Canadian Canoe Routes

Camp Kapitachuan 1965
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Author:  Pete Wallingford [ October 11th, 2004, 6:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Camp Kapitachuan 1965


I am looking for anyone familiar with Camp Kapitachuan in Quebec. I made a month long journey from there in 1965 and would like to speak to someone who is familiar with the location. Thank you

Pete Wallingford

Author:  JoshGBarrett [ August 21st, 2009, 8:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Camp Kapitachuan 1965

Hello Pete,

I saw your post looking for information about Camp Kapitachuan in Quebec. I spent 5 summers there in the 80's and it was a big part of my teenage years. I was there in its last seasons of existence, but I have very fond memories of the director, Rod Beebe, and the month-long trips we did. In the last summer I was there (about 1989) I went to Rod Beebe's house in Washington, CT for a night and then drove up the camp with him on logging roads (he was then in his 80's). I was sad to hear some years later that Rod Beebe passed away about 1997. Even at that time, the old 1950's pickup trucks at the base were still functioning to transport campers to and from the railroad a few miles away.

I may be able to remember some of the routes we did, if that would help you. My last summer there we did the "Northern Trip" which was down the Rupert river from Lake Mistassini. On another summer we did the "Eagle River". I doubt that these rivers look the same now as they did then, since logging and dam-building were active. Anyway, it is hard to find information or other people who were involved in the Camp since it folded before the technology age, but I was encouraged to see your post. It would be interesting to hear from anyone else with memories of the camp.

Josh Barrett

Author:  Gerald Guay [ August 21st, 2009, 9:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Camp Kapitachuan 1965


I was not a member of Camp Kapitachouan but I know where it was situated and I also know something about some of their trips.

I accidentally met Rod Beebe Sr. in the early 70’s when the wife and I where running the Capitachouane River from the train tracks that run between Senneterre and La Tuque. We came out onto the lake and as we passed in front of the camp heading to the river this fellow waved to us so we pulled over for a chat. He showed us the camp and the many wood and canvas canoes that they were using and the canoe repair shop. He also showed me a new canoe that he had obtained from Old Town Canoe Co. made of a revolutionary material, at that time, for boat building, Royalex. I was so impressed with the shape and size of that canoe that soon after completing our trip we rushed down to The Canoe Barn somewhere in Vermont and bought one. While we were talking to Rod he introduced us to a chap by the name of Carl Williams. Carl was quite a northern paddler.

A few summers later I was dropped off the train at midnight on the Kekek River and the next morning further downstream I met Carl who was chopping firewood for the camp.
Later on the same trip I ran into some camp members being guided by Rod somewhere up neat the Lac Bailly. Rod was surprised because in all his years up there he had never met anyone else canoeing in that area. We exchanged notes and went over the 1:500,000 maps we were using and he sure gave me a lot more information than I could give him.

I have also done the Eagle and I think it was probably the most beautiful canoeing river I have ever done. The small canyon and waterfalls are something else.

I have also done the Panache River witch never would not have been possible without info from Rod. It starts in a pond a few days North of the train tracks and the first few kilometres are a small stream about 3 feet wide with alders growing over the water. Never did see so many moose on one trip. On that same trip about 10 days later we met Peter Hall from CK leading a group down the Wetetnagami River.

You are right. I have not been in that area for at least 30 years now because it was being opened up to loggers. If you check with Google Earth you will now see logging roads and power lines that are recent. In particular there is now a power line that crosses the 1-mile portage that goes from that big lake into the Eagle.

By the way at last news Carl Williams is living in Connecticut somewhere and a friend of mine, Robin Lauer, speaks to him on occasion.

Nice talking to you guys about those days when there was much more wilderness out there.

Here’s a photo of me taken on that portage into the Eagle River and another one of the sun setting at our camp site at the end of the same portage.



ps: Here's a reference to Carl Williams. The route shown on this map was also used later on by the younger boys at CK.

Author:  mhinckley [ September 6th, 2010, 11:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Camp Kapitachuan 1965

