From Lake Nipigon’s Echo Rock To Waweig Lake

Last revised on September 5, 2022.

Table of Contents:

Previous Post: Canoeing Lake Nipigon From Windigo Bay To Echo Rock

Day 10 Map and Essential Details

Day 11 – From the HBC Post to Wabinosh Lake – Map and Basic Details

Day 12 – Wabinosh Lake To Waweig Lake – Map and Essential Details

See also –WWII POW Camps in the Armstrong Stn. Area – The Real Story!


Day 10 – Echo Rock to the H.B.C. Post (Nipigon House)

  • distance: 7 km (including backtracking) actually moved forward about 3.3 km
  • time: 9:15 a.m to 11:25 a.m.
  • portages/rapids/liftover-line: 0/0/0
  • weather: overcast; cloudy, with some rain, cool, very windy (NW, N, and NE)
  • campsite: old Hudson Bay Post site – a flattish area in the grass near tree stand; made room for our 4-person tent; other sites possible for 2 / 4 person tents; hammocks possible in the tree stand north end of the site; relatively (to very) open; semi-sheltered from north winds thanks to the tree stand.
  • gpx track of the entire route: 2018_Pikitigushi_Nipigon_Wabinosh Tracks


Looking For The Echo Rock Pictographs:

It was a breezy morning with a bit of drizzle as we set off on our paddle north to what we hoped would be our campsite that night – a spot on Wabinosh Bay or maybe even on Wabinosh Lake itself.

a view of Echo Rock from Underecliff I. the day before – not ideal weather!

But first, we headed back to Undercliff Mountain and Echo Rock to check out the pictograph site.  We had given the rock face a cursory scan the afternoon before, but the strong wind from the south and the rain had prevented a more thorough look.  Now the wind was blowing just as strong from the north, but the rain wasn’t pelting down the way it had the previous day, as the photo to the left illustrates.

approaching Echo Rock from the north

We noted two things about the Echo Rock face:

  • it is heavily covered with lichen
  • it has more graffiti in the vicinity than any other pictograph site we have been to.

The one thing we did not note was a pictograph!

Thanks to a brief passage in Selwyn Dewdney’s book, we had a rough idea of what we were looking for. While he states that there are a number of pictographs to be seen, most sound like they have all but faded away. Even the one image he chose to sketch back in 1959 when he visited (60 years ago!) was already on its way to disappearing!








The stretch of rock face in the photo above – and even more the one captured in the image below – are our best guesses as to where to pictographs were/are.  Blowing up the jpg below 100% revealed what looks like ochre smudges above the waterline.  That is as close as we got to pictographs!

Echo Rock with possible smudges of ochre covered by calcite run-off


The Vertical Majesty of Undercliff Mountain

We were, however, awed by the vertical majesty of Undercliff Mountain. Another day and better weather, and we would have spent more time there, perhaps climbing up to the top and getting some shots from other perspectives.  We would also have spent more time looking for those elusive rock paintings!

Max heads up to the Undercliff face

looking up Undercliff Mountain to the north of and above Echo Rock

getting close to Echo Rock Lake Nipigon

approaching Echo Rock from the south

a view of Echo Rock from the south

You can see why Anishinaabe shamans of old – or young vision questers looking for a place to leave a physical sign of their connection with the manitous – would be attracted to this place. It has the same dramatic sense of special place – of sacred space – that, for example, Mazinaw Rock in eastern Ontario does.  There too, Algonkian peoples had left their marks on the rock.


The Graffiti On Echo Rock

Having said that, it is sad to see that the teens who left the graffiti – probably from nearby Gull Bay First Nation – are so disconnected from their traditional culture that they would deface a site like Echo Rock.  Since the hundreds of pictograph sites scattered across the Canadian Shield, many are difficult to get to, but some, like Echo Rock, easily reached by motorboat, cannot all be guarded, another approach is necessary.

