Kazan River - Kasba Lake to Baker Lake

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Trip Date : 
Additional Route Information
845 km
45 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
2000 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Access by float plane from Yellowknife
Start at Kasba Lake
East on Kazan River - fast current, 4 or 5 rapids
Northeast through Ennadai Lake - 60 km long - windy!
North on Kazan River - 50 km of wide, gravelly channels
Rapid at entry to Dimma Lake
North through Dimma Lake
North on Kazan River - 118 km stretch of narrow lakes
Some unmarked rapids in this section
East through Angikuni Lake (alternate start point here)
Long stretch of unmarked rapids - CBR
30 km stretch of river with few obstructions
P right around 3 cascades - caution!
5 km stretch on river
P right around marked rapid
32 km stretch of continuous whitewater
P right around large rapid
39 km stretch of calm water
One set of rapids - CBR
Northeast through Yathkyed Lake
Two sets of rapids - CBR
North through Forde Lake (25 km long)
Northeast on Kazan River
Rapid 7 km past Forde Lake - CBR
Rapid 20 km past Forde Lake - Portage on left
East through Thirty Mile Lake
North on Kazan River
P 2000 m R around long stretch of rapids ending in falls
Fast water for 15 km
Several marked and unmarked rapids
Fast water to Baker Lake
Finish at community of Baker Lake

