April 3, 2019

The wild beckons to Greg Toogood. It’s where he feels at home in Saskatchewan.

Toogood lived in northern Saskatchewan while his father served as an RCMP officer.

When his dad had downtime, they’d explore Saskatchewan’s wilderness together, snowmobiling, quadding, hiking and hunting.

“As a kid, I remember standing outside in the dark on a cold morning around 3:30 a.m. at the end of the driveway with all our hunting gear, a shotgun, ammunition and little wooden chairs that my grandpa made out of hockey sticks, waiting for one of dad's friends to pick us up to head out to the field for a bird hunt.

Toogood has followed his father in other ways, becoming an RCMP officer, too.

“A lot of people ask why I joined the RCMP,” he said. “I always say, ‘That's how I was raised.’ It was a great way to be raised. We got to live in a lot of different places, meet a lot of people and see a lot of the province.”

Thirteen years ago, Toogood suffered a devastating work-related injury after being shot in the arm.

“I had to deal with an injury where surgeons were preparing me for the fact that I would never use my right arm the way that I did before,” he said. “With a lot of life to live and a young family, I couldn't accept that; I had to look past it and find a way.”

It took reconstructive surgeries and countless physio sessions over six years, plus Toogood’s own hard work and determination, to regain the full use of his arm.

“I am incredibly thankful to all the people that helped get me to where I am today.”

Through his recovery and beyond, Saskatchewan’s outdoors was the place he would go to reset.

“There's just something about that for me that when I come home, I feel like I'm ready to get back to work or back in action. And it is truly recharging.”

People might dismiss Saskatchewan as a flat prairie province, but Toogood sees it through different eyes, with its pastures and badlands, hills, valleys, coulees and cliffs or, in the North, rivers, lakes and waterfalls. It’s also got an abundance of wildlife and fishing.

The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation says 60,000 residents have hunting licences, while 180,000 people hold fishing licences.

The number of recreational anglers balloon when taking into account seniors and children, to an estimated quarter of Saskatchewan’s population that take advantage of the province’s lakes and wilderness.

“Now, being older and getting the chance to explore more than I ever did as a kid, I am continuously realizing how much is here and how much I haven't actually seen yet,” he said.

Just as he did with his father, Toogood is now passing on his own love of the outdoors to his children.

“My daughter has a dream to harvest a bull moose. When I asked her why, she said, ‘Well, there's a lot of meat there for the whole family.’

“I love that that is her first thought. It’s not about killing a moose; there's a reason behind it, a purpose, for her. It’s for feeding the family. Every time we sit down for a meal, knowing they're the ones that played a part in putting it on the table, is pretty special.”

Toogood’s son, Jacob, told him that after finishing his hunter safety course, he wanted to hunt a bear with his bow.

On their first day of hunting, with Jacob’s first arrow, he shot and killed a black bear.

For Toogood, that hunting experience is so much more than a kill shot. It’s the time and preparation involved in the hunt. It’s the work to care for the animal after it’s been shot. It’s the money and effort that went into the taxidermy to mount the record bear as a rug on the wall.

And it’s that time spent together in the outdoors, grandfather, father and son, creating memories for a lifetime.

“I can only hope that they learn to appreciate nature, wildlife and being outdoors the way I do,” said Toogood.

“Passing it on, as best that I can, is all I can do.”

The Finding Home series profiles eight people who have found a sense of belonging and community in Regina. Together, they are part of the ever-changing face of this province. Read the other profiles here.

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