With his dying wife beside him, Marc Jordan desperately navigated the desolate waterways of Lake Missinaibi Provincial Park on Tuesday, screaming for help.
Moments earlier, the 30-year-old had tried to fight off a bear attacking his wife, Jacqueline Perry, also 30, stabbing it five or six times with a knife. The attempts to save Ms. Perry left Mr. Jordan with multiple lacerations and several severed nerves, wounds that gushed blood as he carried his gravely injured wife away from their remote campsite in the Northern Ontario park, about 525 kilometres northwest of Sudbury.
What happened next likely saved Mr. Jordan's life, but came too late for Dr. Perry, who died during the journey out of the park.
She became the first person to be killed by a bear in Ontario in 13 years.
Mr. Jordan had been paddling the boat the couple had used to get to the campsite for almost an hour when a couple of hikers heard his cries. The two men had fought off a black bear less than an hour earlier.
They joined Mr. Jordan and helped him paddle for another 90 minutes before they came across a pontoon.
"Miraculously, the boat they found had an off-duty police officer and a doctor from North Carolina on board," Ontario Provincial Police Constable Karen Farand said.
Three hours after the bear attack, rescuers were able to transport Mr. Jordan to Sudbury Regional Hospital, Constable Farand said. He was in stable condition awaiting surgery.
The couple from Cambridge, Ont., were attacked in the interior, a rugged, remote region within Lake Missinaibi park that officials are scrambling to clear of about 10 to 15 visitors.
The interior has been closed off while police and park workers search for the bear and other campers. But because visitors are not required to tell park officials they're in the area, staff can only guess at how many people they're looking for.
Jolanta Kowalski of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources said that even though the area is being cleared for safety's sake, bears are not necessarily more dangerous after an attack.
"It is wounded, so it may just be holed up somewhere right now," she said. "Obviously, it has already shown how dangerous it is -- it has killed one human being and seriously injured another."
In an interview from Mr. Jordan's bedside in Sudbury, Rosalind Jordan said her son suffered multiple lacerations, puncture wounds and severed nerves. Hospital staff are waiting to minimize the possibility of infection before operating, she said.
Dr. Perry and Mr. Jordan met at McMaster University, where both were studying. They had been married less than four years.
"They loved hiking, they loved the outdoors," Ms. Jordan said. "They were also dedicated to the well-being of their community.
"Marc gave back by being a Scout leader, Jac gave back by helping sick people. She was a bright, dedicated, wonderful person."
Dr. Perry had just accepted a part-time position at Cambridge Memorial Hospital's emergency department. She was set to start her new job in less than a month.
Dr. Perry also worked as a general practitioner at Cambridge's Grandview Medical Centre. Grandview administrator Jeff Poll said the centre's staff is in a state of disbelief.
"The community has lost a wonderful physician," he said, "and Grandview has lost a wonderful colleague and friend."
Tuesday's incident was the latest in a string of recent bear attacks across Canada. A man was killed and another injured in two separate bear attacks in Manitoba over the past two weeks. Alberta has had four incidents since June, including two attacks in a week at Banff National Park. In early June, a female jogger was killed near Canmore.
The last time a bear killed anyone in Ontario was in 1992, when a geologist in the Cochrane area was mauled, Ms. Kowalski said.
"This is an extremely rare, highly unusual event," she said.
Like Tuesday's attack, the 1992 incident took place in a remote area. Constable Farand said there are inherent dangers in visiting a place where help can be hours away and cellphones are virtually useless. "Even if you have a satellite phone, help can't come soon enough," Constable Farand said. "That's what it's like up here."