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PostPosted: February 19th, 2018, 11:57 am 

Joined: January 22nd, 2005, 12:16 pm
Posts: 4044
Location: Toronto
In the summer of 1955, Arthur Moffatt led a canoe trip from Stony Lake (on the Fond du Lac River) to Baker Lake (on the Thelon River). This is the central portion of the 1893 trip led by Joseph Burr Tyrrell and James Williams Tyrrell.
The other participants were Peter Franck, George Grinnell, Ed “Joe” Lanouette, Bruce LeFavour, and Fred “Skip” Pessl.
Moffatt died of hypothermia when his canoe overturned in rapids between Wharton Lake and Marjorie Lake.
Lanouette (Moffatt’s bowperson), kindly permitted me to post his trip journal as equally kindly transcribed by his daughter Elizabeth Emge.

I refrain from commenting here on the contents of Lanouette's journal.
I refer the reader to my blog for a discussion of Moffatt's death on 14 September 1955 and the extensive literature that began in 1959 and continued to 2014.
External URL for the main text of the blog:
Access to the other parts of the blog is achieved by means of the Internal URLs provided at the end of each entry. Please note that all parts of the blog are still being edited, and also that I intend to add more Ancillaries.
My edits.
The text of Lanouette’s journal is provided exactly as received.
But I added colours to the dates, and I edited some information regarding campsite location

Copyright to all the following belongs to the Lanouette family.

The Journal of Lanouette.

Log of the Dubawnt River Trip, Summer of 1955.
Saskatchewan and N.W. Territories, Districts of Mackenzie and Keewatin.

Post 1. 16 June to 1 July.

Thursday June 16, 1955.

Bruce and I checked out of our room at the Green Lantern (in Hanover, N.H.) some time around noon. We had come up to Hanover on the 14th to make final preparations for the trip. We both left our rather heavy gear in the hall of the “Green Latrine,” and sat around in the Inn lobby and on the porch until we were met by Art and his wife, Carol, in their pickup truck at around three o’clock. There was some hassle over what had happened to the bulk of Art’s order for colored film. However, because part of this shipment had been lost, it was decided to begin the trip anyway and hope that the film could be found and delivered to us enroute. We were all dressed in our “outdoors” costumes and were all loaded down with rifles, paddles, and packsacks containing toothbrushes, etc.

The Montreal train, in keeping with the Boston and Maine policy, was late—White River Junction, Vermont, was a sweltering hotbox, and Bruce’s and my woolen and flannel shirts did little to cool us off. We met Pete Franck (Woodside, CA—Harvard) at White River.

We ate a rather good, if slightly exorbitant meal on the train—at the border, the customs inspectors who swarmed aboard began to give us a bit of guff, until Art unveiled a very auspicious briefcase containing many official documents. We were finally cleared, but, in his haste to get off the train, Bruce’s inspector forgot to give him the document declaring his father’s 30/06 rifle.

We arrived at Montreal just after dark (around nine, I believe). Montreal too was no iceberg, and, after helping Art lug his camera equipment box around for awhile, I was rather wringing wet. (Art did not have this box, weighing about 50 lbs., shipped through as its contents were too valuable to take any chances with—two Leicas, a Bell & Howell 16mm movie camera, 6,000 feet of colored films, and black & white).

Later, in Montreal, the four of us were met by the Canadian National Railroad agent as we got off the train. We were ushered into his office and threw the bull around with him and some reporters from a Montreal paper who were there to cover the story of our trip. Later, Art and Bruce went and claimed our baggage and got it re-checked to Toronto—Bruce also again declared his father’s gun, just to be on the safe side when we return to the U.S.

The officials were very nice and accommodating, and the railroad agent helped smooth things over with the conductor of our westbound train, so that we were allowed to take the bulky and heavy camera box aboard our “sleeper” coach. We managed to get the last paddle and fishing pole aboard a scant three minutes before the train pulled out of the station. This feat entailed some rapid motion on our part, and, once again, I felt as though I had been gently dipped into a hot geyser.

The sleeper was all made up, and because one is only allowed to smoke in a sort of combination head (bathroom) and lounge, it was to this delightful place we retired. The “smoking room,” as I shall call it, was already inhabited by a half-dozen or so male passengers—included in this group were six young volunteers headed to the London, Ontario, paratroop school and their “chaperone,” a really funny sergeant-major—the kind of guy you always see in British army movies. He told dirty jokes and had the whole “room” laughing their asses off. Around midnight things settled down somewhat. I drew a short straw and got a top bunk—so did Art—we suffered—damn car had no air conditioning.

Friday, June 17.

I woke up early—it was hot as hell in that bunk at 6 a.m.—our train was due in Toronto about 8:10 that morning.

Once in Toronto, we checked our personal gear and decided to make the plush Royal York Hotel across the street from the station our G.H.Q. Art went to the desk to see if anyone had sent a message to him—no. Bruce, Pete, Art and I then went downstairs to the coffee room, had breakfast and ogled the models that inhabit the place during dress manufacturer’s conventions. After breakfast Pete, Bruce, and I waited until the bank in the building opened (10 o’clock). I converted my American traveler’s checks and some Canadian cash I had bought in Hanover to Canadian checks.

After this, while Bruce, Pete, and I went shopping for packsacks, Art went to see about his film. We bought 60 rounds of ammunition for my 30/30 and 40 rounds for Bruce’s gun. Then we split up and Bruce and I went around to see about getting a Geiger counter. We had no luck—the store we went to had only one cheap model, costing about $30. We decided to forget about Geiger counters. We each bought magazines and wandered back to the lobby and out of the sun.

At twelve-thirty Bruce and I went downstairs to the coffee shop where we were supposed to meet Art and Pete. Pete was on time, but Art was held up for about 45 minutes by a reporter from the Toronto Star. After lunch, and gazing at more models, Bruce and I again went up to the lobby and tried to seem as inconspicuous as possible in dark corners while we waited for Bruce’s father and “Uncle Garde.” Art went off to the bank and Pete wandered off somewhere by himself.

