The Journal of Canadian

Wilderness Canoeing

  SUMMER 2004











In this issue

Front Page



Labrador Tragedy

Summer Packet


From the Editor


Back page




Canoelit I


From Reindeer to Eskimo Point

By Peter Kazaks

Natural Heritage Books, Toronto 2003

156 pp, $22.95

ISBN: 1-896219-84-5

This 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 the Deer.

The 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. Kazaks

is an 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 wilderness trip.

The two 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.

The 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.

All the 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 smaller publishers.

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:

True Stories of Canoeists in Trouble

Edited by Doug McKown

Ragged Mountain Press, Camden ME

186pp, $27.95

ISBN: 0-07-139090-1

I 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.

Up the 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.

Doug 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.

Many 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.

We have 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


 Summer 2004         Outfit 117 

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