i came upon this forum earlier today. i too am a camp kapitachouan alum. my first time there was as a camper in august of 1965. i was 13 and went out for 25 days with the youngest group. it was not a very good route (kekek river to macho river and eventually back to ck on lake choiseul), and we had lots of rain during the month. i'm surprised i ever went back, but am happy i did. i returned for three more trips as a camper (1966-68) and then worked as a councellor and then trip leader there through 1975. the camp was located 350 miles north of montreal. the road to camp was quite an ordeal over a very rough dirt road. i usually took an overnight train from montreal which dropped us off at the kapitachouane club stop on the cnr tracks. the camp on lake choiseul was 5 miles south of the train tracks. rod beebe sr. and carl williams founded the camp in the late 1940's (i believe rod may have canoed at keewaydin camp on lake tamagami in ontario as a teeneager). in addition to the base camp on lake choiseul (9 buildings including the beebe cabin, the williams cabin, the dining hall, a guest cabin, an office, a workshop, a boathouse, and two dorm cabins), there was also a smaller camp on lake capitachouan, 12 miles south via crooked creek. when the camp was full (usually in early july, when all the campers were in camp for training prior to embarking on the month-long trips), at least one group would be sent to the south camp as there wasn't enough room to accomodate everyone on lake choiseul. my second year there, in july of 1966, i went on the eagle river trip. i remember well the barry lake miler gerald referenced. it was a very difficult portage, as it was easy to lose your way and the entire mile led through bogs of muskeg. as gerald said, the eagle is a wonderful canoeing river. we were on it for 3 days, and we had perfect weather. the best rapid comes on the 2nd day, as i recall. there is a portage on the right that by-passes the entire rapid (if the water is to low), and there is a portage on the left that gets you around the falls on the top and puts you into the bottom half of the rapid. happily, we took the shorter portage and ran the lower rapid. the river flows south to north and empties into lake doda, from which it is a tough slog back up through the hebert lakes. there is a final 1 3/4 mile portage that brings you back to the saint cyr river. from there it was another week back to base camp we had a terrific group of campers (my sternman was carl williams's son peter, and rod beebe sr's son rod jr. was also on the trip. in '67 we paddled the wetetnagami and penache rivers (down the former and up the latter, which is the opposite of how one should make the trip). in '68, my last year as a camper, i finally made it to the "a" trip. led by rod sr., we paddled all the way up to chibougamau and then canoed down the chibougamau river to the waswanapi river and eventually to the town of miquelon from which we took a bus to senneterre and the train back to ck. i returned to the camp sporadically thereafter in '69, '70, '72, and '75 as a councelor and then a trip leader. because i was one of the younger staffmen, i generally took trips of younger boys (12-14). i led a few trips down the capitachouane river (the only trip the camp took that went south) and back up the camachigamau river. like the eagle river, the cap river is an excellent paddle with many challenging little rapids. my last trip to ck was in august of '75. a camp from maine (camp kieve) used to send a group of their oldest boys up to lake choiseul, and ck would provide them with canoes, food, and staff. i took them on the eagle river trip, and it was just as good as i remembered it from 1966. the only difference was that it hadn't been run in a few years, so the portage trails required a lot of bushwacking. rod beebe sr. took the same trip that month (he was a few days behind me). i'm surprised i didn't run into you then, gerald! sadly, that was the last time i travelled to ck, although i've kept in close contact with rod beebe sr. until his death in the late '90s. i still see carl williams and his wife ibby (she and rod sr. were brother and sister). they live in lakeville, ct, near the salisbury school where carl taught for 40+ years. as josh pointed out, the camp closed its door sometime in the late '80s or early '90s. when i canoed there, their entire fleet of canoes were wood and canvas, 17-foot chestnuts. sometime in the late 1970's they began to introduce the abs (royalex) canoes into their fleet. by the time the camp closed up, i think they had completely phased out the wood and canvas fleet. of the two directors, carl was the more ambitious with regard to the trips he took. by the early 1970's he was regularly taking trips (via mistassini post on the lake of the same name) to james bay, including the broadback, rupert, and eastmain. unfortunately, i missed out on these trips, as, by then, i was leading the younger boys on trips that started and ended at lake choiseul. as of this year, both the rupert and the eastmain have been dammed and diverted to the huge resevoir that is part of hydro quebec. for many years after i stopped canoeing with ck, my younger brother, chris hinckley, continued to lead trips for the camp, and he paddled the panache, eagle, magasagi, chibougamau, capitachouane, wetetnagami, opawica, and waswanapi rivers during his many years there. i don't remember the year of his last trip, but he may well have overlapped with you, josh. i still cherish the memories i have of canoeing the rivers of west central quebec. i sent my son to camp keewaydin in northern vermont, and he was fortunate to take a couple of their james bay trips, including one on the rupert. hearing his stories of those trips took me back to my days at ck 40 years ago, and it remains a shared connection for us.

Author:  Gerald Guay [ September 7th, 2010, 9:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Camp Kapitachuan 1965

What a great post mhinckley.
I've also received emails from some of the other x-CK members.
I even suggested that maybe it would be interesting for you guys to start a Facebook or similar group.
It's really too bad that the environment has changed up there. I'd be happy spending the rest of my days paddling that area as it once was.
The small canyon and falls on the Eagle are one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen.

