Canadian Canoe Routes

Temagami August 1939
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Author:  Fritz [ August 21st, 2019, 8:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Temagami August 1939

In late August 1939, shortly after my mother turned 30, she went with her then boyfriend, Ellis, on a ten day canoe trip starting at Bear Island in Lake Temagami. Here is her journal from that trip, in honor of her on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of that trip. She had mentioned this trip, in the mid-1970s after I had spent three weeks in Algonquin, but she could not remember where she had gone. I found this account of the trip, shortly after she died in 2005 at the age of 95.

Transcribed verbatim. Handwritten Trip Log by Priscilla A. Dean, August 1939 – year determined by day of the week and date. Confirmed that there was a full moon on August 28, 1939.

1. Fri. Aug. 18 Fair
Met Ellis North Bay
Train to Timagami [sic]
Steamer to Bear Island
Hudson Bay Post
Lunch at “Tea Room”
Settlement mostly Indian
? Eskimo mixture
Exploration of Island
Up to lookout tower
Marvelous view of island studded lake
Willets & Jarrell arrived very sunburned
Restocking of supplies
Set out for four mile paddle to night camp. Snake Island. Small wooded island. Good campsite. Good sleeping. Fish for supper fresh caught

2. Sat. Aug. 19 Fair
Swim, breakfast w/ fish, broke camp.
Paddled 15 miles into Diamond Lake for second camp. Short portage, two loads each. Fishing along way. Island wooded – bluff on one side. Beautiful. Fish for supper. Wore shorts & sunburned badly. Lost lure & went diving for it. Retrieved.

3. Sun. Aug. 20 Overcast & raining
Through into Lady Evelyn Lake via small rapid. Caught in down pour in morning. Made camp as soon as possible. Tent leaked like a sieve. Everything sodden & dripping. Spent day, reading & sleeping. Stopped raining toward evening. First night sleeping in tent w/ five other people. Many dead trees standing in flooded area.

4. Mon. Aug. 21 Threatening & Showers
Washed clothes. Went fishing with Ellis. Pretty good fishing. Loons very interesting & quite unafraid. Swim under water for amazing distances. Cry to hear selves. Got instructions in how to handle a paddle & controlling a canoe. Caught snags as well as fish. Almost lost lure. Ellis went swimming for it. Retrieved. Back to camp.

5. Tues Aug. 22 Clear
Ten mile paddle to island at mouth of Matlainapila (sp.?) river. Made camp. Paddled up to dam for view. Amazing little store with pop & candy for sale. Back to camp. Fishing. Fair luck. Slept under stars w/ E. Aurora during night. No color but very active.

6. Wed. Aug. 23 Clear
Back down Lady Evelyn 8 mi. Very windy & quite rough. Ate lunch on small island waiting for wind to abate so crossing large bay would be reasonably safe. Crossed in afternoon. Camped on small island in bay at mouth of Sucker gut. Fishing fair.

7. Thurs. Aug. 24 Overcast & raining
Started out for Maple Mountain (2000 ft) over portage into Emily lake by winding stream into Stanley. Found many blueberries in ascent. Got caught in fairly severe thunderstorm. Last part of ascent almost perpendicular. Perfectly marvelous view. Invited into rangers hut to dry out & eat lunch. Top of mountain loaded with huge luscious blueberries. Picked a grape basketful. Marvelous fishing in Stanley & Emily Lake, particularly Stanley

8. Fri. Aug. 25 Fair
Broke camp. Followed down Sucker Gut doing considerable fishing with poor luck. Into Willow Island lake taking 3 portages into Diamond lake again past our second campsite toward the west where camp was made a little over halfway up the lake toward Wakimika. Perfectly swell big island. Fish chowder & open dish blueberry pie for supper. Slept on steep bluff commanding a delightful view & a advancing moon.

9. Sat. Aug. 26 Clear
E & I fooled around camp fishing & swimming for a while. Proceeded into Wakimika Lake over two protages, into Lake Obabika via a winding but very lovely stream. Not much luck fishing. Enough for supper obtained. Camped halfway down Obabika at very poor campsite. Island too small. Good hard [?] bed & wonderful moon.

