This is not my story, but rather my Popa’s. A couple of years ago, he and I were talking about going hiking in Algonquin Provincial Park, somewhere that he had been many times and had grown up near. Unfortunately, his health was failing and our trip was cancelled. He told me that it was likely for the best, since he wouldn’t be able to protect me from the windego if we saw it.
My Popa is half First Nations, with his mother being Cree and Herron and his father Scottish. Because his mother was removed from her home as a child and placed into the Schools, she lost her status as First Nations and wasn’t allowed to live on the Rez, but she lived just outside of it near Algonquin Povoncial Park. Popa has many friends who lived on the Rez and would often go with them into the park to hike and hunt when he was a young man. They saw many strange things in the deepest parts of the forest; however, this is the story he shared with me that day.
Popa was hiking with a friend, let’s call him Ben, when they were in there late 20s. They had already been out in the park for several days, camping at nightfall and continuing in the morning, and were rather deep in the woods. It was late October, and getting colder as the days went on, but they were prepared for that and often camped in the dead of winter. One night, as the temperature dropped below freezing, they decided it was time to set up camp and start a fire. They were starting to gather wood when Popa heard something. It was the crying of a baby or small child. Popa had grown up during the Great Depression and had heard stories of people abandoning unwanted babies and children in the forest. He started to follow the crying when Ben grabbed his arm.