Of all the excitement that accompanied the arrival of the G8 leaders to the lake-strewn cottage country around Huntsville, Ont., nothing, for romance or intrigue, could match the military men hidden in the wilderness around Deerhurst Resort, the golf destination that hosted the affair. Not even the lingerie, complete with riot shield and rifle, on display at Petticoats, a Main Street store that sells women’s intimates. And no doubt some of the yarns spun around the camouflaged soldiers are true.
One concerned a woman who entered the brush and, behind a curtain of wood, took the first two or three steps necessary to relieving herself (not uncommon for a gal in these climes). Just as she was about to take a crucial step in that procedure, she heard a voice: “Excuse me ma’am,” the stentorian voice said. “You are not alone.” Another woman was golfing when she let a ball fly into the bush. Rushing into the woods to retrieve it, she ran into an armed man holding her ball aloft. “Don’t come into the forest,” said the soldier, handing it to her. Anther group of golfers watched a companion similarly lose a ball in the trees. “Gentlemen,” a voice from the dark intoned, “time to get another ball.”
When Huntsville resident Kate Kerr’s dog froze inexplicably during a walk in the woods, Kerr glimpsed a helmet festooned with leaves and twigs dive for thicker foliage. Elsewhere, an OPP officer who hiked up into the forest for a good snapshot of the lake was surprised when a tree tapped him on the shoulder; the tree insisted he leave even after he showed it his badge. Meanwhile, a couple who’ve always enjoyed the backyard hot tub in birthday apparel donned swimsuits after spotting a soldier in the brush at the end of their property.
As the police and military presence thickened on the ground, so too did the quality of the gossip. “For instance,” says Rich Swift, owner of Algonquin Outfitters, “they’ve got to pee and poop into a bag. They can’t leave any scent. They’re invisible people.” Well, there’s something to that. “When we go into an area like this, we are completely self-sufficient,” says Capt. Ron Kronstein, of the Department of National Defence. “We come in with our stuff and we leave the area better than we left it. So yeah, that’s true.” Kronstein won’t say how many soldiers tented in the woods around Deerhurst or what they were doing. “Fending off the blackflies and mosquitoes to make sure that area was secure,” is all he says. “Sitting in the woods for hours can be pretty intense and pretty lonely. But we’re used to that.”