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

The Kazan River
Inuit Ku - The River of Men
by Bill Layman
The river started to pick up speed, and I watched as the small black spruce and willows along the shore rushed by in a blur. My pulse quickened as I called out loudly, over the roar of the rapids, for Lynda to back paddle and draw, and as I did the same, the stern of our heavily loaded prospector canoe slowly angled to the left bank of the river. Loaded with all our gear and thirty five days of food, our canoe was heavy and awkward, and it was hard work to get it to respond to our paddle strokes. I fixed my eyes on a large rock on the shore so that I could make sure we weren`t slipping downstream too quickly. A few more quick draws, and then I felt it. The angle of the hull was right, and the canoe started to surf toward the left bank, and as I looked downstream, I could see that we were going to make it to shore easily before we got to the blind left-hand corner around which the river disappeared. The boat slowed as we hit the shallow water near the shore, and I let it slowly drift, tail in, around the corner. The front of the canoe cleared the rocky point, narrowly missing some large waves, as Lynda back paddled with deep powerful strokes, and I kept the stern tight to the bank.
"It`s clear, we can run it to the bottom on the left past that hole", she yelled over the sound of the rushing water.
As the stern of the canoe cleared the corner, I could see the line along the left shore that Lynda had spotted, and I called for her to paddle ahead as I did a couple of quick hard pries to straighten out the boat. The rest of the run to the bottom was through two-foot waves, and was just "plain old fun". We raced to the bottom, and I called out for a cross-bow draw as we peeled into a large calm eddy.
A perfect run through our first rapid of the year. My heart felt light with the easy confidence of success, and as I looked at the rapid through which we had just maneuvered, I saw an osprey hovering, then quickly folding its wings, and plummeting like a rocket into the water. Quickly it reappeared with a fish in its` talons. I pointed it out to Lynda and we watched as the bird slowly circled in slow spirals to the top of a dead spruce tree. It slowly spread its wings and let out a high pitched screech.... as if to announce its prowess to the entire world.
"A good omen", I thought as we carved out of the eddy, and back into the fast current of the Kazan River.
Last summer Lynda Holland, my paddling partner, and I paddled our canoe the 540-mile length of Nunavut`s Kazan River, starting at Kasba Lake and ending at Baker Lake. We traveled through this sub-arctic landscape of limitless skies and cold clear lakes for 26 days. We paddled miles of raging wild rapids, and across lakes as smooth as mirrors late into the unending sub-arctic daylight. On Ennadai Lake, we crossed the tree line, and watched as small lone clumps of ancient black spruce, looking like tiny ornamental shrubs, gave way to a treeless landscape of rock, and wet tundra plains. We walked for miles to the tops of rock-strewn hills, and as the rich, sweet odour of the tundra peat fields wafted over us, we stood like giants silhouetted against the infinite horizon. Although we battled blackflies, mosquitoes, rain, and relentless wind, we savoured every minute of our trip.
With the exception of caribou and musk oxen, wolves and arctic foxes, and millions of migratory birds, we were totally alone for our entire trip. Alone, that is, except for the new friends we made along the way, the ghosts of the Inuit who were first able to live, and thrive year round in this rugged landscape, and who so gladly welcomed us into their long abandoned homes. The Kazan River was known to them then, and still is today, as Inuit Ku, The River of Men. To the Athapaskan Dene, who visited the area on their annual hunting trips, it is known as Ka-za-dese, The White Partridge River.
Lynda and I had made two other canoe trips into the taiga of Nunavut`s southern reaches, at the north end of Nueltin Lake. These trips had been largely motivated by reading P. G. Downes` classic book, Sleeping Island. This book recounts Downes` 1939 canoe trip with John Albrecht, from Brochet at the north end of Reindeer Lake, to the Hudson` s Bay Company fur trade post run by Fred Schweder, at Windy River, in southern Nunavut. On both of these trips, we had paddled northeast through Kasmere Lake heading towards Graves Lake, on our way to the south end of Nueltin Lake. Each time, as we paddled across the middle of Kasmere Lake, I looked north to the long bay that stretched to the horizon. I knew from our research that this bay ultimately led to the Little Partridge River and Kasba Lake, the headwaters of the Kazan River, and I felt an overwhelming urge to follow it north some day.
J. B. Tyrell in 1894, and Captain Thierry Mallet of Revillon Frères travelling with Del Simons in 1926, turned north into this very bay of Kasmere Lake, tracking north upstream on the Little Partridge River toward Kasba Lake and the Kazan River. Not until J. B. Tyrell descended the Kazan, from Kasba Lake, did any European travel by canoe down this river. Along the length of Inuit Ku, Tyrell met resident Inuit, the so-called `People of the Deer`, as he had the previous summer, when he descended the Dubawnt River. Tyrell visited their many camps, traded for dry meat, watched them spear deer at river crossings, had his Peterborough canoes surrounded by 23 skin kayaks on one lake, and collected stories and maps. In short, he was allowed a rare glimpse of these people, living as they had for about a hundred years along the Kazan, and as yet not suffering any ill effects from their rare contact with Europeans. During this time, the Inuit`s annual trips to faraway Brochet, or Hudson Bay, to trade their white fox pelts were peripheral to their day-to-day pursuits required to stay alive in their barren-land home, and they were thriving. During 1894, Tyrell encountered about 20 to 25 small camps of these Inuit from Ennadai Lake to his eastward portage from the Kazan to the Ferguson River north of Yathkyed Lake. He estimated the total population along the river at about 1000 people. The sudden disappearance of the caribou herds, following freak winter weather conditions in 1915, caused wide spread famine among the inland Caribou Inuit. By 1925, when the caribou herds finally started to return, the Inuit population was estimated at just 500 people. By the mid-1950s, disease, famine, and a collapse of fur prices forced the government to relocate the Inuit to coastal communities. The relatives of these nomadic people now live in Arviat, Rankin Inlet, Whale Cove and Baker Lake. All that remains of the rich Inuit history of the Kazan River are tent rings, meat caches, and the ever-present stone men - the inuksuit high on the barren hills.
During the summer of 1926, Captain Thierry Mallet with Del Simons, and two Cree from Cumberland House, Peter Linklater, and Joe Cadotte, traveled the Kazan River to Yathkyed Lake from Brochet. An account of Mallet`s trip, entitled Exploring the Kazan, appears in the March 1950 issue of the Beaver magazine. Their guide, for a part of this trip, was one Kakoot, an Inuit, who as a young man, is thought to have traveled with Tyrell in 1894. It is not surprising that in the middle of July, when they reached Yathkyed Lake, known to Inuit as Hikuligjuaq, meaning Great Ice Filled One, and to the Dene as Yath-delgai-tue, meaning Snow White Lake, that they found their way still blocked by ice. Realizing that they were not likely going to get to Baker Lake before freeze up, they fought their way back up stream, whereas Kakoot opted to travel overland with only a rifle and modest supplies which could easily be carried on his back. Kakoot beat Mallet back to his skin tent, somewhere near the north end of Ennadai Lake, walking roughly 120 miles. Mallet and his party arrived at Kakoot`s camp, half-starved, many days later, to find a happy well-fed Inuit wondering why they were so far behind him in their return. Kakoot`s overland journey paints a clear picture of an Inuit man in harmony with his chosen home.
When we first read Sleeping Island, we were fascinated by the fact that Downes met three Inuit from Ennadai Lake, `Kazan River men` as he called them, at Windy River when he arrived in July, 1939. Inuit trading their furs at Nueltin Lake? We puzzled as to who these people were, and what their story was. The more we read about the Nueltin Lake fur trade, the more information we found about these Kazan River Inuit, and the more we learned, the more we wanted to know. Each winter, as we planned our next summer`s trip, we researched more and more information about Nueltin Lake and the Kazan River. As we amassed a mountain of information the picture became clearer. From about the mid-1920s to the mid-1940s, this area had a very active fur trade. This was when the white foxes ran thick in the north, and the Hudson`s Bay Company, Revillon Frères, and many free traders and trappers, actively sought them through their arctic ranges. Small trading outposts popped up along the Hudson Bay coast from Churchill to Chesterfield Inlet, in the Baker Lake area, and near the north end of Nueltin Lake. Various companies, and independent traders, tried to leapfrog past their competition to get nearer to the Inuit who trapped the white foxes. This competition resulted in an abnormal increase in white fox prices as each group tried to outbid the others.
With fur trade posts moving nearer and nearer to the barrens during the early 1900s, the Inuit who lived along the Kazan River no longer had to travel to faraway Brochet or Churchill, to trade for Kabloona (European) trade goods. The white fox was in such demand, and so valuable, that the traders were more than prepared to travel to the Inuit to secure the soft white pelts.
Two groups of Inuit occupied the Kazan River. The Aharmiut Inuit, meaning dwellers where willow bushes abound, lived on the upper reaches of the Kazan River, from roughly Ennadai Lake to Yathkyed Lake. Sometimes called the Padlimiut, these people could now trade at the north end of Nueltin Lake rather than making the long trip to Brochet - these were the Inuit that Downes had met at Windy River. The Inuit who lived on the lower reaches of the Kazan River, from Yathkyed Lake to Baker Lake, were the Harvaqtormiut, meaning dwellers where rapids abound. Rather than travelling to distant Churchill, these Inuit could now travel east to nearby Padlei Post, on the headwaters of the Maguse River, or north towards Baker Lake, to trade their furs.
The Inuit, from the area of Ennadai Lake on the Kazan River, who frequented the fur trade posts in the Nueltin Lake area were part of a group of Inuit known to Europeans as the inland Caribou Inuit. These people were first brought to the widespread attention of Canadians by Farley Mowat`s highly controversial books, People of the Deer, and The Desperate People. These upper Kazan River Aharmiut, and their northern cousins the Harvaqtormiut, were unique, among Inuit, in their complete dependence on caribou and musk ox, having severed ties with their relatives who all depended on the ocean and sea mammals for their survival. The Edthen Eldeli, the Dene known as the Caribou Eaters, from northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, also traveled into this area as they followed the annual migration of the caribou herds north to their barren land breeding grounds in the spring. In the fall, as the herds moved south again, both Inuit and Dene hunters tried to intercept the caribou as they crossed major rivers like the Kazan, the Dubawnt, the Thelon, and the Thlewiaza. This fall hunt was important to the Dene, and the Inuit, as the deer were thick with fat and their hides were prime for the making of their all-important caribou clothing. The area around Yathkyed Lake on the Kazan River was an area where the Dene and Inuit territories overlapped as they hunted the caribou. The Dene didn`t however, as did the Inuit, live full-time along the Kazan River preferring, instead, to retreat to edge of the forest for the winter months - the so-called taiga. The importance of the caribou, tuk tu in Inuktitut, edthen in Dene, can not be overstated. Without the deer there would have been no way these people could have survived in this rugged landscape. This fact was not lost on these nomadic people. When visiting Brochet in 1937, Downes was told by Father Joseph Egenolf, an Oblate priest, of a small Dene girl who intuitively understood the role of the caribou in her people`s lives. When repeatedly asked,
"What is the most beautiful thing our Lord has created?", the rhetorical Catholic answer being, "The angels and man", she could not be made to answer anything but, "edthen" - caribou.
Father Egenolf presented the above dialogue to P. G. Downes as proof that the Dene was "not able to learn". No doubt the Dene wondered why, if these Catholics were serious about living in their land, they seemed unable to be made to learn the importance of the caribou.
The interconnected web of information that Lynda and I collected about the Caribou Inuit, the Dene, the trappers and traders, the caribou and muskox, and the white fox, all seemed to be bound together with a single thread of blue ink on our maps. This thread, the Kazan River, inexorably bound us into the web, and we knew we would have to paddle its length.
From our research, we soon learned that the Kazan was a river of large windswept lakes, harsh treeless rock strewn landforms, and that we would face miles of raging wild rapids. Our waking hours were filled with detailed planning and packing, and our dreams were filled with all the possibilities the river might hold in store for us.
The River
Many articles have been written about paddling the Kazan River. The best comprehensive article I have read was written by Anne Spriggins-Harmuth and appears in the 1991 summer issue of Nastawgan magazine. This article describes, in great detail, all the rapids on the Kazan River and is the account of a couple paddling an uncovered canoe that chooses to portage when in doubt. They descended the length of the river portaging fourteen times.
We were much more aggressive in our decisions to paddle instead of portaging, but we were in an excellent whitewater boat, a 17-foot Western Canoeing Prospector, and we were using a spray deck. We portaged five times, each time around a very obvious huge unpaddleable waterfall or rapid. Three short carries (RR, RR, RL) at the Three Cascades below Angikuni Lake at (UTM NE 1501), one very short carry on RL at an unnamed class 5 rapid before Yathkyed Lake (UTM NE 3921), and a final carry on RR at Kazan Falls, saw us safely down the full length of the Kazan River. Between the second and third cascades, we did a careful descent along RR, and then front-ferried across the river against, a big pushy current to get to RL, where we descended along the shore to a short portage. This is a place where you just can not afford to have any doubt at all about your skills. You must have complete confidence that your ferry will work, as a swim would certainly see you swimming through the Third Cascade.
Virtually all of the rapids on the Kazan that can be paddled can be scouted from the water by eddy hopping along their length. With no trees to obstruct your vision, there is rarely any situation where the river disappears around a blind corner into the unknown, and in fact, in most places, you can see the bottom of all the rapids from your entry into them. The exception to this general rule is the first major rapid after Kasba Lake (UTM FT 5718). This is a tight turn to RL where your vision is obstructed, and scouting is very difficult, due to thick dense black spruce and willows. We paddled this rapid, without scouting it, close to shore and back-ferried our way around the corner scouting it as we went. I made sure I could stop the boat along the shore, if need be, until we could see an obvious and safe line along RL to the bottom.
We only had to scout three rapids from shore, and these are worth noting as they were difficult stretches requiring maneuvering, often in big waves and past ledges and holes.
Between Yathkyed Lake and Forde Lake (UTM NE 6988), we scouted from the shore on RR, and then front-ferried across to RL where we found a line past large waves and ledges at the top, followed by a long fast shallow straight forward rapid. Entering Thirty Mile Lake (UTM NF 9652), we paddled a long rapid on RR, in which we had to do a lot of maneuvering past ledges, holes and very large waves at the top. Near the top of this rapid, when doing our downstream turn after a perfect front-ferry, I managed to get us off line by two meters or less, and we ended up plowing head on into a very large hole. Since we were in a covered boat, the only damage was to my ego. For the next several hours I replayed that ferry and down-stream turn in my mind wondering what would have happened to us if we had been in an open canoe. Leaving Thirty Mile Lake (UTM PF 4460), we paddled the top section of a rapid carefully along RR. Near the bottom of this rapid, where a huge island splits the river into two channels, we did a very difficult front-ferry through large waves and cross currents. This ferry was above the RR channel that is a series of very nasty waves and a huge hole near the top of the island. We had to start this ferry from a boiling eddy, and it was very hard to get the canoe out into the downstream current with the proper angle. When I finally felt the RL current grabbing the hull, and knew we were across safely, the RR hole was less than 30 feet away - a shallow margin of safety. The balance of this rapid on RL, was a very easy straightforward descent. This was definitely the most difficult rapid we paddled, and in hind-sight would probably best be avoided by a short, but very rough, RR carry past the bottom.
It is also worth noting that many rapids occur between the Third Cascade and the sharp bend to the north about 30 kilometers later. Several of these are tricky and require precise maneuvering.
The Kazan is a big pushy river, and most often back-ferries and slower than current maneuvering is tricky. As I paddle stern, and am by far the stronger paddler in our team, and as I pick the lines we paddle, I quite often found it easier to front-ferry when making critical moves across the river. It would have been too hard for Lynda to steer the boat in such situations if we were to try slower than current back-ferries. As the Harmuths describe, all the tricky rapids on the Kazan can be portaged, if one so decides. My advice is that if you are in doubt in the slightest, you should portage. Any swim on this river would at best be long, and cold, and very dangerous - at worst perhaps fatal.
It is our feeling that a covered canoe is mandatory on sub-arctic rivers, not just for the rapids, but as well to allow an extra degree of safety on big lakes where high wind seems to be a daily occurrence. On cold days, a spray deck is also a blessed relief to keep you warm.
We also carry a Personal Locator Beacon, and a VHF radio. The former is like the locator used to rescue a downed aircraft, and the latter allows us to talk to airplanes in case of trouble. As well, we each carry a Silva Ranger compass, and these are put to good use in crossing the many big lakes we encounter. I also carry a GPS, but I don`t use it much for navigating. I find that it is better suited to confirm my exact location when I am making a critical change of direction on a big lake, and I prefer to use the compass for point-to-point navigating. The other function of the GPS is, of course, to allow me to re-orient myself if we ever become hopelessly lost. This hasn`t happened to us yet, but if it does I am familiar with the GPS, and understand how to read the U.T.M. (Universal Transverse Mercator) co-ordinates of my topographic maps. Do yourselves a favour, if you aren`t familiar with U.T.M, learn it now! This is a far better system, than latitude / longitude for locating precise position on topographic maps.
The Trip
The definitive book on the Kazan River is The Kazan, A Journey Into An Emerging Land, edited by David Pelly and Christopher Hanks. This book is a must read if you plan to paddle this river. This book tells the story of the birth of Inuit Ku as the Laurentide Ice Sheet retreated some 7000 to 8000 years ago. It describes the intertwining of the Dene, the Inuit, the explorers, and the caribou. It also describes the beauty of the unique flora and fauna, in what is now, a lonely and silent land.
There is a good article about the Kazan River in Canoeing Canada`s Northwest Territories: A Paddlers Guide, edited by Mary McCreadie, and in it you will learn much about the river. As well, much information can be obtained from the Nunavut Tourism Office. If you call the office, be sure to ask for a copy of the descriptive brochure put out about the Kazan River by the office of the Canada Heritage River Systems.
Inuit Ku lies in a rugged harsh landscape that is utterly unforgiving. A quick glance at the notes at the cairn at Kazan Falls shows that everything about this river is big and extreme. The price of admission to this land is huge storm-tossed lakes, big dangerous rapids and falls, unrelenting wind, no shade or firewood, clouds of blackflies and mosquitoes, cold rains, and snow and ice in July. This high-spirited river will test your skills to the extreme, and there will be days you swear you hate her, and will never return. And just as you decide to leave forever, she will reward you with herds of caribou and musk ox, wolves, arctic foxes and wolverines, flocks of migratory birds, huge red-fleshed lake trout, delicate white-fleshed grayling, absolute solitude, skies that seem to go forever, countless gravesites, tent rings, and inuksuit of the former Inuit inhabitants. Today`s quiet solitude belies the rich history of the Caribou Inuit who were, only midway through this century, removed to coastal communities.
The rugged beauty of the Kazan River captivated Lynda and I, and as I write this we are already planning our next year`s return to another of Nunavut`s many rivers, quite likely the Coppermine River. This is not a trip for beginners, and it is far from easy, but if you are prepared for all the Kazan River can throw at you, it could well be the trip of your lifetime.
This river runs from south to north, so you can start on ice-free waters and quickly paddle your way to solid ice if you aren`t careful. Many notes, at the cairn at Kazan Falls, tell of groups who spent a week, or more, waiting for open water. Starting toward the end of the first week in July is usually a safe bet, but before leaving, phone Baker Lake or Kasba Lake Lodge, and check on how break-up is progressing. Fall comes early in Nunavut, and you should plan on being off of the river by about mid-August, unless you want to battle the ever-possible early snow and ice. Be ready to fight lots of wind, and plan for it in your food. We were 26 days on the Kazan but had food for 35 days.
Starting and Ending Your Trip
We shipped our canoe and gear to Points North Landing in northern Saskatchewan with Ridsdale Transport. From here it was flown into Kasba Lake on a Points North Air DC-3 freight plane. Lynda and I arrived at Kasba Lake aboard one of Kasba Lake Lodge`s, twice weekly, charter airplanes from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Alternately, you could drive to Points North Landing, and charter a float plane to Kasba Lake, or you could drive to Lynn Lake, Manitoba, and charter a float plane from La Ronge Aviation. A group of Danish paddlers we met had flown with Canadian North to Baker Lake, and had arranged with Baker Lake Lodge to charter a Twin Otter on tundra tires to drop them at Angikuni Lake to start their trip.
Kasba Lake Lodge has canoes for rent, and with a Beaver airplane for charter on site, provides a convenient location to start and end many canoe trips in the area. Horizons Unlimited has canoes for rent at Points North Landing and can arrange a guided trip on the Kazan River. Maps can be bought from World of Maps in Ottawa, Ontario
Two scheduled air companies service Baker Lake: Canadian North and Skyward Aviation. Canadian North can take you directly to Winnipeg, and Skyward Aviation can take you to Churchill where you can take the train, the infamous "Polar Bear Express", to points south. Skyward Aviation offers a better fare for cash payment, but cash is a hard commodity to get in Baker Lake so take sufficient funds with you if you plan to use this option. Your canoe can be taken out of Baker Lake on a plane, as room permits, or if time permits, you can send it with Northern Transportation Company Limited (NTCL), by barge, to Churchill, where it can be interlined with the train and a trucking company. NTCL can easily arrange all the interline connections for you, and they provide a much more economical way of getting your canoe home than does air transport.
We stayed at Baker Lake Lodge for 2 days after our trip, and the hospitality of Boris and Liz Kotelewetz comes highly recommended. Boris also handled all the details of getting our canoe onto the barge for us.
North Star Tours` staff, in Churchill, can arrange everything from hotel rooms, to train tickets, and have a staff that is knowledgeable about what canoe people need to get their trip started and finished.
The equipment I listed in the body of this article is what I feel is wise to carry. To each his own, but remember you are on your own on the Kazan. We paddled 26 days without seeing any sign of another human, or even seeing a low-flying airplane (remember your VHF radio can easily talk to planes you can`t see including high flying jets). In fact, when we got to Kazan Falls on July 25, the note that we left at the cairn, was the first of the year. Of course, a good first aid kit is indispensable, and ours got a good work out last year. I ended up with an abscessed molar, and was in real rough shape for three days until the antibiotics I had began to work. Without the antibiotics, it is quite possible I would have needed to be flown out. Last but not least, make sure your trip is logged with the RCMP in Baker Lake, and be sure to de-register when you get there.
65P MACQUOID LAKE, 55MCopyright © 2001, Bill Layman. All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author

Kazan River: Kasba Lake to Baker Lake

Copyright : Allan E Jacobs, 10 May 2005
Table of contents:

Introduction: route, people, overview, logistics, general comments and thanks
Camp sites
Day-by-day report
Weather and ice conditions
Distances and declinations
Minutiae (mostly gear)


We started from Kasba Lake Lodge on 6 July 2003; paddling at a moderate pace, we reached Baker Lake town on 5 August, 857 km downstream.

