The camp cook

Our cook Paul's north shore pudding

Food is a staple of life in a bush camp. Without good food, no one is happy.

I can’t ever remember having a bad meal [1] in a bush camp. Whether I was at a small operation in the arctic or the bush or in a camp with thousands of employees, the camp cooks were always the key to having happy and content workers.

During the summer of 1972 I was at Nachikapau Lake in northern QuĂ©bec, on a Geological Surveys of Canada contract. On that job we had the best cook I’ve ever encountered at an isolated bush camp anywhere. His name was Paul Behan, and he was from Winnipeg.

Paul Behan and Gerry Duykers in northern Quebec, 1972. Paul's abilities in the cookhouse and his great sense of humour made camp life all the more bearable.

Paul was never in a bad mood. His sense of humour and constant teasing kept all of us in a great frame of mind. His “north shore pudding” – as he called his version of Yorkshire pudding – was the best I’ve ever seen and tasted, without doubt.

Several years later, in July of 1976, I was in Winnipeg to meet up with the party chief for the Urangesellschaft project that was to begin in the Northwest Territories at Sissons Lake and Gravel Hill Lake. He was desperate to find a cook, since his had cancelled at the last minute. With the job about to start in a couple of days, I told him about Paul. In no time we had rounded him up and Paul was en route with us to start the contract.

[1] Well, there was that one cook at a tourist lodge on Pakashkan Lake in northwestern Ontario, but she started drinking before breakfast and stayed drunk for the rest of the day. Fortunately for all of us on that Ontario Department of Mines contract, we didn’t stay there for very long. Back to top

2 thoughts on “The camp cook

  1. Marcel Payant

    Hello Peter, I remember the steaks cooked to order along with the garlic bread, the excellent deserts. Paul sure knew how to prepare food even though we were miles from the nearest grocery store. I totaly agree this camp had the best food and cook that I have ever experienced. I also remember this was the same camp where I got my first taste of Scotch Wiskey and Drambuie, I think you guys called that the rusty nail. That was a very memorable summer and a good start to my career.

    Thanks for reminding me.

    Marcel

    Reply
    1. Twolane Post author

      Hi Marcel,

      Thanks for finding this place and for coming by to say hello and remember some good times. Paul was a great cook, wasn’t he? I don’t think I ever had a better cook in a bush camp either.

      Viking Helicopters got many of us off to a great start in the industry. To me it was an amazing company to work for in its early days, having been founded by some fantastic people who already had years of experience in the business. I enjoyed working with and learning from everyone in the company. To me it appeared that we were all working to make the outfit the best in the world, and I think we all succeeded in doing that, at least for a while.

      Over the years I did some searches to look for anything I could find on the old company, but I found nothing in the way of personal experiences and memories, consequently I started this site. I hope it will encourage more people such as yourself to come by and spend some time reminiscing about a great company and the people who made it what it was.

      Thanks again for coming by.

      Edited to add: I forgot about those rusty nails – although I think we could have called them just about anything by the time the three of us saw daylight in the swamp.

      Reply

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