LINER NOTES:

 

The fires burned all along the west shore of Lake Mistassini, from the Wabissinane to the Rupert, for five days before a rain cleared the way for us.  I took a loooooonnnnnng outboard ride to Baie du Poste (Mistissini) from the fishing camp at the mouth of the Albanel River (four hours) and spent the night with a Cree family named Voyageur. Instead of going up the Wabissinane River to Neoskweskau, we used part of the 1974 (?) route that Heb and Danny took to get to the old site of Neoskweska on Lac de la Maree, which was the site of our re-outfit in 1991, 1992, and 1993.  We called the route back south to the Rupert, which parallels the Nemesca River route, The Moon River Route, because there was a full moon during that portion of the trip each year.

      Bill Seeley, 9/16/99

                                                                                                                                       Photo: Bill Seeley

Tommy Voyageur. Tommy (rear) with Bill Seeley on Lake Mistassini.

This photo was taken sometime before 9 a.m. on June 29, 1993. Koben

Christianson and I were en route with Tommy Voyageur to Mistassini Post from

Camp Vieux Poste at the north end of Lac Mistassini (a sport fishing camp

run by the Cree). We were going to check on the fires burning on the Rupert and tell the boss we were off schedule already. The ride is 4 hours by 25-horse Johnson.

When we arrived Tommy hefted the motor onto his shoulder, pointed to the

gas cans and started walking. We did as ordered. Whenever we passed someone they would say, "Your with Tommy? He sure can walk!" Then they would giggle, shake their head, and walk away. 

Eventually Tommy stopped walking and disappeared into a house. We stopped and knocked, but no one answered. So we left the gas cans and went about our business. That was the last we were to see of Tommy for some time.

Later that day a young Cree woman leaned out of the door to her house and

said to us, "Hey, Tommy wants you to meet him at the boat with the gas cans

at 4 a.m. tomorrow. Well, the original plan had been to get back up the lake

that evening. The wind had come up and Tommy had more entertaining plans.

We were without gear and without a place to stay (and without mad cash). I

asked the young woman if we could stay with her. She didn't respond

immediately. I suggested that we could sleep with the dogs if necessary, we

just needed a roof over our heads. This evoked a big Cree giggle and an

offer to stay on her living room floor. It turned out that she was married

to Tommy's nephew. Their hospitality was unmatched and our stay is one of

my fondest memories of my time up north.

       Bill Seeley, 12/3/99

On the Cree village of Némescau:

The old village is spelled Nemescau on the older maps and Nemeska on the newer ones referring to the new village on Champion Lake.  The older village that I refer to has always been on Lac Nemesca, on the point between the west and north arms of the lake to the best of  my knowledge. Lac Nemesca is really just a broad spot in the Rupert.  It has current and is shallow, making it sturgeon central, thus the village and the name which, if understand Cree correctly means "lots of fish"  (Nemesc = fish; -a =plural). But there are numerous large camps along the broad shallow channel of the Rupert east of the village.  I don't know the whole story about the move to Champion Lake, but I do know that it is related to the original James Bay Agreement with the Province of Quebec in 1975.   The current strategy is to publicly re-establish residences at the old village there on the assumption that if Hydro doesn't move them within a certain time frame it counts a s a tacit acceptance of their ownership (or at least public domain).  

There was always a Hudson's Bay Post there (up on the hill on the south side of the village) at Némescau.  In 1993 it still stood and it was a real coup with the kids.  I'd keep to the north channel through the shallows to keep its red roof  obscured until the last possible moment and then surprise them with it.  The two-mile crossing towards the red roof of  Némescau was one of the most memorable experiences in the bush for me.  There was also a Revillion-Fréres post there (on the north side in the swamp, really), and an independent trader too, if I recall correctly.  A real hot spot.  The jackpine hung with bear skulls pictured in Heb's [Evans] book still stands, although it is a little more crowded with skulls.  A guy from Princeton was working on a lexicon there in the 60s, and several anthropology dissertations are on deposit at Columbia about the village.  Matthew Wapachee remembered the Princeton fellah.  Apparently he always paddled in (in those days, what else) and he always brought Kool Aid for the kids.  He bought a plane to facilitate his research and died the first time he attempted to fly in.

        Bill Seeley, 9/21/99

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