Nestor Falls couple enjoys life of solitude

The highway sign is wrapped in a large tarp and the gate is kept closed, but Phil Hudson keeps the road through Caliper Lake Provincial Park plowed all winter.
Beyond the western boundary, but still within the grove of majestic red and white pines that define this beautiful park, are a dozen cottages.
Most of them are occupied for a few weekends or a couple of weeks during the summer, when the park (located on Highway 71 a few kilometres south of Nestor Falls) is filled with people and summer activities.
Only one of the cottages is a year-round residence. It is the home of Phil and Judy Hudson.
“When the park closes in early September, our property gets a whole lot bigger,” Judy Hudson said with a smile.
She grew up in Keewatin, on the Winnipeg River, and has always “had a thing for water.” So when the couple was thinking about a retirement home, being on the water was a requirement.
Through fortuitous circumstances, the opportunity to purchase the property presented itself to them in 1994. It was then an uninsulated cabin but when Phil Hudson retired from Ontario Hydro in 2000, they added on and upgraded the old part.
They moved in that same fall.
“We’ve been working at it ever since and last week we got the baseboards finished,” he grinned.
Resourcefulness and creativity are evident everywhere. Judy Hudson has gathered flat stones from far and wide, which she has used to build walkways, steps, and borders on their moderately-sloping southern exposure.
The cottage is panelled throughout with pine boards from salvaged logs that the Hudsons had custom milled, then planed themselves.
“We really like it here,” she remarked. “A lot of people ask why we would want to live ‘way out there,’ but we can get what we need in Nestor Falls.
“People worry because there is nobody else in here,” she added. “Some winters Phil was away working [hauling helicopters and fire trucks across North America] quite a lot and people would say that I shouldn’t be in here all by myself all the time.
“But I’ve got my dog, and I’m a lot more leery of weird people than I am of wild animals, so it doesn’t bother me being here alone,” she added.
“It’s nice having him home this year, though . . . and last year, too.”
“There will be no more of that. There will be no more going away. This is the end of it,” her husband stressed. “I’m home all the time now except for two days going to work for Tompkins and that’s not a big deal.
“It’s something to do and I enjoy it,” added Hudson, who drives Tompkins’ supply truck.
Just being there provides a service to nearby cottage owners. “Some of our neighbours have told us that they feel that their places are safer now that someone is living here year-round,” said Judy Hudson.
The Hudsons love all four seasons in the park—and winter no less than the others. They enjoy the solitude and the silence, as well as and walking or skiing under the giant pines.
From their living room, they note the weather by watching the way the drifting snow moves across the lake.
“We are sheltered here but when you look out on the lake, you can see what the weather is like,” she noted. “We see lots of wildlife: deer, foxes, and, of course, the birds.”
“We’ve got a big buck here,” said Phil Hudson. “We haven’t seen him for a while, but he’s around.”
Last fall they watched a grey wolf out on the ice below the cottage. Then that evening, he saw it right near their door. They kept a close watch on “Tess,” their border collie, for a few days after that.
Phil Hudson talks about the darkness of the night sky.
“When there was a meteor shower a couple of months back, we went out on the ice. It was spectacular,” he enthused. “And we were able to sit and watch the entire lunar eclipse recently.”
It is easy to tell that the Hudsons thoroughly enjoy winter at the far side of Caliper Lake Provincial Park and that, in fact, there is no other place they would rather be.
As he tells people who ask if they’re going south for the winter: “Yes, we’ll probably go to Emo.”