At about three I spotted Bruce’s father and uncle and we went over to talk to them. Bruce went upstairs to collect the extra cartons of weeds they had brought and I waited for Art. Finally, everyone showed up at the lobby and we sat around talking until it was time to meet Skip’s train from Detroit (3:10 P.M.) We met him; he checked his bags, as did the rest of us, clear through to Prince Albert, Sask. And we went back to the lobby. Bruce’s father treated us all to dinner down at the coffee shop, and then he and “Uncle Garde” accompanied us to the station. When we got there a photographer from the “Star” wanted us to pose for a couple of pictures and we obliged.

Again we had to wrestle with a porter to take the “body” (as we called the equipment box) aboard. Again a station agent intervened on our behalf and we were finally settled down in another “sleeper”—this one was much newer and quite comfortable—the air conditioning worked. We pulled out at about 6:10, and soon, we were back up in the smoking lounge. We met two very nice guys—one was in the Canadian airforce and the other was a mining engineer. Both were young and seemed to know a lot about the northern “barrenlands,” as it is called.

Finally, someone found a club car while I was in the smoking compartment and, when I went back to our seats, none of the gang was there. Suspecting what had happened, I zipped madly from car to car until I found them all sitting around in the club car. This car was very well cooled. I found a swiveling armchair next to Bruce, and, because it was too dark to see any scenery, I decided a nice cool scotch would provide ample substitution—it did. Finally, after the drink, and after slinging it some more with the pilot and the engineer, we went to bed. This time Art and I got the lowers—Skip also got one. I flopped into bed, put the shade up, turned the air conditioning up full blast, and in a few minutes was quite “crumped out.”

Saturday, June 18.

I woke up at around five with a great case of “green-apple-quick-step.” After a quick trip to the head I was back to my normal sleepy self and slept on until about eight. When I got up, I ate breakfast and was sorry to hear that the club car had been dropped during the night. I spent most of the rest of the day in the smoking compartment of the head. Gradually we came to the “bush” country. We stopped for fuel and ice at such places as Hornepayne, Longlac, Nakina (saw the first Indians there), Armstrong, and, at Sioux Lookout, we met some old friends of Art’s who received his equipment when he begins his Albany River trips. It was raining when we got to Sioux Lookout in the afternoon—we talked to his friends for so long that the train started off without us. After a mad scramble, we all managed to pile aboard and stood out on the platform as we went through town. It rained fitfully for the rest of the day. Just after dark, we came to the prairie lands, but for obvious reasons we couldn’t see a lot.

We drew lots for bottom bunks. Again, Skip, Art and I got the lowers. All of us except Skip decided to wait up until after we went through Winnipeg. When we got off there for our half-hour stop at around 10:30 P.M., Bruce and I went up to the waiting room and got a couple of postcards. Art and Pete went back to the train early, but because Bruce and I had some writing to do, we stayed. Finally, as were getting ready to board, a reporter, who said he had been looking all over for us, came up and we gave him a hasty interview until we came onto the concourse. We had to shout the last few answers to his questions as we leaped madly after the train, after again nearly missing it.

Sunday, June 19.

I woke up at five with a bright sun streaming into my eyes. The prairies were rolling by outside the window. We were due in Saskatoon at eight in the morning and, because I didn’t feel sleepy, I got up, got washed and dressed. We had time for a leisurely breakfast and I sat around in the smoker until we finally reached our destination—I talked for a while with an older man who had spent some time up in Churchill and he told me all about it.

When the train stopped, we unloaded and transferred to the northbound Prince Albert train. An old coot of a conductor named Old Bill gave us a rough time and wouldn’t let us take “the body” aboard, so Art trotted off to see the station manager with whom he had been in touch while planning the trip. Skip ate breakfast at a restaurant in the station.

From what I saw of Saskatoon, I really ate up the city—even the railroad station is quite beautiful and modern, as are the houses and farms along the tracks. When Skip and I got back to the train, we found that the others had loaded everything aboard—we found them in the last car—we had the whole thing to ourselves.

The train finally pulled out and barreled north to Prince Albert at about 20 M.P.H. (because the tracks are so flimsy). It took until noon to reach our destination. When we arrived, we checked up on our baggage, found it all there, and went to eat at the P.O. café (which serves pretty darn good food). After lunch, we each got a room at the Hotel Marlboro, and have since been wandering about town or just taking it easy. We heard from one of the station agents that the mosquitos at Stony Rapids are really wicked.

Art got in touch with a Mr. McCleod, who is manager of Saskatchewan Government Airways, and he is going to meet us tomorrow morning around nine, at the station, to take us out to the airport in his truck, along with all our baggage. We are to be awakened at seven by the hotel clerk tomorrow, and now, I am planning to take my first and last real honest-to-Christ bath since we left Hanover.

The brief rain shower we had this afternoon has cooled off the city considerably, and it is quite cool outdoors—chilly, in fact. I hope to be able to take some pictures tomorrow. In the morning, if I have time, I intend to buy a gun case to protect my rifle.

Monday, June 20.

Our phones rang promptly at seven, but because I had been up so late writing up the log, I had a hell of a job waking up—finally made it though, and washed up and went down to the coffee shop in the hotel for breakfast. A warm front caused the early morning sky to be totally overcast—a cold wind was also blowing, and I didn’t feel too comfortable in my one flannel shirt.

After breakfast we all sat around until about nine, and then, while Art went to the station to meet the guy who was to truck us out to the airport, the rest of us went downtown to buy some last minute stuff. I got myself a gun case, mosquito repellent and a plastic briefcase. Art had checked us all out at the Marlboro, so all we had to do was to get our gear in the rooms together and turn in the keys.