In the end, only one thing can protect these sites: education.  The Echo Rock graffiti represents a “teachable moment” for the elders nearby who are entrusted with preserving key aspects of their traditional culture, even as their young people try to figure out their place in a very different world.

graffiti at Echo Rock on Lake Nipigon

more Echo Rock graffiti

more Echo Rock face spoiled by graffiti


Heading For Wabinosh Bay:

Lake Nipigon – Echo Rock to Jackfish Island

With our visit to Echo Rock done, we paddled north past our campsite into a noticeable north wind.  Paddling to Wabinosh Bay promised a solid day of tough paddling!

Just north of the campsite is a bay rimmed with a nice sand beach. We paddled in to take a look, wondering about the availability of campsites above the sand.  We found a couple of potential spots but had to agree that we had made the right choice with the previous night’s campsite with its nice flat spot 4 meters above the water and better views.

potential camping area just to the north of the Echo Rock campsite

checking out a camping possibility


The HBC Post Known As Nipigon House (1850-1937)

We continued north towards Jackfish Island, curious about the reported site of a Hudson Bay Co. trading post that had existed just south of the island on the mainland across from Dog Island.  It was located in the clearing indicated on the map below.  As we paddled by, there was nothing to see other than tall grass and low-level bush.

In 1900,  Jas. A. Sharp, the  Land and Timber Estimator in H.B. Proudfoot’s Exploration Survey Party No. 7, recorded these observations about Nipigon House and environs –

On the evening of the second day we arrived at Lake Nepigon by way of Lake Hannah and on the following day the Hudson’s Bay Company’s sailboat came down the lake from Nepigon House to the landing, of which we took advantage to make the trip to Gull River and Nepigon House, a distance of eighty miles over the lake.

When we reached the entrance of Gull Bay, on the west shore, we went by canoe to Nepigon House, which is situated near the north-west corner of the lake on a beautiful rising slope, from which a good view of the lake can be obtained in clear weather. Close to the shore are two large islands, one of which is occupied by the Roman Catholic Mission, in connection with which there is an Indian school. [He is referring to Jackfish Island.]

The other island [i.e. Dog Island], which lies immediately in front of the House, is used by the Indians as a camping ground, and as it was near ” Treaty Day ” at the time of our visit, quite a number of wigwams were scattered over it as well as on the main shore.

There are about five acres cleared [at Nipigon House itself], which is a sandy loam near the shore, but as it recedes the rock crops out. A promising patch of potatoes was growing, besides timothy hay of  average length. There is a cemetery which seems to have been used for a considerable time by the appearance of the graves, which according to Indian custom are covered with birch bark or boards to form a roof.  [See here for the source, the Ontario Government-commissioned Report of the survey and exploration of northern Ontario, 1900.]

a panorama of what was the location of the Hudson Bay Co.’s Nipigon House

Lake Nipigon Trading Posts – the source of the map here

Nipigon House trading post was established around 1838 in English Bay and then moved ten miles to a new location across from and south of Jackfish Island in 1850, where it was operational until 1937. A report by K.C. Dawson from 1970 provides this summary of the post’s history:

Dawson. Nipigon House HBC Post.

See here for Dawson’s full report – the primary report starts after  p. 16

Dawson, a Lakehead U. archaeologist,  had spent the summers of 1967-1969 visiting the various Lake Nipigon sites.  At this one, he notes evidence of buildings and burial grounds.  We paddled by the site but did not go ashore to see if there would be any visible remains fifty years after Dawson.


Returning to the HBC Post – Time For A Wind Day!

