Old Way North
Following the Oberholtzer-Magee Expedition
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press
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Most people know something of the early search for the Northwest Passage by sea from the North Atlantic and its role in mapping and exploring the northern reaches of Canada. Similarly, northern history buffs are quite familiar with the overland route...
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Research for this book was a lengthy and expensive process, made possible by generous financial support from Barbara Garner, especially, through the Ernest C. Oberholtzer Foundation of Minnesota...
1. Looking North
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“Guess ready go end earth,” said Billy Magee to the fur trader at the Mine Centre post in the rainy Lake district of northwestern Ontario. Billy, his store name—his real name was...
2. The Journey Begins
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With these inauspicious words, Oberholtzer begins his handwritten record of their expedition by canoe. In Davenport, Iowa, he said farewell to his mother, to whom he was so close...
3. At the Frontier
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The twin-engine Navajo aircraft chartered to carry me and three others from the community of Wollaston Lake, Saskatchewan, to Brochet (formerly Lac du Brochet) in Manitoba—a half-hour...
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He took other striking photographs of people in Lac du Brochet, most notably of two groups of women including Elyse Cook, Eugenie Cook, Eliza Cook, and Marie Cook, all of them Philomene...
5. Into the Beyond
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Oberholtzer and Magee were on their way again, on their own, cloaked in more uncertainty than even they knew. They were now camped near the mouth of the Cochrane river where it...
6. Downstream at Last
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The two intrepid travelers continued downstream on the Thlewiaza, though not without some diffilculty. None of this seems to have dampened Oberholtzer’s enthusiasm for the expedition or...
7. Dene Reﬂections
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I was about six when my mother died. From then on, my father brought me up. In those days, we didn’t have much supplies. Out on the tundra, traveling with my Dad, we had an old frying pan...
8. Trappers’ Country
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What a different place this whole region would have seemed just ten years after Oberholtzer canoed through the southern fringe of the barrenlands in 1912. Following the end of the First World...
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Nueltin. Nuthel-tin-tua. Sleeping Island Lake, named after a pair of islands that were thought by Dene to resemble a sleeping man lying down. It lies across the transition from taiga to...
10. Run to the Sea
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Nueltin is a big lake. Oberholtzer and Magee had not enjoyed good weather during their transit of its one-hundred-mile length. They had repeatedly found themselves paddling up long dead...
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It feels like early winter, on September 26, 2006, when the small twin-engine plane takes off from Rankin Inlet, halfway up the west coast of Hudson Bay, for the short hop south to Arviat. As...
12. Heading South
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Before dawn on Sunday, September 22, 1912, it was raining heavily in Churchill. By noon, the rain had all but stopped, and the northwest wind was down to a gentle breeze. It was time to go...
13. The Outside
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Within three days of their arrival in Gimli, on the ice-clad shores of Lake Winnipeg, the two men had had haircuts, baths, and a couple nights’ sleep in hotel beds and were returned to their respective homes to the south,...
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In Canada, history is directly a function of our geography. Nowhere is this more evident than in an examination of the fur trade or of the coincidental travel by canoe on the interior waterways of this...
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Page Count: 224
Illustrations: b&w photos, 1 map
Publication Year: 2008