Paul Doiron here—
I often get asked about the quirky characters in my books. To some readers they seem like genuine Maine people (of a kind that don’t make it into novels all that often). To others they seem like improbable grotesques.
To all the doubters out there, please allow me to introduce you to Bob Wagg.
Wagg and his buddy Walter Lane were the “stars” of one of my all-time favorite Maine documentaries, Dead River Rough Cut. This 1976 profile of two North Woods trappers living in the woods near Spencer Lake is a profane and hilarious classic, well-worth seeking out if you’re not easily put-off by the antics of a couple of potty-mouthed, beaver-trapping, dyed-in-the-wool chauvinists.
Wagg and Lane have a brief, unnamed mention in the prologue of The Poacher’s Son. They were the two trappers who were illegally squatting in the cabins at the old Hobbstown German POW camp before Scott Paper finally decided to burn the buildings down to save itself from a negligence suit. (Wagg and Lane used to dwell in separate cabins on the property so that none of the locals would accuse them of being “queer.”) The scene in Dead River Rough Cut where Walter lights a fire in a stove on the back of his snowmobile so he can keep his ass warm as he rides around is one of my all-time favorites.
I never met either man, but a friend of mine knew Bob Wagg back in the 1970s he was a regular fixture at Berry’s Store in The Forks. If you want to meet a sub-species of North Maine woodsman who’s slowly going extinct (for better and worse, some might say), this clip from the movie is pure Wagg.
What a character!