We then went to the station and Art said that McLeod was to meet us at 10:00 and take us to the plane. We went back to the lobby and sat around, killing time. Finally, at about 10:30 the guy showed up, but he had so much crap in his panel truck that only Art could ride out with him—the rest of us grabbed a cab. By then the skies were clearing and it had begun to get warmer. We rode a long way out to the airport—when we got there we checked our baggage and paid for the many pounds of overweight we had.

Because the plane didn’t leave ‘til 12:30, we wandered about for a couple of hours and grabbed a bite to eat at the airport cafeteria. I went into the hangar and watched the mechanics working on the single-engine planes that were stored there.

Shortly after lunch, we got ready to board the DC-3 that was to take us north. The baggage and the passengers were all stuffed into the main cabin. The supplies weren’t tied down at all, and I half expected a crate of something or other to come tumbling down on me—however, this did not happen.
The flight was less than smooth. A few minute’s flying time obliterated all signs of civilization on the ground below, and all we could see were forest and lakes. As we flew north, we began running back into the clouds that had left Prince Albert. I caught a short nap and woke up just as we landed at Lac La Ronge—we had been flying for about an hour.

We stopped off for a few minutes—none of us left the plane—more baggage and an American fishing party clambered aboard and were stuffed into whatever room was available. Again we took off, just barely clearing the edge of the rough “cat-made” strip. After a few more minutes in the air the clouds were noticeably lower. Soon we were zipping around from cloud bank to cloud bank, and we saw the ground at increasingly rare moments. What we could see of the terrain was covered with water. After about an hour in the air, we came to the other side of the front and the sky began to clear. The trees became increasingly sparse and short—more and more rocks protruded from the thin mantle of soil. We could plainly see the huge grooves ground into the land by ancient glaciers. Most of the lakes were elongated and finger shaped where the grooves had been filled with water.

About two hours after we left Lac La Ronge we made ready to land at Stony Rapids. As we skimmed lower and lower we flashed past the tiny settlement and made a cross-wind landing on the bulldozed strip (we soon saw that the other runway had been all but washed out by rain and melting snow). When we got out, all we could see were a couple of station wagons and a flock of Indian families curiously watching the proceedings.

The village, or for that matter any structures, were nowhere visible. We loaded the village supplies and our own gear aboard a large wagon and one of the white men, by the name of McLane, drove us to the settlement. Skip and I walked into “town” with an old Scotsman named Johnstone, who tells us he has been up in this country for about 30 years. He told us that the barge had brought in 3 canoes the previous evening and this news tickled us somewhat.

McLane found us a tiny cabin with four bunks that isn’t being used, and we have set up camp there. We will probably stay a week, until next Monday, when the barge brings in the food we ordered. We also have to wait for George Grinnell to join us—he should come in on Monday’s flight.

After stowing the personal gear we were allowed to bring with us on our flight, (the rest, including tents and rifles, is due on the next plane) Art, Bruce, Pete and I went to the Hudson Bay Co. to introduce ourselves to the manager and to check the canoes. The post and most of the other buildings including an Indian hospital are very neat in appearance. They are painted white and trimmed in various colors. The roads are all dirt and rock. Our cabin is up on a hill overlooking the lower end of the rapids. To our left is the conservation officer’s house, and to the right is another empty cabin, even smaller than our own.

We hung around in the store for quite awhile. Finally I heard a plane and went out on the dock to watch it land on the river. It was black and yellow and made a graceful landing on its silver pontoons. I believe it was a DeHavilland “Beaver.” As the plane reached the dock, I grabbed the wing strut too late to prevent the pilot from rumpling the tip of his right float on one of the pilings—he was rather pissed off at me, as there was a hole in the pontoon, although it was up high enough to still be waterproof. After this, I came back to the cabin and we all sat around doing nothing much until dinner, which consisted of one can of beans apiece, coffee, peaches, and bread. Pete worked on his paddle after dinner, sanding and shaping it, and Art, Pete and I went for a walk along the river later on. The rapids are really swift—the mosquitos and black flies are incredibly thick. Bruce bought a license and went fishing. We got back from our walk at about 10:00 P.M. The sun was still well above the horizon, and it looked as though it was about six in the evening.

The Indian children looked as healthy as anyone can look and they are rather curious and friendly, though somewhat shy. We saw several husky dogs and some that looked like wolves. Later on we could hear them baying and howling at one another.

Some of the Indians speak very good English—others speak rather poorly—I guess they speak a mixture of Cree and Pidgin English, at least to us. The Indians are of the Chipewyan (Chipwyan) stock; and Art says they are related to the Navajos. We learned the reason that so many Indians were here is that tomorrow they are to collect their annual $5 a head as part of the terms of a treaty made with the Canadian government many years ago for the use of “their” land. Art and the rest of us will go to the Indian village about two miles from here and photograph the ceremonies.

At about eleven PM, the sun went below the horizon, but by midnight it was still almost light enough to read by. The mosquitos seemed to knock off for the night at about this time—they all came into our cabin to get a good night’s rest. We sacked out after Bruce came trundling in with two Arctic grayling—(about 12:30), although we spent quite a while batting mosquitos about the room.

Pete, having drawn the short straw, will be sleeping on the floor until we leave here. Skip and I have bottom bunks, and Art and Bruce have taken the uppers. All that we can hear now (besides the mosquitos) is the howling dogs and three Indian girls—one has an accordion and another is toting a guitar around, and they are wandering around town, playing.

Tuesday, June 21.

We slept rather fitfully, and I was awakened several times by mosquitos. We got up around seven o’clock and Skip boiled up some oatmeal and opened a can of tomato juice. This, and some rather weak coffee, consisted of breakfast. The morning was cloudless and beautiful. It was rather warm in the sun, but our cabin was fairly comfortable because of the wind (which also served to keep the blackflies & mosquitos under control). After breakfast, Pete washed the few dishes we used (which we had borrowed from Mrs. McLane right after our arrival). After this he started sanding his paddle while Bruce and I wrote up our logs. Art and Skip wandered off somewhere.

