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Various Geographical Items: Encyclopedia Arctica 13: Canada, Geography and General
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962

Various Geographical Items

Abitibi Lake

EA-Geography: Canada

(D. M. Lebourdais)

ABITIBI LAKE

Abitibi Lake, northeastern Canada, lies across the interprovincial
boundary between Ontario and Quebec, with the grater part of its extend
in Ontario. It has an area of 350 square miles, of which 295 miles are
in Ontario and 55 square miles are in Quebec; and it is divided into
two principal sections by promontories projecting from the north and
south shores, leaving only a narrow channel between. With an elevation
of 868 feet above sea level, its axis lies west-northwest and east-southeast.
Its most northerly point is in latitude 48° 56′ N.; its easterly limit is
in longitude 79° 15′ W. (the boundary cut it at longitude 79° 31′ W.); its
most southerly point is in latitude 48° 35′ N.; and its most westerly point
is in longitude 80° 13′ W. Its greatest length in a direct line is about
44 miles, and its greatest width, 18 miles. Its shoreline is very irregular,
with a number of long promontories projecting into the lake, in addition to
the two which almost bisect it. The southern promontory is seven miles long,
and very narrow, while the one extending southward from the north shore is
about 12 miles long and averages about 10 miles wide. Both sections of the
lake are filled with islands. The eastern portion is more thickly dotted
with islands than the western portion, and the largest has an area of about
six square miles.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada-Abitibi Lake

The shores of Abitibi Lake are generally rocky, with little sand
or gravel and not much swamp. The land immediately to the north is rela–
tively low, rising some distance back from the shore to hills with an
elevation of over 2,000 feet. The south shore is higher, with hills near
the lake reaching heights of from 1,000 to 1,300 feet. Many streams flow
into Abitibi Lake, most of which are short because the drainage area is
hemmed on the north by a range of hills, and to the south by the height
of land separating the St. Lawrence River watershed from that of James Bay.
One of the largest inflowing streams is the Duparquet River, which enters
from the south near the eastern end of the lake, its course being entirely
within the Province of Quebec. Other rivers flowing in from the south are
the Ghost, Lightning, and Mattawasaga. The principal rivers flowing in from
the north are La Reine, Aylen, and Lowbush.
Abitibi Lake is drained by the Abitibi River, which flows westward out
of its southwestern angel, its waters ultimately reaching James Bay by way
of Moose River. The Canadian National Railway line from Quebec City to
Winnipeg (National Transcontinental) touches the north shore of the western
section of Abitibi Lake at two points, in Northeast Bay and in Northwest Bay,
at Mace and Lowbush Stations, respectively. The Hudson's Bay Company has
maintained a trading post on Abitibi Lake since 1755.
The lake was first surveyed in 1900, when parties employed by the
Ontario Government were engaged to explore portions of Ontario's northern
hinterland, till then, except by traders and trappers, an unknown land.
Reference:
<bibl> Government of Ontario. Report of the Survey and Exploration of Northern
Ontario, 1900 . Toronto. The King's Printer, 1901. </bibl>

Abitibi River

EA-Geography: Canada
(D. M. LeBourdais)

ABITIBI RIVER

The Abitibi River, one of the principal tributaries of Moose River
(q.v.), drains an area of 11,300 square miles in the northeastern part
of Ontario, Dominion of Canada. It rises in Abitibi Lake (q.v.), in
latitude 48° 47′ N., longitude 81° 11′ W.; and, after an initial westerly
course of about 50 miles, holds a generally northwesterly course to its
junction with Moose River, a short distance above the latter's mouth.
It drains the eastern portion of the Moose River watershed; its basin is
narrow, because it is hemmed on the west by the watershed of the Mattagami
River, another important tributary of the Moose, and, on the east, by
various streams draining into James Bay through the Province of Quebec.
The Abitibi River flows through two physiographic provinces. In its
upper reaches, its course lies across territory underlain by the Pre e c ambrian
rocks of the Canadian Shield, where it is interrupted by numerous rapids
and falls, resulting in many excellent power sites, some of which are
already developed. In its lower reaches, it traverses the Hudson (James) Bay
lowland, where the underlying rocks are of Palaeozoic age, and the stream
flows through low-lying land consisting mainly of peat bogs and muskeg. Its
upper reaches are in well-wooded territory, where black and white spruce,
Banksian pine, birch, balsam, poplar and tamarack are the principal trees.
Most of the timber is small, however, and fit chiefly for pulpwood. At two

