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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ILLUSTRATIONS

CHAPTER I:
A JOURNEY OF SENTIMENT


CHAPTER II:
THE FATAL ERROR


CHAPTER III:
DUTY FIRST


CHAPTER IV:
A MAN'S GAME


CHAPTER V:
A PERMANENT MEMORIAL


CHAPTER VI:
WILL THE ICE TURN US BACK?


CHAPTER VII:
STORMY VOYAGE


CHAPTER VIII:
RETURN TO NORTHWEST RIVER


CHAPTER IX:
A CHIEF VOYAGEUR


CHAPTER X:
THE BEAVER IS A BAD RIVER


CHAPTER XI:
SOUNDING THE BIG LAKE


CHAPTER XII:
BREAD WITHOUT BAKING POWDER MAKES ME SICK


CHAPTER XIII:
I NEVER TRAVELS ON SUNDAY


CHAPTER XIV:
VIRGIN AS GOD MADE IT


CHAPTER XV:
FIRST PORTAGE


CHAPTER XVI:
TRAIL COMPANIONS


CHAPTER XVII:
MURDOCK'S RAPID


CHAPTER XVIII:
TRACKING THROUGH BOULDERS


CHAPTER XIX:
MARCH TO YOUR FRONT LIKE A SOLDIER


CHAPTER XX:
IT'S ALWAYS BAD LUCK TO TRAVEL ON SUNDAY


CHAPTER XXI:
WORST COUNTRY FOR GAME I EVER SAW


CHAPTER XXII:
BACK TO GET THE BAKING POWDER


CHAPTER XXIII:
DISASTER IN THE RAPIDS


CHAPTER XXIV:
TAKING STOCK


CHAPTER XXV:
GRAPPLING


CHAPTER XXVI:
INDIANS HAVE PLENTY OF HARD TIMES


CHAPTER XXVII:
THIS RIVER IS LIKE A BAD WOMAN


CHAPTER XXVIII:
NO RELIEF FROM WADING


CHAPTER XXIX:
HELL AND TWENTY


CHAPTER XXX:
BACKPACKING TO THE SUSAN


CHAPTER XXXI:
VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH


CHAPTER XXXII:
THE MIND WORKS CURIOUSLY


CHAPTER XXXIII:
RELIVING THE PARTING


CHAPTER XXXIV:
MARKING HUBBARD'S BOULDER


CHAPTER XXXV:
A NEW DISASTER


CHAPTER XXXVI:
THE HARDEST BIT OF TRAVELING I EVER DONE


CHAPTER XXXVII:
SOMETHING WORTHWHILE UP THERE IN THE HILLS


NOTES

PHOTO GALLERY

COLOUR SLIDE GALLERY

ADDENDUM TO
THIRD EDITION

COMMENTS ON THE
NAMING COMPULSION

 

BACK TO THE LABRADOR WILDS

 X

THE BEAVER IS A BAD RIVER

The Indians had watched our preparations with interest, and they had warned Gilbert , who was a great favourite among them, that we would find it impossible to ascend the Beaver River.  “The Beaver is a bad river,” they said.  “One summer is too short to go up it.  No Indian would ever attempt to ascend it, except on snowshoes, when it is frozen, in winter.”

“That’s the way the Indians always talk when folks go to their country,” said Gilbert.  “Maybe they’re right; we’ll see.  No one knows what that river’s like but the Indians, and we’re going to find out.”

And so we dismissed the Indian warning without further consideration.                            

The men found many last things to do in preparation for their absence from home, and it was nearly ten o’clock on Friday morning when at last they announced themselves ready for departure, and we carried our outfit to the wharf where the boat and canoes had been drawn up to receive it.

The boat was to be manned by Gilbert Blake, Murdock McLean and William Montague, and was to carry the bulk of the outfit to the head of Grand Lake.  Judge Malone and I were to man the first canoe and Henry Blake the second, with just enough outfit in each to serve as ballast.  The second canoe was but sixteen feet in length, and had considerably less beam and depth than ours.

Leaving Gilbert to superintend the final loading of the boat, and to see that nothing was forgotten or overlooked, Malone and I took leave of Thevenet and crossed the river to the beach below the Hudson’s Bay Company’s wharf, where Heath, with Tom Blake and several natives, had gathered to bid us farewell.

