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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

 XV

FIRST PORTAGE

Our hope was that the Beaver in taking the wide swing which I have mentioned, and therefore following a longer route to the plateau than that of the Susan would rise to the higher altitude much less abruptly.  Steep rapids occasionally around which we would probably be compelled to portage, were in any case to be expected.  Rapids were of course inevitable in rising to the elevation of the plateau.  But we hoped that between the rapids the current would not be found so swift so as to preclude the pole or track, the canoes, and that we should have the relief now and again of an easy stretch of water that could be paddled.

Presently we reached the rapid Judge Malone had foretold. It was short, and we pushed through it without difficulty with our paddles.  But just beyond more foam met us, followed by a little longer rapid, and beyond that a great deal of foam promised still heavier water.  The promise was fulfilled, and almost immediately we reached the first rapid necessitating a portage. 

The river here splits into several channels, none of which are very deep.  The judge and I each carried a load around the rapid to a point where the river again reunited into a single stream, while Gilbert poled our canoe, thus lightened, through the rapid.  Murdock and Henry, with their canoe, followed the example.

The sand in the river bottom had now given way to boulders, and the shores too were strewn with big, round, smooth-polished boulders very difficult to walk upon.  High hills were now crowding close in upon the river—so close that during the spring floods the river occupies the entire space between the hills.

A mile above this rapid we stopped to camp.  We had traveled sixteen miles with little effort, and were well pleased with our first day’s progress.

Here we found the only timber of sufficient size to be of commercial value that we encountered in the whole course of our journey.  Whether there is enough of it, however, to pay for the establishment of a logging camp I cannot say, as we made no attempt at cruising about to investigate the quantity.  Some very good tracts occur along the lower Grand River valley and at points along the south side of Hamilton Inlet, notably along the Kenemish River.  There is also good timber near the mouths of rivers emptying into Sandwich Bay, south of Hamilton Inlet.  Several lumbermen of large experience have at various times opened logging and lumbering operations at all these points, but none has been able to make a paying operation of his venture.  Some, if not all, met with considerable losses before finally admitting defeat.  One big steam saw mill in Hamilton Inlet, gradually falling to decay, stands an eloquent monument to the failure of Labrador as a profitable lumbering region.

Practically all of the timber in reach of tidewater has been taken up in claims, but no one is now making any real attempt to cut and market the lumber, and the claims are apparently held for speculative purposes only.  Indeed speculators have marked off on the map, and taken up in the government office in St. John’s, Newfoundland, claims of lumber tracts far inland where no lumber cruiser and no surveyor has ever been, and of which the claimants know nothing.  These claims, generally speaking, have no more marketable timber on them than the streets of New York.

It is quite unlikely that the timber we saw on the Beaver River would be worth the cutting.  The expense of logging and marketing it would be much greater than the expense attached to the Hamilton Inlet operations, and in addition to that it is doubtful that sufficient timber would be found here to employ a logging camp through the season.

Camp making was a routine of everyday life to our trapper voyageurs, and it had also become, in our travels, more or less of a routine to Judge Malone and myself.  In a well-organized party of experienced campers, each man is assigned a duty, and when a halt is called to make camp he turns his attention to the performance of that duty with the precision of a soldier.  This eliminates confusion and disorder.  When we stopped at the place chosen for our night camp, Henry and Murdock turned at once to pitch their tent, Malone and I to pitch ours, while Gilbert devoted himself to the fire and the preparation of supper.  Thus in fifteen minutes our tents were up, good beds of spruce boughs laid—spruce beds make better beds than balsam because more springy—duffle stored in the tents, and we were ready for supper.

This was a pleasant camp, and we were in excellent spirits when we settled ourselves around the campfire directly after supper for our evening smoke.  A little way above us was a rapid, but it gave us no concern.  We were confident it would prove only an interlude between good stretches of paddling water.  Our day’s work had not worried us in the least.  Neither had flies been troublesome.  We had been compelled to don but once, and then only for a short time, the head nets with which we were provided as a protection from their attacks.


Tracking on the lower Beaver.
L to R: Judge Malone, Gilbert Blake, Murdock McLean, Henry Blake

 

Next: Chapter XVI: Trail Companions