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McKenzie River Diary Summer 1946 - nhpeacenik
McKenzie River Diary Summer 1946
As I mentioned in my MySpace Blog today {March 25, 2007), I was conceived in the Northwest Territories of Canada. At the time, my newly-married Mom (Bets) and Dad (Louis) were heading down the McKenzie River to the Arctic Ocean, collecting Tree Rings [ Dad was a pioneering tree-ring dating expert ] along the way. My Mom kept a handwritten diary which I just rediscovered, and I'm going to start serializing it in this space, from time to time. Here's day one:


June 14, 1946: We started out about 8 miles North of Fort Good Hope, with a fair wind, much to our amazement. Would have liked to see more of Fort Good Hope and the Hare Indians there. It's an old fort; the Indians have nice squared-log cabins. Three came to the RCMP post with their ten beaver hides apiece to be stamped. I gather they are much like the Slaves [an Athabaskan tribe, I think - ed ]of the South. One oldster, however, was as friendly as he could be, though he spoke no English. He trotted up to each of us and shook hands, grinning, pointed out his beaver hides. He showed ten fingers and looked as if he'd have liked to talk more. Wherever we go we look for artifacts [ Both my parents were Anthropologists and Archaeologists ] along the banks - Nothing! People reported arrowheads and "axes" near the mouth of the South Kehane. Other old Indians suggested Trout Lake. The old-timer at Norman Wells thought Great Bear Lake a good bet; he says there's a "fighting ground
there where the Huskies [ another tribe I assume, not the dog breed - ed ] came in and dragged away the Hare women.
It was a beautiful sunny day, so we sailed along at at a good 5 to 8 mph clip to make up for our lazy start at 10:30 AM. Passed low mountains with spottily sprinkled with scraggly spruces. Somewhere before Good Hope we lost our "interior" looking country with its thick clothed spruce, aspen, balm, and birch covered hills and mountains. We're now in flatter, grayer looking country with more low willow predominating and shorter skinnier spruce. The banks are still nice gravel and sand reaching up to green muddy log-covered hill-banks, but the country behind turns gray as you look at the spruce cover. The river is huge, so big you can't see low bars, sitting in the boat, because of the curved surface. It shines for 2 to 4 miles across by the sun, and is full of islands and treacherous sand bars. We are glad of our map. The kicker [ low-powered outboard motor - ed ] saves paddling, and we have to cross lots of times long distances because of the bars. Our camp was [ another herly ? ] near a stream and a canyon, but out on a spit, where the wind helped with the flies. Got to bed by 11:00, some sixty miles north of Good Hope.

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