We did not know it then, but we would be back soon!  That white arrow you see on the north end of the clearing is where we put up our tent about an hour later!

one last shot of the HBC Nipigon post

One look back at the site as we paddled north – past the beaver lodge and towards the narrow channel between the mainland and Jackfish Island.  The wind was blowing hard, the waves were rolling, and forward progress was difficult. And then the decision to call it a day!  Our first thought was to go back to that sandy beach and the decent campsite we had noted there, but on our way there, we decided to head back to the HBC post site instead.

looking south as we passed the HBC post location

our tent site on the edge of what is probably the site of the old HBC post

Looking across from our campsite, we could see the clearing on Jackfish Island with buildings on it. In our pre-trip planning,  a visit to the island and a possible walk up to the top of Mount Royal were on our “to-do” list.

satellite view of Jackfish Island clearing with four buildings visible

However, the weather had other plans!  The next morning we were keen to cover some distance while the wind was still mild, so our visit to Jackfish Island and a possible walk up to the fire tower was scrapped – until the next time!

looking over to the clearing on the west end of Jackfish Island

We spent the afternoon at our tent site, somewhat sheltered from the strong wind, and while we sat under the tarp, drank tea, and listened to the rainfall.  A brief ramble around the site failed to turn up any signs of foundation posts or left-behind metal or glass objects at the clearing we assume was the HBC post site.

(See here [Lake Nipigon Archaeology: A Further Study by Patricia Filteau (1978) p.117-118] for a comprehensive list of artifacts removed from the site in the ten years following Dawson’s visit.)

Click on the cover to access the report.

The next day’s weather forecast provided by our Garmin inReach Explorer+ looked promising.


Day 11 – HBC Nipigon House To Wabinosh Lake

Jackfish island to Wabinosh Lake

  • distance: 25 km
  • time: 8:15 a.m to 3:30 p.m.
  • portages/rapids/liftover-line: 1/0/1 P 290m RL
  • weather: overcast and cloudy in the a.m., cool windy (NE ENE?); sunny periods in p.m.
  • campsite: 50m into bush 1 x 4 person (trail cleared for ease of access; possible 2-3 x 2 person sites; lakeshore has lots of flattish rock areas good for 2 person tents but would be exposed; Wabakimi Project lists other sites on SW and SE side of the lake.


From The HBC Post To Inner Barn Lunch Spot

We were up a bit early and keen to get going again.  It was ironic that after all our apprehension about the wind and big waves out on Lake Nipigon, we would have to take a wind day once we got back to the mainland shore!

We were off by 8:15, and the fact that we only took two photos between that time and our early lunch on Inner Barn Island tells you something about our focus – and of the photo ops!

our makeshift tent site in the morning

On the way, we paddled past the northern point of English Bay, where a campsite is indicated, but we did not stop to check it out. Instead, we headed for Inner Barn Island, one of the more dramatic landmarks in the north section of the lake.

See here for a jpg file  of the entire north section of Lake Nipigon

Inner Barn beach and campsite

We pulled our canoe ashore for an unusually early lunch – 10:45! – on the beach in a small bay on the south side of Inner Barn. A second mug of coffee to celebrate the last of the big water behind us and to prepare us for the portages up ahead!  Thanks to a brief shower timed perfectly to coincide with our brief pause on the island, we put up the tarp.

In a pinch, you could camp at this spot, but given how close the mouth of the Wabinosh River is, most paddlers would probably push on. We got the coordinates of this site from an excellent trip report of a three-week round – Lake Nipigon kayak trip last September by Hannah Fanney & Rodney Claiborne.  [See here for the report. It is the best thing out there on paddling Lake Nipigon – and maybe the only one!]

Inner Barn Island in Wabinosh Bay – a look at the campsite

It is a bit over 6 kilometers from our Inner Barn lunch spot to the top of Wabinosh Bay and the beginning of the 290-meter portage on river left of the Wabinosh as we made our way to Wabinosh Lake. We did take one last admiring look back at Inner Barn Island as we approached the top of the bay.

a view of Inner Barn Island from inside Wabinosh Bay


Wabinosh Bay Trading Post Locations:

We paddled past a weather monitoring station and wondered if this was the location of Fort Duncan, a North West Co. trading post back in the 1800s. The flattish clearing could certainly accommodate a fair-sized canoe-tripping group!

