THUNDER BAY — It's not often anyone gets a chance to see a moose swimming in a wilderness lake, so a Thunder Bay woman feels she and her fiancé were extremely lucky on a recent trip to Quetico Park.
As they were paddling their canoe on French Lake approaching the Pickerel River on Tuesday, they spotted some objects ahead of them in the water.
"We were just about to get to the river system. We knew there were no rocks coming up, and we could see a couple of dark figures and thought 'No, it couldn't be what we were hoping it would be,'" Beth Shipston recalled Monday in an interview.
"Then, sure enough, we saw a cow with two calves kind of bobbing along behind her, and we just stopped paddling."
Shipston grabbed her phone and immediately began recording with the camera, but the couple wanted to be careful not to disturb the animals in any way.
"We were trying to stay still and not get in their way, but there was enough distance between us to give them room to make their journey," she said.
Theirs was the only canoe on the lake at the time, so they felt particularly privileged as they watched the animals swim to the other shore.
Shipston and her fiancé, Andrew, visit Quetico a few times each season.
"I don't think we were really even believing what we were seeing, because we had spoken about it, and that it would be an amazing sight, to be so gifted to see that come across your path."
She called the sight "mesmerizing," saying everyone who has seen the video has told them how fortunate they were to be on the lake just at that moment.
The three moose were well aware that they were under observation.
"The mother looked [at us] a few times, and the little one trailing behind was a little curious about us and kept looking back over its shoulder."
Shipston said that when the moose reached the other shore, they walked into some weeds and hid out while the couple paddled by.
"They just got behind the tall grass and stayed there because the way the river system works, we kind of looped around them."
A few days later, when they finished their trip and returned to park headquarters, park staff were happy to hear what the they had witnessed.
"They were thrilled to know that the cow and calves were well, because not long ago somebody had reported that a wolf was stalking a cow and a couple of calves. Shortly after, a ranger had seen a cow with one calf. So they were kind of under the impression that maybe one of the calves didn't make it," Shipston said.
She hopes anyone fortunate enough to have a similar experience takes care to give the animals space "and not try to get in for the shot."