Author:  mhinckley [ September 7th, 2010, 9:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Camp Kapitachuan 1965


i'm glad you saw my post. i wasn't sure anyone would see it, especially as the priors were so long ago. funny post script to my last trip on the eagle in '75. as i said, rod beebe sr. was on the same trip, a couple of days behind me that august. when he got to the rapid with the falls, he elected to portage right past the entire rapids. like the one on the left, the trail down the right side was also full of deadfalls, and it took rod and his group a long time to get across. after making the portage, he figured out that i must have chosen the trail on the left and run the bottom of the rapid, which, in his opinion was too risky. he let me know about it when i saw him back in base camp. it was so typical of rod...he was very conservative (no wonder...they were his canoes!), and he was always preaching prudence when deciding whether or not to run a difficult rapid. i don't remember even debating whether or not to run the bottom of the rapid. haha. youth was served.



Author:  kingfisher [ September 7th, 2010, 10:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Camp Kapitachuan 1965


The small canyon and falls on the Eagle are one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen.

Where IS this wonderful river?

The only "Eagle River" that shows up here
is just north of Ottawa.

Author:  mhinckley [ September 7th, 2010, 12:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Camp Kapitachuan 1965

the eagle (riviere de l'aigle) is tough to get to. using the maps you referenced, go to #32 in south western quebec. continue to zoom in to 32B13. ck and gerard have both portaged into the eagle from barry lake (just north of baily lake). it's a 1 mile slog into a tiny lake (no name) from there a creek leads into lake lacroix which then leads into the eagle. 3 days later you empty into doda lake. to follow the route, you must go from 32B13 to 32B14 to 32G3 to 32G4. there now appears to be a logging road that crosses the eagle halfway between lake lacroix and doda lake. that definitely wasn't there 35 years ago.

Author:  kingfisher [ September 7th, 2010, 12:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Camp Kapitachuan 1965

Thanks Mark.

Author:  Gerald Guay [ September 7th, 2010, 6:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Camp Kapitachuan 1965

Not only logging roads all over that area now but a Quebec Hydro line from James Bay now crosses that whole area. Those recent logging roads are kept open by the province so that drive-in outfitters can establish themselves on all the large lakes. What use to be a canoeing wilderness paradise is now long been tamed and somewhat spoiled. No one has kept those portages clean and in some places they have completely grown in.

Last time I was in there (1985) to do the Panache I could hear the logging in the distance.


Author:  mhinckley [ September 7th, 2010, 6:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Camp Kapitachuan 1965

i'm curious, did you come to be paddling in that area of quebec?

Author:  Gerald Guay [ September 7th, 2010, 7:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Camp Kapitachuan 1965

A friend of mine was a bush pilot out of Senneterre. He use to fly into Lake Wetetnagami every spring with his canoe (no roads to the lake then) and live of the land. He would land on various lakes and taxi into where possible portages were. He also knew most of the trappers using those lakes between Senneterre, LaTuque and Chibougamou.

I met Rod B sr by accident on 2 occasions, sharing information. He really helped my exploring the entire region.

By the way did you ever take the Lake Cemetery portage with the burial graves?


Author:  mhinckley [ September 7th, 2010, 8:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Camp Kapitachuan 1965

never heard of it. where is it?

Author:  mhinckley [ September 8th, 2010, 8:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Camp Kapitachuan 1965

by the way, mentioned in one of your earlier posts that you'd received emails from a few other ck alums. if possible, i'd love to read them ( thanks.

Author:  jthumphreys [ June 2nd, 2011, 4:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Camp Kapitachuan 1965

So fun to see this thread. I was a Camper / Counselor at CK from 1978 - 1982 and again in 1986. We did a number of trips - Macho / Panache, Megiscane / Ashepabanca, Wetetnagami, and the AMAZING Nicobi River trip (which also had us lining UP the Opawica River for 2 days after completing what we think was a virgin run down the Nicobi). Even though the Nicobi was only 12 miles long, it is 1 solid rapid and there were no portage trails along the river. We spent 2-3 days cutting portages and picking off the rapids 1 by 1 - it was amazing. This was a truly amazing and very formative part of my young life. I keep telling myself that I have to get back up there with my kids and take them on a nice trip up the Kekek, down the Pascagama thru Lac Susie, Bernier, Lacoursier, etc... But, I would be concerned about the logistics. I have also heard that Carl Williams is still living in Salisbury CT coaching skiing and restoring canoes - I would love to look him up someday. If any of you guys have heard from any other CK alumni, please encourage them to join this discussion. I still have all my old photos and journals from these trips. I might post them on facebook at some point.

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