Bob Bignell (55, from Flamborough), Stephen Catlin (60, Mississauga), Gene Chorostecki (70, Toronto and Texas) and Allan Jacobs (64, Toronto).

The four of us agree that paddling the Kazan is an experience not to be missed. I'd love to paddle it again, taking more time though to see the Inuit sites that I missed the first time; others disagree.

The high points were the isolation, the wildlife and the Inuit sites, each the best on our combined 20+ trips north of 60. We saw no other people from day 5 (motorboat near end of Ennadai Lk) to day 26 (paddlers on 30-Mile Lk). We saw about 2,000 caribou and dozens of muskoxen though no wolves or bears. I was moved by the Inuit sites. This was the home of a people who are now
gone; little but stone structures (from the mundane to the spectacular) remains to show they were here.

The low points were the bugs, the wind and the lakes (slogging and nasty traverses), each the most trying we've experienced.

The weather was very good for the most part, much better than reported by Klein; we had no bad storms and no really cold days. We had cold weather gear (crazy not to take it) but lucked out and didn't need it. About 6 of our 31 days were lost to the wind, roughly par for the course judging from other reports. We lucked out also with ice on Yathkyed Lk, finding none on 24 July; other parties were icebound as late as the last few days of July.

There's lots of excellent, easily accessible material on the Kazan; the Sources section should help you to get the accounts of Joseph Burr Tyrrell. Thierry Mallet, David Pelly and Christopher Hanks, Anne Spragins-Harmuth, Mary McCreadie, John McKay, John Lentz, Bill Layman and others.
I can't compete with these people, so I've elected to provide details on the rapids and camp sites, plus other information, in the hope that it will be useful to others who paddle Inuit Ku, the river of the people.

Bob handled most aspects. He chose Kasba Lake Lodge for getting us up and back and for the canoes; everything went perfectly. Layman has described other ways to access the Kazan. The schedule for flights from Winnipeg to the lodge is posted at the lodge web site; flights go up and come back the same day, every 4 days. The aircraft operator has a 50 lb limit on luggage for its passenger flights. Stephen used Manitoulin Transport (Dixie-401 area in Mississauga) to send most of our gear and food to Sky-Pro Aviation in Winnipeg; the cost was $173 for 350 lb. From there it was flown to the lodge at $1 per pound; everything was waiting for us and intact when we arrived.

We flew WestJet from Hamilton to Winnipeg, overnighted at the Four Points Sheraton (a short walk from the terminal) and joined the fisherfolk next morning for the Convair 580 flight to the lodge.
We had thought of asking for a boat ride from the lodge to the start of the river but decided that the lodge staff would likely be too busy for this; we lucked out, for the wind wasn't up.
We figured that the stretch on Baker Lake from the mouth to the town might be nasty (it was) so Bob asked about getting picked up at the mouth; we canned this idea when told that the cost would be $350 per person (and also that pickup on the day requested could not be guaranteed). Some parties hire Inuit camped a few km W of the mouth. We had planned a 35-day trip but decided en route to try to cut it short by 4 days; the people at Kasba (reached by satellite phone) were very obliging and rearranged the schedule to suit us.

Bill of the lodge picked us up at Baker Lake town and Beavered us back to the lodge where we had our own cabin; Kasba might be willing to make a pickup near the mouth. The next morning, the Convair flew us back to Winnipeg; all our gear got back on the same flight. We rearranged flights in Winnipeg (thanks WestJet!) and 737ed back to Hamilton.

Tip: Some airline staff will forgive excess baggage if it's sporting goods.

Logistics summary: We recommend Kasba Lake Lodge, Manitoulin Transport, Sky-Pro Aviation, the Four Points Sheraton and WestJet, all enthusiastically. If we decide to paddle the Dubawnt, we would do it the same way.

General comments:
Details on rapids and camp sites are given in separate sections. Rapids are mild on the whole, much easier than on the Coppermine for example. But lots of ww experience is mandatory; in such an isolated area, a small mistake can have severe consequences. This is no place for someone with
something to prove. You must be able to scout from the boat and to change course quickly in heavy water; experience in lining will be a great asset. Many of the rapids should be run close to shore in case a fast exit is needed. Camp sites are everywhere on some sections of the river and nowhere on others; some are great and others decidedly ugly. At many camp sites and elsewhere you will find tent rings, chipping sites, hunting blinds, fire pits, graves and other evidence of occupation of these lands by the native people. It is unlawful to remove any material.
And please do not disturb the sites; aren't we paddlers just visitors to the homes of people who lived here until they were removed? Major-league tip: There are massive sand bars to the south of Baker Lake town and well to the west of it; they are not shown on the topos. If the wind
allows, I recommend that you approach town from the east.

- Bev and Joel Hollis (loaned us their annotated maps)
- Jeff Haymer (the WCA Bulletin Board got us our fourth)
- John Martin (trip report) and George Luste (ever helpful)
- Howard Caplan and Doug Hissom (emails re the Kazan)
- Maureen Bretz and Wendy Grater (told us about Manitoulin Transport)
- the people at Kasba Lake Lodge: Jim Pacilli and Walter looked after us on our return; Ian, Rob and others provided hospitality and assistance; Doug Hill, Barb Farrington and Kelli Salliani gave prompt and helpful advice on logistics and organised the food; Bill got replacement paddles to us and flew us adventure-free from Baker Lake back to the lodge
- the people at Manitoulin Transport, Sky-Pro Aviation and WestJet (got us and all our stuff up and back)
- the guys from Minnesota (gave us 2 litres of fuel at the falls)
- the people in Baker Lake; the conservation people spent a lot of time helping us get the extra aviation fuel we needed; Louise went well beyond her duties at the campground and Alvin did the same at the Visitor Centre
- most of all, the native people of the past; may their land remain forever as they left it


UTM coordinates are given for use with the 1:50k topos, all of which are NAD27 except 65D7, 65D8 and 65D9 which are NAD83. The map number is given first, then the easting and the northing (both to nominal accuracy of 50 m). For most of the major rapids, in order to make contact with Anne's report and some others, I give also coordinates for use with the 1:250k topos.

The 1:50k topos that I used (maybe there are more recent and better ones) miss three significant rapids on the stretch between the falls and the mouth; the third is missed also on the 1:250k topos. I cover these and also a few unmarked swifts and rapids (nothing special) that maybe you want to know about. Many of the rapids marked on the 1:50k topos are just swifts.

The water level was high on our trip (this from Kasba staff and personal observation). Different conditions may make much of what follows not so helpful to you. The following describes how we handled the rapids; there is no suggestion that you do the same. I describe also what some other groups did.

BG: Bob and Gene
SA: Stephen and Allan
L: River left
R: River right

Abbreviations for sources (see Sources section):
Anne: Anne Spragins-Harmuth report
Cof: Stewart Coffin report and John Lentz article
Hol: Bev and Joel Hollis maps
Lay: Bill Layman report
Mar: John Martin report
McK: John McKay book
Tyr: Joseph Burr Tyrrell book

65D9 565 184 CI, centre wave train, at constriction about 1/2 km before FH5718.

65D9 571 183 (FH5718): About 4 km below Kasba Lk, sharp turn to L. The rapid starts well above the turn, near 567 185; near this is a tiny bay on the L where people get out to scout. A very bad portage starts there. The big stuff starts just above the turn. Impenetrable brush near the river makes a good scout impossible. We spotted a channel that cuts through above the point; we paddled down the L shore and then cut into the channel, banging through rocks and brush and emerging into open water above a mild boulder bar. This route could not be taken in water much lower. On the way back (a month later) we flew over the rapids; going toward the bay on the right and then cutting
toward the centre looked like a good route. Sorry that I can't be more helpful. Anne and Tyr Ped 250 m or so on L side; Cof did bad line and wade down R side; Hol and McK started in centre or on R and then went L; Lay and Mar ran.

Below FH5718 are 2 marked swifts, then a marked CI (centre wave train, at 582 207) followed by 2 marked swifts (both just a few rocks); just above the last is a shelter used by Kasba fisherfolk when bad weather prevents the float
plane from picking them up. There's an unmarked CI at 593 202 (at the start of the stretch above lake 321); then comes a series of ponds and swifts, then
lake 314.

65C12 468 264 After exit from Tabane Lk, big boils at bend.

65C12 465 276 CI on U bend. Some other parties ran on L.

65C12 455 277 (LC4528): CI+ at bend to R. We ran centre. Some other parties ran L. After the pond is a 1-km-long swift to Ennadia Lk.

65F7 933 944 About 2.5 km past end of Ennadai Lk; CI+. We sneaked L.

65F7 935 954 Another km or so; CI+. We sneaked R.

65F7 After lake 296; swift at 070 020, nothing at 074 018 (both marked).

65F7 162 172 (MD1617): R turn at end of loch-like lake (elevation 279). BG ran big stuff in centre, getting damp; SA had easy dry run on R, just L of eddy line. Anne and Tyr Ped 250 m or so on L; other parties ran on R, some starting in centre.

Both sides of island 65F10 137 325 (12 km past start of Dimma Lk) are passable. The R side of island 127 397 about 10 km farther downstream is not passable.

65F15 Four marked swifts between last lake 279 and first lake 271.

65K2 After lake 267 and turn to NW: 2 marked swifts, then CI- at 152 895
(end of turn to L, 2 km before MD1390).

65K2 137 902 (MD1390): CII-. More technical than expected from reports. BG started in centre, then went R; SA went R, cutting between 2 big rocks. Other parties ran R.

On Angikuni Lk: Howard Caplan and Doug Hissom portaged across the peninsula (65K8 34x 07x), probably across one of the narrow sections shown at the top of map 65K1. The portage saves about 10 km of paddling; the entrance bay is well sheltered from the wind, but several long traverses are necessary to reach the point at 65J4 497 985.

65J5 696 048 At outlet of Angikuni Lk. CII-; continuous 2-3 km stretch of big waves. We went a little R.

65J6 Swift at 756 027.

65J3 Swifts at 818 014 (go R of island), 927 002, 939 003, and 968 002.

65J7 133 027 (NE1303): 1st cascade. We portaged R about 100 m. There's a camp site on the portage. After, we stayed R to prepare for the 2nd cascade.

65J7 145 020 (NE1502): 2nd cascade. We portaged R about 600 m, then ran several 100 m to just above the 3rd. Anne, Tyr, Hol and part of McK Ped from
start of #2 to end of #3.

