I was setting out on a long expedition into the North, through little-known territory, west of Hudson Bay, on exploration and natural-history research. I had left my collecting " shack " on the Plains, from which I had roamed the rolling bluff-dotted country north of Qu'Appelle Valley for more than a year, and was now in the frontier settlement, which I have described, waiting for "open water."
On April 20 I had had an advice from the Hudson Bay Co. at Prince Albert, saying : " The ice in the northern lakes has not yet broken up. We will advise you immediately navigation opens, to enable you to go through by first open water."
On May 4, having no further advice, and impatient to get away, I left the plains on a dull cold morning, though the air and the scene had little promise of spring. Still were the long stretches of yellow grass and the bleak, dark-coloured poplar bluffs, unrelieved by the first fresh delicate green of budding vegetation. There was still frost in the ground, and snow in the hollows and sun-shaded nooks. But the call of the North was in me, and I would be off.
At Prince Albert, the northern town of the Province of Saskatchewan, I secured my canoe- a light 18-foot chestnut cruiser-and completed the carefully selected outfit which I was to take with me, and which had been minutely calculated, governed by the knowledge that I must travel light, and that I was setting out from the mercantile world for a year or more.
To anyone about to leave on a distant journey into country uninhabited, or habited only by primitive natives, the question of the essential things that are to comprise an outfit is of great importance, and therefore I give below a complete list of what I considered I must take, and how I contrived to pack it, in view of the nature of my work and the months of canoe and sled travel that lay before me.