Presently the boat and canoe drew out from the French post, Judge Malone and I took our places in our canoe to join them, and our little flotilla turned westward.  Immediately there burst forth a rattling discharge of firearms on both sides of the river.  Every man connected with the two posts—and some of the women too, I believe—took part in the salute, and our men responded, to the extent of their ability, with the rifles and shotguns in their possession.  For several minutes, and until we rounded the point above the Hudson’s Bay Company’s post and were lost to view, the firing continued.  A mile beyond we met a boat containing two native hunters, and here again salutes were exchanged.  The salutes were fired as an expression of good wishes, and farewell.

The morning had dawned clear, but before we reached “the rapid,” as the place is called where the river, with a strong current, pours out of Grand Lake, three miles above the posts, the sky became heavily overcast and before twelve o’clock a drizzling rain began, and a heavy, depressing fog settled, to deny us the enjoyment of the picturesque scenery of this most beautiful and charming lake.

We halted at one o’clock among the rocks, on the north shore, to “boil the kettle,” at the same place where Hubbard and I stopped for the same purpose ten years before, but long ago evidences of that first fire had been obliterated by the spring floods.

The fog was so dense as to be almost stifling when we resumed our paddles half an hour later.  We could see neither shore of the lake, and though we were near enough to our companions for a time, we could scarcely make them out in the thick mist.

It was agreed that we should rendezvous at Cape Corbeau, a high, bold, rocky bluff jutting out into the lake on its south side, some eighteen miles above the outlet.  Malone and I, leaving the slower moving boat and second canoe to follow, paddled in the direction of Cape Corbeau, and were quickly alone in the fog and beyond the sounds of voices and oarlocks.  After two hours we rested and listened for our companions, but nothing indicated their positions in the thick fog, and Malone shouted:

“Halloo!”

“Halloo!” came back the answer, but it came from high above and in front of us.

“Who is there?” shouted Malone.

“Who is there” came the voice after a brief interval.

I was peering into the bank of fog, and through a rift discovered, in faint outline, directly ahead of us, the towering cliffs of Cape Corbeau.

“It’s Cape Corbeau’s echo,” said I.  “We’re right off the Cape.”

“It’s the most remarkable and wonderful echo I’ve ever heard!” declared Malone.

No reply had come from our men, and for half an hour we paddled about experimenting with the echo at different distances and from different points. It was indeed a most remarkable and wonderful echo which he had so accidentally discovered.

“ The echoes of Killarney are reckoned among the finest echoes in the world,” said the Judge as we landed at the base of the cliff to await the boat.  “I’ve heard the Killarney echoes often, but they’re not equal to this.”

We shouted at intervals, but recognized no answer, and at length, collecting driftwood, we lighted a fire, for standing idly in the drizzling rain upon the dripping rocks was not a cheerful experience.  Here we chatted and smoked until late in the afternoon there came faintly out of the fog the distant report of a gun.  We fired a shot or two in reply, but another hour passed before the boat and canoe, with the men very wet, hove into sight.

A mile above Cape Corbeau, and midway between Cape Corbeau and Shiny Point—another rocky bluff—a small brook winds down through the forest to join Grand Lake.  At the mouth of the brook there is an excellent camping place, and here we pitched our tents and made our first camp.

Murdock, Henry and William were to occupy Gilbert’s tent, Malone, Gilbert and myself the larger Balloon-silk tent.  In the latter we were to use the tent stove.  The tent was fitted with a mosquito-proof front of cheesecloth, and was to serve as our dining tent and general gathering place when rain or flies made sitting around the open campfire unpleasant.

Our tent has not been unpacked since coming from the outfitters, and now upon opening it we found to our annoyance that the asbestos ring, through which the stove pipe was to pass, had been placed in the rear instead of the front, rendering the use of the stove exceedingly awkward; and the cheesecloth front was detached, with no method provided for attaching it.  I mention this instance as teaching the lesson, place no reliance in outfitters: take nothing for granted; inspect everything before going into the field.  Our tent had been made for us by one of the best-known outfitting concerns in the United States, and still these glaring, annoying errors in construction occurred.

While the others were making things snug, Malone and I attached the tent front, securing it with improvised fastenings.  The tent was swarming with mosquitoes, however, before the front was in place, and altogether our first camp was an unpleasant one.


Judge William Malone (L) and Dillon Wallace before start of journey,
at the Hudson’s Bay Post landing at North West River,
departure point for Hubbard’s ill-fated 1903 expedition.
(
©Canadian Heritage Information Network)


Protected against flies for the ascent of the Beaver River.
L to R Gilbert Blake, Malone, Wallace.

 

Next: Chapter XI: Sounding The Big Lake