North West Co. fort at the north end of Lake Nipigon. Probably built by Duncan Cameron for the North West Co. about 1795. He was clerk at Nipigon 1797 and in charge of Nipigon district 1799. The site is uncertain but was probably located on Wabinosh Bay at the northwest angle, where the Hudson’s Bay Co. located at first, or on Windigo Bay. (See here for source)

However, next to the monitoring station was a “No Trespassing” sign, so we just moved on! It was still early, and we figured we’d be on Wabinosh Lake by mid-afternoon.  We did look over to the other side of the river mouth and another probable trading post location, that of the H.B.C.’s Wabinosh House, before it was moved down to where we had camped the night before. As for Nipigon House, here is the background…

Hudson’s Bay Co. post on northwest shore of Lake Nipigon. The first of this Company’s forts on lake Nipigon was built at the north end of the lake about 1775 or 1785 and was named Fort Nipigon. It is shown on the Arrowsmith maps of 1832 (No. 101), 1850 (No. 100), and 1857 (No. 8). Their second fort was constructed on Wabinosh Bay in the northwest angle of the lake and was called Wabinosh House. This post was probably built about 1821 or soon after the union and superseded the first fort Nipigon and the North West Company’s Fort Duncan which stood nearby. About 1850 Wabinosh House was removed 10 miles to the south and re-established as Nipigon House on its present site. (See here for source)

The Wabinosh River began a canoe route from Lake Nipigon used by the H.B.C. to transport the furs collected in the area to Osnaburgh House on the Albany River. From there, they would travel down to Fort Albany for shipment back to England. More research may make clear the exact route the traders to get to Osnaburgh House. The route may have gone up to Wabakmi Lake, west up the Ogoki River to Savant Lake, and then down to Osnaburgh Lake.


A Surprise on Wabinosh Bay – The White Pelicans

And then – one of those special moments that make a canoe trip unforgettable.[No – not a gruelling three-kilometer portage!]  Until now, we had seen very little wildlife other than a few otters and the occasional eagle. No moose, no bear, no beaver, not even any field mice in the abandoned cabin we had stayed in!  What we saw at the mouth of the Wabinosh made up for all the no’s”!

deep into Wabinosh Bay – weather monitoring station

our first view of the mouth of the Wabinosh River – a flock of seagulls?

pelican convention on a Lake Nipigon Bay – a bit closer up

pelicans at the mouth of the Wabinosh River on Lake Nipigon

pelicans in flight off Lake Nipigon

For a certain perspective – a fisherman’s, let’s say – the pelican is nothing more than a vacuum cleaner, sucking up the fish contents of a lake at a frightening rate!  The 150 or so gathered at the mouth of the Wabinosh River at bottom of the last set of rapids must have found a certified gold fishing spot.  They were first sited on Lake Nipigon in the early 1990s.  From afar, we thought they were seagulls! And then we saw the first hint of beak flashing in the sun.  We spent about ten minutes taking in the scene – and later wondered why we didn’t stay longer and shoot some video of a magical moment.

pelicans on the move as paddlers get close

pelicans at the foot of the rapids in Wabinosh Bay


The Wabinosh River Archaeological Site (EaJf-l)

We only found out later that the pelicans were only the latest arrivals to a spot where food needs are easily met!  Archaeological work was done in the late 1960s and into the 70s by K.C.A. Dawson of Lakehead University in the area at the base of the east side of the rapids. The multi-summer dig turned up evidence of Indigenous occupation going back 2000 years.

Wabinosh River EaJf-l

Dawson’s report on the site – The Wabinosh River Site And The Laurel Tradition in Northwestern Ontario. K.C.A. Dawson. – provides all the details. Here is the summary, which ends the very detailed 44-page report meant for fellow archaeologists familiar with the terminology.

Our 290-meter portage around the rapids started with us walking through a habitation site, and past a story we knew nothing about!  Knowing about the human element of the lakes and rivers we paddle makes our travels that much more meaningful.


