, AND HE WAS
LAYING DOWN FLAT
JUST LIKE A RUG.
AND HE HAD ONE OF THESE
BEAVER CARCASSES BETWEEN
HIS PAWS THERE.
SO I HAD NO RIFLE WITH ME,
BUT I HAD A TAKEDOWN 22
IN MY PACKSACK.
SO I VERY SLOWLY, KEEPING MY
EYES ON THE BEAR, I TOOK THE
PACKSACK OFF AND I TOOK THE
22 OUT OF THE PACKSACK AND
TAKES TWO OR THREE MINUTES
TO SCREW THIS GUN TOGETHER,
YOU KNOW.
AND IT'S ONLY A 22 ANYWAY.
AND THE BEAR AND I WERE
EYEING EACH OTHER.
MAYBE WE WERE 50 FEET
APART MAYBE AT THAT TIME.
I JUST GOT THE 22 TOGETHER
AND HE JUMPED UP, AND HE RAN
AWAY THROUGH THE THICK BRUSH.
SO I THOUGHT GEE, THAT'S
FUNNY THAT THAT BEAR WOULD
STAY THERE THAT LONG
WHEN HE KNEW I WAS HERE.
USUALLY THEY SEE YOU,
BUT YOU DON'T SEE THEM.
THEY'RE GONE BEFORE YOU
EVER GET CLOSE TO THEM.
AND IT'S FUNNY FOR A
BEAR TO BE OUT THAT LATE
IN THE FALL, TOO.
AND ANYWAY I THOUGHT I'D...
THIS OTHER GUY I WAS
TRAPPING WITH, HE WAS TO
MEET ME IN THAT SAME AREA
AT THE END OF THE DAY.
SO I THOUGHT GEE, I BETTER
LEAVE A WARNING FOR HIM IN
CASE IT'S LAYING THERE AND
HE WALKS BY AND IT JUMPS HIM.
SO I PUT A BIG BLAZE ON A
POPLAR TREE THAT I KNEW HE
WOULD... THE OTHER TRAPPER
WAS GOING TO WALK BY AND I
WAS... CARVED OUT
WITH MY KNIFE, BEAR.
AND I PUT AN ARROW POINTING
INTO THIS THICK BRUSH WHERE
THIS BEAR HAD BEEN LYING.
AND I HAD JUST FINISHED
TAKING THAT ARROW THERE AND
I HAD A FUNNY FEELING.
I LOOKED BEHIND ME AND THERE
WAS THIS BIG BEAR CROUCHED
BEHIND ME, MAYBE FIVE OR
SIX FEET BEHIND ME THERE.
AND I TURNED AND OF COURSE
MY 22 WAS LEANING UP AGAINST
THE TREE AND IT WOULDN'T
BE MUCH GOOD TO ME ANYWAY.
SO I JUST TURNED, AND AS
SOON AS I SAW IT I JUMPED
AT IT AND YELLED.
THAT'S THE BEST THING TO DO
IF A BEAR, YOU KNOW, IF YOU
CONFRONT ONE.
AND I JUMPED AT IT AND
YELLED AND IT BACKED UP TWO
OR THREE STEPS AND... AND I
DON'T KNOW IF YOU EVER HEARD
THEM POP THEIR TEETH
THERE, THEIR FANGS.
THEY GOT THEIR FRONT ONES
BEHIND THEIR BACK ONES THERE
AND THEY MAKE A LOUD POPPING
NOISE TO WARN YOU THAT
THEY'RE GOING
TO DO SOMETHING.
BUT HE DID THAT A COUPLE OF
TIMES AND THEN HE TURNED AND
HE WALKED SIDEWAYS AWAY FROM
ME AND I PICKED UP MY 22 AND
I KEPT IT ON HIM BUT I
DIDN'T SHOOT BECAUSE I
FIGURE AS LONG AS HE KEEPS
GOING THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION
I'LL LET HIM GO.

(music plays)
The end credits roll.

Produced by Jim Hanley, Jim Hyder.

Directed by Dan Robinson.

Photographed by Mark Mackay.

Associate producers, Elinor Barr, Patricia Michael.

Written by Patricia Michael.

Editor, Patrick Malone.

Assistant editor, Keith Singer.

Technical director, Rob Sim.

Camera equipment, Sim Video.

Aerial and additional photography, Derek Underschultz, Mel Stewart.

Location manager, Ron Macey.

Production Assistants, Crystal Evars, Rhonda Kara Hanah.

Title theme composed and performed by Rodney Brown.

Closing theme and additional music, Mark Seagully.

Regional Travel Provided by NorOntair. Ontario Northland.

Executive for TVO Ontario, Majorie Robinson.

A co-production of TVO Ontario and Sleeping Giant Productions.

Copyright 1991, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Steve Gresham