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 Post subject: Churchill River history
PostPosted: May 13th, 2009, 8:14 am 
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This year, we plan to paddle the William-Athabasca-Fond du Lac (Hale Lake to Stony Rapids).
In case of forest fires, we'll try for the Churchill in SK instead.
In preparation, I would like to know more of the history of the Churchill, especially its role in the fur trade.
Can you guys suggest reading material?
I would post suggestions in the SK Resources and Updates sticky.
Yours in paddling, Allan

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PostPosted: May 13th, 2009, 9:06 am 
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Allan, the best canoe guide ever written is for the Upper Churchill River - it's called Canoeing the Churchill by Marchildon and Robinson.

The book has a pretty good list of references for further reading. If you paddle the Churchill, make the effort to get to Missinipe and meet Ric Driediger at Churchill River Outfitters.

I get the impression water levels on the William rather than fire would be the limiting factor?


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PostPosted: May 13th, 2009, 11:21 am 
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paddlenorth wrote:
I get the impression water levels on the William rather than fire would be the limiting factor?

Why?

http://www.swa.ca/WaterManagement/MonthlyForecast/SpringRunoffPotential.pdf

The map is not completely up to date, and I'm not 100% sure of it's accuracy since there are spring rivers in the central to eastern parts of the province (say, west of Saskatoon to Nipawin in the map) that had little flow.

Cheers,
Bryan


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PostPosted: May 13th, 2009, 11:29 am 
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By the way, I second the recommendation for the Marchildon & Robinson book, even if you are not paddling the Churchill any time soon. It's a great book to have in the library.

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Canoeing the Churchill: A Practical Guide to the Historic Voyageur Highway, by Gregory Marchildon and Sid Robinson.

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PostPosted: May 13th, 2009, 11:42 am 
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I agree with the endorsements of the Marchildon and Robinson book.

If you have trouble locating it in eastern Canada, Eric Morse's "Fur Trade Routes of Canada: Then and Now" would be a good start, although much less detailed.

Regards,
jmc


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PostPosted: May 13th, 2009, 11:57 am 
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I was under the impression that the lower William can get really shallow - I have no personal experience. Some one will have good advice. I've paddled the upper Churchill, and I love the river, but if I could manage the William River, I'd do that instead. (Costs are significantly different.)

...

As an aside, water levels in July or August will often be far different than April.

-Andy


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PostPosted: May 13th, 2009, 12:16 pm 
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Also,
Check Rolf Kraiker's reports on William River below:

http://www.blazingpaddles.ca/trip_repor ... index.html

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PostPosted: May 13th, 2009, 12:28 pm 
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Looks like paddling in Egypt, doesn't it, Mel? :o


No matter where you end up, the important question is...

do you have a digital camera, Allan?




Barbara

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PostPosted: May 13th, 2009, 12:49 pm 
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Paddlenorth, rather than simply saying "Why", I should have phrased my statement more like "why, what have you heard as this may have direct implications on my Cree River trip this summer." It's all in the tone of voice. ;)

I realise that a forecast map produced at the start of April will lose relevance with time, but that snowmelt and runoff will feed through the watershed over a fairly long period of time.

When it gets closer to June I'll call the SWA and get the up to date lowdown on river flows and expectations for the Cree.

Allan, you might also want to touch base with Robin & Arlene Karpan regarding the William. http://www.parklandpublishing.com/

Cheers,
Bryan

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PostPosted: May 13th, 2009, 12:58 pm 
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pawistik wrote:
It's all in the tone of voice. ;)


and facial expression.



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PostPosted: May 13th, 2009, 3:56 pm 
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Bryan: I know nothing. Looking at things, I suspect Allan knows far more about the William than anything I can add.

I just recall something about low water difficulties on the William. Keep in my the lower William will be different than the Cree. The lower William is all sand, and gets really wide, with multiple shallow channels. If Allan's leaving in a month - as I see he notes on a different thread - this is all likely a non-issue.

Bryan: do you happen to have J.B. Tyrrell's notes on the Cree? You could probably find this at the University library: Tyrrell, J.B. and D.B. Dowling. 1896. Report on the Country Between Athabasca Lake and Churchill River. Geological Survey of Canada Annual Report (new series), Vol. 8, 1D–120D

..........

I now see Allan knows everything written about canoeing the William...I forgot about how thorough he researches routes.

Allan, you could spend a year putting together Churchill River resources - this is the voyageur's highway. The fur trade journals are the most interesting, which are well cited in that guidebook. That Churchill River guide took years and years to write - nobody makes canoe guides that are this exhaustive.

The other obvious book is Olson's Lonely Land.

IMO, the best reason to canoe the Churchill is to connect to the past - walk in someone else's footsteps


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PostPosted: May 13th, 2009, 4:37 pm 
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paddlenorth wrote:
Bryan: do you happen to have J.B. Tyrrell's notes on the Cree? You could probably find this at the University library: Tyrrell, J.B. and D.B. Dowling. 1896. Report on the Country Between Athabasca Lake and Churchill River. Geological Survey of Canada Annual Report (new series), Vol. 8, 1D–120D


No, I don't. I'll head over and look it up. I have a couple of hours while my labwork proceeds to the next step.
Bryan

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PostPosted: May 13th, 2009, 6:09 pm 
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paddlenorth wrote:

....... SNIP

The other obvious book is Olson's Lonely Land.

IMO, the best reason to canoe the Churchill is to connect to the past - walk in someone else's footsteps


I agree completely with paddlenorth's last comment.
Anyone can paddle a river, if that's the only goal.
Real paddlers have nothing to prove; they try instead to make contact, even at a minimal level, with our past.

Thanks again, guys. I've ordered both Marchildon and Olson, both of which I should have bought some time ago.

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PostPosted: May 13th, 2009, 6:50 pm 
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Allan -

If you can't wait for "The Lonely Land" to arrive in the mail, you can read Denis Coolican's diary of that 1955 trip online here:

http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/JMC//Olson/voya ... _diary.htm

It's interesting to keep it at hand while reading the Lonely Land - rather like reading The Dangerous River and comparing it to Patterson's actual diaries.

Tyrrell's report (on his 1892 travels) which Paddlenorth mentioned is very interesting reading. I once spent several hours in the map library trying to figure out (without success) exactly where he went between the Geikie and Upper Foster Lake.

Regards,

jmc


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PostPosted: May 13th, 2009, 7:45 pm 
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Thanks jmc!
I'll write route descriptions to that one and the other three trips I found at the Olson site and post the results in the stickys.

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