65J2 159 013 3rd cascade. We portaged R. The trail runs close to the river from the start of #2 to the end of #3; it is indistinct at times and is easily lost on the climb to the plateau above #3. There are camp sites on the plateau and close to the end of the portage. Some parties (Lay, Mar, some of McK) ferried over to the L side above the 3rd. We decided that the ferry was too risky; I'm not sure though that we would have done it in lower water. For those going over to the L side: Mar camped on L side above 3rd; the descent down the portage trail looked bad; we didn't see a camp site over there; coming over to the camp site on the R side looked like a no-go.

65J2 Swift at 234 990.

65J1 Swifts at 274 994 and 293 011.

65J1 300 010 About 1 km long; big stuff (CII+) in centre. BG went centre in moderate sized waves, then worked to L; SA had easy run on L with though some rock dodging.

65J1 327 003 About 1 km long; big stuff (CII+) in centre. Both boats had easy run on L except had to dodge many rocks; headed to centre toward end.

65J1 346 013 Big waves in centre with ledge on L at point; didn't see this one mentioned in reports (because we had higher water?). Went to L shore, lined over ledge and ran rest, dodging rocks. If you go L as we did, maybe scout below the point to plan a route around the rocks.

65J8 362 035 (NE3703): About 1 km of CIII (rocks, holes and ledges). The run down the L side looked bad so we crossed to the R side; we landed at the SW tip of the gravel island and scouted. We ran and lined down the L side of the island. There was a narrow channel on the R side of the island that we might have been able to run; and we might have been able to go down the L
side of the rapids. Then we crossed to the L side of the river to go around the N side of the islands. Some other parties ran the L side, some the R; Tyr did rough portage of 1/2 mile (likely on gravel island).

We went N of the big island before the bend to the N; the marked rapids between NE3703 and NE3921 were just swifts or less.

65J8 390 210 (NE3921): At exit (R side) of 4-km-long lake. The R side and the centre were rather frothy; we sneaked down the L side to the drop and then lined down trickles (not possible in lower water). Most other parties went L and Ped at end; Anne Ped L early, then ran, then Ped again. Mar ran on R ("wild rapid"), then Ped 100 m.

65J8 Swifts at 390 267 and 388 271 through islands.

65J8 382 274 (NE3827): After islands, at turn to R; ledge starts on R and continues almost to L shore. Both boats had easy run on far L. Some other parties went R, then Ped or ran or lined.

On Yathkyed Lk: Many parties portage 300 m or so at the N end of the long peninsula (65I13 64x 72x); we paddled around it.

65I13 691 826 (NE6983): At end of lake with island at end. If you go R around the island (685 805), you may be committed to running NE6983 on the R side (not such a bad thing - I can't say that the L side is easier). If you go L, you still have a choice, but maybe you can't get close enough to scout before committing to a side. SA went L around the island, then lined, waded and ran L through NE6983. BG went R around the island, then lined over a few ledges on the R side of NE6983. Some other parties went R, others went L; some ran, some lined, some Ped. Mar went down centre nearly swamping.

65P4 693 882 (NE7088 or 6988): 5 km after NE6983, big boulder fan. Both boats went L, lining and running; SA waded some. Some other parties went L, others went R; some ran, some lined, some Ped. Mar ran.

65P4 747 992 At bend to R, 7 km below 4-km-long lake. We took the R channel around the island; CII waves in centre. Both boats had easy run on R; long stretch of fast water after.

65P3 Just before upper Forde Lk. We took the L channel around the island at 785 030, dodging rocks; the R channel looked frothier.

65P3 800 124 Minor rapid at narrows between parts of Forde Lk. Both boats ran on R, then went L around the island at 810 130.

65P6 868 397 Minor rapid at end of exit channel from N part of Forde Lk, before small lake. Both boats ran on R.

65P11 850 441 (NF8544): R turn at end of small lake; big stuff on R and in centre. Both boats did easy run on L.

65P11 907 531 Unmarked swift.

65P11 967 516 (NF9652): At sharp bend to L after small lake. SA ran and lined on L, then Ped 40 m on L. BG went R and lined over a few ledges. Anne Ped 250 m on L; McK Ped; Lay ran; Mar ran some, then Ped on L; Cof went L (ran, lined, then lifted over last drop).

65P11 960 532 1 km below NF9652; ledges in centre. Both boats did easy run on far L.

65P11 956 539 A few 100 m below previous rapid; ledges on L. BG went to centre and had damp ride. SA didn't see clear route so went to L shore, ran to point and then lined. From lower down, saw that way was clear on R. Again, better: after 960 532, would go R as soon as possible.

65P11 957 587 Just before islands at start of 30-Mile Lk. Both boats went R, then a little to L at the point.

65P9 444 595 (PF4359 or 4460): 1 km after V bend to NW at end of 30-Mile Lk. Both boats went L of the small island at 443 596, lined and ran on L to edge of huge stuff, then portaged L about 300 m to bay at end. Anne did mega bad portage through pond before point; Mar went R and Ped 200 m; Cof ran down L, Ped 50 m, then lined last 100 m; some of McK Ped L, others went to bay on R
from where some Ped and some ran.

55M12 Nothing at 580 606 or 616 603; unmarked swift at 628 607.

55M12 2 km of gradually worsening rapids before falls. BG and SA lined and ran on R for about 1 km; BG continued lining and running while SA Ped about 600 m. From our campsite (which was short of the falls), it was better not to use the portage route marked by cairns; we started well to the S of the cairns, went over the rocks and then straight down to the small bay, to the R of the damp ground and eventual creek. Some parties portaged beside the gorge?

55M12 633 705 Nothing.

55M13 708 868 1 km below sharp R turn at exit from lake; not marked on 1:50k topo; marked on 1:250k topo; big stuff on R and in centre. We went L of the island at the end of the lake; had fast easy run on far L, then great scenic run for 8 km.

55M13 775 930 (UA7894): River turns briefly to N; not marked on 1:50k topo; marked on 1:250k topo; huge stuff on R and in centre. Both boats did fast easy run on far L. Anne Ped.

55M13 792 968 Gentle bend to R with point on L; not marked on either topo. BG started and stayed far L, hugging the point. SA started L; didn't like the look of the point, so dug R to avoid big stuff on L and in centre; bobbed through.

Both boats went L around the island at 55M14 795 976; had easy run though had to dodge rocks. Other reports say there's a significant ledge in the channel around the other (R) side of the island.

From here to Baker Lk is almost continuous CII water with lots of rocks to dodge, especially toward the end. We stayed to the L where possible.

We took a narrow, shallow channel opening to the L (likely 56D3 041 779), avoiding a paddle around a big gravel island; the channel might not be open in lower water.

You're not in the clear yet:
1. Baker Lake can be really windy (it was for us).
2. The maps don't show the monster sand bars to the south and west of town; we spent 2 hours dragging through them. On the flight back, we didn't see a clear channel anywhere to the W of town. Next time, I'd make the 12 km traverse from Takijuq Island to Arluk Island, go around the E side of Arluk and then head for the N shore. Can't say that this would work, and I don't much fancy the traverse (maybe start out at 4 am or so), but our route was ndg in spades. Better still: I'd try to make contact with people (maybe through Richard Munn's Forums at myccr.com) who found a clean route to town.

Camp sites

UTM coordinates are given for use with the 1:50k topos; all our topos were NAD27 except 65D7, 65D8 and 65D9 which were NAD83. Nominal accuracy is 50 m.

The following gives the locations of our camp sites, those of Bev and Joel Hollis and also other sites (we saw some from shore; others just looked possible from the boats).

N10 means that we camped there on our 10th night. H10 means that Bev and Joel camped there on their 10th night. The coordinates for their sites may not be so accurate; we didn't stop at most of them and I can't comment on the quality.

If you want to judge your progress by using camp sites, use ours; Bev and Joel burned up the river their last 9 days whereas our pace was pretty uniform.

65D8 4?? 8?? there might be beach sites on the L side, 5 to 10 km N of the lodge.

65D8 51x 05x looked like good sites on larger island.

N1 65D8 538 092 point (esker) on E side of lake, about 8 km before exit bay; great site on S side (up hill though); good site beach) on N side; hiking said to be good.

H1 65D9 557 161 beachy site in bay on R, about 1.5 km before dogleg.

65C12 403 257 on R side; good esker site (up steep hill though).

H2 65C12 399 253 on R side; beach site 1/2 km past esker; looked small.

We saw no decent site between H2 and several km into Ennadai Lk; Tabane Lk has brush right down to the water.

N2 65C12 I can't recommend where we camped so I don't give coordinates.

H3 65C12 479 307 small beach site in bay on L side.

65C12 503 331 on L side; great sites both on sand spit and at base.

N3 65C13 607 381 OK beach site in bay on N side of island; H4 here; many caribou trails.

65C14 715 434 on W side of island (esker fragment); looks like a great site, but I don't know how people at the private fish camp on the S side will react to neighbours.

65C14 740 441 OK site on spit on E side of Caribou Point (tent ring).

H5 65C14 828 482 we turned N well before this one so couldn't check it.

N4 65C14 865 591 on L side; good site on esker fragment; tent ring;
windbound half next day; nice little hike; sites also on
inside of hook on S side. Used though by people who left
lots of tp lying around; thanks.

H6 65F3 889 670 we went well to the W of this one.

65F3 867 678 beach site in bay on 1.5 km long island in mid channel.

65F3 887 713 great sites on sandy treed island (esker fragment) just
before lake opens up.

N5 65F2 944 826 OK, time-to-camp site (beach & tundra) on small island
on R side of main channel, about 10 km from end of lake.

We saw no decent site between the end of Ennadai Lk and our esker site N6, but
we didn't look seriously.

H7 65F7 935 956 didn't look at it.

H8 65F7 017 007 didn't look at it.

N6 65F7 130 035 great site at tip of esker; hiking said to be good.

65F7 162 173 Anne says there's a camp site on the portage on the L side
of MD1617 (at end of loch-like lake).

65F7 159 185 OK beach site.

H9 65F10 149 232 on L side of Dimma Lk; didn't look at it.

N7 65F10 149 239 desperation site (wind) on L side of Dimma Lk; poor but
sheltered well from N wind; spent N8 and N9 here also.
Anyone have words and tune for the Windbound Dimma Blues?
There's a beach site about 1.5 km downstream, but if you
can get there why not continue to the island (15x 27x)?

65F10 15x 27x great sites on esker fragment on R side of bend.

H10 65F10 160 466 on R side about 2 km past opening; didn't look at it.

N10 65F15 103 664 good site (beach & tundra) on L side below swifts, just
before lake 271.

H11 65F15 045 713 on L side of pond 271; didn't look at it.

N11 65K2 138 982 OK site on mound on L side of lake 262, about 8 km below
MD1390 and 2 km before river slants off to ENE; H12 here.

N12 65K8 318 046 OK site at S tip of island just off mainland, about 10 km
into Angikuni Lk.

H13 65K8 396 058 on island to L of main channel; didn't look at it.

N13 65K1 447 021 wind stop; OK site at E tip of island about 5 km from tip
of peninsula on L side; Inuit site in centre.

H14 65J5 639 044 on W side of bay about 5 km before exit bay; didn't look
at it.

N14 65J5 681?069? OK site in exit bay; sand beach past gravel beach.

H15 65J3 857 016 S side of island at start of lake 242; looked awful to us
but we didn't get a good look.

N15 65J7 134 026 middle of portage (R side) around 1st cascade; H16 here;
great scenery.

