peripatetic Duke Watson writes from Seattle on the A.
P. Low expedition story in Outfit 111. Mr. Watson’s canoeing
travels have criss-crossed the continent following many of the
great historical routes. He has privately published his
complete trip journal listings (in two volumes) which he
thoughtfully provided Che-Mun with some time ago. We
look at it from time to time when we think we have done a lot
of canoeing only to be sorely reminded how much there is still
correspondence is not one of my favourite endeavors but I been
motivated quite strongly to pass on to Che-Mun a few
thoughts and reminiscences after reading Jim Stone’s
delightful article in Outfit 111.
My motivations are threefold.
“1. The three
consecutive trips which I took in 1974 from midway on the
Rupert River, along the upper Eastmain and part of the Fort
George, and thence down the Kaniapiscau to Fort Chimo [Ed.
Note: now called Kuujjuaq] were among the most challenging
and rewarding of my numerous experiences in the north.
Fascination with the travels of A. P. Low. Like Stone and
Finkelstein, I poured over Low’s accounts in Annual Reports of
the Geological Survey of Canada. Pertinent excerpts were
reproduced and brought in our map cases. It was intriguing to
read Low’s description for a given day, at the start of our
travel days, and then follow his route, comparing observations
about the country traveled through. So little had changed, for
the most part, during the interval (81 years in the case of
the Kaniapiscau section.)
comparison of our experience on Low’s Long Portage with that
of Stone and Finkelstein so aptly related in Che-Mun.
We seem to have had better luck in locating and following the
trail than they, but after all was said and done, out portage
time was nine hours, the same as theirs. We did it the easier
(?) way by exploring across with relatively light loads; then,
after a night’s sleep, doubling back and hauling canoes and
end of the portage (Stone-Finkelstein start; our finish) was
clearly defined in 1974 and the lower half, although it
required careful scouting, could be followed. Giving full
credit to Stone and Finkelstein for their ability to “sniff
out” portages, it would seem the notorious Long Portage trail
has deteriorated significantly in the intervening 28 years
between my trip (1974) and theirs (2002). It is quite likely
that the Cree no longer use it, and that it has become and
obscure rarely travelled route (although that was also the way
we felt about it in 1974). I believe it probable that the
blazes followed by Stone and Finkelstein in the forested
portion are the ones we made to expedite our return crossing
with canoes. (We found no blazes whatsoever.)
based on the Stone-Finkelstein description of Long Portage and
several other examples, my guess is that the countryside along
Low’s route has changed more in the 28 year span than in the
81 year interval mentioned above.
admiration for Low is tremendous, and it calls forth
admiration as well for Jim and Max in their projected
biography of the great geologist-explorer. I await its
publication with great interest.”
heard via e-mail and phone about several interesting trips
this past summer which we will feature in greater detail in
later Outfits of Che-Mun.
who runs a burgeoning Web site
wrote to tell of his group’s impressive feat in retracing one
of the great trips a century later.
“It was tough
going at times ... but we did it. We retraced the 1903 route
of Leonidas Hubbard, Dillon Wallace and George Elson from
North West River to Lake Hope (upstream!), we then pushed on
to follow the 1905 Mina Hubbard and Dillon Wallace routes
through Smallwood Reservoir and down the George River to
journey took our team 50 days to complete. Our three-man team
set off from North West River on June 24th, reached the
Hubbard Memorial at the junction of the Susan River and Goose
Creek on July 4th and reached our only resupply on Orma Lake
Road (40 miles north of Churchill Falls) on July 17th. We were
joined there by a fourth team member. We then headed
northwest, then north, through Smallwood Reservoir, over the
height of land that separates Labrador and Quebec, through
Cabot Lake and down the George River. We arrived at the
village on August 12th.”
promised something for Che-Mun and will be updating his
Web site soon with his impressive trip’s info.
We also heard
from new subscriber Sylvie Michaud of Montreal who did
the Payne (Arnaud) River in northern Ungava which the HACC did
as part of a complete crossing of the peninsula in 1990. She
wrote before and after her trip and was able to find the
elusive (for us) Hammer of Thor. An impressive T-shape man
made rock formation thought, by some, to be a beacon for
Vikings who may have visited the area 800 years ago. We look
forward to hearing more from Sylvie on that trip.
along with Carl Shepardson and family, called to
promise an upcoming trip report on his 55-day epic trip out
of the east arm of Great Slave Lake and arcing back north west
towards the Coppermine via the Lockhart River and Contwtyto
Lake. Quite a journey!