Ron Carlson Arctic Expeditions

Ron Carlson Arctic Expeditions
To see 2012 expedition go to:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

2 day mission in the bush - Found Remnants of old HBC Site

Just a quick update, will post details, pics and some video on this excursion in the next couple of days - after I catch some sleep.

Still waiting to hear about my permits.  I am expecting some word by next week.  So in the mean time, no shortage of adventures.

En route to Nejanilini Lake region, 150 miles to the NW
I flew approximately 150 miles northwest of  here in Churchill to the Nejanilini Lake area .  It was there in the wilderness, in the year 2000, in my older seaplane, that I had found what looked like the early last century's remains of Hudson's Bay Company's "Caribou Post".  I had lost all my film back then (yes film, digital was just taking off).  

On gravel and sand esker, 5 miles from site
So I revisited the location 3 days ago, landing on an esker some 5 miles away.  

Exact position of the post, from my handheld Garmin (see on Google Earth) is N59deg24.757', W097deg43.994.  Unfortunately, the march was not as easy as stepping off the floats like last time.  It took all of 6 hours to get there; navigating through heavy tundra, swamps and boulder filled lake beds.
It was especially tough getting back because as I was  photographing the site, the winds suddenly shifted from 10 to 20 out of the south with sun (35 degrees F) to 30 to 40 out of the north, with snow squalls (20 degrees F)....and I was already soaked with sweat head to toe.  

Had sporadic encounters with arctic wolves, one surprisingly still in tope winter white.  They are fairly easy to spot against the brown green tundra.  They kept their distance and seemed to be moving in a circular pattern.  Boy are they HUGE!

Arctic wolf tracks on esker gravel
After doing some research back here at base, I found out that this was an HBC site that was closed in the late 1950's.  It was built on the former range of the small band of  Aboriginal Peoples called the "Sayisi Dene".  This band followed and lived off a particular migrating  herd of Central Canada 's Barren Ground Caribou here, which they followed and hunted on the migration routes north to south and returning - for thousands of years.   This post was to support trading  with the Sayisi Dene for skins. 

Almost there - 1/2 mile away
But in 1957 the post was closed.  The numbers of this caribou herd were in decline for a few years and the thinking at the time was that is was the fault of the Indians. So the government had the Sayisi Dene all  relocated to what was in the day a frontier town  called Churchill.  It was here that almost half of the tribe perished.  Soon after they were  then again moved, more recently, to a place called Tadoule Lake, ironically just south of where they were taken from, where they now seem to be doing better.

Sayisi Dene family camp - Duck Lake - 1947 - HBCA (From book: "Night Spirits" - by Ila Bussidor)

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