by Mark Walters
This One’s for Pete
If we are fortunate, each of us has one non-family member that becomes a huge part of who they become. My mentor and very good friend has been Peter Hagedorn, owner and founder of Chimo Lodge and Outposts, who no matter where you are from has an incredible story of survival and success.
This past week, my personal life sucked up all of my fieldwork time and it included spending three days with Pete Hagedorn, so I am going to write a vague history of Pete’s life and our history together.
Peter Kenneth Hagedorn was born in Berlin, Germany in 1938 at what he always describes as the time when Adolph Hitler had the entire country in his hands due to his incredible speaking ability and the fact that he killed anyone that opposed him.
In 1945 Peter watched the final destruction of Berlin by allied forces and the end of WWII arrived.
At this time period in Germany, children only went to school until they were 15 and then they became apprentices, Peter Hagedorn became an apprentice printer in 1953.
In 1958 Peter and two of his friends immigrated to Canada where Pete became a gold miner (underground) where he ran a 110-jack hammer that he worked horizontally.
In my 55 years on this earth I have never known a man that is as physically strong or mentally tough as Pete Hagedorn and I believe the war and the jackhammer attributed to both.
Somewhere in the next few years Peter met the woman, who is still is the love of his life, and Pete and Elizabeth Hagedorn have always resided in Red Lake Ontario, Canada where they raised their 3 children.
In 1974, Pete Hagedorn had a new idea and that was to get out of the mine and run a fly-in fishing camp. Folks what I just wrote is an almost impossible task.
First Pete had to apply for a lake, which in this case was Roderick Lake, which is 45 air miles northwest of Red Lake. In 1975 Pete and Elizabeth were given a permit for Roderick Lake, which is a massive body of water, rivers and portage lakes.
That winter, Pete built his first cabin and lived in a tent. That summer the Hagedorn’s had their first guests and Pete still lived in a tent
The following year Pete built another cabin for guests and one for himself and in 1977 Pete and Elizabeth were given a permit to build an outpost on Keeper Lake, which for Pete was a 3-mile boat or snow machine ride, then a portage, then another 4-miles on the water or ice to where Pete built his first outpost.
Long story short, Pete has eleven outpost lakes and five cabins today at Chimo Lodge and he will be 79 this April.
In 1978 Peter became a bush pilot and I have been in NPO “November Papa Oscar” for thousands of takeoffs and landings.
In 1981, my father, the late Robert Walters, hand wrote a letter to Pete and Elizabeth about taking a vacation to Shultz Lake, to one of the Hagedorn’s outposts. In May of ‘82, dad, my brother Mike, myself and a family friend, Elmer Schlief made our first trip to Shultz Lake and it was an incredible experience, thus “The Canada Gang” was created.
In 1988 the Hagedorn’s offered me a job as their camp manager at Chimo Lodge. I flew into camp in May and did not see the real world until November 1st.
The following year, I started writing a column for The Poynette Press about life in the Canadian bush and it was a success.
I spent at least 7 weeks a year in the bush until 2001, when Selina was born and no matter where I was, Pete always flew in and then out with my hand written column.
In the early ‘90’s, the Hagedorns, along with their daughters, Josie and Berget started “Chimo Air” which is bush plane air service that has become a very successful business.
I am proud to say that Pete Hagedorn and I spent many a nights in cabins talking about what it would take to make “Chimo Air” work.
I remember when Pete and I checked out Culverson Lake, which was his last endeavor on a new outpost. We flew in on NPO, landed in the middle of the lake and vertical jigged off the floats of the plane and smacked 18-23 inch walleye nonstop.
Folks I could write two books on this subject but I have used more space then I should.
The Hagedorns have been my lucky star or possibly you could say my goldmine when it comes to parents that are not genetic parents and I am forever thankful! Sunset.
THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Cedar Country Cooperative