From Wabinosh Bay To Wabinosh Lake:

Getting into Wabinosh Lake from the take-out spot took less than an hour –  about forty minutes on the portage and then maybe five minutes dealing with a set of swifts that we tracked up on river left without getting our feet wet.  There is a three-meter drop from Wabinosh Lake to the bay; the map below provides the visuals.

Once on Wabinosh Lake, we paddled to the west side towards a campsite area indicated on our Wabakimi Project map.  We did not find our camp spot right away. We walked along the shore and looked for a flat section of rock to accommodate our four-person tent, but we did not see anything suitable.

Only when Max followed a rough trail into the bush and about thirty-five meters did we find what we were looking for! It was flat, it was sheltered, and there was earth to push the tent pegs into.  The only thing missing was a view!  We set up our kitchen on the shore, had a fine view of Wabinosh Lake, and enjoyed a rare stretch of the afternoon sun.

Wabinosh campsite – 30 meters inside the bush

We also spent a bit of time clearing the trail from our rock patio by the shore to the interior tent spot and putting up some orange tape that may save the next passers-by a few minutes as they look for their perfect spot!  Given the subjective nature of all this, they may well pass up on our tucked-away spot for something on one of those somewhat flat rock surfaces that we dismissed as not quite good enough!

WWII POW Camps in the Armstrong Station Area – The Real Story!

WWII POW Camps in the Armstrong Station Area – Fact & Fiction

Later that afternoon, we looked for any signs of a prisoner-of-war camp from WWII that apparently stood on the lake’s west shore.  I emailed Don Elliot of Mattice Lake Outfitters for the location, and he responded that it had been on the west side of the lake near the outlet of the Wabinosh River.  With visions of  Hogan’s Heroes in my head, I was looking for barbed wire and evidence of enough buildings to house 100 or 200 prisoners.  In retrospect, pretty silly!   We only found a length of steel cable probably used by some lumber operation.  Little did we know that we had found something significant related to our search!


Day 12 – Wabinosh Lake to Waweig Lake 

from Wabinosh Lake To Waweig L. and Highway 527

  • distance: 15 km (1.2 km/30 min side trip to look for remains of POW camp)
  • time: 9:40 a.m to 6:00 p.m.
  • portages/rapids/liftover-Line: 5/0/1
  1. P1 – 1200m RL (2 hrs.) – rough in spots; be mindful of the tape!
  2. P2 –  225 m RR (20 min)
  3. P3 –  345m RL (35 min)
  4. P4 – 118m RL (20 min)  N.B.  Wabakimi Project P1-P4 distances are slightly different
  5. P5 – 292m RR (40 min)

L  120m  (20 min) tried lining up Wabinosh River; decided to cut the trip short!

  • weather: sun and clouds in the a.m., overcast, cool, windy in early p.m.; then showers
  • campsite: north end of the lake on ‘provincial’ campground; multiple sites for many tents; about 300m to Hwy 527; gravel road access; ~12.5 km to Mattice Lake Outfitters (our starting point)


Checking Out the NW Corner of Wabinosh Lake:

A beautiful morning on Wabinosh Lake… Max remarked, “What an incredible spot for a POW camp!” After breakfast, we spent a bit more time looking around for evidence that would fit in with our idea of a POW camp.  It looked possible, but we just were not seeing anything. No pictographs, no HBC trading post, and now – no POW camp!

the Wabinosh shoreline in front of our tent spot

Wabinosh Lake on a beautiful morning

Mulling over Don Elliot’s email, we thought he may have meant to the left of the river outlet, not the right side we had camped on.  That would also fit better with someone in Armstrong’s comment when he heard that we would be passing through Wabinosh Lake. He mentioned that there was a POW camp from WWII we should check out. He said it was on one of the small islands on the lake – “not the big one,” he specified. Our map indicated a small island at the north end of the lake. Off we went!

