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A P Low's map and the Hubbard tragedy
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Author:  Allan Jacobs [ October 7th, 2008, 12:45 pm ]
Post subject:  A P Low's map and the Hubbard tragedy

I've read accounts that assign part of the blame for Hubbard's death to an error on A P Low's map.
I've read also that Hubbard's party should have realized that they were on the wrong river (something about people having sailed partway up the Naskaupi, whereas you can't do that on the Susan). Maybe more of this later when I go over more sources.

I just stumbled across links to A P Low's Labrador maps at Ottertooth:
Canada’s Iron Man: Retracing the routes of mapmaker and Explorer A. P. Low.
Southwest ... 6_mn01.sid
Northwest ... 6_mn01.sid
Southeast ... 6_mn01.sid
Northeast ... 6_mn01.sid
I should say that the zoom feature doesn't work for me when I use these links; I have to go back to the Ottertooth article to do that.

The Southeast map is the one of interest here.
I don't know that Hubbard had access to the NRCan map in its current version. But here's my reading of it.
Routes that Low travelled show the geology.
Routes that he didn't travel are marked differently; the key river is the Nascaupee. The implication of the different marking is that Low was relying on others for these rivers.
Does anyone know whether Low travelled the Nascaupee (Nastkaupi)?
Now I don't know that the map is accurate, but it is easy to say after the fact that Hubbard should not have relied on it explicitly, given that Low seems not to have travelled that route (subject to the qualification above, whether Hubbard saw the map so marked).

There are many pros on this site, so I wonder what their opinion is. And of course I wonder whether I got the story right as far as I've gone.
The important question though is whether Low got a bum rap and I'd like to try to settle that one.

Yours in paddling, Allan

Author:  jmc [ October 8th, 2008, 1:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A P Low's map and the Hubbard tragedy

I don’t think Low ever paddled the Nauscapi.

Certainly Low’s map – drawn from hearsay, I think - was not correct. In particular, it showed just the one river flowing into the end of Grand Lake rather than the four (Nascaupi, Crooked, Beaver, Susan) which are involved in the 1903 and 1905 “Hubbard” expeditions.

It is surprising that in his conversations with locals before his trip that Hubbard was not told the Nauscaupi entered Grand Lake in a bay on its north side, with the Crooked, rather than at its far southwestern tip (where the Susan and Beaver enter). I think in the book Wallace admits they saw the northern bay and, in hindsight, should have explored it. At another point in the book, I recall a statement to the effect that the locals didn’t mention it (the Nascaupi mouth location) because they didn’t believe it could be missed.

Regardless, Hubbard must have been capable of the “willing suspension of disbelief” to reconcile the actual conditions on the Susan with the description he had been given of the lower Nauscapi, and so maintain his belief that he was on the Nauscapi despite the doubts raised by Wallace and Elson on this point. Low can hardly be blamed for this.

I think what really did Hubbard in was his decision, after crossing the “mountains” from the Beaver headwaters to “Lake Hope” and its westward extension that he called “Lost Trail Lake” (I think they are now together known as Hope Lake on modern maps) to portage north into Lake Disappointment and begin the debilitating “Long Portage” west to Michikamau. Lake Hope in fact drained west to Michikamau’s southeast bay, which was depicted on Low’s map (now to the Smallwood Reservoir). This is the route the Gipps / Bassi expedition followed in their retracing of Hubbard’s expedition. If Hubbard had found this route – the Metchin River – would he have reached Michikamau and survived? How hard did he look for an outlet, and how hard was this outlet to find? Whatever motivated Hubbard’s decision at this point, Low cannot be held responsible for it.

As Wallace wrote in the “Lure of the Labrador Wild”:

“We portaged into it on Tuesday morning (August 25). Our course was over a neck of land which was mostly soft marsh partially covered with spruce. We did not know then that in abandoning Lost Trail Lake for Lake Disappointment we were wandering from the Indian trail to Michikamau. Some Indians I met during the winter at Northwest River Post told me that a river flowed out of the western end of Lost Trail Lake into the very southeast bay of Lake Michikamau we were longing so much to see. This was the trail. And we lost it.”


Author:  Allan Jacobs [ October 8th, 2008, 3:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A P Low's map and the Hubbard tragedy

I agree that Low's map doesn't show all the rivers flowing into Grand Lake.
But it shows both the Naskaupi River and North West River (which is the Beaver?)
Low's map does show the Naskaupi entering that bay to the north. And the map looks remarkably similar to today's, given that Low did not head up that bay.
So I would prefer to say that Low's map showed Hubbard exactly the route his party should have taken.
I don't see that Low's not showing all four rivers should have misled Hubbard.
In my mind, Low is entirely blameless for Hubbard's death.
I'll try to dig up more on statements blaming Low.
Yours in paddling, Allan

Author:  hooligan [ October 9th, 2008, 12:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A P Low's map and the Hubbard tragedy

Allan Jacobs wrote:
But it shows both the Naskaupi River and North West River (which is the Beaver?)