N16 65J2 148 008 near end of portage (R side) around 3rd cascade; H17 here;
there's a good site also on top, farther from the end (and
water); great scenery.

We saw no decent site for a long stretch downstream from where the river
bends to the north; we didn't look though until the storm got close.

N17 65J8 desperation site (storm coming); too ugly to give coordinates; storm missed us.

H18 65J8 435 085 bad site (Hollis opinion) on R side.

65J8 388 203 OK site at S end of gravel island, 1 km before NE3921.

65J8 387 215 great site on top of hill, on L side near end of NE3921; nice view of rapids.

H19 65J8 384 276 on R side just past NE3827?; didn't look at it.

65J8 40x 25x should be good sites on the esker fragments that extend
for about 8 km on R side, but we didn't get close look.

N18 65J9 345 357 good site on E side of terraced island (esker fragment?)
on R side of main channel; go down E side close to island
(sand bars farther to R); H20 here.

65J9 363 522 great site (sand beach and tundra) on island just where the
lake opens up big-time; weather station on N side; were
windbound here for 5 hours.

H21 65J16 325 596 on S side of island to NNW of weather station island;
didn't look at it.

H22 65J16 372 612 coordinates right? H23 here.

N19 65J16 373 615 marginal site (late paddle) on E side of small island
almost due N of weather station; same as H22 and H23?

65J16 472 662 good site (sandy beach) on L side, at S tip of peninsula
18 km W of portage peninsula.

N20 65I13 648 682 OK site on W side of portage peninsula; small sandy
beach; camped on tundra; bug city.

H24 65I13 683 787 on SW tip of island 4 km before NE6983; didn't look at it.

N21 65P3 799 049 must-stop site well to R side; OK but far from good water.

We saw no decent site between N21 and the narrows (about 8 km downstream); two
islands about 1 km above the narrows (790 110 and 790 115) are possibilities
but we didn't look at them.

H25 65P6 793 198 on L side, 3 km past opening; we were too busy with a
tail wind to look.

65P6 793 242 great site (sandy beach with tundra) on L side of lower
Forde Lk, 4.5 km past H25.

N22 65P6 812 318 L side of lower Forde Lk, at big-time opening; driven in
by wind, but OK.

65P11 no camp site, but don't miss the hike up hill at 867 464;
great spot for lunch.

H26 65P11 938?516? coordinates uncertain; we were too busy fighting a cross
wind to do anything but paddle.

N23 65P11 948 560 on R side about 2 km below last of 3 or 4 rapids, about
7 km above islands at start of 30-Mile Lk; time-to-stop
site but OK; fox dens with one curious resident; may be
better site 100 m or so downstream.

N24 65P10 191 538 time-to-stop site on W side of island to R side of main
channel; OK; camped on tundra.

H27 65P10 202?542? coordinates uncertain; likely small beach on other side
of island from N24.

N25 65P9 408 574 OK site on S side of 30-Mile Lk about 6 km above PF4460;
forced in by wind; N26 here also; no hiking. Anyone have
words and tune for the Windbound Thirty-Mile Blues?

H28 65P9 437 605 on L side, at end of portage around PF4460.

N27 55M12 600 769 another party was camped at the falls so we stopped short.

H29 55M12 598?682? likely at falls.

N28 55M12 603 691 tundra site at end of portage, on E side of small bay.

H30 55M12 658 709 were way too busy fighting wind to look.

56D4 765?052? gravel island with cabin; Widji women were camped there;
I'm not sure how to get to it (gravel bars everywhere).

N29 56D4 754 050 tent platforms on E side of first sand spit; CABINS on the
topo are located about 2 km NW of the place indicated.

H31 56D4 689 108 S shore of Big Hips Island; we went well to the S of it.

N30 66A1 445 205 sandy beach near SW end of Sagliq Island, reached at
midnight; OK, but if you camp here you've likely taken
the wrong route to town.

N31 66A8 429 358 tent platforms (8) at Baker Lake campground, at top of
bay just W of town; approach from town side (not airport
side) to avoid damp ground; toilets; Louise opened the
main building so we could cook inside.

H32 66A8 somewhere in Baker Lake town.

Day-by-day report

5 July: Took WestJet flight from Hamilton to Winnipeg; overnighted at the Four Points Sheraton (literally right at the airport).

6 July: Early up, roll-and-coffee breakfast, van transport with fisherfolk at 5:30 to the other side of the airport. Convair 580 flight was delayed half an hour due to an impressive thunderstorm. Left around 7 am; arrived at Kasba Lake Lodge at 9:30. Were greeted by many helpful staff. Sat down to good chili lunch. Bought Nunavut fishing licence. Assembled gear and repacked it. As arranged beforehand, bought fuel (8.5 litres of naphtha) and fresh food (steaks, bacon, sausage, eggs, salad, apples and oranges). Arranged to have wooden paddles replaced by Mohawks. Started north at 2 pm, with 857 km to go to Baker Lake town. Had small lunch part way. Ran into light head wind. Crossed to E side (getting shelter behind island at 65D8 505 060) and camped
on the S side of the esker. 827 km to BLt.

7 July: Entered river. Ran FH5718 (65D9 571 183) via small channel through bushes on L side. Ran CIs and swifts. Had lunch just below Kasba Lake Lodge emergency shelter (65D9 585 213); their float plane lands on the small lake just downstream where they keep boats. Ran more swifts and rapids. Camped at unmentionable spot; recommend that you camp either before Tabane Lk or on
Ennadai Lk. About 790 km to BLt.

8 July: Ran mild rapids and entered Ennadai Lk to moderate E wind. Had lunch at really nice site on a sand spit on the L side. Saw motorboat (from either Ennadai Lk Lodge or private fish camp near Caribou Point). Wind stayed moderate all day. Paddled from island to island, lee to lee. Camped at beach site in bay on N side of an island with many caribou trails. 763 km to BLt.

9 July: Reached Caribou Point at lunch time, passing a private fish camp on the way. As arranged using satellite phone, Bill from Kasba met us there with Mohawks; as expected, Bill gave us a close salute after taking off. Crossed to N shore from Caribou Point in moderate wind and waves; went NE to R of duck island, then N to R of figure-8 island, then NE to tip at 65C14 826 552. Saw
patch of shore ice to N. Continued down shore, going R of esker tip at 864 585. Camped on N side of small bay on E side of esker. Found lots of tp behind bushes where we cooked to get shelter from wind; thanks guys. 727 km to BLt.

10 July: Wind came up overnight. Motorboat went by in morning, likely from Ennadai Lk Lodge. Were windbound (stiff E wind) so did small hike in esker complex; saw more ice on shore to NW. Got on water at 2 pm. Did traverse to L side of island at 65F3 914 740 and then another to point at 65F2 943 785, both in moderate wind and waves. Went down L shore and camped on small island.
701 km to BLt.

11 July: Light rain and moderate wind. Left Ennadai Lk. Didn't see water resources cabin mentioned in other reports. Did two CI+ rapids and then lots of swifts and small lakes in wind strong enough to be annoying. Saw no good camp sites until the esker where we camped at the S tip. 662 km to BLt.

12 July: Continued in light rain through winding river and then loch-like lake. Ran MD1617 and had lunch on beach 1 km below on L. Rain stopped, sun came out and wind came up. Had tough paddle down channel to Dimma Lk, then really tough paddle over to west shore; couldn't visit Kakook's island. Had to stop (couldn't get around point). Found a passable spot to pitch tents with sheltered area for cooking. Rested, hoping to paddle in the evening (hah); gave up and pitched tents. 634 km to BLt.

13 July: Windbound at same spot. Went hiking, fixed gear and rested, hoping that the wind would drop in the evening (hah). Found no other reasonable camp site except an exposed beach about 2 km downstream. Saw helicopter landing on island downstream.

14 July: Windbound at same spot. Hiked again; rested, hoping to paddle in the evening (hah). The wind dropped enough that I packed up my tent but then it came back too strong for us to paddle.

15 July: Wind dropped enough to leave but it still hindered progress all day. Left campfire rocks in place in case another party had to pull in (site was only one for some distance). Passed boat on shore of island where helicopter landed; did not succumb to tempation to borrow it. Pulled in at L side of narrows to get out of wind and rest a bit; found modern bracelet there. Started again; ran swifts; camped at beach and tundra site. Put up bug tent; got hit by line squall, rain; found spear head. 585 km to BLt.

16 July: Wind was moderate when we started but it got serious after lunch. Had unpleasant trip down lake 267; went down L side to get some shelter but boats wallowed badly in stern quarter wind and waves. Ran 2 swifts, then a CI- and then MD1390 (CII-). Camped on mound on L, before river turns right to E. 536 km to BLt.

17 July: Saw 1st muskox on river above Angikuni Lk, At mouth, saw a herd of about 20 on the R side; had lunch up the hill across river and watched them. Wind from S was up, so hugged S shore on lake; the wind got worse and we would have had to go N in a bad tail wind so we gave up and camped. 514 km to BLt.

18 July: Wind was up again. Went N, turned R and went SE down channel into stiff head wind with strong smell of smoke. Crossed to L side of channel and went from lee of one island to lee of next. The last crossing was so nasty that we pulled in. Found a camp site at the SE end of the island and an Inuit site in the centre. 497 km to BLt.

19 July: Wind died! Lake like glass (dirty). Completed Angikuni Lk and camped at the entrance to the river, at a small sandy beach downstream from a gravel beach. Light rain in evening. 468 km to BLt.

20 July: Rolled down the river. Good current for the most part; ran many swifts. Reached the 1st cascade and camped in the middle of the portage (which is on the R); it's a beautiful spot and we took lots of photos. 417 km to BLt.

21 July: Paddled to the start of the 2nd cascade and portaged R around it; saw ice below. After several 100 meters we had had enough portaging so we went down a steep incline below a chute, got back into the boats and ran about 600 m to just above the 3rd cascade. Had lunch with nice view of the froth. Portaged on the R, climbing a hill to a plateau and then dropping down to the camp site near the river. Another beautiful spot; saw two big snow patches on river right below 3rd cascade.
414 km to BLt.

22 July: Ran lots of swifts plus 4 rapids, doing some lining. We had been watching a storm develop behind us and to our L; after the river turned N, we saw that it was coming our way fast so we pulled off the river at an unmentionable site and prepared to get hit. The storm missed us, but we were all set up by then and we decided to stay put. About 380 km to BLt.

23 July: Did more rapids and swifts. Camped on a sandy island (esker fragment?), S and a bit W of the peak of hill 224, just short of Yathkyed Lk. 346 km to BLt.

24 July: Some people climb hill 224, maybe for the view, maybe to see whether Yathkyed is still iced up. We figured that we would find out soon enough about the ice and we wanted to make time so we carried on (any excuse to avoid what looked like a rough hike). Passed caribou crossing point (likely where Hearne crossed) but didn't stop to inspect. Entered Yathkyed Lk; were greeted by a
stiff head wind from the N. Paddled to the island with the weather station (Bob is checking with CCIW regarding its status), more to get shelter than for any other reason. Discovered a great beach-tundra site where we could camp if the wind didn't go down. It seemed to drop after lunch and we headed for the N shore at 2 pm; it came up again so we turned back. Decided to wait rather
than paddle into the bay on the NW. Hiked over to the N side of the island to inspect the weather station (damaged in places); returned, rested and had an early supper. The wind had almost died by 7 pm, so we set out again to the N, doing the 10 km crossing (in a dead calm but nervously), arriving near dusk at an island where we found a marginal site on the E side. 317 km to BLt.

