This section is from the book "Wild Life In Canada", by Angus Buchanan. Also available from Amazon: Wild Life in Canada.
In the afternoon, after spending some time searching through one or two of the islands, we reached the end of Island Lake and there located Frog Portage on the south shore opposite an island, where the river takes a sharp turn into the north-east. Frog Portage is an overland link into Lake of the Woods, which is the north end of the Sturgeonweir River route, that runs 150 miles south to Cumberland House and thence forty-five miles east to The Pas in northern Manitoba, where, for the present, terminates the railway service on the Canadian Northern branch now under construction to Hudson Bay. I made particular note of the position of Frog Portage, which was difficult to discern until you are almost upon it-as, indeed, are all Indian trails-and I cut a large blaze on a solitary tree which stood on a bare point on the east shore after resuming our journey, so that I would be warned when I approached it on my return and might be sure of finding it, for it was by the above route that I intended to return to civilisation at some distant date in the future.
There were some Crees camped at Frog Portage : four teepees containing one deaf old man and a number of women and children. With the exception of the old man the male inhabitants were away " freighting" stores north from Pelican Narrows for the Hudson Bay Company. I photographed the gipsy-like dwellings, after I had overcome the old man with a gift of tobacco, to the seeming consternation of the female inmates, who in their acute shyness reminded me somewhat of alarmed sheep.
Leaving Frog Portage behind we continued onward in a more north-east direction than hitherto, until approaching darkness bid us camp.
To-day I saw a Mink swimming rapidly ashore with prey in its mouth. With my shot-gun I fired near to the animal as it landed, and it dropped what it carried, which proved to be an eel fifteen inches long, showing by deep-sunk teeth-marks that the strong, squirming thing had been held in vice-like grip across the head to subdue it and prevent its escaping. To-day, too, I again saw a Porcupine swimming in the water.
Previously, on June 11, I had noted a similar occurrence.
This was our last day on the Churchill River, for about 2 p.m., after portaging at Kettle Falls, we came to the mouth of Reindeer River and turned north up that broad stream of crystal-clear water that cut a well-defined line where it joined the more brownish water of the Churchill.
Stiff paddling henceforth lay ahead : against current we must now journey onward ; no longer was our course downstream.
Somewhat reluctantly we bid good-bye to the stream whose name and character had grown familiar and given us pleasure, and thereafter faced the dim trail into the distant North. Always, on such travelling as this, the familiar scene and the knowledge and experience you collect go back to the Past, while ahead, round each bend, and island, and point in your course, lies the alluring, unravelled unknown of the Future. So like our lives !-the plan unfinished, the map of our course to be drawn as each day leads onward. Unseeing what is in front of us, yet in faith picturing scenes as we imagine them to be, and as we would like best to find them.
But so far as the Churchill River was concerned our travels there were ended, at least for the present. We had voyaged by lake and stream for forty-seven days, twenty-seven of which had been spent on the broad, beautiful waterway which I have endeavoured to describe.
Below I give a summary of the Churchill River from Lake Ile a la Crosse to Reindeer River:
Rapids on River.
3 miles across head of lake
1st Rapid : ran.
River below Shagwenaw Lake
2nd Rapid - locally named " Drum Rapid " : made short portage.
3rd Rapid : ran. (Mudjatick River Mouth below this rapid.)
4th and 5th Rapid : let canoe down close in on south shore.
6th Rapid, Pelican Rapid, locally named " Dipper Rapid," a bad rapid: portage over quarter of a mile.
Pelican Lake .
6½ miles across centre though southerly length 12½ miles.
Primeau Lake .
River below Primeau Lake
1st Rapid, Crooked Rapid : ran.
2nd Rapid, Knee Rapid : made short portage over the rocks at the worst part and ran the remainder.
River below Knee Lake
Sandy Lake .
6 miles across though 10½ miles in SW.-NW. length.
River below Sandy Lake
Snake Rapid: ran.
Snake Lake .
No river below. No apparent current where lake-bottom narrows.
Sandfly Lake .
River and unnamed lake below Sandfly Lake
1st Rapid, Pine Portage : let canoe down shallow branch on north bank.
2nd Rapid, Birch Portage : portaged on south shore.
3rd Rapid, Fall: portaged about twenty yards over short neck of land.
Foster River. Mouth concealed at north end of an unnamed lake expansion below above rapids.
Rapids on River.
Black Bear Island Lake
River below Black Bear Island Lake
Birch Portage : portage about 250 yards, but we let down canoe at head of rapid and ran the remainder.
River below Trout Lake
1st Rapid, Trout Rapid : made short portage. 2nd Rapid, Rock Trout Rapid: made portage of about 250 yards.
3rd Rapid, Light Rock Rapid: ran.
4th Rapid : ran ; but the rapid very stony and dangerous.
River below Dead Lake
1st Rapid, Great Devil Rapid : portage nearly a mile in length.
2nd Rapid, Little Devil Rapid : made two portages. Cut new portage path at last: this portage is apparently evaded by the Indians, who may use one of the other channels here formed by islands.
3rd Rapid, Otter Rapid: portage about half a mile long, but we let canoe down along shore until near foot of rapid, then made short portage over rocky point. It proved a rough, difficult river-bottom to wade down.
River below Otter Lake
1 mile .
1st Rapid, Stony Mountain Portage : short portage, but we did not use it, for we let canoe down side-channel.
2nd Rapid, Mountain Portage : made short portage.
Stanley Mission Post at lower end of this lake.
River below Rock Lake
½ mile .
Grave Rapid : ran; but nearly upset in swells in middle of rapid-on being drawn into them by current.
Rapid River Lake .
River below Rapid River Lake
Fall : portaged over quarter of a mile.
Rapids on River.
River below Drink-
2 miles .
Island Portage : made portage
at entrance of narrows, then ran down in side-channel, thus evading falls at foot of main channel.
River below Key Lake
2½ miles .
Key Falls : made short portage. Grand Rapids : made portage of about half a mile.
Island Lake or Trade Lake
River below Island Lake to mouth of Reindeer River
Kettle Falls: made short portage on west bank.