From Reindeer to Eskimo Point
Natural Heritage Books,
156 pp, $22.95
book is precisely what it says it is; a trip from
Reindeer Lake to Eskimo Point on Hudson Bay, which is
now called Arviat. Peter Kazaks joined in with
fellow-physicist and canoe veteran George Luste and two
other paddlers for a long journey across the lands of P.
G. Downes Sleeping Island and Farley Mowat’s People of
trip took place in 1981 and is obviously an intense
memory for the author to recount it so many years
later. Kazaks’ fourth child was born six weeks
before departure so I am sure it was memorable for
his wife as well.
The book is a modest effort told in a
straightforward manner in a chronological sequence.
able writer and still recall many small details of what
was an arduous trip. I particularly loved the novice’s
mention of dealing with a wet wallet that he kept in his
pants while hauling up rivers. He finally clued in that
a wallet is one of the least valuable items needed on a
other trip members were economist Dave Berthelet, who
died in 1998 and yet another physicist, Gerd Hartner.
Kazaks is a paddler who had never been to the true north
and was excited about the prospect. He recounts the
pre-trip organization and the lectures from Luste on
what – and what not – to bring.
800-mile, 38 day trip trip began via a long ride to Lynn
Lake, on Reindeer Lake. From there the group ascended
the Sawn River into Wollaston Lake following the route
of David Thompson, whom Luste justly acknowledges as the
greatest of the early traders. From there they headed
down the Cochrane River a ways and then over to the
Thlewiaza River. It was there the Luste historic tour
really begins as they wend their way through the Tha-Anne,
Kognac, Padlei and Maguse rivers.
photos are by George Luste who is a good shooter but he
is really let down by the poor, greyish black and white
photos poorly reproduced – a common occurrence with many
Kazaks and Luste refer to the tensions that existed
during the trip. But it’s part of human nature to
remember the good parts. This book will especially be of
interest to those traveling in this history-drenched
area. A paddler’s first northern trip remains the best
in so many ways. But it is a personal memory that can
defy explanation to others.
Up the Creek:
Stories of Canoeists in Trouble
Edited by Doug McKown
Mountain Press, Camden ME
have a recurring dream. Despite all its variations, it
is the same central theme. I have just embarked on a
canoe trip and have realized the incredibly important
things I forgot to pack; such as maps, food or paddles.
When I awake in a sweat and realize I am not in a tent,
the panic subsides.
Creek is a collection of many people’s real life
‘dreams’ and nightmares and as such is quite
entertaining for us to read and them to
contemplate–after the fact.
McKown, who has written for Che-Mun, is an experienced
outdoorsman from Alberta who supplies many of the tales
of terror from his own experience.
familiar names provide the tales of woe which run for a
few pages. Contributors include; George Drought, Toni
Harting, Laurel Archer, Hap Wilson and Cliff Jacobson.
Tales of rapids, bears, injuries and fires abound.
McKown’s point in all of this, which he makes in several
Editor’s additions at the end of the story; is safety.
Learning how to prepare and plan can make even bad
situations manageable and cut down on the number of
rough spots you find yourself in. Of course, pure luck,
is sometimes needed. One amazing tale is of two guys
practicing rapids in the still-mostly-frozen Churchill
River and dumping at dusk! If someone in a boat had not
arrived on the scene, precisely in those few minutes,
one of them who was still in the ice-chocked river would
have certain perished.
all known many close calls and what-ifs. Let’s hope
we’re all still around to be able to write about them
and not have someone read about us!
— Michael Peake