25 July: The wind was up again, this time from the E. We crossed to the point at 414 628, then went between islands and over to the sand beach at 472 662 where we had lunch. The wind dropped so we decided to go around the peninsula rather than portage. The wind came up on the traverse; we got to shore on the peninsula and camped. This was the buggiest spot ever; they were swarming like
bees around a hive. Bob figures it is because Yathkyed is the last to thaw. He had helicoptered in to Yathkyed in April about 20 years before, well onto the ice; they had to keep the blades turning to get relief from the bugs. 290 km to BLt.

26 July: Rounded tip of the peninsula (there's a camp of some sort) and headed downstream in a good current. Real grind on lake. Worked our way through NE6983 and NE6988, then did fun run. Camped on R side at S end of upper Forde Lk. 244 km to BLt.

27 July: Went through narrows and into lower Forde Lk. Had stiff tail wind so stayed on L side. Had lunch at great site (65P6 793 242); sandhill crane made at lot of noise. Might have camped there but partially eaten muskox carcass persuaded us to carry on. Did another 8 km before stiff tail wind and big waves forced us to shore. 219 km to BLt.

28 July: Made nasty traverse in stiff stern quarter wind and waves to start of river (head for the pimple). Lunched on top of hill at 65P11 868 465 (great view of the barrenlands - highly recommended). Had more stiff S wind on the lake before NF9652 (65P11 967 517). Got through 4 rapids by various means and camped by fox dens on R side. 180 km to BLt.

29 July: Entered 30-Mile Lk. Took S channel to look for UG site (found it abandoned). Had lunch on island marked with cairn. Wind came up again so pulled in to camp on an island, right in front of an old male muskox hidden by a boulder. He didn't see us for a while; did several ground rolls. Then he spotted us, glared a bit, and rubbed his head on his foreleg, apparently a signal that he was about to charge. I retreated to the boat and pushed off with Stephen; the others figured that he would make a mock charge before the real thing. After a while he moved off, turning around several times to check us out. Found tent peg under boulder, broken sunglasses and Inuit campfire
site. 151 km to BLt.

30 July: Continued down 30-Mile Lk; wind was strong from S so stayed R. Passed spectacular inuksut ("mother and child") on island. Went through narrows. Fall Caribou Crossing National Historic Site starts just west of the narrows and continues to about 5 km below the falls. Continued down shore; wind got ever stronger; decided we couldn't make it past next bay so pulled in and camped.
128 km to BLt.

31 July: Windbound at same spot. There was nowhere to hike so we went to the tents in the afternoon, preparing for an evening paddle (snort). Group of male Minnesotans called out as they paddled by; Stephen spoke to them; I carried on snoozing. Wind stayed bad so we stayed put.

1 August: Got up to stiff wind and headed out. Struggled to the end of 30-Mile Lk, turned corner and did major rapid (ran, lined and then portaged about 300 m on the L). Didn't see water resources cabin mentioned by McKay. Got to falls after lots of lining through rapids; Stephen and I portaged last bit. Saw Minnesotans camped at falls so stopped short; talked briefly with them later; they had gone about 7 km after passing us, camping at the end of the rapids. If I remember right, they started on Kasba Lk and followed the river to near the E end of Angikuni Lk where they turned N; they went upstream, portaged over the height of land to Tulemalu Lk and descended the
Kunwak, rejoining the Kazan just before 30-Mile Lk. 96 km to BLt.

2 August: Signed the book at the cairn. Widji women from Minnesota had signed in a few days before; they started from the N end of Ennadai Lk and then did the same route as the males. Took photos of the falls and canyon; saw ice from spray on W side. The water was high and the falls as such weren't visible from shore; the Minnesotans paddled a canoe across a small channel to an island for a better look. The portage is marked with cairns at the start but the cairns farther along seemed knocked over; I see no need to mark the portage (I found the cairns more eyesore than help). From our site upstream from the falls, we took a shorter, better route that avoids the wet areas; cross over the rocks and head straight for the right side of the little bay, on the right side of the little creek. Got the boats over by what we call the tundra carry. Camped at the bay. Walked over to the sand beach a few 100 meters downstream; figured there's well over $10,000 of aluminum poles and fittings abandoned there. The wind was up all day, great for portaging but boding ill for the next day. 94 km to BLt.

3 August: Got up to a stiff S wind; headed out, trying to get out 4 days early. Barely got around the corner at the first turn to the N. The wind and waves were really bad on the stretch near the Y esker. Got around the next turn to the N. Had to take the L channel around the island at 55M13 680 730; next time in similar circumstances, I'd take Anne's channel starting at 55M15 639 720. Passed caribou herd on L. Stopped for lunch; just a little exploring found us a hunting blind and a chipping site. Fought stiff tail wind and big waves, staying L to get some shelter but then having to dodge sand bars. Did the sharp turn to the R and the first of the unmarked rapids (it's
marked on the 1:250k map though). Came across 2 caribou herds, one of about 1,500 on the tundra and another of about 300 on a gravel bar about 500 m away; once they did a giant swirling move; shot dozens of photos. The river in this area is very scenic. Ran more rapids. Near end, took narrow, shallow channel on the L that led to point with 6 tent platforms where we camped (bad bugs). The 6 Widji women were camped on a big gravel island about a km upstream. Stephen satphoned the lodge to arrange early pickup at BLt. A family of native people motored in after we had hit the sack; Bob got up and talked to them. They had been windbound in some islands; they camped about 100 m back toward the mouth. 40 km to BLt.

4 August: Got up early, trying to beat the wind. The Widjis went by as we were loading up. Overtook them but didn't pause to chat. The wind came up; we kept going and they turned in. Went for the point at 56D4 632 102, an ugly traverse into a stiff W wind. After lunch, passed between the peninsula and Takijug Island; the wind got worse and we gave up, pulling in at about 2 pm,
near 56D4 600 115. Sat around, rested and then had supper. Bob scouted downstream for 2 km or so but couldn't find a camp site better than where we were; and there weren't many better ones upstream either. A caribou stayed around for hours but left when a mother and calf walked through camp. At 9 pm the wind had dropped enough that we decided to head out. Instead of heading due N toward Arluq Island as planned earlier, we went to the NW, a mistake as we learned the next day. Had a beautiful paddle into the sunset; saw the lights of town when it got dark. Turned N toward land, getting a bit nervous as the waves got bigger; Bob realized that they were from the Thelon current. Made contact with land (Saglik Island) and followed the coast to the left (NW). At
midnight we found a sandy beach, pulled in and camped. 17 km to BLt, or so we thought.

5 August: Slept in a bit; it was raining lightly and we had got to bed late. Went around the island to the NW, then turned R down the channel toward town; we don't know whether we would have been better off going around the other way. Turned L into a bay and then spent 2 hours dragging the boats through sand bars not marked on the map, the town in clear view all the time. On getting
back I read that John Martin's group also got stuck there but no other report mentions them. We arrived eventually at clear water well to the W of the airport. Fought a stiff headwind to reach Baker Lake campground where we arrived at 3:30 pm. It was a good move to paddle the previous evening; if we hadn't, we would not have made town that day. The campground, right at the W
end of town, has a fire pit, 8 tent platforms, two rough-and-ready toilets and a main building (usually closed). We set up our tents on the platforms and then walked to town, arriving at the Northern store at 6:10, finding that it had closed at 6. All the art and souvenir stores were also closed by then; the only stores open were convenience stores at the far end of town. The Iglu Hotel was locked up (we thought we might phone Kasba Lodge from there, rather than using the sat phone). Went to the recreation centre and made some phone calls (one to Bob's wife so she could meet us 4 days early in Hamilton); the others had some caribou stew. Stephen phoned Kasba Lodge from Baker Lake Lodge to confirm the pickup for next morning. Walked back to the campground,
finding Louise there; she had opened the main building and was cleaning it for us. Cooked supper inside. Louise brought over cake, put Inuit music from Greenland on her cd player for us and showed us her carved wedding ring; her children also dropped by. Left all our excess food with her. Lots of Inuit children dropped around to say hello. Bob, Gene and Stephen pulled down their
tents and slept inside. I wanted one more night not enclosed by walls; crawled into my bag (rather than use it as a blanket) for the first time.

6 August: Got up at 5, ate breakfast and paddled over to the "dock" where the float plane could land. Removed the thwarts, end plates and seats from one boat so that the other could nest in it. Bill arrived at 9:55, right on time. Stephen and Gene got some shopping done, but the wind was coming up and Bill wanted to get off. The conservation people came over to check us out, then helped us get more fuel. We put two 5-gallon cans into the Beaver and took off at about 11 am. After about 15 minutes, Bill decided that the wind was way too strong and we returned. With the help of the conservation people we got more fuel. Talked to an Ottawa Citizen reporter on her way to Wager. Saw a single canoe at the campground. Spent a lot of time talking to the Inuit children; showed some of them the cockpit. Got off again at about 4, into a stiff headwind (ground speed dropped to below 50 mph at one point). Refueled at Angikuni Lk where Bill had left eight 5-gallon jugs in the morning. Jammed the empty cans into the plane and took off into another stiff wind. Passed over river below Kasba Lk and first rapids (thanks Bill for the detour). Arrived at the lodge at 10 pm and crawled out of the plane, legs not so good; got a lot of help with unloading (thanks Walter and the staff). Went for beer before showering (thanks Jim for rustling up supper for us),
talked to Jim, Walter and the fishermen and just plain enjoyed the lounge (what a great place). Went to our cabin (shower! beds! flush toilet!) and repacked. I was rather sad on the flight back to the lodge, leaving the north again; after weeks on the tundra, the trees looked like ugly misshapen things.

7 August: Got up, finished repacking gear, ate wonderful breakfast, talked more with fishermen. Convaired back to Winnipeg (with refueling stop in Points North). Changed WestJet flights with no problem. Arrived in Hamilton, loaded cars with gear and headed home. An OK way to turn 65.


Trip report of Anne B Spragins-Harmuth: 1989, with Henning Harmuth.
Published in summer 1991 issue of Nastawgan.
Available at the Toronto Public Library, 789 Yonge St.

Beautifully written, the most thoughtful and the most informative of all the reports, an absolute pleasure to read, top of the class. But it is followed by the Editor's Comment, well you'll see. The difficulty of some rapids and portages seems exaggerated though.

Started on Kasba Lk well SE of the lodge on 3 July; arrived in Baker Lake town on 12 August.

Weather: Infernally hot to grim; no ice on lakes, but some on river shores. They were windbound 7 full days. Due to strong winds, they did 10 km or less on 3 more days, and they pulled in early a few other times. The wind stops were mostly on the river; they lost 1 day on Ennadai Lk and about 1/2 day on Yathkyed Lk.

Joseph Burr Tyrrell, 1858-1957:
Report on the Doobaunt, Kazan and Ferguson Rivers and ...
CIHM microfiche #29129, AV library, 3rd floor of Robarts Libray, University
of Toronto.

A fascinating account of great historical interest; to trippers, it is of practical interest mostly for the locations of many Inuit camps.

"Canoeing Canada's Northwest Territories, A Paddler's Guide": edited by
Mary McCreadie, Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association, 1995.

No home should be without this one; best read in winter, sitting by the fire, dreaming of summers to come. The description of the rapids on the Kazan is too condensed to be of use.

"Arctic Adventure: A Kazan River Journal", John W McKay.
1982 trip with Tony Louwman, Mike Whittier, Nancy Scott, Oscar von Dungern,
Genevieve Ombredane, Charles Altschul and David Pelly.
Betelgeuse Books, Toronto, 1983.
Call number F5945.K3M3. ISBN 0-9690783-2-3 (paper) or 0-9690783-1-5 (hard).

