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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

 XIV

VIRGIN AS GOD MADE IT

Directly before us lay the valley of the Susan, enclosed by low, somber, wooded hills.  It had undergone no visible change in the years that had elapsed since Hubbard, eager, enthusiastic, and in the full vigor of life and health, entered it never to return.  The quiet waters of the little lake, the fragrant perfume of balsam and spruce, the expanse of dark forest with its mysterious silences and undiscovered secrets were the same now as then.  In civilization a decade is a long time; in the wilderness it is nothing.  The wilderness, undefiled by the hand of man, virgin as God made it, is as unchangeable as the firmament.

How well I remembered that sunny July afternoon, so long ago!  How well I remembered Hubbard’s eager, almost boyish anticipation, when this view first opened before him!  Far up in those haze-shrouded hills was his death place.  The bronze tablet which was to mark the spot, and his old college pennant, lay in the canoe before me—sad sequel to hopes of yesterday.

On the westward side of the little lake, in plain view, the mouth of the Susan opens.  The Beaver River mouth, placid and broad, is on the south side.  It is so placid and broad, indeed, that the casual observer would believe it a part of the lake and pass it undiscovered, for the river takes a sudden bend to the westward, and the forest effectually makes masks it from view.  This explains how Hubbard passed it without investigation to enter the plainly visible Susan.

A few miles above Grand Lake, separating the Susan and Beaver River valleys, lies Porcupine Hill, raising its wood-clad summit a thousand feet above the river.  It is a notable landmark, for it is the highest and most prominent elevation in the vicinity.

Enclosed by low sandy banks, the Beaver, broad and beautiful, with a gentle current, led us for a time directly toward Porcupine Hill.  Then came a sharp turn, and we found ourselves paddling almost directly back, in a southeasterly direction, toward Grand Lake.  Presently, however, with another sharp turn in the River, Porcupine Hill again lay before us and we approached to its very base before again turning our backs on it, this time to take a southwesterly direction and leave it finally behind us.

The river, with these wide sweeps, forms a gigantic letter “S”.  Here and for many miles above the little lake its bottom is sandy, and sandy banks enclose it on either side.   From the river banks the forests roll away over the hills.  The principal trees found here are balsam fir, spruce, larch, aspen, juniper and an occasional birch.  It is worthy to note that we discovered during our journey that the juniper of Labrador is afflicted with a blight, which seems to be spreading rapidly and destroying the trees.  It is apparently as destructive a blight as that which afflicts the native chestnut of our eastern states.  In some sections which we traversed we were scarcely able to find a juniper tree alive.

On we paddled mile after mile.  The sky remained heavily clouded, but there was no rain to interfere with our comfort.  The river was broad and beautiful, the air was sweet with spicy odors from the damp forest, flies, which usually make life miserable for the voyageur in the Labrador wilderness, were not numerous, and we were all thankful that we had decided to spend the day in our canoes, breathing this pure air and surrounded by this charming and romantic scenery rather than moping in the dreary cabin on Grand Lake.

We did not hurry.  It was Sunday, and we were not to make serious work of our day’s travel; so we paddled along easily, permitting ourselves ample opportunity to enjoy the beauties of the wilderness scenery through which we were passing, and to revel in the glorious sense of freedom from conventionalities, a freedom which one always feels upon plunging into the wilds.  And at noonday when we stopped to cook our dinner ashore, we lingered a full hour around a cheerful fire to chat and smoke our pipes.

The Beaver here, in its ascent takes a wide swing to the southwest, drawing steadily away from the Susan, whose course from the little lake is nearly due west.  Evening was approaching, when Judge Malone remarked:

“See that, boys?  There’s something ahead!”

He pointed to a bit of foam, and we knew that our first rapid was not far away.  But this was to be expected.  The current had been gradually strengthening, but by keeping well inshore and taking advantage of the eddies, paddling was not difficult, and progress was good.


Boiling the kettle on the journey to Hubbard’s camp.
L to R:  Judge Malone, Gilbert Blake, Dillon Wallace
(
©Canadian Heritage Information Network)

 

Next: Chapter XV: First Portage