Wabinosh Lake map with POW camp locations

We landed at the north end of the sandy beach you see in the image below and walked around for a half-hour, looking for that POW camp.  There was nothing there, but it was possible to imagine that seventy-five years ago, there had been.

the possible POW lumber campsite on Wabinosh lake

possible site of Wabinosh Lake POW lumber camp

As we looked north to the top of Wabinosh Lake, we could see a small – very small! – island.  We considered the possibility of it hosting a POW camp and thought it was pretty pointless, given the size of the island and the fact that you could walk from the island to the shore without getting your navel wet.  So much for the Alcatraz of the North that I had created in my mind!

the small island at the north end of Wabinosh Lake

We left Wabinosh Lake, not having found anything except that length of steel cable at our campsite on the westside point.  When we got home a few days later, I pursued the question of that POW camp on Wabinosh Lake and ended up with an answer, unlike the one I had imagined. Click on the post title below to see what I found!

WWII POW Camps in the Armstrong Station Area – The Real Story!


A Morning of Portage Slogging:

  • Wabinosh Lake has an elevation of 261 meters a.s.l.
  • Waweig Lake sits at 312 meters.

We knew we were in for a bit more work than the previous day’s easy entry into Wabinosh Lake from the bay.  Five separate portages, the first one 1200 meters, and none showing signs of very much traffic. Luckily for us, a Wabakimi Project crew had taken the time in the past year or two to mark the various trails and do some cutting and clearing of deadfall and bush.

We spent almost five hours on the 5.7 kilometers up the Wabinosh River into Waweig Lake.  The image below is the only one we took during all that time!  It was taken from the side of the first portage trail, the bottom half of which was arguably in the best shape of any of the “trails” we walked that morning/early afternoon.  For the record, here is what a canoe tripper faces in the move up to Waweig from Wabinosh.

  1. P1 – 1200m RL (2 hrs) – rough in spots; be mindful of the tape!
  2. P2 –  225 m RR (20 min)
  3. P3 –  345m RL (35 min)
  4. P4 – 118m RL (20 min)  N.B.  Wabakimi Project P1-P4 distances are slightly different
  5. P5 – 292m RR (40 min)

the falls on the Wabinosh River on the way to Waweig Lake

Waweig…the word is a transliteration of the Ojibwe word for “round”. Some of the many spellings in Roman letters include waawiye and wahweyayah. There is another lake in the area that older maps name as Round Lake. It is now called Pikitigushi Lake.

Ending The Trip On Waweig

We were pretty beat when we got to Waweig.  The plan was to go up the Wabinosh River into Nameiben Lake and then work our way back the next day to Mattice Lake.   We liked the completeness of paddling up to the dock that we had taken off from in that De Havilland Beaver twelve days previously…

It was raining gently as we paddled to the continuation of the Wabinosh River, which would take us up into Nameiben Lake.  We had already agreed that we would be doing no more portages that day.  So we didn’t even bother looking for a possible portage trail on either side of the Wabinosh.

from Waweig Lake to Mattice Lake

But lining – somehow, that was different!

We started our way up the rock-strewn and shallow section of the river. The steepish banks on either side meant we would be walking the canoe up in the middle of the river.  Once or twice we lost our footing on the wet rocks as the rain came down.  Perhaps at the start of another day with the sun shining overhead, we would have persisted.  Long story short – one of us finally said – “Enough already! Let’s pull the plug on this adventure!” or words to that effect.

And so we retreated back down to Waweig Lake and paddled along the west shore to the north end.  There is a public camping area and boat launch there.  (The area is no longer maintained if the demolished outhouse is any indication.) We found a sheltered spot and made ourselves at home for the night.

The next morning when I mentioned to Don Elliot that we were disappointed not to have finished off the trip by paddling right up to lodge dock, he assured us that it would not have been our favourite part of the trip!

