Northern Ont. canoe trek turns into rescue mission
Students from Blind River high school encounter lost couple during outdoor education trip
A group of students taking part in an outdoor education class received a lesson of a lifetime when they encountered an Elliot Lake couple who had been lost for two days on the Mississagi River in the Algoma District of northern Ontario.
Last weekend, Sharon Lachance and Valmont Fournier went fishing on the river when they became disoriented by a maze of marshes.
"We couldn't find the way to get up river," Lachance said. "It seemed like the whole river had closed off."
After a night outside, Lachance said the couple found shelter in an abandoned hunting cabin — and some food.
"There was pancake mix that had been open and we had to try and make this pancake mix last for perhaps two weeks," she said.
"So we had a pancake and it had bugs in it but we didn't mind eating that because we had to have something."
The couple was eventually discovered on Monday by Ryan Forsyth and his outdoor education class.
The students at WC Eaket Secondary School in Blind River were canoeing the Mississagi River as part of an end-of-the-year exam.
'God ... answered my prayers'
Forsyth said one of his students saw a sign that said "please help."
Shortly after, Lachance and her dog came running down to greet them.
Forsyth said he couldn't have planned a better lesson.
"They were a healthy addition to our group, but at the same time, the kids got to see the consequence of what happens when you don't go into the bush prepared," Forsyth said.
Not surprisingly, the couple was grateful to be discovered.
"I was like, 'God has answered my prayers’," Lachance said. "I'm not religious at all, but I prayed."
Forsyth said the impromptu rescue was the best lesson he could ask for.
"All the students stepped up," he said. "I didn't have to give any orders at that point. The kids had been on a trip for about six days before we ran into Sharon and Valmont and they knew how to work in the bush."