Steve Springgate and Josh Mishkin on a rare rock in the Hudson Bay Lowlands on the Fawn River.


Photo: Bill Seeley


This was Keewaydin's first trip back to the Severn in 10 years. The airport had moved out past the old dump and they had made a go at running water, but the pipes hadn't been set properly, causing water to build up at the elbows and they had all exploded in the winter.  Otherwise, the village is relatively unchanged.  We arrived with the polar bears, but none wandered into town while we were there.  White Seal Rapids was on fire when we arrived causing a little excitement, but no danger.  But the beautiful campsite on the tall bluff was gone.  The folks at Weagamow Lake insisted that we stay an extra day that year so we could play softball with them.  We became big stars, and over the next couple of years.  Our annual arrival was a big event for the village. When we first visited we drew a crowd because, as they told it, no one stopped there to visit so they figured we must have an emergency.  A far cry from the tough, dusty town I recall from the 1983 trip.

        Bill Seeley, 9/16/99

Terrible Tyrell's Portage

In 1983, 1994, and 1995 we used Tyrell's. Bob "Mad Dog" McCoubrie tells a tale (with a photo to back it up) of a deep pit of muskeg 600 yards into Terrible Tyrell's Portage.  Here, in a year gone by he returned to the beginning of the portage to check on a lad who was long in his walk, only to find the young man hanging onto his canoe by the gunnels to avoid disappearing beneath the muck that had trapped, and almost encompassed, him.  Thus begins the saga of the one-mile-long Terrible Tyrrell.  The trail is always soggy George. I have seen this pit with my own eyes and can account for its indifference to the sympathetic portager. In dry years the muck is so thick as to swallow any shoe left behind by a quick and nimble step.  In wet years...  Many an intrepid traveller has left a pig boot (a.k.a. barn boot or rubber boot) in this seemingly bottomless pit.  The trail is noted in Tyrell's Canadian Geological Survey notes as the route north to the villages at Big Trout Lake, Little Otter River, and Ft. Severn from Cat Lake and the village on North Caribou Lake (now at Weagamow Lake). The village at Little Otter River is where the Hudson's Bay Company made first contact in the Severn watershed (that's from the ministry notes on the Fawn River).  We found the trail marked all three years, as Bob indicated, by an ancient Cree sled hung in a tree.  The trail leaves a shallow, swampy part of the Schade River and crosses a swampy, burned area to the Nekikamog River, which flows into Makoop Lake. The going is strenuous as you are either slogging through deep muskeg or you are laboring over windfalls. And there is no shelter from the sun on a clear and balmy day.  Whereas this is not the most strenuous walk in the north, it is a memorable one. 

        Bill Seeley, 9/17/99


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