I don't think it is the Beaver, more likely the Red Wine. I'm a bit fuzzy on the source, can't remember it coming from the big lake. Otherwise why would the main route to the interior be up the Naskaupi, Wapustan portage, Seal Lake and then more upriver??
IMHO, Low did not have any affect, either positive or negative, on the Hubbard expedition. Hubbard killed himself through obstinacy.


Author:  jmc [ October 9th, 2008, 2:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A P Low's map and the Hubbard tragedy

Allan, I am not sure what you mean in your last comments on Low’s map.

When I view the SE quadrant of Low’s map on the Ottertooth site, I see only one river entering the far end of Grand Lake. This river is shown as the junction of the Northwest and Nauscapee Rivers, which meet some distance above Grand Lake – the Northwest draining from Michikamau and the Nauscapee from Seal Lake.

Locals told Hubbard in 1903 that the term “Northwest River” applied only to the short swift where Grand Lake flowed into Groswater Bay (Lake Melville) by Northwest River Post. It was the Naskaupi that drained from Michikamau. The traditional route to Michikamau went up the Naskaupi a short distance, then went by the portage Hooligan referred to (beginning opposite the mouth of the Red Wine, which rises near Lake Disappointment) to ascend the Crooked River before returning to the Naskaupi at Seal Lake (which is on the river draining Michikamau, contrary to Low’s map). Wallace went this way in 1905, while Mina went directly up the Naskaupi. Both Phillip Schubert and Rugge and Davidson used the Red Wine to access the Hubbard memorial site – hiking overland from the Red Wine to the Susan at its junction with Goose Creek. Wallace tried to ascend the Beaver in 1913 – where the plaque he had intended as a memorial for Hubbard was lost in a canoe capsize not that far above Grand Lake.

In this map, from the Atlas of Canada –


the Naskaupi and Crooked enter together in the bay on the north shore, while the Beaver and Susan enter the extreme southwest end of the lake. These two entries are some 5 miles apart.

I agree with Hooligan on the cause of Hubbard’s misfortune. I think Low was a great traveller and mapmaker – indeed, Hubbard would have been wise to follow the route Low actually travelled and mapped up the Grand River. But as much as I admire him, his (drawn from hearsay) map of the Grand Lake watershed is highly inaccurate.


Author:  hooligan [ October 9th, 2008, 2:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A P Low's map and the Hubbard tragedy

Knew I had a picture somewhere and after searching all my files,found it on CCR gallery!
Me at the start of the Wallace portage of 1905. Way in the background is the Red Wine River joining the Naskaupi.
Wallace did not want to start his portage here, he arrived a few hours after Elson/Hubbard and found their footprints in the mud. I guess he feared meeting Mina on the trail more than the brutal route overland. Elson/Hubbard took the Wapustan portage and beat Wallace by six weeks.



Author:  Allan Jacobs [ October 9th, 2008, 2:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A P Low's map and the Hubbard tragedy

My apologies!
I messed it up completely.
Maybe more later, maybe much later.
Regards, Allan

Author:  wotrock [ February 4th, 2009, 10:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A P Low's map and the Hubbard tragedy

I have been reading the books and looking at some of the maps. I can't find "Windbound lake" on the present day topos. Has it been drowned out by the Smallwood Reservoir?

Author:  Allan Jacobs [ February 5th, 2009, 6:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A P Low's map and the Hubbard tragedy

Two pieces of evidence, alas contradictory, that it is the Pike Lake on today's maps:
1. From Mary Lake, Hubbard's party went west to Windbound Lake. The only sizable lake west of Mary is Pike.
But this assumes that the Mary Lake on today's maps is the same Mary Lake as then.
2. Brad Bassi's map at ... outes.html shows the Hubbard party as turning back at Pike Lake.
But the same map does not show Hubbard's party as passing through today's Mary Lake.

Remainder edited from first post:
A possible resolution is that this part of Hubbard's route is marked incorrectly on Bassi's map.
The notes (I have at hand only Clayton Klein's book) refer to Mary Lake as "the lake that looked like a river", a description that certainly fits the Mary Lake at Toporama.
On the other hand, there's a stringy lake (looks like a river) to the northwest of Disappointment Lake, on line with Pike Lake. But then this line of thinking leads also to the identification of Windbound Lake as Pike Lake.
Another piece of evidence is the reference to the hill that Hubbard and George climbed and saw Michikamau.
Toporama shows a ~100 m hill at
53d 57' 51" N 62d 42' 26" W.
From there, when one looks toward the present Smallwood Reservoir, one would see the present Mary Lake as a narrow strip of water.

I think Windbound is Pike and that the two Mary Lakes (Hubbard and Toporama) are the same.
But the people whose opinions matter are Troy Gipps and Philip Schubert.

