Lakehead Look Back | Fall 2023

A Lake Tamblyn Joy Ride

Forestry student Dave Kim wearing a knitted winter cap and sweater stands beside his mountain bike by Lake Tamblyn in 1986

Biking across Lake Tamblyn in the middle of winter isn't something many people would contemplate, especially back in 1986, well before the advent of fat bikes.

Forestry student Dave Kim, though, was used to doing things differently. Despite growing up in Toronto—not a place known for its rugged wilderness— he'd been determined to become a forester ever since his school hosted a career day in grade 7. While wandering among the booths in the gymnasium, Dave happened across one staffed by Lakehead University's School of Forestry.

"They told me that to be a forester, you have to like being outdoors and you have to like sciences," Dave says. "I liked both, so I decided that was what I would be."

"My parents, like other Canadians of Korean background, expected their children to choose professions like medicine, law, and accounting," he adds, "so when I told them I was going into forestry, it was hard for them to comprehend. They said, 'Do you mean that you're going to be a park ranger?'"

Dave didn't waver in his career choice, and after high school he arrived at Lakehead's Thunder Bay campus and moved into the Atikokan House residence.

"It was my first time outside of the big city," Dave says. "Being from Toronto, I hadn't experienced cold like that before—it was exhilarating. It was also the first time that I saw bears and moose up close."

He quickly became part of a tight-knit group of forestry students.

"They schooled me on wilderness things like grouse hunting and ice fishing for trout on Lake Superior."

Forestry student David Kim bikes across Lake Tamblyn in 1986

In the photo above, if you look carefully, you can see the blurred image of Dave's forestry classmate Dana Doyder as Dave whizzes by him. "Folks would play shinny and hockey on Lake Tamblyn," Dave says.

Dave says that he was into biking at that stage in his life.

"I didn't have a car, so my mountain bike was for whatever I needed in town—snack runs and beer runs. Then I had this idea that I would ride my mountain bike across Lake Tamblyn."

It was a brief, but invigourating, ride and Dave kept warm with a cozy sweater.

"My sister knitted it for me because she'd heard that Thunder Bay would be freezing," he says.

After completing his first two years at Lakehead in the forestry and biology programs, Dave returned to southern Ontario to complete his studies closer to home. He's now a registered professional forester in British Columbia and has been the owner of Madrone Environmental Services Ltd. since 2018.

And he still thinks that forestry is a wonderful career.

"The best thing about being a forester, hands down, is being in the woods and seeing things that no one else sees."

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