The Indian agent, a couple of the other conservation officers, and two Mounties had come in on a boat around seven in the morning. The “Chipwyan,” a cargo barge not owned by the Hudson Bay Co, was also tied up to the dock when we awoke.

We ate an early lunch so that we could go out and watch the Treaty ceremonies at one in the afternoon. Lunch was made up of 3 “pilot” biscuits apiece with strawberry jam. I drank them down with water, the other guys swigged down coffee which Skip had improved upon since his morning’s fiasco. After lunch, I sacked out a few seconds. After awhile Art, who had gone out again, came back, and we got our camera equipment together and started walking down the jeep trail through the woods to the Indian village. We had walked only a few hundred yards when we heard the “beep beep” of a horn. A green Model T Ford pickup truck came flashing along the dusty, bumpy road, headed to the village. Driving the truck was our next door neighbor, the conservation officer—I had not seen him before and was duly impressed by the great bushy eyebrows that stuck out straight, rather than lying flat along his brow. He was middle aged, craggy faced, and looked extremely Scottish. Riding with him, in his rig, was another conservation officer—a burly gent—he was rather gigantic, very pleasant, and had blue eyes. Riding in the back was yet another officer of a more taciturn nature.

The buggy ground to a sputtering, creaking halt. Art and I hopped into the back with the third officer—the others decided to hoof it to the village. After a rough ride, which followed the river’s course, we came around a bend and into the village. A white church and schoolhouse were the main buildings. The whole area was cleared and the Indian huts were scattered about. These quarters were unpainted little one-room cabins made of substantial squarish logs—the chinks were stuffed with a greyish mud. Indian adults and children congregated about the truck when it drew up before the schoolhouse (where the ceremonies were to be held).

We got out of the truck and sat around or took pictures. Many dogs were present. Most of them were huskies, and some of them looked a lot like wolves. They loped rather than ran, and were not exactly the friendliest things on earth. Presently, two Mounties and the Indian agent walked into the village, as did Skip, Pete, and Bruce. The Mounties were decked out in full dress uniform and looked pretty business-like. The agent was a young guy.

After quite a delay, we finally went into the schoolhouse and we “foreigners” stood around in the back of the room. At the desk were the two Mounties flanking a government official, and the agent, who sat at the far right of the desk. All were seated. Behind them was the British flag, tacked to the blackboard.

The room began to fill slowly with Indians, who sat at desks. They refused to start the meeting until Chief, Jeremiah Crow, arrived. Finally, at about 2:15 he came in. He and the two council members sat up front, facing the flag. To their left, in the front row, sat a woman interpreter. The proceedings began—the Indians, who continued to drift in and out of the room, talked among themselves while the white men called off the names of the family heads. Each time a name was called, the agent would call out the number in the family and whether the children were boys or girls. The agent then counted out five dollars a head in one dollar bills, handed it to one or the other Mounties, and he in turn gave it to the Indian who had come up to the desk.

One old Indian lady didn’t want to accept money for one of her children, as she said she didn’t want to take care of it any longer. There was somewhat of a hassle about this, and I guess she finally took the money. Apparently, if the parents don’t want a child, they will give it to whoever wants to care for it.

At around 4 o’clock, after we had taken pictures, and things began to drag, Bruce, Skip, Pete, and I decided to walk back to Stony. Art hung around talking to the priest, the school teacher, and various other characters.

It had clouded over and a few drops sprinkled down—Bruce decided to fish and the rest of us watched him for a few minutes until the flies got thick. We got back to the cabin and goofed around. Finally, Art came and we had “dinner.”

There was to be a big dance at the village that night, but because it was too cloudy for pictures, and we were rather bushed, we decided not to go. At nine o’clock, a truckload of screaming Indians roared out of Stony, and we were left in relative peace and quiet.

As the sun was setting, an oldish man named Henry Lafferty, who has some Indian blood in him, came to visit. We sat and talked for a long while. He told us many things including how to dry caribou meat, how thieving and dependent upon the white man the Indians have become, how hungry the dogs are and what length the dogs will go to to steal or get food, etc. He stayed until quite late, until he had run out of Indian and Eskimo lore; and a few minutes after he left, being too tired to care about mosquitos, we sacked out. Bruce, the only guy still awake, went fishing (he caught 2 small graylings and soaked his boots). The sky was still bright.

Wednesday, June 22.

Although we had sprayed the cabin with bug bomb and there hadn’t been many mosquitos when we went to bed. The noisy bastards woke most of us up pretty early. Skip got up to make breakfast, but when he saw that we were out of gas and had no canned milk, he hopped back into the bunk “to conserve energy.”

The day was another quasi-cloudless one and, at one time during the afternoon the temperature inside our cabin reached 90 degrees F; although the humidity was low, and we didn’t mind the heat at all.

The Hudson’s Bay post opened around nine, and Pete went down to pick up the necessary gas and milk. Breakfast consisted of hot oatmeal and tea for Skip and I; coffee for the rest.

After breakfast, we were sitting around writing up logs and letters, when a man came by with a telegram. We all figured something had gone wrong, and, sure enough, it had—we learned that our supply barge was “unavoidably delayed,” and that it will not reach us until sometime early in July, around the fourth (It had been due the 27th of June). We swore many blue streaks, and then, after the first traumatic shock had passed, we went back to our log books and letters for the rest of the morning.

At lunchtime we had pilot biscuits and jam.

We continued writing until mid-afternoon; when the DC-3 was due to arrive. Art, Skip, and I walked out to the strip with cameras to photograph the plane as it came in, and to collect the thirteen pieces of baggage we had left at Prince Albert the preceding Monday.

The pilot screwed us up by choosing the wrong runway. There was a “no wind” condition and he could just as easily have come in on the runway we had planned to cover. However, Art did get off a few frames, despite the angle of the sun and the hasty gallop to the other end of the field.