Author:  jmc [ February 5th, 2009, 10:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A P Low's map and the Hubbard tragedy

Yes, I think that Windbound (and the last large lakes that Mina paddled through in 1905 before reaching Michikamau) are now part of the Smallwood Reservoir. Windbound was just east of Michikamau - Hubbard and Co. spent their non-windbound days searching for a channel connecting the lakes. And in 1905, just before reaching Michikamau, George and Mina climb a hill - from which they see the "mountain" Elson and Hubbard climbed in 1903 just a few miles to the south.

I don't think the Gipps map is entirely correct with respect to the Hubbard 1903 route.

I have (if I can find it) a pre-flooding map of the area and a copy of Mina's map from 1905. If I get a chance tonight I will try to dig them out and confirm this.


Author:  Allan Jacobs [ February 5th, 2009, 11:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A P Low's map and the Hubbard tragedy

Well, jmc knows the area far better than I, so I expect that the formation of the reservoir wiped out Windbound Lake.
Once again, wish I had Davidson-Rugge at hand. I saw the pre-reservoir sketch in the Google book link I gave, but now the blessed software won't let me access it.

Author:  jmc [ February 5th, 2009, 12:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A P Low's map and the Hubbard tragedy


If you are following the 1903 expedition on modern topos, I think you will also find that Mountaineer and Elson Lakes - from which they portaged into the Beaver River - have been misidentified (placed too far southwest) on modern maps.


Author:  wotrock [ February 16th, 2009, 9:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A P Low's map and the Hubbard tragedy

Well I did a bit more poking around on the maps I downloaded from the Nat Resources site. Windbound lake is identified on the 1: 50K topos which apparently haven't been updated since the Churchill Falls power stn was built. Windbound is indeed now part of the Smallwood reservoir, shown on the 1:250K topos. The lake shows up at approx 63 deg 15 min E and 54 N.( in UTM, ran approx. 485-495 Easting, 5978-5990 Northing). It was approx 20Km by 10Km so it's easy to see how they could have gotten windbound.

Author:  Allan Jacobs [ February 16th, 2009, 11:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A P Low's map and the Hubbard tragedy

I agree with jmc and wotrock.
What I said about Pike Lake is totally wrong.
Well, at least I'm consistent, since I blew the map business too.

Author:  jmc [ February 17th, 2009, 12:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A P Low's map and the Hubbard tragedy

Allan, Wotrock -

I found my pre-flooding topos, and also looked at the maps in Wallace’s and Mina’s books.

As Wotrock says, Windbound Lake is now part of the reservoir. My pre-flooding topos show a stream flowing west from Pike Lake into the southeast corner of Windbound Lake: the modern topos show this stream flowing into the reservoir. Windbound is gone, and so are the final lakes Mina passed through before reaching Michikamau in 1905 – all those upstream from Orma – Fremont, Mackenzie, and Agnes. Further north, Kasheshibaw – the last large lake Wallace went through in 1905 before Michikamau – is also gone into the reservoir.

Pike and Mary are similarly marked on the pre-and post-flooding topos. I don’t think there is any doubt that the modern Mary is the one Wallace called Mary – George’s long “lake like a river” where they caught all the trout on their retreat. On Wallace’s map, it is the only “named” lake between Disappointment and Windbound. Oddly, on Mina’s map (which includes Hubbard’s 1903 route) the only named lake on this stretch is given the name Pike. It seems Mina has changed Wallace’s Mary Lake to Pike Lake: the modern Pike Lake is not on the correct line for the Hubbard 1903 route. Was her resentment of Wallace responsible for this change?

The pre-flooding topo gives quite a different shape to Windbound than do Wallace’s and Mina’s maps. The topo shows a long western bay in Windbound extending nearly to Michikamau: the Wallace/Mina maps show the lake without this western bay – which would have been well hidden by islands and narrow channels – and put “Mount Hubbard”, from where Hubbard and Elson saw MIchikamau, in the northwest corner of its more open eastern section. If Hubbard had gone east and north from there, he would have found a passage into a northern bay of Windbound connecting with Mackenzie Lake on the Nascaupi River and so Michikamau. Alternatively, if he had found the long western bay of Windbound, a portage of less than a mile from its end would have put him in Agnes Lake, only a few miles from MIchikamau.

Again, as when he missed the stream draining west from “Lost Trail Lake” to Michikamau, Hubbard seems to have been unlucky in not finding the connection from Windbound to the Nascaupi River and Michikamau, either via Mackenzie or Agnes Lakes. Obviously the weather and the party’s weakness were factors. But it is also an object lesson in how much easier navigation became once aerial photography began producing accurate topographic maps, and explorers no longer had to grope blindly through a maze of islands and peninsulas, indistinguishable from the mainland at water level.


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