One might suggest the vastness and sheer beauty of Manitoba’s north is not widely understood by many of us in the southern more densely-populated parts of the province. Manitoba sits at the heart of the boreal forest, the largest intact ecosystem on Earth. The boreal in Manitoba provides a home and livelihoods for Northern communities, including 49 First Nations, who have lived off the land for thousands of years. The boreal forest in Manitoba is big, wild and, in many places, extremely isolated without any chance of seeing a human footprint for days at a time.
It is in this massive, pristine northern region that some of the world’s best freshwater fishing lakes draw Manitobans and other visitors to test their luck and fishing mettle with the boreal fishery of our province. Add hunting to the mix and you’ve got a wilderness wonderland. In fact, according to Paul Turenne, Executive Director of Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association, visitors to Manitoba’s lodges are a key part of an economic juggernaut that includes the sale of fishing and hunting licenses, fishing trips or hunting trips that contribute nearly $470 million annually to the provincial economy.
For many of the visitors, the trek to northern lodges comes with the expected anticipations of good hunting, fishing and accommodations combined with great food and company. However, more and more visitors are bringing their everyday expectations of connectivity with them to stay in touch with family, friends or work. Jason Komoski has watched the expectations accelerate alongside the technology out there today.
“Things have really evolved from a technology base,” says Komoski, Marketing Manager for Winnipeg-based IDC Communications. “Mobile phones have expanded significantly in the last five years. When you are dealing with customers in the north it is so sparsely populated, we can offer them satellite phone coverage into areas that are so remote.”
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Mobile devices are IDC Communications core business. IDC Communications has been on the Manitoba scene since 1991. Komoski says his company has customers across the province and has a client list of more than 30 lodges in northern Manitoba as well as several First Nations communities including Cross Lake and Peguis.
“In some of the southern lodges and communities, people may get great coverage in the buildings either via the coverage of the lodge or by using cell boosters,” says Komoski. “With the northern lodges, the satellite phones pick up where cell phone reach has ended.”
Komoski says the satellite technology brings a few other benefits into the mix, specifically safety.
“Often satellite phones are used by the guides to communicate where they are fishing on the lake so that the home base is aware of the whereabouts of guests and staff at all times,” he says. “As well, with products such as SPOT and SPOT Trace, the device uses the satellites to send GPS signals to people so that location can be monitored.”
For those heading up north to catch their dream fish with a real desire to tell the world as soon as they do, Komoski says that once the device is purchased, satellite phones are like cellular phones. Individuals usually select a pre-paid minute limit whereas lodges and other heavier users are better suited to plans.
Hunting and fishing aren’t the only things changing with technology. Read how Songza has changed the campfire sing-along.