Kasba Lake Lodge (26 June) to Baker Lake town (15 August). Did side trip to the west end of Nowleye Lk and walked across the 1 km landbridge to Kamilukuak Lk on the Dubawnt watershed. Some groups use this route to access the Dubawnt river.

Contains some notes from water resources cabin above Kazan Falls.

Trip report of Bill Layman: 2001, with Lynda Holland.
http://www.myccr.com, "Routes", "Nunavut".

Gives lots of information on logistics and on rapids. Several typos, none serious.

Trip report of John Martin (1974) with John Blackborow, Mike Good and George Luste. Private communication.

"Cold Summer Wind": book by Clayton Klein; 1972 trip with Darrell Klein.

ISBN 0-9611596-0-X; Library of Congress 83-050047; published by Wilderness
Adventure Books (Fowlerville, Michigan); 3rd edition (1985).

Presents factual material as dialogue.
Started upstream from Kasba Lk on 4 July; entered Kasba Lk on 5 July where found lots of ice; reached Yathkyed Lk on 22 July to find it impassable; ice broke up enough to allow paddling on 31 July; reached the falls on 4 August. Trip conditions (cold and rain) much tougher than ours.

"Kazan River Trip": from North River Outfitters:

Gives information (stuff from land-use maps, reports from Ennadai weather
station) that I haven't seen elsewhere.

North River Outfitters has hung up the paddles for good. Thanks for keeping the site open.

1991 trip from Ennadai station to Baker Lake town; ice on Angikuni Lk but date not given; impassable ice on Yathkyed Lk on 21 July.

"Arctic Cairn Notes", Betelgeuse Books, Toronto, 1997, betelg@idirect.com;
#193 -- F24.122 Saint Patrick St, Toronto M5T 2X8;
ISBN:0-9690783-7-4; GV776.15.N57A72 1997.

Much intrinsic as well as practical interest (ice, trip times, sightings, etc).

John W Lentz: "Inuit Ku, The River of Men", The Beaver, Spring 1968, pp 4-11.
Call number F5900.B4.
Report of 1966 trip from Snowbird Lk (100 miles upstream from Kasba Lake) to
Baker Lake town.
With Stewart Coffin, Norm Wight and Bill Malkmus.

Also, trip report of Stewart Coffin.

Annotated maps of Bev and Joel Hollis, 1991.

Email messages from Howard Caplan and Doug Hissom (re trip in 2001).

"Exploring the Kazan", Thierry Mallet, The Beaver, March 1950, pp 22-25;
call number F5900.B4.
Describes his 1926 trip down the Kazan, starting from The Pas in early May. He found Yathkyed Lk choked with ice when he arrived in "the middle of July". After waiting 3 days (running out of food, not catching fish, no caribou in sight, only a few partridges miles apart), he decided to go back upstream to where he had cached food, and return.

"Glimpses of the Barren Lands", Thierry Mallet
Published by Revillon Fr`eres, New York, 1930. Call number F5945.M34M3.
Captain Mallet was President of Revillon Fr`eres.
"For twenty years it has been my privilege to spend a part of each year inspecting the Revillon Fr`eres fur trading posts. Each of the seven stories in `Glimpses of the Barren Lands' is a true episode of the Far North". Four of the seven stories were published in the Atlantic Monthly.

Geert van den Steenhoven: "Ennadai Lake People 1955", The Beaver, Spring 1968,
pp 12-17. Call number F5900.B4.
Stayed at Owlyoot's camp on NE shore of Ennadai Lk, at a bay, on a slightly dome-shaped hill. Arrived 9 August, left 22 September 1955.

"The Kazan: Journey into an Emerging Land", D. Pelly and C. Hanks, eds.
Northern Publishers, Yellowknife, 1991.

A must read for anyone thinking of paddling the Kazan. Describes Operation Raleigh.

Andrew McLean Stewart: PhD thesis "Caribou Inuit Settlement Response ..."
University of California at Santa Barbara, 1993.
Call number GN 43.2 C2 S25 STEA 1993.

Stewart was a member of the 1988 expedition of Operation Raleigh International.

"The Barren Lands of Canada", J B Tyrrell, 5-6 page summary, no details.
Reprinted from the Ottawa Naturalist, Vol. X., No11, Ottawa, March, 1897;
part of "Recent Explorations in Canada: 1890-1896". Contains also an
Introduction by G. M. Dawson, and an article "The Labrador Area" by A. P. Low.
Robarts Library (University of Toronto) has microfiche (CIHM 02367) only,
in the 3rd floor AV library.

Canadian Heritage Rivers System document.
Available from http://www.chrs.ca and other sites.

Archaeological fieldwork in the NWT in 1997:
Report #19; complied and edited by Margaret Bertulli
ISBN 0-7708-8793-7
Harvaqtuuq Historic Site, Kazan River
I have also a list of sites from the 1996 field work.

Fall Caribou Crossing National Historic Site
600 features on 40-km stretch of Kazan River, mostly on the S side of 30-Mile

"Kazan Heritage River" from
Contains information on logistics and gives links.

"Baker Lake" by Darren Keith, and "Archeology" by Sue Rowley, both from
http://www.arctictravel.com, "Search", "Communities...", "Baker Lake"
Useful mostly for references to other material.

"Caribou Eskimos of the Upper Kazan River, Keewatin": Francis Harper,
University of Kansas (Lawrence), 1964, call number E99.E7H35.
Not politically correct.

Google links to other Kazan information are at the Canadian Canoe Routes site:
http://www.myccr.com, "Forums", "Nunavut Canoe Routes", "Kazan River ..." ,
"click here" under mobax (2nd entry).

I ran out of time to look for, or at

"Eskimo life of yesterday"; Revillon Fr`eres:
Call number 970.47.E75 OISE/UT CR 1

Other publications from Operation Raleigh.

Other archeology reports.

Publications resulting from the 5th Thule expedition (mostly Copenhagen)
T Mathiassen: Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition Vol 1 No 1
Gyldendalske Boghandel, Norisk Forlag, Copenhagen 1945
Knud Rasmussen: Across Artic America: narrative of the Fifth Thule Expedition
call number G 670 1921 .R3713 1927 Robarts (Putman HY 1927)
call number G 700 1921 .R3713 1927a ROMU Greenwood Press NY 1969
Thule Expedition (5th : 1921 - 1924) "Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition ..."
call number P.S. Th 158 ROMS
Knud Rasmussen: "Intellectual Culture of the Hudson Bay Eskimos";
call number P.S./Th/158/vol.7 ROMS no.1-3
Kaj Birket-Smith: "The Caribou Eskimos: material and social life ... ";
call number E 99.E7B53 Robarts.
Therkel Mathiassen: "Archaeological collections from the Western Eskimos";
call number P.S. Th 158 v.10 no.1 ROMS (transl. by W E Calvert).
Knud Rasmussen: "Intellectual Culture of the Copper Eskimos";
call number P.S. Th 158 v.9 ROMS
Kaj Birket-Smith: "Geographical notes on the Barren grounds"
call number P.S. Th 158 v.1 no.4 ROMS (transl. by W E Calvert).
Kaj Birket-Smith: "Anthropological observations on the central Eskimos";
call number P.S./Th/158/vol.3/no.2 ROMS 1
Thule Expedition (5th : 1921-1924) "Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition ..."
*** call number GN 673.T58 vols. 1 through 10, some in 2 nos. Robarts

Unsuccessful searches:

Geological Survey of Canada, Vol IX 1896 F?. Not listed as such at UofT library.
J B Tyrrell's personal journal; no idea where to look.

T Mallet: "Kazan River" Travel Guide, TravelArctic 1979. I found only list of
publications at TravelArctic.

Stuff published by Max Friesen (ROM) and Lyle Henderson (Parks Canada); I
found nothing under either name at UofT library.

Weather and ice conditions

Source: North River Outfitters

Temperatures and rainfall at Ennadai Lk station (1949-1977):
July August
Lowest -1 -2
Mean minimum 8 7
Mean 13 12
Mean maximum 16 15
Highest 32 28
Mean rainfall (cm) 5.5 4.0

Ennadai Lk clear of ice (1954-1977):
earliest 18 June, mean 4 July, latest 21 July.

sunrise sunset
4 July, Ennadai Lk: 03:17 23:19
24 July, Baker Lake: 03:10 22:49

Weather at Ennadai: Current conditions are available from Environment Canada;
I wasn't able to access historical data.

Weather at Baker Lake
Source: http://www.climate.weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca/climate_normals/index_e.html

July August
daily mean 11.4 C 9.5 C
std dev of mean 1.7 1.5
mean daily max 16.7 14.0
mean daily min 6.0 5.0
extreme max 33.6 30.9
extreme min -1.7 -3.4
precipitation 24.1 mm 47.0 mm

total precipitation for year averages 271 mm (technically a desert)

Ice on lakes (from trip reports, cairn notes, etc):

Kasba: 28 June: barely passable (McKay )
~1 July: none (Leeson)
3 July: none (Spragins-Harmuth)
5 July: lots of ice but passable (Klein)
6 July: none (Jacobs)
6 July: none (Stone)
7 July: none (Caplan)
10 July: lots on east side (Hoel)
16 July: none (Martin)

Ennadai: 1 July: barely passable (McKay)
8 July: none (Spragins-Harmuth)
8 July: none (Jacobs)
~8 July: none (Stone)
~12 July: lots at south end (Hoel)
18 July: none (Martin)

Angikuni: ice mentioned by North River, 1991, no date
ice seen by Hrechka in 1990, no date

Yathkyed: "middle of July" 1926: impassable (Mallet)
21 July 1991: impassable (North River)
~23 July 2001: none (Caplan)
24 July 2003: none (Jacobs)
27 July 1982: none (McKay)
28 July 1989: none (Spragins-Harmuth)
29 July 1978: barely passable (Hoel)
30 July 1972: impassable; passable next day (Klein)
1 Aug. 1974: none (Martin)
5 Aug. 1991: some ice; passable (Hollis)
Declinations and distances

