In the early morning we bade a goodbye to Hans Madson, who looked on with melancholy visage at our departure : God knew when next he would see a white man ! Not likely another to pass his way this summer, nor any summer, for he had pitched his camp off the route of the red man's trail-off such trails as rare, adventurous, self-exiled wanderers of the white race turn curiously along one or two days in a score of years. In olden days Indian tracks from the Reindeer River-Foster River territory radiated from the Hudson Bay post at He a la Crosse, and this stretch of the Churchill River was a well-used main route, but later, a shorter and easier north route developed to the Churchill, from Cumberland House via Sturgeonweir River to Frog Portage, and from Prince Albert via Montreal River and Lac la Ronge to Stanley Mission Post.
Soon after we had bidden farewell to Madson the canoe entered the short stretch of river that led on to Snake Lake and we ran Snake Rapid, the only rough water on our course to-day. Thenceforward the day was occupied in travelling through Snake Lake, a lake of some twenty-one miles length from western to eastern extreme. The shores of this lake had some prominent formations of vertical sand-bank, or small cliffs; especially on the north-east shore. During the day much bird-life was observed, and some nests and eggs collected at points we landed at. Toward evening we camped well to the east of Snake Lake within view of a solitary deserted winter post of the Hudson Bay Company. This day witnessed a favourable change in the weather, for about noon the rain, which had been with us for the last four days, gave place to clearing skies and periods of sunshine. Charming was the evening at our night camp : late western sunlight rested with golden richness on the eastern 6 wooded shores, while below the curving, changing shore-line the broad lake water lay becalmed and wholly placid and blue, and a perfect mirage of leaved forest, scarred banks, spotless pebbles, and dainty sandpipers was reflected on the immediate lake margin. Overhead-with similar instantaneous sight, and marvellous quick-changing flight of Swift or Swallow-swinging, plunging, rising through the cool, balmy, rain-purified air, flew a pair of Nighthawks, feeding on insect's the while they emitted their hoarse, grating call, which is associated with summer evenings anywhere in Canada ; though perhaps most familiar of all to those who camp outdoors by lake or forest. Such sounds, and a few others, are inseparable from Canadian wilderness; typical in their own country as the call of the Curlew or peevish Lapwing on the dreary, wind-swept, highland moors of the British Isles : such the maniacal, laughing cry of the Loon (the Great Northern Diver) heard on nearly all backwood freshwater lakes ; such the eerie wolf-howl of the Coyote on the western plains.
A day of perfect weather-very pleasant for canoeing. Progress to-day was marred by our missing our true course when east of the deserted Hudson Bay Cabin. There we entered a long false bay to the south of the turn beyond the Post and had three hours' fruitless paddle to and from its blank extreme before we were again back on an open course, where we discovered a slight sign of current to definitely point the way.
About 3.30 p.m. we entered Sandfly Lake, a lake of lesser size than Snake Lake. This proved again to be a lake containing a great many islands similar to Shagwenaw, Pelican, and Knee Lakes of those we had thus far voyaged through on the Churchill. Some of the islands were of fair elevation and were wooded, others were low-lying surfaces of rock and boulders with a scant, ill-thriven growth of grass. We landed at a gr oup of the latter where large colonies of terns and gulls were nesting. Of those I made observations and notes, and collected a few rare shore-birds. Before departing we gathered some fresh eggs to augment our food supplies, counting them a great treat since they were a change from our regular diet of bannock, salt pork, wild duck, and pike. Pike and black and red Suckers were the only fish I caught on the Churchill River-no trout were seen ; not even on Trout Lake.
This day I observed a single Chipmunk-noteworthy, as I had not before seen this pretty little animal on the Churchill. A Porcupine was also seen landing on the shore after swimming across the expanse of water above Sandfly Lake. He proceeded to climb a poplar tree to feed on buds and leaves. This was the first occasion on which I had seen this species in the water. It appeared not to relish its immersion, for it shivered with cold, and perhaps with fear, when it landed.
We reached the exit from Sandfly Lake in the afternoon and passed into swift-flowing river where bad rapids were encountered and canoe navigation became impossible. This meant hard labour, but, as it was all in the day's work on travel of this kind, we stuck to our task, with the result that three rapids were overcome and an open course lay before us at camping time. At the first rapid-Pine Portage-we waded into the water and let the canoe slowly down a shallow branch of the river on the north side; at the second-Birch Portage-we portaged the canoe, stores, and specimens overland through the wood on the south shore; and at the third-Fall Portage-we again portaged, but only over a narrow twenty-yard rocky neck, to evade the fall that was there, for the water below was navigable.
To travel, as we did, without an Indian guide to lead exactly over the recognised route-which is invariably the quickest and least laboursome route, and the outcome of knowledge handed down from one generation to another-meant that when no human trace could be found on shore, such as an old portage path, when navigating rapids, or where friction of feet had slightly whitened a vague line over an exposed platform of rock, we simply had to act on blunt individual judgment in accomplishing our journey; and blundered on occasions and gave ourselves extra labour. On rare occasions we saved labour, as in this case, for a small map I possessed stated that there were four portages at this part of the river, while we only actually made two, though a third would have been necessary had we not succeeded in letting down the canoe at the top rapid. However, travelling guideless as a rule increases the labour and risks, and certainly means loss of time; yet, even so, there is something most attractive in attaining to complete independence, complete freedom from reliance on others, which is most typical of the primitive spirit which the North makes known to you, and approves. And, beyond the pleasure it gives to be able to go where you list through the wilderness, and risk what you list, the extra labour you undertake has behind it, as all labour that is difficult must have, a spiritual satisfaction and reward : for among red men or black in British colonies, the prestige of our race is surely upheld by those who, when occasion arises, can stand up alone, endure alone, and accomplish alone, admitting no weakness to the eye of the critical native. Many an Indian expressed great surprise at my travelling unguided through their boundless country. Foolhardy it must have seemed to them who knew the difficulties and dangers; yet none called me a fool. Rather were they ready to be my friends-not on account of myself, but because their simple imagination painted me like the adventurous White Chiefs of our earliest settlement, who wandered far and had great knowledge, and whom they were willing to serve as subjects.