The Journal of Canadian

Wilderness Canoeing

  SUMMER 2003










In this issue

Front Page


Summer Packet


From the Editor

Canoelit I

Canoelit II

Discovering Eden

Back page





Susan Barnes and Daniel Pauzé pick up their HACC Tripper in Toronto. See followup in outfits 114 and 115.


A couple of trips of note for this summer that have passed our way. Not surprisingly they both involve former HACC trips that people are doing and have sought us out for info.

Daniel Pauzé and his girlfriend Susan Barnes from Toronto are tackling the Palmer-Korok trip that was part of our 2001 Labrador Odyssey expedition. That Web page is still active at 2001.

This will be a tough slog for a two-person crew but we have told them all about the hard parts and headed out at the beginning of August. (Ed. Note: Funny, they don’t seem as hard as they were two years ago. But I remember what I said to myself!) In fact, there’s a further connection to the HACC as they even bought one of our old canoes for good luck. Daniel notes he has renovated the old Old Town Tripper for their trip north.

The pair plan to get a boat ride from up the Labrador coast to Nachvak Fjord. But the notoriously unpredictable boat operators have only guaranteed getting them as far as Saglek Fjord with a chance of Nachvak. That leaves a 40 mile open ocean run. It’s a tough go up the Palmer and we wish them both the best of luck.


Also doing another very remote river is Sylvie Michaud of Montreal. Her group will be going down the Payne River in northern Quebec also known as the Arnaud. Syvie said she only had trip reports from us and Dr. Rousseau who did the crossing in 1948 and Robert Flaherty when went through in 1912. Not a wealth of travellers in that part of Nunavik. Sylvie promised some photos of the trip when they are done.

And Bill Layman is at it again with a smaller trip that’s already been on the Web at This year he and wife Lynda Holland paddled a smaller route that crossed the upper Dubawnt then heading south down the wild Porcupine River to Black Lake and Stony Rapids. As always Bill intertwines a great deal of history in his adventures. This year’s trip included way more white water than planned.


Stewart Coffin, Labrador legend of paddling, has not been north since a double knee replacement a few years ago. He wrote recently, while renewing his subscription, to tell us that he had found a publisher for his northern paddling memoirs titled The Black Spruce Journals.

Natural History Press, who recently brought out Max Finkelstein’s Crossing a Continent, will publish Coffin’s book next spring.

Stewart described it as almost an “annotated photo album, for it contains almost 60 of my best black and white photos." That good news because Stew, son of a photographer, is a great shooter in his own right and Che-Mun has published a couple of those great images over the years including shots of the George and Romaine rivers in Quebec.

It was distressing to hear from Stew that he had lost all of his negatives in a move five years ago. Yikes! That’s a big blow to a photographer. But he had good quality prints of most of his shots and has scanned these into a digital format. Stewart has also promised Che-Mun a look at some more photos and you can bet we will keep you up to date on everything regarding this upcoming volume.

The book will feature chapters on a number of remote and rugged rivers including the Ugjoktok, Magpie, Ashuanipi, Ste. Marguerite, Romaine, Naskaupi. Incidentally, the ascent of Naskaupi was recently done by a young English woman and lone Innu guide following in Mina Hubbard’s tracks. Coffin’s party, which included the ubiquitous Dick Irwin, and four others did a circuitous route which included a stop at Churchill (Grand) Falls and a tough grind over to Lake Michikaumau and then down the Naskaupi – a very tough trip – and were perhaps the last group to go down this river.

I am fortunate to have a copy of the film of the trip made by Dick Irwin and transferred to video. They were also among the last to view the full glory of Churchill Falls and Dick has an awesome panning shot from the brink of the falls. The movie also shows what a tough and rugged river the Naskaupi is with sharp thunderous drops and uneven terrain.


This is from Becky Mason and Reid McLachlan and while this is too late for letters, we thought you would like info on it for suture action.

“Currently because of a legal quirk the CanTung Mine (upstream of Nahanni National Park) may be able to wiggle out of paying their clean up costs when the mine closes in two years. The hearing to rule on this matter is taking place on the July 29th and I'm told letters need to be received from the Canadian public to sway the decision so the mine has to pay for the future clean up costs.”


Your letters are needed by July 28th to ensure the clean up costs of the CanTung Mine, upstream from Nahanni National Park Reserve, are fully paid by the North American Tungsten mining company. The mine is only expected to remain open for 2 more years and the company has a current security deposit of less than $1 million. The Federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs (DIAND) has identified the liability from the mine at $35 million and independent assessments put the clean up cost between $9.4 and $49.3 million. Without an adequate security deposit, the cost of clean-up will likely be footed by Canadian taxpayers.


The CanTung mine operates on the Flat River, upstream from Nahanni National Park Reserve and World Heritage Site. The surrounding area is important to wildlife, particularly woodland caribou. In January 2002, the mine was reopened

after a 15-year closure. Within weeks of opening, there was a fuel spill of over 23,000 litres at the site. The mine has never undergone an environmental assessment and consultant reports have documented seepage from the tailings

ponds. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is concerned about potential water contamination from the mine.

Take Action

Please write to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board and Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, Robert Nault telling them:

• That mine clean up is part of the cost of mining, and must be paid for by the mining company. DIAND’s own policy requires mining companies to post security deposits to cover the full cost of reclaiming mine sites. In this case, DIAND is ignoring its own policy.

• To require North American Tungsten to post an adequate security deposit to cover abandonment and restoration of the mine, returning the CanTung

site to its previous ecological diversity and productivity.

• That an adequate security deposit be a condition of the company’s new water license. (Public hearing was on July 29th!)

• You want to see minimal risk to taxpayers and the environment, and want to ensure the wilderness values of Nahanni National Park Reserve and World Heritage Site downstream are maintained now and for future generations.

Write to:

Ms. Melody McLeod

Chair, Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board

Box 2130, 7th Floor - 4910 50th Avenue

Yellowknife, NT X1A 2P6

Fax: (867) 873-6610


For more information on protecting the Nahanni wilderness visit




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