When the plane landed, four tall Texans got off. They were enroute to Black Lake for fishing and did not hang around. A sanitation inspector and an Indian woman also got off the plane. We counted only eleven pieces of baggage out of thirteen, and the pilot said he would check into the matter—missing are a packet of mineral sample bags and an old dynamite case we wanted to carry canned goods. We were happy to see the rifles, axes, spare thwarts, pots, pans, dishes, and other stuff, including tents, arrive safely.

Our immediate plans for the future are rather hazy because of the delay of the arrival of our food via barge—we will, in all probability, wait until George comes in on Monday, and then we may make the move to Black Lake and fiddle around there until the Hudson’s Bay Co. delivers the goodies—another alternative is to wait right here at Stony.

After the plane left, all that remained to be seen on the field was the Indian woman walking slowly back to town all by herself. We followed suit soon after and brought our supplies (which had been driven into “town” by McLane and his station wagon), over to the cabin.

By then it was nearly time for dinner, so Art, Bruce, and I went to Mrs. McLane’s store and got ahold of the ingredients for a great “glop.” Last night’s glop consisted of noodles, peas, tomatoes, and bully beef, tossed into a pot and heated. I had two and a half bowls of the stuff, and, while the other guys ate canned plums for desert, I ate the remaining three pilot biscuits and the rest of the jam.

Bruce and Skip decided to try out for some lake trout, so they took out the green canoe.

Pete continued to work on his paddle, and Art and I ran into the sanitation officer and “Scotty” Johnstone, walking along the road. The sanitation man was somewhat of a moss fancier, and he was out collecting specimens for some American professor at Grinnell College in Iowa. The four of us walked over to the hospital. We met the nurse and, later, the cook—at least I did. (There is no doctor, just a resident nurse—the hospital accommodates five patients and the really sick are flown out.)

Art, Scotty, the sanitation inspector, and I talked for quite awhile—presently, Henry Lafferty came in, and we talked some more. The topics ranged all the way from what mushrooms are poisonous to the fire sixty miles to the north, to how to make blood biscuits out of blood, flour and salt, and how the white man is a fool for not eating fish and game entrails. The nurse invited Art and me over for dinner next Tuesday, but I don’t know if we’ll be around to take her up on it. She was disappointed because none of us knows how to play bridge or chess. “Scotty” is a good guy—he keeps kidding Art about the way he spells his name with two “T”s on the end. Art didn’t like the sanitation man, but I think he’s OK, if somewhat plant-happy. Lafferty too seems like a good egg. We left the hospital around ten and came back to the cabin. Skip and Bruce were back, sans fish, and Skip thinks that the canoes are somewhat shorter than they have been in the past. We crumped out a few minutes after we sprayed the room and screens with bug-bomb.

Thursday, June 23.

I was first guy to “unbutton my eyes.” Not too much happened today--another beautiful day with the temperature climbing as high as 85 degrees in the afternoon. I and most of the rest of us spent the morning writing letters to go out on the afternoon plane. After giving my letters to the manager of the Hudson’s Bay post, Mr. Speers, I went out on the dock and took pictures of a DeHavilland “Beaver,” owned by the R.C.M.P. I got into a conversation with one of the Mounties about the plane, the duties of the flying squad of Mounties, and the terrain, from a pilot’s point of view. The “Beaver,” costs about $80,000, fully equipped with radio and pontoons, cruises at about 115 M.P.H. with floats, 135 M.P.H., with wheels. It has a 450 h.p. Pratt & Whitney air cooled, radial engine, and can fly about 6 hours with full tanks.

A Cessna”180” kept shuttling back and forth between the fire to the north and Stony, bringing out supplies and Indian volunteer firefighters.

After lunch (pilot biscuits and jam) Art went over to the Post and learned that between Speers and McLane, we could get most of our food supplies together and forget about the “delayed barge.” He told them to order the few missing items, such as Klim and hardtack, flown in. They should be in on Monday’s plane, along with an additional 4 rolls of film I ordered.

Feeling rather grundy, I decided to take a bath and trundled down to the river, through much brush and jack-pine. The water was cold, but refreshing. I felt much better and cleaner all the way back to the cabin, but by the time I got back, I was pretty well stickied up again.

We goofed around until dinner (more glop), and then Art and I took the green canoe out. We met Scotty and he rode along as passenger, while we paddled. The goddam bugs were bad because of the still air but we paddled about a mile downstream anyway.

After dropping Scotty off, Art and I shot the lower end of the rapids—not much to it. When we got back to the “mansion,” our little “Wuthering Heights,” Henry Lafferty was there and we slung the bull until around eleven. Henry told us many things—how to tan a hide as the Indians do, what the best cold weather furs are, and how lousy eider-down sleeping bags are (they absorb sweat, which freezes between the layers, while you sleep, and the inside of the bag frosts up). It was not long after he left that we sacked. Pete kept screaming that our bug-bomb was making him want to vomit.

Friday, June 24.

Again, I was first out of the satchel. Sat on the steps next door and tootled the harmonica for awhile. After breakfast, I began transferring my personal equipment from one of Art’s packsacks to my own. The other guys went down to the H.B.C. warehouse to compile our supplies, and I joined them after a few minutes. The inside of the storehouse was beautifully cool and I was as happy just sitting around while the goodies were assembled in a huge mound on the floor.

We spent the rest of the morning checking the supplies. Skip and Bruce went over to McLane’s and brought back 87 onions and 90 pounds of oatmeal. After using up all our packsacks and wooden boxes there still remained quite a mound on the floor, and for awhile we toyed with the idea of leaving some grub behind, but that was short lived, and we decided to buy more packsacks, especially because we still have a couple hundred pounds of food coming in on Monday’s flight. The question now can we safely stash all our gunk aboard our 18 foot canoes?

