Saturday, June 2, 2012

Why I never became a Trapper up north

In a recent posting I told about that I had a very early interest in Canada. In fact I was only 15 years when I felt ‘ready’ to leave my home town for the big open west of North America. And I even had an idea of what I would be doing out there. I had read enough to know that the north of Canada and Alaska was the playground for trappers. So trapping was what I had set my mind to.

Of course it was a big pipe dream, but how should I have known. Some boys want to be pilots or locomotive operators. My parents did not live on a farm or even in rural settings. They lived in a German small town. I guess it was my generally independent mindset which led me to the thought of a free and likewise independent life close to nature.

But before I could start my new life out west I had to be an apprentice in our family business. Dad had a thought or two about getting me to step into his foot prints and one day take over the little upholstery business. Of course, I knew that that day would never come. For a long time I felt sorry for Dad that I had to disappoint him. Cause, my future life would be lived far, far away in the northern woods, that I was still convinced about even at the age of 18!!

I  stayed apprentice for 3 years.  Over that time period I grew up and realized that trapping might not be the way to live for me.  So I went for further schooling. A 2-year technical college followed. After graduation as an interior technician it was time to look for a job. And there it was again: CANADA. But this was pre-internet time and job info wasn’t easy to come by. I wrote a very optimistic letter to the Canadian Embassy in Bonn and got a very down-to-earth and discouraging letter back. Those embassy officials must have laughed at my letter over the entire weekend.

So what to do for an optimistic chap like me? I did what I always have done when I met the wall. I turned around and directed my eyesight to a new goal. And my eyes rested on Norway. Yes, I know they have trappers way up north, but in a different way than Canada. But the country was very attractive to me, as it resembled Canada in many other ways. NATURE! I was a nature freak.

In order to get me a supply of job info I subscribed to at least 4 Norwegian newspapers. For the next 6 months my mailbox was not big enough for the increased amount of daily mail. My landlord wondered whether I had started some sort of business in his basement. I showed him all those newspapers I had stacked up in my place and he buggered off.

With every new copy of newspaper I fabricated at least one new job application. Weeks went by and I had almost given up. In fact I had even posted a job application to a German company in the Black Forest area, though I hated the thought of being away from the coast.

It all happened on a Monday. I was in class when the door opened and the school’s secretary was calling out my name and that there was a phone call from Norway. I must have looked pretty d….. stupid, but followed her over to her office where she had the receiver at the ready for me to listen to a whole lot of Norwegian language. Needless to say that I had a bit of a hard time to understand and reply in Norwegian. Finally the guy on the other end switched to English. That was my luck. When i returned to my class I had a job! And I was the first one in my class to have a job to look forward to.

When I emptied my mailbox that day I had another job-offer from that German company in the Black Forest. It went into the waste basket.

I still remember how I told my parents about it. My father must have realized that he had lost the battle of getting me into the family business. Mother was heart-broken. Norway seemed to be too far away. She was already counting the days she would be able to see me for the rest of her time. But mothers do that, when their kids leave home. Over the next 25 years my parents travelled to Norway 50 times and they loved the country from their first visit. Every time they left me in Norway I had to cry and mother did too.

When i left Germany in late July 1977 I kind of knew it would be for ever and there would be no return other than for visits. It wasn’t Canada I was going to, and I wasn’t going to be a trapper, but Norway was about to become my great adventure.

I love animals way too much to go trap and shoot them anyway.


  1. A mighty nice story Peter & I am with you all the way in loving animals too much to harm them.

  2. I have to tell you Peter that my first thought, and a big laugh, when I read you wanted to be a trapper in northern Canada was that most of those guys are probably French Canadian and speak French only!! I thought that was kind of funny after our discussions today. I really appreciate your honesty and willingness to say exactly what you think and especially so when disagreeing with my view. I need that - a lot sometimes!

    It was a great read though and one day I'll have to write about how I ended up in Canada as a 9 month old baby after being born in Scotland.

  3. A great story of finally following your dreams and making it to Canada. And using you camera to shoot all these photos of scenery and wildlife.

  4. What a story....It reminded me my dreams about RVing,it all started when I was a kid having a book about Minie and Micky traveling the USA with their small trailer....and here we are doing it already for 10 years...go and figure..

  5. What a great story Peter. It just shows you what you are capable of doing once you set your mind to it.

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