Waweig campgrounds and boat launch area

After our tent went up, we also sent an email to Don to arrange for a shuttle back to Mattice Lake the next morning.  Given how close it is – about ten kilometers – one of us could have hitched a ride to the outfitters and picked up the vehicle that very night.  In neither case would we have started the grand portage back to southern Ontario that night.

From Wabinosh Lake To Armstrong

Le Grand Portage:

The next morning we spent an hour at the Mattice Lake headquarters. Waiting for us was the bill for the de Havilland drop-off and shuttle from Waweig Lake. Also sitting on the counter were two copies of this year’s edition of the highly sought-after Mattice Lake Outfitters cap to add to our collection. We used the shower to freshen up for the 1800-kilometer ride back to southern Ontario and sipped on house coffee while we ran through a few of the highlights – and lowlights – of this year’s visit to the Wabakimi area.

And then we hit the road for Le Grand Portage. We left Mattice Lake around 11:00, and by 7:00 p.m., we were in Wawa. The next day was the one when a turbulent weather system from the west blew its way across Ontario. [It was the one which created the tornadoes in the Ottawa area.]   We raced it all the way to Toronto, being just an hour or two ahead of it and keeping our fingers crossed when we were travelling in a southward direction since that was the worst angle for the wind to hit the canoe.

By 9:00 that night, Max was back in London in SW Ontario, having dropped off me and the canoe and most of the gear in downtown Toronto!


This entry was posted in Anishinaabek World, Pictographs of the Canadian Shield, Wabakimi, wilderness canoe tripping. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to From Lake Nipigon’s Echo Rock To Waweig Lake

  1. ray tallent says:

    I was with the Wabakimi Project crew that mapped and cleared the Wabinosh lake to Waweig Lake stretch in 2017. Glad to see it found at least some use! We also cleared those tent pads on the west side of Waweig Lake; glad to read that you found them in the woods; we used the shoreline only for our bench and fireplace… wonder if those were still there. You travelled in one day what took us the better part of a week to map and clear! But that is what we shoot for. And I agree: that first carry out of Wabinosh Lake (that heads up the ridge after the falls) is challenging.

    • true_north says:

      Ray, thanks to you and the rest of the crew for hacking your way up from Wabinosh to Waweig. As rough as we found it, it would have been way worse without your work and that prospectors’ tape! We added some of our own tape in a few sections to make it even more obvious.

      We did those portages in mid-September at the end of the 2018 season. The trip planning strategy that my brother and I joke about is this – Find out where a Wabakimi Project crew has been the summer before!

      A few days before we had also done the 1300-meter carry from Derraugh Lake into Pikitigushi Lake, again benefitting from the summer of 2014 work of another Wakbakimi Project team. We had gone up to Cliff Lake to see the pictographs again – and to pour a couple of shots of Canadian whisky in the lake in memory of Phil Cotton.

      BTW – those tent pads. Weren’t they on Wabinosh Lake? On Waweig we put up our tent in the once-provincial campground at the north end of the lake on the west side.

      • Ray Tallent says:

        Yes, I should have written Wabinosh Lake. We had a Cotton fireplace and bench on the small rocky landing area and a couple of tent pads back in the trees. There are sand beach campsites on the east side of the lake that get used by skiff campers who have road access at Pishidgi Lake; those sites are a bit trashy…
        If you and your brother had proceeded up to Nameiben (we scouted and paddled the culvert coming down; you would likely have to carry up and over 527, headed upstream), you would have come to the one spot we have not found and cleared a portage at: the section of river between Nameiben and Pillar. From Pillar, the route to Mattice Lake by going up Mattice Creek (aka Badwater Creek) is mapped and cleared; it is not difficult.
        You also wondered about possible shuttles from Gull Bay on Nipigon. Vern Fish and his cousin, Dave Fish paddled the Gull River and got a pick-up at Gull Bay by Mattice Outfitters. I think maybe Don Elliot called the village to get an OK on that. Vern’s trip report is on I think.
        Happy paddling in the coming season! Ray T.

