By Reg McGuire
I’ve been a WCA member for about 50 years, have always loved the organization and have had a half dozen or so articles published in the Journal. In the Winter 2021 Nastawgan you asked for favourite pictures of our trips to be sent to you and I’ve picked a couple of my favourites based on stories in the latest Nastawgan. The first came to mind when reading A Winter Ski Crossing of Algonquin Park. The first picture I’m sending is from 1978 and was taken on Smoke Lake in Algonquin Park. My brother Dan, friend Henry Pasila and I camped in the winter in the park on several occasions in the 1970’s and 1980’s. However, we had easier traveling than the ski trip authors because for the first few trips we made in the park we used the motive power of a dog team. Dan owned Chimo, a large Siberian Husky who was well trained and was our lead dog, and we borrowed Arco, Benny, Sandy and another dog whose name I can’t now remember in exchange for pictures we gave the owners of their dogs in harness in the bush. The first few hours of these trips were always an adventure of tangled harness until the team got organized and sorted out. Later we manually hauled toboggans in the park and certainly missed having the help, and companionship, of the dogs.
The other two pictures relate to the article “More on Kazan Falls Cairn”, also in the Winter 2021 Nastawgan, and were taken on the Kazan River in 1981. One shows Henry Pasila standing at Kazan Falls. Our article on this trip was published in the WCA’s Wilderness Canoeist in the Fall 1981 edition. The picture is blurry because the private plane that came to pick us up turned upside down on Yathkyed Lake with our canoe party of three and the pilot in it. The pictures were under water for a week before the plane was salvaged. I’ve attached a picture of the Cessna 185 upside down on Yathkyed Lake. The picture was taken by the Canadian Air Force Search and Rescue team that parachuted from their Hercules aircraft to help us out by setting up a tent and providing sleeping bags and food for us after we had spent the night on the Barrens without any of the above! The team that later salvaged the Cessna sent us a 35mm film container that had leaked water into it; almost all the pictures from that trip have water marks on them.
In the article we mention that Sandy Richardson had noted on his trip in 1977 that there was a peregrine falcon nest at the falls. We knew of Sandy’s trip and had contacted him when planning our own and were delighted to find the nest still there and active in 1981. WCA members have always been wonderful resources when planning wilderness trips. The other picture shows Dan, Henry and me on Ennadai Lake on the Kazan River and displays this immense land in its glory around 11:00 p.m. at the end of a long, tiring, wonderful day in the Barrens.
You might be interested to know that we travelled the 1981 trip with three of us in an 18-ft. cedar-strip canoe with a full spray cover. As I noted in the article in the WCA Journal about the Kazan trip we found the big canoe with spray cover warmer in the wind, dryer in the rain and safer in the rapids. I’ve also included a picture of our canoe loaded with gear and food for a month for three men.