Henry Lafferty was in the cabin when we went back for lunch.

Around “plane time,” Art went out to see if he could take more pictures of it as it landed. Our two missing pieces of luggage were located at P.A. and arrived on the plane.

Just before dinner, Skip and Pete went for a short dip in the cool, cool water.

After eating a rather flat “glop” dinner (it seems dehydrated carrots, with their rubbery consistency, don’t pep up a meal too much) some of the local kids, including the accordion girl, came over to invite us to a dance in honor of the school teacher, who is soon to be leaving Stony Rapids.

Bruce and I went outdoors for awhile and threw rocks at tin can targets across the street. Some of those kids (who by now numbered at least ten) are pretty dead-eye—finally, the mosquitos got too bad, and we gravitated indoors. I am now writing up the log. It is almost 10 P.M., and another group of kids have just been by to remind us again that Miss Coward (the teacher) wants to see us. Bruce is out fishing, and the rest of us may soon be going to watch the festivities. A Mr. Babbin, the teacher at the Indian village is going to bring his accordion, and some of the kids will play guitars, etc.

Lafferty’s dogs are howling—he must be feeding them.

Saturday, June 25.

We finally made it to the dance around eleven o’clock. Pete preceded Art and me by about an hour, and by the time we got to the schoolhouse, he was stumbling around trying to do a “round” dance. The place was crowded, hot, and quite brimming over with mosquitos. Art, I and, after the dance, Pete, hung around in one corner watching the dancers. Some guys connected with the Canadian Nickle Co., who had flown in earlier for the dance, came over and we talked awhile with a couple of them. Some of them were taking geology at University of Manitoba, and were with Canadian Nickle for summer field jobs.

Mrs. Priest, the Mountie’s good-looking wife, who reminds me a lot of Mrs. Bensley was there, as were Miss Coward, the teacher, and Tillie, the cook at the hospital. Many people sat around watching, so, from our corner, we did not feel too out of place.

Skip was back at the cabin, sleeping, and Bruce was fishing, but he later joined us.

Mr. Babbin, the Cajun schoolteacher from Stony Lake, played his accordion, then an Indian fiddler took over, and he was joined by a girl with a guitar. Many reels, and round dances were played, and one dance, called the butterfly, was executed. Henry Lafferty came in later on, and he called several dances. Art left fairly early, but Bruce, Pete, and I hung around until the sun showed signs of coming up, at around one thirty. It was light out by the time we sacked and we had a bit of trouble getting to sleep.

Stumbling around the cabin at seven o’clock, Skip did a good job of waking us all up. We had a delicious breakfast of oatmeal, and decided to go on a canoe picnic. Art was planning on taking pictures of the Indians, so he stayed behind while Pete and I took the red canoe, and Bruce and Skip took the green one.

It was a good, cloudless, hot day, and the paddle downriver, though into the wind, was rather enjoyable. By around noon we came to the place where the river widens out considerably before coming into Athabaska. We found a beautiful little red-sand beach, and decided to have lunch. The beach sloped gradually. About 25 yards back stretched a meadow covered with tiny white flowers and several shade trees. Beyond the meadow rose the ever-present forest of jack-pine.

After lunch we lolled around for awhile, and then everyone but Bruce went swimming. After that, Skip and Bruce went fishing and Pete and I went on along the coast. I took a picture of Bruce as he caught and landed a northern pike (Jack-fish). We started back around three. Pete and I found a cairn, but Pete didn’t want to land to look it over, and this rather tweaked me off. Coming back was a grind. My right shoulder became cramp-ridden, the bugs came out, and blisters began to appear on my hands. Pete bitched a couple of times because I was breaking the rhythm of the stroke to ride waves or slap at horseflies, and that in turn griped me. My shirt had been off all day, and I did manage to pick up a pretty good tan.

When we got back to Stony we were all pretty well bushed. We stopped about a mile from the wharf and Bruce took a couple of dives into the river from some glacier-rounded cliffs nearby.

Art was in the cabin making “glop” when we got back. Also there was a one-eyed Indian named Fred Toussaint, who was looking for a job as a guide. Because he made no move to leave, we offered him something to eat—he accepted. After eating he and I talked while the others went outside to cool off. He spoke some English and I learned that he traps on Boyd Lake during the winter. Henry Lafferty came by later on and stayed on until around midnight—Fred, who hadn’t said much after talking with me, left around eleven.

Sunday, June 26.

We got up pretty late. I was surprised to find that except for the blisters, I was in good shape from yesterday’s paddle.

Art, who had thought it too hot for the hike to the Indian village at Stony Lake yesterday, decided to go over today. He, Scotty, and Skip left in the morning and came back in time for dinner. Bruce and I sat in the sweltering cabin, cursing the humid heat, and Pete went out bird watching. I spent most of the day writing to Molly, and Bruce, too, had quite a bit of writing to do.

After “glop,” Art went over to the hospital to talk with Grace Wyatt, the resident nurse, while the rest of us shot the shit and loafed around sweating. Henry came over again, and later, when Art came in, he brought us some of the first news of the outside world we had heard in quite awhile: An American plane had been shot down over the Bering Sea, and a girl had water-skied for 20 hours on one leg somewhere in Florida.

I now have a lousy case of prickly heat on both hands.

I decided to shave today—first time since Hanover. Bruce and Skip are growing beards. Boris (Bruce) looks grundy as hell and is in the “scratchy beard” stage of growth. Skip’s beard is thicker. Boris gave me much guff for shaving, but I feel less grundy.

Monday, June 27.

We didn’t do much except wake up early, thanks to the mosquitos. It was hot as hell and twice as humid, but today, for the first time since leaving P. A., we saw many clouds. We thought for awhile that it might rain, but we were lucky. It didn’t. The fires (there are now several) to the north are still raging and a Saskatchewan. Government Airways Cessna 180 float plane has been roaring in and out of Stony.