      • true_north says:

        Ray, after a morning’s worth of portage from Wabinsoh up to Waweig on the trails you guys refreshed, we were not going to do any more portaging that day! It was raining as we headed up the river towards the highway crossing. We did not get very far before deciding to end the trip at the north end of the lake. We never did look for a possible portage trail going from Waweig to Nameiben. I don’t think The Volume V map set shows a portage trail for that section. It does show the campsite on the west side of Wabinosh that we used, as well as two on the east side of the lake that you mentioned. Definitely no lack of places to put up a tent on Wabinosh! We did not make use of that Cotton fireplace! It was a bit breezy so we retreated to the edge of the bush to take advantage of the windscreen the trees provided.

        In mid-June we are going to do the French River from Lake Nipissing to Georgian Bay. It is eye-candy canoe country and saturated with multiple layers of history. A big plus is that it only takes us five hours to get to the put-in instead of the two days we spend getting to Wabakimi!

        I should ask you what the Wabakimi Project crews are working on this summer – it may give us ideas for next summer’s trip!

  2. Ray Tallent says:

    I am sorry to report that 2018 was the last season for Cotton-style weekly service trips. Phil had already planned out a lot of that summer’s route work, and his son and daughter (John and Tricia) graciously allowed us to operate out of his house in Thunder Bay, as had been done for the previous decade and more. Debbie Doyle-Sargent, an old friend of Phil’s and project member in Thunder Bay, did a yeoman’s job of outfitting the food barrels and handling logistics for the crews. I was in for a couple of weeks in June, and contributed to mapping and clearing the route from Kellar Bay on Caribou Lake up to Scallop Lake on the Raymond River (in effect, allowing one to travel up to the Raymond and over and down to Cliff Lake, though a piece over from Scallop Lake to North Annette has not been done by us…) That info is not in the map books, yet. It was bittersweet to stay at Phil’s that final time, to say the least. A goodly number of project members were able to attend his memorial gathering in July, and I drove up from Iowa with my wife for that. He is missed.

    The map books and planning map will continue to be made available through the non-profit group, Friends of Wabakimi, that Phil started around 2015. I think the Wabakimi Project website will be phased into Friends of Wabakimi website, eventually. Barry Simon of Wisconsin has been instrumental in the construction of the map books, and I expect he will likely update them as we check routes and add info. That will be through trips made by ‘Friends’ and other contributors (I am headed up to the north central part of the park with three other ‘Friends’ next June, partly to that end). Debbie Doyle helps with distribution of materials on the Canadian side. Your trip reports are gold for the area, also!

    The Friends are also considering putting together some form of ‘favorite routes’ book for the Wabakimi area, as some folks have remarked that they have to cut and paste from the current map books to fashion a route… I suspect the trail-clearing part, that the Project was pretty rigorous about, will not be done as thoroughly as in the past. One hopes for some traffic, just to keep the routes fairly open. The Park operates on a small crew to try and maintain a lot of portage trail, and the Crown Land areas pretty much just depend on travelers to help out, as they can (unless it is a trail close to a fishing camp lake).

    French River sounds great. I expect if you listen closely on a quiet morning, you can probably hear the old chansons. Best, Ray T.

  3. Dee says:

    Hi Ray, I am working on a YouTube documentary which mentions undercliff island and echo rock at Gull Bay, and in this time of year can’t make it out to those places. I am wondering if I could use a few of those photos for it?

    • true_north says:

      Dee, true_north here! Feel free to make use of any of our images to help you tell your story. My bro and I are always just thankful to have been able to sit there in our canoe and take it all in. Do send me the Youtube link when your project is done – I’d love to see what you came up with.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks! I have however already released the documentary as I was on a time crunch. You can find it on YouTube by typing in: Maymaygwayshi: Rock Medicine Man (Little People Documentary) 2019

      • true_north says:

        Sorry about that! I just got back from a four-week visit to Bhutan in the eastern Himalayas and was off the grid for most of it. Thanks for the Youtube info!

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