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Swiss Suskwa masseuse has the healing touch

Tom follows the Grease Trail to find some relief for his shoulder

I’ve been having trouble with my shoulder lately and am always looking for a good massage. I got the tip a few months back from Ricky and Brian in Hazelton that there was a masseuse working up the Suskwa. I love that country so I had to take a trip out there to see for myself.

It’s one of those areas that once you cross over the Bulkley you enter a special place. The Indigenous peoples back in the day used the trail to get to Babine and Takla lakes to trade eulachon oil. It became known as the Grease Trail. Cataline and other packers used the trail to deliver supplies to the mines out in that area. I am going to use the trail to find some relief for my shoulder.

Turns out it’s not that far up the Suskwa where you turn right at the phone booth. Yes, an old phone booth has been there for many years and makes a good landmark.

Anyway, I turned left and got some instructions from the neighbour. Up that road about one km and it’s on the right across from Skeena Cat. I drove into the farmyard and was greeted by a very nice Swiss lady who seemed happy to see me.

Gerda Schlatter was her name and she introduced me to her husband Rene. They certainly were living in a sweet spot with a breathtaking view of Seaton Mountain She decided to work on me first and I asked her various questions during the session.

Gerda was born in Langnau, a town in the German-speaking area of Switzerland famous for making Emmental cheese. Her family had a farm, of course, and her father manufactured linen. Her mother was a seamstress and made a specific style of a woman’s dress called Tracht.

Gerda was very smart and always finished at the top of her class in school. When she graduated she decided she wanted to be a nurse. And why not a naturopath, a physiotherapist and a psychologist. Yes, she has all those designations under her belt along with massage therapy and a sideline in Chinese medicine.

So how did a woman with your credentials end up in the Suskwa, I had to ask. Well, that is a story in itself, said Gerda.

“I had a boyfriend and he wanted to go to Canada. I didn’t and so he went and I ended up marrying another fellow. We had a son and I found work in my field. Unfortunately, we divorced after 22 years and I remained single for seven years until my son got married.

“He also wanted me to get married and suggested a dating site that kept all participants secret until they wanted to meet. Would you believe my potential match was this old boyfriend that had gone to Canada? If that is not serendipity what is?

“So now I want to come to Canada and meet this guy and see where he lives. You know I am a mountain girl and this is a beautiful place. You have room here and that spells freedom for me.

“I have been going back and forth to my old job in Switzerland so I can collect my pension. I have made good connections with the Gitxsan in Hazelton and also work at the Healing Centre in Kitwanga.

“My partner is a handy guy, we have a good relationship. I have travelled all over the world, Russia, Egypt, even Tibet. This is the place I love, right here in the Suskwa.”

So after an hour of manipulating mixed with inquiring conversation, I was prepared to leave.

My shoulder felt better, my story was an exclusive and I had met a woman who was truly happy.

What more can I ask for?