10. Sun. Aug 27 Clear
Fishing down Obakika, one portage into Emerald, the length of Emerald, over two portages into Devil Lake where we made camp on a fair camp site but the only available one. Caught first lake trout which was full of large roe. Meat slightly pink. Poor fishing day

11. Mon. Aug 28 Clear
Three portages into Turtle Lake from Devil through Turtle into head of Gull Lake where I caught my first bass. Caught three in all. Grand fishing. Spent afternoon in Gull fishing with only fair success. Lost our lure which is the only reason we did spend until dusk there in spite of an expressed wish for getting to camp before sun down. Two portages into Skunk lake where camp was made. Rain threatened so slept in tent. Good camp site. Started eating up food. Full moon.

12. Tues. Aug 29
Awakened by rain but soon cleared. Had a late but very plentiful meal in an endeavor to eat all loose food & perishable [sic]. E & I fooled around fishing for a while. One portage into Timagami [sic]. Fishing continued. Caught by severe wind and rain storm coming across open bay. Back to Bear Island, dry clothes & steamer back to Timagami [sic].
Large dinner at Hotel in Timagami [sic]. No fish but very smooth beer. To North Bay after bidding E with his box of fish farewell.
Overnight camp at N.B.

Wed. Aug. 30
From North Bay to Pembroke 132 miles for breakfast then to Burlington a distance of almost 460 miles. Through Ottawa & Montreal. Rode 8 hrs in rumble seat. Overnight cabins.

Thurs. Aug. 31
Back to Boston
Canoe mileage about [ends here]

Author:  Dave_k [ August 21st, 2019, 9:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Temagami August 1939

very cool trip report. thanks for sharing!

Author:  Odyssey [ August 22nd, 2019, 12:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Temagami August 1939

Thank you Fritz, that was wonderful!

Author:  ameaney [ August 22nd, 2019, 7:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Temagami August 1939

Your Mom was cool.....

Author:  jedi jeffi [ August 22nd, 2019, 7:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Temagami August 1939

That was great!
Thanks for sharing!

Author:  Bob Mills [ September 14th, 2019, 1:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Temagami August 1939

Thanks for posting the your Mom's trip report. Some adventure. When I first came to Temagami (1960) I think it was spelled in most places Timagami? That was quite a trip and the fishing was really good. No matter how you spell it, I drank the water, and it went straight to my heart. Thank you.

Author:  Prospector16 [ September 14th, 2019, 1:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Temagami August 1939


Author:  TheCampingCanuck [ January 10th, 2020, 8:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Temagami August 1939

Very cool.

Thanks for sharing

Author:  Canoe Daddy [ June 22nd, 2020, 6:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Temagami August 1939

What an incredible account. Makes me feel soft with my Kevlar canoe, waterproof dome tent and plethora of lures. Your mom was a trooper!

Author:  true_north [ June 22nd, 2020, 10:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Temagami August 1939

Fritz, that was a pretty ambitious Temagami canoe trip that your mother took on; it hit a lot of the highlights! Her account actually got me to check out what things would have been like before and after the various dams were built from 1915 to 1944.

In 1939 when she did the trip, the Mattawapika Dam (where the Lady Evelyn flows out into the Montreal River) had been up for 24 years, with the second even higher dam having been finished in 1925.

The rapids she mentions on Day 3 is what is now called the Lady Evelyn Lift-Over. Had she done the trip three years later there would have been a dam blocking the Diamond Lake outflow; it was erected by some logging company. The dam was removed in the mid-1970s. Brian Back, Temagami’s historian, has an article describing the changes here - ... ftover.htm

The flooding she mentions was due to the Mattawapika Dam, which had raised the water level of Lady Evelyn Lake by 25 feet and what was once Lady Evelyn Falls was reduced to a one-foot drop from Diamond Lake!

Here is a map from 1905 which shows Lady Evelyn Lake and the Lady Evelyn River up to Mattawapika Falls before the dam was constructed.


Here is the same stretch of the Lady Evelyn River after the Mattawapika Dam went up. Quite the difference!


On her trip to Maple Mountain, she mentions Emily Lake and Stanley Lake. Since her time their names have been changed to Hobart and Tupper. The ranger’s cabin at the start of the trail up to the fire tower no longer stands; there are some remnants to be seen.

Even your mom’s trip back home - all the way to Boston via Ottawa, Montreal, and Burlington - was quite the journey! Thanks for letting us experience a bit of her summer of '39!

Author:  Fritz [ June 28th, 2020, 2:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Temagami August 1939

True North,
Thanks for you discussion of the changes in the area.
I hope to find some folks to go with me and a follow her route in the next couple of years. Your discussion should help plan that trip.

Author:  heatherlynne7 [ June 28th, 2020, 4:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Temagami August 1939

So long ago and yet these places are still the same today! Thanks for sharing!

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