Stepping back in time


Back in 1936, a young man from New Jersey, a trapper, set up camp on the upper northwest fork of the Loxahatchee River in south east Florida.

A loner for the most part, he lived off the land in a little cabin in the pines next to the river. Known as Trapper Nelson, he managed to construct a much-visited wildlife centre. With the money he earned from it, he was able to acquire large land holdings along the river.

Following his death in 1968, the State of Florida acquired his land and turned it into the Jonathon Dickinson State Park.

Because Trapper acquired all that land, the Loxahatchee River remains virtually unchanged in a world that is rapidly being changed by a man. Although uneducated, he accomplished much more than the average state politician.

The river winds from a completely freshwater environment through a blend of temperate and tropical vegetation to the saltwater mangrove environment.

Last week, Dana, son Caleb, his wife Mary Ann and I, travelled up the Loxahatchee in a pontoon boat tour. The boat stopped at Trapper’s compound before returning.

It was like stepping back in time. Along the river were pines, Cypress trees filled with hanging moss and mangroves. Some of the taller dead trees had Osprey nests in them and the birds of prey were plentiful. In the water, alligators lazed in the sun and manatees cruised below the surface.

Beautiful and peaceful by day, the river is not a place I’d want to spend a night on.

The park is quite a contrast to much of Florida.

The Loxahatchee River empties into the ocean at Jupiter on the east coast. To the north, Jupiter Island, for example, is an enclave of the rich – Tiger Woods for one. As we drove the length of the island, we saw many estates, but no normal sized homes.

Wherever you go along the Atlantic coast in south Florida, you see large scale development. Grey power in action, I suppose.


We have been in Florida since Jan. 1; it’s our first holiday of more than a week or so in length since we married. Feels strange.

Naturally, I pick up the local paper each day, the Stuart News. Neither it nor the local television stations mention anything about Canada. With no Internet, we’re living in a vacuum, except when Caleb’s Independent arrives.

I haven’t seen Prime Minister Stephen Harper on television for weeks. Is he still hopping on his jet and waving his goodbyes as he jets off to faraway places? Has he visited the chief on her hunger strike yet? I’m afraid I don’t know.

So why do our newspapers and television stations spend so much time telling us what is happening in the U.S.?

I’ve been enjoying the weather – about 10 degrees Fahrenheit above the norm in Stuart. Unfortunately, the holiday soon ends.


You can learn much about a community by the letters to the editor in the newspapers. Basically, the Republicans and Democrats write in and trash the other party’s ideas, morals, etc. I get the impression they don’t like or trust each other.

The other major topic is gun control. Same thing happens - the anti-gun and pro-gun control sides don’t agree. Meanwhile, people are lining up at gun shops.

There appears to be a great divide and little common ground between the right and left.

Hope our country doesn’t get that way.