Start: Kasba Lake Lodge on map 65D7, 857 km from harbour at Baker Lake

Map Date Declination Change Distance E/N
65D7 : 1991 12 deg 09' E, dec 14.6' pa 856 km N 855
65D8 : 1992 10 deg 41' E, dec 14.3' pa 826 km E 543
65D9 : 1992 10 deg 45' E, dec 14.6' pa 802 km
65C12: 1981 18 deg 48' E, dec 20.0' pa 767 km E 570
65C13: 1981 18 deg 54' E, dec 20.4' pa 757 km N 440
65C14: 1980 18 deg 06' E, dec 20.3' pa 722 km E 865
65F3 : 1980 18 deg 10' E, dec 20.7' pa 708 km N 770
65F2 : 1980 16 deg 49' E, dec 20.7' pa 692 km E 952
65F7 : 1980 16 deg 49' E, dec 21.1' pa 639 km
65F10: 1980 16 deg 49' E, dec 21.5' pa 607 km E 145
65F15: 1980 16 deg 49' E, dec 21.9' pa 570 km
65K2 : 1980 16 deg 53' E, dec 22.3' pa 525 km
65K7 : 1980 16 deg 59' E, dec 22.6' pa 524 km
65K8 : 1980 15 deg 29' E, dec 22.6' pa 496 km E 460
65K1 : 1980 15 deg 23' E, dec 22.2' pa 492 km N 988
65J4 : 1980 13 deg 53' E, dec 22.0' pa 483 km E 563
65J5 : 1980 13 deg 59' E, dec 22.4' pa 461 km
65J6 : 1980 12 deg 28' E, dec 22.0' pa 454 km
65J3 : 1980 12 deg 22' E, dec 21.7' pa 434 km
65J6 : again, for about 1 km 433 km
65J7 : 1980 10 deg 51' E, dec 21.6' pa 416 km
65J2 : 1980 10 deg 47' E, dec 21.3' pa 403 km
65J1 : 1980 9 deg 07' E, dec 20.9' pa 392 km
65J8 : 1980 9 deg 08' E, dec 21.3' pa
65J1 : again, for about 5 km 384 km
65J8 : again 352 km
65J9 : 1980 9 deg 08' E, dec 21.6' pa 320 km E 380
65J16: 1980 9 deg 08' E, dec 21.9' pa 304 km N 670
65I13: 1980 8 deg 17' E, dec 28.3' pa 266 km
65P4 : 1980 7 deg 07' E, dec 21.8' pa 251 km
65P3 : 1980 5 deg 03' E, dec 21.4' pa 235 km E 807
65P6 : 1980 4 deg 53' E, dec 21.6' pa 206 km
65P11: 1980 4 deg 42' E, dec 21.9' pa 173 km
65P10: 1980 2 deg 46' E, dec 21.5' pa 146 km N 543
65P9 : 1980 1 deg 07' E, dec 21.0' pa 116 km N 623
55M12: 1981 4 deg 48' E, dec 20.6' pa 81 km E 680
55M13: 1974 6 deg 44' E, inc 6.3' pa 54 km
55M14: 1974 4 deg 32' E, inc 6.7' pa 48 km
56D3 : 1988 0 deg 36' W, inc 47.0' pa 42 km N 047
56D4 : 1989 2 deg 19' E, inc 19.9' pa 9 km E 564
56D5 : 1989 2 deg 03' E, inc 20.4' pa 7 km N 293
66A8 : 1987 2 deg 02' W, dec 46.6' pa 0 km

The table gives the map number, the year that the declination was determined, the declination (direction of magnetic north relative to grid north), the rate of change, the distance from the downstream edge of the map to Baker Lake town, and the easting or northing where the wheel-out line crossed the downstream edge (given for lakes only, to locate the wheel-out path and so
the point from which the distance was measured).

All topos used NAD27 except 65D7, 65D8 and 65D9 (NAD83).

Some declination values look strange but I checked them all, paying special attention to the more improbable ones.

Distances were wheeled out on copies of 1:50k maps (and so are small by 1% even if all else is done right). Values from a second wheel-out agreed to within a few km.


Gear in general:
An excellent source of information is Bill Layman's "Canoe Gear for the Subarctic", available at www.out-there.com (click at the top right on the Gear/Equipment page). Nothing but the best or close to it is suitable for the Kazan.

Boats: Rented Old Town somethings from the lodge; they handled well in all conditions.

Spray covers: Used the lodge's (clip-on variety); they were needed more for the lakes than for the rapids.

Paddles: Used the lodge's; forget the wood jobs (broke one on a pry) and use the Mohawks.

Pfds, painters, throw bags, bailers, sponges: Took own.

Bum pads: Only Bob didn't have one; I used also a back rest (Coleman).

Knee pads: Boats didn't have them built in and we sorta slipped around even wearing the pull-ons; the rapids we ran weren't all that demanding though.

Tents: Had one for each of the four grumpy old men.

Garden snippers: Took 3, figuring to use them to get firewood; they were plain useless. We wised up fast and used only willow wood (much more plentiful than tree wood and easily broken up by hand).

Saw: Had a folding job; it was useless for firewood (see above), but it came in handy for clearing brush for tents at the desperation site on Dimma Lake.

Personal items: Hand cream, fungicide and baby powder might be useful (cracked fingers, wet feet and bum rash).

Boots: Used just about everything (Swellies, hiking boots, running shoes, river boots, rubber boots and Warmers). Note: MEC Reef Boots are ndg (bottoms are too soft).

Cold weather clothing: didn't need what we brought.

Bug tent: Preserves sanity. Had the MEC one (holds 6 in reasonable comfort) and used it a lot for cooking, eating, changing after washing, etc; mosquito coils are an excellent idea (take lots). Wind forced us to take it down during the night several times.

Tarps: Had two guide tarps to cover the bug tent in case of rain.

GPS: was mostly of entertainment value but was occasionally useful.

Compass: essential, though maps are old and declination is changing rapidly.

Hand sanitizer: saved trips to the river.

Satellite phone: Globestar, rental cost $488; used it to get picked up 4 days early and for paddle exchange.

Flashlight: Had enough light to set up our tents at midnight on 4-5 August; you might need one if you travel a week or so later. It was then too dark to find mosquitoes in the tent though, perhaps reason enough to carry a flashlight or head lamp.

Bear spray: had a can; it only makes bear angry?

Bear bangers that didn't work when tested in the field.

Shotgun: Had access to one but voted not to bring it.

Had 4 sets of 1:50k topos (11" by 17" copies, 76 sheets in each set, all NAD27 but 65D7, 65D8 and 65D9 ), two sets (1 copy, 1 original) of 1:250k topos and a set of land-use maps (1:250k). Distances were wheeled out on the 1:50k copies (we've found that dividers are less accurate).

Food: Each of us was responsible for his own lunches, plus 8 breakfasts and 8 suppers for the group. We bought fresh food at the lodge.

Fishing: Bob brought a rod; got Nunavut licence at the lodge; caught grayling twice and a lake trout the other time; cleaned them on the spot.

Sierra stove (zzmfg@aol.com, http://www.zzstove.com): Highly recommended (learned of it through Layman's article); it needs constant tending though and we found it easy to short out the batteries (take lots of extras).

Naphtha stoves: Had two Peak Is (tempermental as usual, but got us through in fine shape); gave them and the fuel jugs to Bill at the end of the trip.

We made wood fires early in the trip and then switched to the Sierra and naphtha stoves. We had 8.5 litres of fuel (bought at the lodge and carried in plastic 1 US gallon cans); we should have had about 2 litres more. We carried 2 garbage bags of broken wood for the Sierra stove; we left the wood and the broken paddle at the falls when we got more naphtha. We found driftwood even on Thirty-Mile and Baker Lakes. The firebox recommended by Gene would have been a good idea. Gene's pot warmers turned out very useful.

Pak-Bowls (Backpackers Pantry):
Highly recommended for storing food while other stuff is cooking.

The region is semi-arid and it rains only seldom; the air is so dry that clothes dry pretty well overnight, though we got a heavy dew some mornings. In fact the area is technically a desert (Baker Lake receives only 270 mm of precipitation per year). Except once, I used my sleeping bag only as a blanket. We had no heavy rain, though we had several son et lumiere shows; we had
light rain only a few times. There's a rumour that weather gets foul starting in mid-August; the lodge closed and sent out its last flight to Winnipeg on 15 August this year.

The water was clear all the way to Baker Lake town (except at one site well off the main current).
It is almost certainly OK to drink, but this is no place to get the runs or worse. Three of us filtered; the other used bleach.

We were windbound on every named lake but Kasba and Tabane: 1/2 day on Ennadai, 2+1/2 days on Dimma (haven't heard of anyone else accomplishing this), 1/2 day on Angikuni, 1/2 day on Yathkyed, 1/2 day on Forde, 1 day on 30-Mile and 1/2 day on Baker, for a total of 6 days of 31. We pulled in early several other times and we had some nasty crossings. But it blew the bugs away.

They are mild on the whole, but ww experience is mandatory; the isolation is extreme and so are the consequences that can follow from a small mistake. This is no place for someone with something to prove. Very few rapids could have been scouted from shore; you must be able to scout
well from the boat and have the ability to change course quickly in heavy water. Many of the rapids should be run close to shore in case a fast exit is needed. Experience in lining will be a great asset. A detailed summary is attached.

The area is flat, with only a few hills; there are several good eskers though. Hiking is tough over the tundra and we didn't do much, even when windbound. Don't miss the hill at 65P11 868 465 between Forde and 30-Mile Lks.

About 2,000 caribou, 5 to 6 dozen muskoxen, 2 Arctic foxes, 2 Arctic hares, 1 weasel, 1 Arctic ground squirrel, bald eagles, peregrines, herring gulls, terns, Bonaparte gulls, Canada geese, snow geese, willow ptarmigans, ducks, Best trip yet for us, BUT we were fortunate to see two caribou herds next to each other; otherwise we would have seen only a few dozen with largest group
5 or so. On other hand, the Minnesota guys also saw a herd of a thousand or so.

"If bugs tend to drive you round the bend, this is no place for you." (North River Outfitters).
Amen. We found them worse than on the Thelon (done by 3 of us), or any of the other dozen or so north-of-60 rivers we've paddled. A good time to leave the tent and tend to business is 5 am or so when it's usually too cool for the bugs; 6 am is pretty late. It's tough enough for a man, !@#$%^ awful for a woman I guess.
Better wear coloured underwear, so as not to see the bloodstains.
Take an old peanut butter jar (750 ml) or the bailer to the tent at night.
Bug shirts are a near necessity (head nets come a poor second).
Cover every square millimeter; wear gloves. I used garden gloves when paddling (except once when I needed my Warmers - highly recoomended - best I've found for paddling in cold weather) and also around camp.
Favourite points of access are between socks and pants (wear thin tight socks to press pants against legs and heavier socks over them), at wrists (wear longish gloves and push them under wrist band of bug shirt, and at rear waist band (squat rather than bend at waist, wear long shirt under bug shirt).
Bugs can bite through bug shirt mesh, so wear a long-sleeved T-shirt (I just bought some PolarTec shirts at MEC but haven't tried them yet).
If you do all this, you won't need much bug juice.
In the tent: black flies go right to the mesh and are easily terminated; they stink though and mess up the tent floor and everything else. More pop up whenever you adjust tent contents. They seem not to attack in the tent though and some people just ignore them.

The Tundra Dash, a sporting event:
Competitors start 10 m from a closed tent; the distance may be different andhandicaps may be assesed by the other competitors. The stopwatch is started when the competitor begins running and is stopped when s/he completely closes the tent zipper from the inside. Competitors are disqualified for adjusting their zippers within 10 minutes of claiming to close them. Competitors are permitted to brush bugs from clothing before starting, to decrease weight. Other competitors may assess time penalties as they deem appropriate for profanity, blasphemy and other behaviour they deem inappropriate. Ripping the screening, dirtying the tent and contents with boots, and similar mishaps shall not be penalized, being penalty enough in themselves. Competitions may
not be held when there is a noticeable wind, when the air is too cool or under other conditions when bugs are not swarming. On return, report times and the conditions under which they obtained to Guinness or other liquid body.

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:250,000): 
65 C Snowbird Lake 65 C Ennadai lake 65 F Ennadai 65 K Kamilukuak 65 J Tulemalu Lake 65 I Ferguson Lake 65 P Thirty Mile Lake 55 M MacQuoid Lake 56 D Baker Lake


Post date: Fri, 11/25/2022 - 23:33


I'm wondering why people, especially those traveling from the south (i.e from Ontario) would choose to fly from Yellowknife instead of Points North.

Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


Many people choose to paddle the Kazan in covered boats. However, it is possible to do this route in open canoes. I traveled for 40 days on the Kazan River in the summer of 2003 using three open Old Town Trippers. It was a beautiful journey that involved only slightly more portaging than trips using spray covers.