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Canoeing with the Cree

Eric Sevareid

Publication Year: 2004

In 1930 two novice paddlers—Eric Sevareid and Walter C. Port—launched a secondhand 18-foot canvas canoe into the Minnesota River at Fort Snelling for an ambitious summer-long journey from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay. Without benefit of radio, motor, or good maps, the teenagers made their way over 2,250 miles of rivers, lakes, and difficult portages. Nearly four months later, after shooting hundreds of sets of rapids and surviving exceedingly bad conditions and even worse advice, the ragged, hungry adventurers arrived in York Factory on Hudson Bay—with winter freeze-up on their heels. First published in 1935, Canoeing with the Cree is Sevareid's classic account of this youthful odyssey. The newspaper stories that Sevareid wrote on this trip launched his distinguished journalism career, which included more than a decade as a television correspondent and commentator on the CBS Evening News.

Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press

Front Matter

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pp. i-v

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FOREWORD

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pp. ix-xiv

Just a few miles from the spot where Canoeing with the Cree begins, and forty years later, I put in on my first Mississippi River canoe trip. Stories of adventure had captivated me for as long as my mother remembers, and several summers earlier, at Camp Widjiwagan, I had been...

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FOREWORD TO THE ORIGINAL EDITION

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pp. xv-xvi

THIS book tells the story of the unusual experience of two boys who not only proved that youth and determination can accomplish what older men often fail at, but who demonstrated something else that is very significant. They demonstrated in their amazing journey that the spirit of personal adventure is not yet dead, that opportunities for adventurous living have not yet disappeared, It refreshes me to think of that, and it must be doubly refreshing and encouraging to the young boys and girls of America, who sense that...

CONTENTS

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pp. xvii-

ILLUSTRATIONS

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pp. xix-xxii

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CHAPTER I. WE'RE OFF!

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pp. 1-9

IT was a warm May afternoon, and my class in English literature was almost ended when I happened to turn to that page of Kipling. The sunshine was streaming in the room, shining on a bent-over head of light hair in front of me and falling in funny speckles on the book page. As the spots of light...

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CHAPTER II. THE NEW LIFE

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pp. 10-25

WE were off! The trail stretched ahead, a twisting stream of gleaming green water. As we began to paddle against the stiff current, we could hear a bugle playing and the guns firing at Fort Snelling. Overhead several airplanes were circling-not in our honor...

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CHAPTER III. SNAKES!

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pp. 26-40

FoR two days it rained intermittently, and our first portage, a short one of thirty feet over the rocks of the Belleview Falls, was made in a drizzle. We ran, or dragged the canoe up through eight small rapids that afternoon. In the first one, I was elected to get out and pull, and out I stepped into water up to my hips. I had...

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CHAPTER IV. TRAGEDY - ALMOST

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pp. 41-52

AFTER many minutes, when we felt strength returning to our bodies, we began to wade back to the canoe, first tying another rag to a high reed. Forcing the canoe to the channel was more difficult yet, although we could rest at any time. Each took an end and...

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CHAPTER V. RED RIVER MUD

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pp. 53-63

THE journey down the Red River from Fargo had been almost uneventful, a long, monotonous process of steady paddling, with no current to aid us, around unending bends, under a hot sun, beside muddy banks. Our only relaxations from duty were a meeting with an old school pal on a farm north of Fargo...

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CHAPTER VI. READY FOR THE PLUNGE

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pp. 64-77

ON my first morning in Canada I received a great thrill-! saw my first wild deer. A little jumper, it was drinking from the river when we came upon it. After the first little yelp of surprise, we remained breathlessly quiet while Walt silently unleashed the camera and I eased the canoe along the willow brush for a close-up....

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CHAPTER VII. INTO THE LAND OF THE CREE

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pp. 78-90

ONE warning we did not forget was that about sand bars. The south end of the lake, out as far as a mile from shore, is infested with bars and in any kind of rough weather, once you let your canoe slide upon them, you are bound to be swamped. Oh, there was a difference...

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CHAPTER VIII. THE ROYAL NORTHWEST MOUNTED

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pp. 91-

As we entered the harbor, filled with islands and rocks, we drew up alongside a big boat in which an Indian was fishing. He was short and stocky, dressed in black trousers and moccasins, covered with rubbers, as was the summer custom. He looked astonishingly like...

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CHAPTER IX. HUMILIATION OF THE "SANS SOUCI"

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pp. 104-113

Had Walt not agreed to take Betty's dare of a freezing midnight plunge, the Minneapolis-to-Hudson Bay expedition would have been but a pile of wreckage, washed up on the rocks next morning. This was another indication of something we came to realize many...

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CHAPTER X. "THE DIE IS CAST"

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pp. 114-127

"To Hudson Bay, eh? Well, boys, hate to discourage you after coming so far, but I don't think you can do it. Be gittin' pretty cold now in a couple weeks and r d hate to see you get froze up way out in the bush somewheres." I didn't look up at the...

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CHAPTER XI. CANOEING WITH THE CREE

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pp. 128-140

WE were lost-no doubt about it. We sat and stared at each other as the sweat ran into our eyes. On our maps there showed no indication of the reedy lake which circled away before us. The Echimamish bad meandered into this body of water and despite two careful...

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CHAPTER XII. GOD'S COUNTRY

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pp. 141-152

ONE night a party of Indians from God's Lake met us as we were camping. Except for looking us over curiously, they did not try to become acquainted. After supper, Moses and Jimmy joined the group about their fire in a talk which lasted until we were ready for bed. As we were...

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CHAPTER XIII. THE GREAT TEST

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pp. 153-171

WATCHING the wavering needle of the compass we pulled the blades through the crystal water with all our strength, like racing horses, straining and eager, down the home stretch. We wound in and about among hundreds of islands, until noon, again counting our strokes in order to know at every minute how far we had come. "Head for the nearest tip...

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CHAPTER XIV. FICTION — AND PINEAPPLE

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pp. 172-184

JOCK THIRD and Walter Gordon, Hudson Bay men, had come to the post this early in order to build a little frame house. No one visited the place except in the trapping season. Now they bundled us into their cabin and, sensing...

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CHAPTER XV. HALF-BREEDS AND MUSKEG

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pp. 185-197

DuRING our two days at York Factory, Factor Harding told us many stories of the north country, in which he had spent all his life since running away to America at the age of seventeen. He had been on the trail with Stefansson, Ernest Thompson Seton, the naturalist and writer, and with many other famous men who have lived in the north. And he told us a story...

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CHAPTER XVI. END OF THE TRAIL

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pp. 198-201

"September 25. Rainy, cold. Started up Nelson in two boats, Bud in larger with Sinclar, Walt in small4~r with another half-breed, Peter Masson. Made 25 miles. Sinclar shot a seal, great fat fellow. Missed another. We have terrible time keeping their boat straight with poles while they start their motors. Slept in their big tent on bed of boughs. September 26. Up at...

INDEX

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pp. 202-208

Image Plates

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E-ISBN-13: 9780873517980
E-ISBN-10: 0873517989
Print-ISBN-13: 9780873515337
Print-ISBN-10: 0873515331

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 30 b&w photographs and 2 maps
Publication Year: 2004

Edition: 1

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Canoes and canoeing.
  • Cree Indians.
  • Sevareid, Eric, 1912-1992 -- Travel.
  • Sevareid, Eric, 1912-1992 -- Childhood and youth.
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