20 Jan

DJD Northern Ontario Tour – Geraldton

Wednesday, January, 20, 2016

When the only bridge that connects both sides of the country cracks, you set up shop in the city town community of Geraldton…

It is day 6 of DJD’s Northern Ontario tour of the Great Jazz History Mystery. A cast of 6 and our fearless Technical Director Cam have packed up our lives and flown across the country on a trip that would take us on the road for 19 days. Although I am from Toronto, my Ontario experience never veered further north than Ottawa. Toronto-centrism (the Torontonian habit of making all things revolve around all things Toronto) mandates a close proximity to the 6ix.

In my big city eyes, this would be the ultimate winter adventure. As such, my wish-list for the trip was as follows: stay on schedule, mild temperatures, Caribou sighting, and lots of open roads.

Of the aforementioned, I’ve been successful with one: endless open roads.



These roads are reminiscent of Georgia (with piles and piles of snow of course). Hours of roads lined with Christmas-tree shaped forests on both sides, is the backdrop of this adventure. 



 As for my wish for mild temperatures, I
soon realized that would be unrealistic. January anywhere in Canada is
subject to similar fates of arctic love, but Ontario’s cold is another
story. Humidity and gusts of winds creates a live-in snow globe. Indeed,
it is the full winter package.  

And then of course, there’s the bridge. This is the Nipigon River Bridge

This bridge, as part of the Trans-Canada Highway, is a crucial part of the transportation arteries of this country.  It is the only place in Canada with a singular point for road travel. Meaning this bridge is a single point of failure in Canada’s national highway system.

After a performance and workshop with the great folks of Geraldton, we had planned on making the 7-hour drive to Sioux Lookout (essentially moving west towards the ON/MB Border). We were eating lunch at Geraldton’s diner (ironically, if not wittingly, named “restaurant”; a type of joint where everyone knows each other by name) when our waitress frantically told us the bridge we were heading to was closed for what will be a couple of days, and that it is the only way to get to the other side of Ontario. The city boy in me had a moment of mild panic. Geraldton, a town of two thousand or so was smaller than my high school. In fact, I have more Facebook followers than people who live here.  Suddenly everyone who was a local became invested in the news of the week: the now influx of truck drivers and travelers like us who were stuck. The flurry of excitement from the locals juxtaposed the disbelief from our crew at this dose of plot twist.

And then twitter confirmed it:



 Less than 40 days after opening, in a scene only fitting for a Marvel film, this brand new bridge lifted by two feet. Yes, you read that right: the full bridge literally unhinged itself by two feet, thereby closing our only route to the rest of the cities of the tour. 


We will just take an alternative road, I think. But the realization soon sets in, as confirmed by Google, that there are no alternative roads (except of the option of backtracking by half a day, then driving for a full day through the US).

We soon realize this is not only affecting us, but entire industries who rely on these highways to effectively conduct business. We soon learn of the 1,300 trucks who cross this stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway each day, carrying $100 million worth of goods including food and technology. The damage to this bridge has literally halted ground transportation of goods from both ends of the country.

We soon realize that we, transporters of art, were also impacted by this damage. As artists on tour, transporting our bodies and equipment, we were among the $100 million worth of goods that needed to cross the Nipigon River Bridge that day. It’s not often that an act of nature will have a direct impact on, let’s say logging transporters and jazz dancers.  

While we wait, we take in the sights:


Have some pie:


Make jazzy shapes?



 Introduce some sweet kiddos to jazz:


It has also become clear: The Community of Geraldton will be our home for the next couple of days.

It is time for some company bonding time.

Rodney Diverlus

PS: I am still waiting to see a Caribou


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