Local legend Frank Kuiack is Algonquin Park’s newest fishing guide. At 84, he reflects on his legacy and wonders who will continue his work. Watch The last guide on CBC Gem.
Frank Kuiack is the last traditional fishing guide in Algonquin Park, Ontario.
Kuiack is a time capsule from a bygone era, carrying a multitude of stories behind every wrinkle in his face. He generously shares his knowledge with everyone who travels through the park.
Kuiack represents the last stronghold of guides who once roamed the park like characters from an old adventure novel. The spirit of these guides lives on in the remote campsites, canoe routes and portage trails they left behind.
As one of the last guardians of the earth, Kuiack takes great pride in sharing his wisdom and expertise with a new generation.
In 1944, Kuiack was offered five dollars to show a group of American fishermen where to catch fish. He was then eight years old; he has been a fishing guide ever since.
Over 75 years later, Kuiack still carries a childish twinkle in his eyes. Always happy to jump in the dinghy and cast a line, he treats every catch like the first. His magnetic personality and his skill with a fishing rod attracted many customers in the 1940s and 1950s, and allowed him to make his favorite hobby his livelihood.
Kuiack’s life and work inspired two novels that brought him modest fame and made him a draw for fishing tourists seeking his famous shore lunches.
Today, the demand for guides in Algonquin Park has largely disappeared.
At 84 and recently diagnosed with bone cancer, Kuiack’s health has deteriorated. While he has attempted to train guides and pass on his knowledge over the years, the physically demanding nature of the job turned away most potential apprentices.
Kuiack’s niece Sharleen showed a unique ability to take on Frank on the water. The two develop a close bond as she eagerly absorbs his wisdom on their many journeys through the park. But despite Sharleen’s ability and love for Frank, she still doesn’t know how to continue her legacy, or if she wants to be the next “final guide.”
Cristian Gomes is the director, Aidan Cheeatow is the executive producer of The Last Guide.