People and Places

Ron Corbett Talks Hope and Fishing with Algonquin Park Guide Frank Kuiack

Ottawa author Ron Corbett’s most recent book is The Last Guide’s Guide, a sequel to his 2001 bestseller The Last Guide. We caught up with Corbett — a journalist, broadcaster, and a long-time contributor to Ottawa Magazine — to ask about the book and find out where you can find him at book signings this month.

Who is the last guide?
His name is Frank Kuiack and he’s a fishing guide in Algonquin Park. He’s been guiding since the age of eight and he turned 81 this year. There used to be hundreds of fishing guides in Algonquin Park, back in the ‘40s and ‘50s when the Park had several large fishing lodges. Today, Frank is the only one still doing it.

Frank
Frank Kuiack has worked as a fishing guide in Algonquin Park since he was 8 years old.

The Last Guide’s Guide is a sequel to an earlier book you wrote about Frank. Why a sequel 15 years later?
The original book was called The Last Guide and it came out in 2001. Frank became a friend of mine after the book was published and we’ve gone fishing many times since. Because of the life he has led, Frank knows things most of us don’t. He looks at things differently. Looks at life differently. What Frank knows has always struck me as something worth writing about. There wasn’t enough of that in the first book.

But why now?
Well, it took four years to write the book. There are several fishing trips in there. So it wasn’t an idea I had a few months ago. But, the short answer is it was a health scare. Frank had surgery on his eyes a few years back and it looked touch and go for a while, as though he might lose his eyesight. I started wondering what would happen to all that knowledge of his, if he couldn’t go guiding anymore. I started the book back then.

Is that why you called the sequel a guidebook? Because you were writing about what Frank knows and can teach us, as opposed to a chronicle of his life?
Exactly that reason. And it did turn out to be a guidebook. Along with the story there are twelve lessons in the book. They’re numbered one to twelve and written as stand-alone pieces of text. The 12 things Frank thinks everyone should know.

Why 12?
Frank is an old 12-step guy. Every Wednesday night he opens the doors of the United Church in Whitney, Ontario for the weekly AA meeting. He’s been doing that for nearly 30 years. Twelve made a lot of sense to him.

Frank
Ron Corbett says that, as a person who has worked in Algonquin Park for his entire adult life, Frank sees things differently.

Why should people read The Last Guide’s Guide?
Someone told me the other day reading the book was like reading Tuesdays With Morrie, but you were in a canoe. I love that description. This is a story about two people fishing, an older one and a younger one, and what you learn when you do that for a number of years. It’s a simple story. It made me feel hopeful about the world when I was writing it. People tell me this is how they feel after reading it. As a writer, I don’t think you can ask for much more that that. I hope that’s why people read the book.

The Last Guide’s Guide is available in all Chapters and Indigo stores and independent bookstores in Ottawa and the Valley. You can also purchase it on-line through the publisher, at ottawapressandpublishing.com

Upcoming Book Signings by Ron Corbett

December 3: Coles Bookstore, Carlingwood Mall, 1–3 p.m.

December 4: A sense of Country, 169 Raglan Street, Renfrew, Ontario, 1–3 p.m.

December 10: The Book Nook, 60 Gore Street East, Perth, Ontario, 1–3 p.m.

December 11: Coles Bookstore, Pembroke Mall, Pembroke Ontario, 12–3 p.m.