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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
that, boys? There’s something ahead!”
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
Boiling the kettle on the journey
to Hubbard’s camp.
L to R: Judge Malone, Gilbert Blake, Dillon Wallace
(©Canadian Heritage Information Network)
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