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August 17, 2007

Following traditional travel routes


As a part of the Angele Project at the Temagami Train Station celebrating the life of Bear Island's Angele Egwuna and her marriage to Grey Owl and their descendants, Craig Macdonald will be speaking on his remarkable research on Saturday August 18th, 3-5 p.m. at the Dream Keepers' at the base of the Fire Tower.  The event will be followed by a Traditional Fish Dinner (Call for reservations 569-4569). Craig will speak the next day at the Bear Island Recreation Centre from 2-4 p.m. 

An old trail on Temagami's Bear Island.  Vintagepostcards.org photo

Craig will discuss his research on traditional travel routes of native people, their campsites and the geographical names used by local indigenous people.  He has been studying the travel routes and associated considerations for decades and has traveled the routes developing it.  His Historical Map of Temagami which took 26 years to produce was published by the Ontario Geographical Names Board and shows traditional winter and summer routes, portages and other locations. 

For a detailed look at Craig's history log on to http://www.legionmagazine.com/features/canadianreflections/06-05.asp and read Mapman of Temagami by D'Arcy Jenish in the Legion Magazine (May/June 2006).  For a detailed description of the development and use of the route by Craig log on to http://pages.interlog.com/~erhard/nastagan.htm. The article called The Nastawgan is named after the native ways or routes native people traveled in Northeastern Ontario.  It is a fascinating insight into the travel routes and their problems.  The use of the names given to various aspects of the routes provides a real authenticity to the story. 

Otter Lake in Perspective 

Otter Lake in the north end of North Bay is its third largest lake and city fathers purchased a large part of it from the MNR for future recreation use by North Bay recreationists many years ago.  The current council noted that the lake was seldom used and decided to bolster its reserves by selling it.  The council did not recognize that the city's lack of leadership in developing the 76 hectare lake for recreation was the problem.  Several groups have now rallied to research, access and petition for the use of the lake for North Bay's future generations. 


A Friends of Otter Lake group found that some old roads had the potential for access.  They also concluded that the North River off Widdifield Station Road could provide access and cleared it accordingly.  On August 5 & 6 over 100 people accessed the lake by the river under the leadership of the Widdifield Ratepayers Association, the Trout Lake Conservation Association, the Nipissing Naturalists and the North Bay Hunters and Anglers. 

Visitors took interpretive walks on trails and access roads and kids played on the beach and swam where an old nudist camp previously existed.  The Friends of Otter Lake manned a Kiosk on Saturday at the Downtown Improvement Association festival where several hundred people signed a petition that will be presented to Council prior to the tenders to purchase the property are tabled on August 22.  North Bay residents can support the initiative by accessing www.ventivenorth.com/otterlake. 

More Canoeing 

The canoe trip I mentioned last week is a bit behind schedule as I write this column but I got a phone call that they are on their way to Mattawa and beyond.  I look forward to hearing more about it. 

Speaking of canoe adventures I note in a Globe and Mail article by Preston Manning that he was involved in a canoe trip to celebrate the 200th anniversary of "one of Canada's greatest explorers and geographers David Thompson".  Master canoeist Norm Crerar and his crew paddled a 25 foot voyageur replica canoe 700 miles on the Columbia River.  There were various stops and different participants including Manning and his wife. 

Thompson's adventures of incredible hardship mapping the Columbia are told in Graeme Pole's book David Thompson (2003). Thompson traveled 88,500 kilometers by any means available and surveyed 3 million square kilometers of wilderness.  Another canoe trip is planned for next year. 

By the way the July/August edition of Canadian Geographic tells the incredible story of Thompson's wife Charlotte, a Metis who gave him 13 children in a 57 year marriage that began when she was just 13 years of age. 

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