In the afternoon, around 2:30, George’s plane came in. He was on it alright, but none of our supplies, other than flashbulbs and film, were on it. We were rather tweaked about this. The plane was a little late because 10 people (two whole families) drowned over at Uranium City, and a lot of their relatives were aboard, heading for the funeral. A party of American fishermen who had been waiting to leave could not get aboard, and, consequently, the plane, after going to Uranium, came back to Stony to pick up the fishermen.

After George stowed his stuff at the cabin we went down to the wharf and loaded one of the canoes with its share of equipment, to see how she would ride, if at all—the results were encouraging. In the evening all of us except Bruce went to the hospital and visited with Mrs. Wyatt and Tillie. She took pictures of the group, and also a couple of shots of a beautiful rainbow. We had cookies, cake, and ginger-ale and sat around until 11:15 or so—George drew Mrs. Wyatt maps of NYC (where she will be going for her vacation this summer) and we learned that she had been to Burma and India during WWII. She showed us her album, and later, when Scotty came in, he too showed Art pictures of the “Old Country.” (Scotty’s first name is Herb).

The bug-bomb ran out tonight and there was much cursing and gnashing of teeth as the wee bastards buzzed busily.

George slept on the floor and rocked the cabin with his snoring (according to Skip who claims he was nearly vibrated out of his bed).

Tuesday, June 28.

We got up early—the day was another humid scorcher. The plane (which we heard yesterday) was to come in again today. We had radioed the pilot to be sure to bring in our grub. But the plane did not come in, and, according to Maclean (McLane), would not be in until Thursday. We were again in a state of pique and decided to leave Stony Rapids without the goddam tomato paste. Just about this time, Speers found some cases of hardtack, and things again looked reasonably rosy.

In the afternoon some tremendous black clouds blew in, and we thought sure we’d get washed off the hill, but, aside from a few drops we got no rain. Lightning flashed around for awhile and the river looked absolutely black and eerie. Some of us had wanted to leave in the afternoon, but by the time we got all packed it was too late, and we decided to put off the move to Black Lake until morning. We also learned that Maclean was charging us a dollar a night for the cabin and were tweaked that he hadn’t told us about it before.

Art made arrangements with Emile Tralenberg to get ourselves, our supplies, and our canoes trucked the 16 miles to Black Lake, thus saving us at least 6 miles of portage and several days of hard work. We also learned that more fires had broken out about 25 miles downriver, to the west; the sky was thick with smoke.

That night, the Cessna 180 bringing in supplies to Moore (he is with the Canadian Topographic Survey) landed and we learned that he is now on Carey Lake. Word has it, from the pilot, that there is still some ice left on Carey, and that there is plenty left on Dubawnt Lake. Tralenberg is due to come by about nine in the morning—we went to bed early.

Wednesday, June 29.

We got up at 7:30, had breakfast, and cleaned up the cabin. I went down to the store and swapped a carton of cigarettes for 10 big bars of chocolate and some cheese for my own personal use.

We loaded Emile’s truck, filling it to the brim and crowning the load with 3 canoes. It took us until noon to travel the rough road scratched out by “cat” through the jack-pine. We had to stop twice to put water in the radiator. Art, I, and Emile sat in the cab sweating to beat hell, the others rode in the back. Going along the road, we suddenly saw a great cloud—fire. We thought sure we’d wind up fighting fires yet.

After coming into Camp Grayling, we loaded up the canoes, and, to our dismay, found someone had swiped three of our paddles, leaving us with no spares at all. We sent word back to the HBC to send us three paddles via the next vehicle out to Black Lake. We are now camped on a rocky point, waiting for paddles that may not show up for a couple of days. There is no wind, and considering the bug tales we have heard about this lake, we have so far been pleasantly surprised.

Art has been taking some movies—a few Indians have gone by on their way to the fire, to fight it. O.B. McNeil (our neighbor, the Conservation Officer with bushy eyebrows) has been checking on the fire and rounding up Indians to fight it. There are about six fires in the vicinity and the country is bone dry.

Bruce went fishing but got only one nibble.

We all, except Art, went for a very refreshing swim before “glop.” The sun is now below the horizon—ducks have been flying by and Art got a telephoto picture of a lone loon paddling about. The tents are up and we are getting ready to roll out the sleeping bags.

Thursday, June 30. Camp #1. West Black Lake.

Art and I woke up pretty early in our two-man mountain tent. It was hot inside the thing and I didn’t sleep too well. At almost exactly eleven o’clock last night, as if by pre-arranged signal, millions of mosquitos came swarming and swooping down upon us and forced an end to our outdoor activities—a couple of mosquitos crawled inside the tent when we went in, but by sheer skill and determination we crushed the bloody crap out of them. We could hear them all through the night as they circled hungrily around the tents, but, as yet, no one has poked a hole in the netting and we only heard them.

When we got up this morning, the sky was a coppery gray from the huge fires across the lake. When the sun did manage to break through for a few minutes, it cast its orange rays upon the copper colored waves. We cannot see any flames from our camp, but all we see is plenty of smoke.

The wind came up this afternoon, bringing whitecaps and three-foot waves crashing ashore on our rocky point.

Bruce and Pete took a canoe out this morning to fish, and to go over to Camp Grayling to see if our paddles had come. When they got back at 12:30, they told us that Tralenberg had found the paddles back at the H.B.C. where the canoes had been stored. He brought them over to an Indian village about three miles from camp and on the other shore of the lake. One of the people at Camp Grayling said they would motorboat over and bring our paddles to us.

After Bruce and Pete got back the waves became higher, and, at this point launching a canoe would be quite tricky. Those of us who remained in camp this morning didn’t do much. I played my harmonica, Art read, Skip slept, and George went for a walk in the bush.

