courage highway   8 comments

Posted at 1:35 pm in history

In my last post, I described how the van was running so badly during the final stretch heading west to Thunder Bay. I guess that could be regarded as something of a cliffhanger. The saga continues…

The van’s engine sounded like it wasn’t going to make it, but with a bit of encouragement — mainly pressing down a bit on the gas pedal to keep it from konking out — we reached the last few miles leading to the city of Thunder Bay, which lies at the western edge of Lake Superior. That section of the route is known as the Terry Fox Courage Highway and those marker signs began to appear as we chugged and sputtered past Nipigon. I was a little stressed, but began to relax as we neared the city limits. My friends back at the cabin had told me that there was a great view from the Terry Fox memorial park before Thunder Bay, so I turned off there to rest and take a few photos. Arriving just as a couple of other vehicles were leaving the parking lot, I had the place to myself. Walking to the look-off, I planned to take a few photos of the countryside from this high vantage point. However, the statue of Terry Fox, backlit by the grey morning sky, immediately drew my attention. On this drizzly morning, and in my frame of mind, the statue struck an odd note with me — almost as though it was alive — as though Terry was running the last stretch of highway where he was forced to end his run just short of Thunder Bay.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope, it was in this place that he had to abandon his run due to the return of his cancer. From the above linked article by Leslie Scrivener, for The Toronto Star:

And so it went that glorious summer of 1980 – he ran 5,374 kilometres (3,339 miles) in 143 days. And then, on September 1st, 11 kilometres (seven miles) outside Thunder Bay, Ontario, something felt terribly wrong in his chest. The pains were so bad, he wondered if he was having a heart attack, but whatever it was, he needed to see a doctor. The doctor confirmed his worst fears – the cancer was back, this time in his lungs. Terry had run his last mile – The Marathon of Hope – was over.

I suspect that just about every Canadian old enough to have been following the Marathon of Hope on our televisions, will remember the CBC broadcast when Terry announced that he would retire from the run. But that wasn’t the end of the Marathon of Hope. From the CBC “The Greatest Canadian” pages:

Terry Fox died, with his family beside him, on June 28, 1981. That September, the first Terry Fox Run was held in Canada and around the world. More than 300,000 people participated, raising $3.5 million. Terry Fox Runs are held yearly in 60 countries now and more than 360 million have been raised for cancer research. His legacy lives on.

For me, the Terry Fox monument was a reminder of how much determination it takes to keep moving on while living with cancer.

* More about Terry Fox here.
* CBC media archives on Terry Fox (12 television clips, 8 radio clips).

[Note: I arrived in Thunder Bay on Thanksgiving Day, was not able to get the van fixed, so continued west. More about that in a subsequent post.]

Written by bev on October 25th, 2008