Sunday, December 21, 2008

Old Family Canoes X

Continuing the "Wooden Canoe" article:
Their trip planning guide was an autographed copy of "Deep River Jim's* Wilderness Trail Book" published in 1935 by the Open Road Pioneers Club for Boys. Of course this was well before Cliff Jacobson was dispensing canoe trip wisdom in books and magazines. In fact, it was probably before Cliff was born.
After months of planning and days of driving the intrepid foursome arrived at Ft. Francis, Ontario, across the border from International Falls, Minnesota. There they decided to patronize "Lloyd's Tourist Emporium - Canoes, Blankets, Tents, Indian Guides and Provision" to stock up on food, advice and any needed euipment that they hadn't bought at the war surplus stores back home.
Their intention was to paddle the length of Rainy Lake and by a series of lakes and straits, and one long portage across the height-of-land, work their way into the Hudson Bay drainage and reprovision at a Hudson's Bay Post. The return was to be upstream on a different chain of lakes and streams and two small portages, which would take them to the headwaters of the Turtle River, then down the Turtle River and back into Rainy Lake.
The outfitter told them the trip they planned was hazardous and that they were foolish to go without guides. The two veterans concluded that waves on Rainy Lake or rapids on the Turtle River couldn't be as dangerous as a foxhole on Okinawa or a Destroyer Escort under Kamikaze attack in the East China Sea. Ned and Ken just didn't know any better. So they headed guideless into the wilderness.
* My companions called ME "Deep River Jim" when they were being respectful of their expedition leader, but "Shallow Puddle Jim" otherwise......
NOTE: It is a hard-to-believe coincidence that a then 16 year old girl named Jacque Hoger, who would one day wed my brother John, was at Ft. Francis during the same month that we started our trip. Her family had rented a cottage on Rainy Lake for the purpose of fishing for walleye. They were wed 20 years to the month after unknowingly crossing paths in Western Ontario in 1948. The marraige got me two 6'  5" nephews. Jacque discovered the coincidence when she read "Old Family Canoes VIII."
Next: The Stupid White Men
Emailed August 17

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