This afternoon consisted of much the same sort of activity, except that at one point, we battened down our supplies because of the heavy winds and the imminent likelihood of rain. The temperature this afternoon hung at about 72 degrees F, but a damp, spray-filled wind made it seem a bit cooler. Right now, after dinner, the thermometer has dropped to 67 degrees.

Skip and George lay down on the rocks this afternoon and nearly got washed overboard when the waves began to pile up. Undaunted, George merely put on his poncho and went back to sleep.

During the morning the bugs were fair—most of the trouble came from horseflies and some mosquitos that took refuge under the overturned canoes. With the wind, however, most of the bugs have thrown in their towels.

Across the “narrows,” about two miles away, we can just make out a tent. Closer inspection with field glasses reveals that it is a 4 or 5 man tent with walls.

About 2:30 we saw the Camp Grayling motorboat heading to our point. They had to land about 1000 yards down shore because of the waves, and Bruce beat his way through the woods to get the paddles and pick up any news he could about the fire. He learned that there are so many fires and there are so few men around that the fires can be left to burn themselves out. He came back with the three missing paddles and a very cordial invitation by one of the camp co-owners (an American from Elgin, Illinois) to come over to their camp, if weather permitted. By the looks of things now, it doesn’t look as if we’ll be able to make it; the waves are still rather high and a stiff wind is blowing. We may not be able to leave here tomorrow if the waters don’t calm down and the southeastern wind doesn’t knock off; however we may be able to sleep better tonight; more breeze fewer bugs.

Items not provided in the email message.
Note (see maps for campsites, points of interest, routes, etc.)
Camp #1 – (West Black Lake, near Elizabeth Falls).

Friday, July 1. Camp #1.

The first day of a new month and a damned cold and windy one at that. Art and I awoke at about the same time—9:30, and saw Skip heating up the oatmeal breakfast. After a quick weed apiece in our cramped quarters, we jolly well had to get out, or else smother in smoke.

I slept a whole lot better than last night, although I woke up once during the middle of the night and found myself squashing Art into a tiny space about a foot wide—when you roll on an air mattress you don’t stop rolling until you’ve rolled overboard.

According to Bruce’s thermometer, the temperature around breakfast time was 59 degrees; the temperature of the lake surface was one degree colder. A strong wind was blowing whitecapped waves high onto our rocky “sun deck,” and the big fire across the lake was throwing up a dismal smudge. We had to move the campfire away to a drier spot.

While breakfast was being prepared I went out and chopped some wood with Skip’s dull axe.

After breakfast, the lake was too rough to launch even an empty canoe, so we decided to put off the 12-mile paddle to the first portage until the wind quit. We all did different things to while away the time, which by now, grew heavy on our hands. I played the harmonica until I was blue in the face. Art went into the woods for awhile chasing an elusive bird. Pete and Skip disappeared into the woods and the rest of us just goofed off. By noon the wind began to abate, but the waves, although no longer white-crested near shore were still running deep farther out.

We varied the usual 3 pilot biscuits with cheese, peanut-butter, and jam for lunch, by cooking up some dehydrated soup and throwing the rubbery biscuits into it.

When Skip came back, he was lugging a fairly good-sized set of caribou horns and skull. Deciding that he wanted to send it home, we thought we would paddle over to Camp Grayling, when the waves died down, and see about getting the horns sent back to Stony Rapids. Around 5:30, we launched the green canoe, and, after thumping around on some rocks while clambering aboard we shoved off into the lake. A hefty tailwind, let us tear through the water. At Camp Grayling, I gave the wife of the guy from Elgin, Illinois four letters to mail—two for Art and one to friends back home. Skip left his horns to be delivered, and then we left. Coming back, we bounced over some large waves—felt like a destroyer charging through an Atlantic gale.

We made a fairly well executed landing back at Camp #1, and after a few minutes, George, Skip, and I were working at the “glop”—my contribution toward our “cooperative effort” was to melt Oxo cubes (boullion). We feasted on butterscotch pudding for dessert.

Soon after dinner, the wind died altogether and the sky began to clear—except for the smoke. Bruce and Pete decided to take a canoe out for some fishing, and I, as passenger, am writing this entry while they are trolling about.

The evening is a coldish, damp one—the water is fairly smooth, its oily, glassy surface broken only by the quieting remains of the afternoon’s storm. The smoke has settled to the surface of the vast, quiet lake and is hanging thick and motionless like a fog bank, sending its acrid fingers into the pink skies. The bottoms of the low clouds are a deep reddish-purple, and I can hear a lonely loon crying mournfully from the depths of the smoke-cloud.

By now Bruce has hooked two lake trout. The first one weighed 4 ½ pounds, and it is lying at my feet, a coagulating puddle of its blood covering the varnished wood of the canoe bottom. Bruce and Pete want it for breakfast, and, as far as I am concerned, they can have him. As we paddle along, a slightly fishy smell wafts to my nostrils and my foot has slipped into the pool of gore—dammit! Bruce’s second fish was slightly smaller and he let it go.

Right now, we can hear an outboard motor droning toward us—probably from Camp Grayling. My nose and hands are cold and those mosquitos are pecking at my head-net, trying to grab a bite to eat.

Directory for the items of Lanouette’s journal.
The limit of 60,000 characters required eight posts.
Post 1 of 8. 16 June to 1 July. ... 81&t=46535
Post 2 of 8. 2 July to 16 July. ... 81&t=46555
Post 3 of 8. 17 July to 28 July. ... 81&t=46557
Post 4 of 8. 29 July to 7 August. ... 81&t=46561
Post 5 of 8. 8 August to 20 August. ... 81&t=46610
Post 6 of 8. 21 August to 2 September. ... 81&t=46696
Post 7 of 8. 3 September to 10 September. ... 81&t=46737
Post 8 of 8. 11 September to 16 September. ... 81&t=46738


A literal mind is a little mind. If it's not worth doing to excess, it's not worth doing at all. Good enough isn't.  None are so blind as those who choose not to see. (AJ)

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