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada-Abitibi River

different point pulp and paper mills have already been established. For
a large part of its length its valley is occupied by the line of the
Ontario Northland Railway (q.v.), which connects transcontinental lines
at North Bay and Cochrane with James Bay at Moosonee. The line crosses
the river in two places, remaining, however, for most of its distance on
the western side.
Leaving Lake Abitibi at its southeastern angle, in the large bay
formed by a long promontory, the Abitibi River flows southeastward, swing–
ing soon to a generally westerly direction. It is at this point a broad,
shallow stream, with many arms and bays extending on both sides so that it
is difficult to determine the direction of the main stream. Twenty miles
below the outlet of the lake, the Abitibi receives the Mistogo River from
the north. The channel of this stream is similar in its characteristics
to that of the Abitibi in this section. Shortly below the mouth of the
Mistogo River, the Abitibi swings to the southwestward and narrows to
one-third of its width as it pours over the Twin Falls, where the drop is
60 feet. Here the Abitibi Power and Paper Company Limited has developed
30,000 horse power of electrical energy for use in its pulp and paper plant
at Iroquois Falls. Continuing a southwesterly course for about seven miles,
it receives Black River from the south, and immediately swings to the north-
northwest for eight miles to Iroquois Falls, which is the site of the Abitibi
Power and Paper Company Limited's immense mill and townsite.
At Iroquois Falls, the company develops 28,000 horse power for us in its
plant. Continuing northwestward, the river is crossed by the line of the
Canadian National Railways between Brower and Abitibi stations. At about
25 miles north of the railway crossing, the river makes an abrupt turn to

EA-Geog. LaBourdais: Canada-Abitibi River

the west, flowing in that direction for 10 miles to the junction with
Frederick House River, which comes in from the south. Immediately below
the junction, the Abitibi resumes its general north-northwesterly course,
and, 12 miles below the mouth of Frederick House River, is crossed for
the second time by the Ontario Northland Railway. Three miles beyond the
railway crossing, the Abitibi flows over Island Falls, where a dam has
been built providing a head of 66 feet. Here the Abitibi Power and Paper
Company limited has a plant at which 60,000 horse power is generated. This
power is conveyed to the mill at Iroquois Falls over a transmission line of
81.5 miles. Between the mouth of Frederick House River and Island Falls,
the river is about 200 yards wide, with many bays and arms. Its banks are
from 75 to 100 feet high, cut through glacial drift.
The Abitibi River contracts again below Island Falls, continuing thus
for 30 miles, when it once more widens into a lake-expansion before entering
the Abitibi Canyon, where a drop of 237 feet occurs. This is the beginning
of the river's plunge from the level of the Pre c -C ambrian plain to that of the
lowland. At Abitibi Canyon, the Ontario Hydro-Electric Power Commission
develops 275,000 horse power of electricity. Construction of this huge
plant was begun by the Abitibi Power and Paper Company Limited. Before
the project was completed, however, the company went into a receivership.
In the settlement, the power development was taken over by the Ontario
Hydro-Electric Power Commission, and the enterprise is now part of its
system.
Swinging in a gradual curve to the north from Abitibi Canyon, the
river drops over another fall to about 10 miles beyond the canyon. Con–
tinuing then in a general north-northwesterly direction for about 30 miles,

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canadai-Abitibi River

it narrows, and, at Otter Rapids and Falls, runs for two miles through a
canyon which, in places, is not more than 50 feet wide, where the descent
is 57 feet. The Sextant Rapids, two and a half miles below the canyon,
have a fall of 16 feet. Beyond this point, the river swings to the north–
west for about a mile, and then turns slightly east of north for two miles,
flowing over the Coral Rapids, with a drop of 18 feet. Coral Rapids are so
named because the river at that point outs through a cliff composed almost
entirely of fossilized ferns, fish and marine invertebrates. The stream
now trends north-northeasterly, and five miles below Coral Rapids enters
the Long Rapids, which continue for five miles with a total drop of 77 feet.
The river has now reac hed the level of the Hudson (James) Bay Lowlands.
After a sharp bend to the east, and about five miles below the lower
end of the Long Rapids, the Little Abitibi River flows in from the southeast.
Ten miles farther north the Blacksmith Rapids occur, where there is a drop
of five feet. This is followed by rapids with drops of three and four feet,
respectively, after which the Onakawana River comes in from the southwest.
Here the Ontario Northland Railway, hitherto following the west bank of the
Abitibi River, crosses the intervening territory to the Moose River valley,
a short distance to the westward. Another rapid with a drop of four feet
occurs at the point where the Big Cedar Creek comes in on the east side.
The Abitibi now follows a generally southeasterly course, which it holds
until it joins the Moose. Several rapids, including Sand Rapids, with a
three-foot drop, and the Sugar Rapids, with a four-foot drop, occur in the
final stretch. Midway between these is another rapid, unnamed, with a drop
of three feet. In its lower reaches, the Abitibi expands considerably and
contains many islands, having a width at its mouth of about three-quarters
of a mile.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada-Abitibi

The Abitibi River traverses a territory which has unusual economic
possibilities. The region through which it runs in its upper reaches is
fairly well covered with black and white spruce and other trees common to
the region. Some of this timber is of merchantable size, but the greater
part of it is fit only for pulpwood, of which there is a considerable quan–
tity. The supply would have been much greater if large sections of the
country had not, in recent years, been repeatedly ravaged by fire.
Since, for the greater part of its course, the river traverses the
Precambrian plain, underlain by rocks which elsewhere are highly mineralized,
it is likely that, as the country becomes more fully prospected, valuable
mineral occurences will be located. The rich gold mines of Kirkland Lake
(q.v.) are but a few miles to the south of its source. The equally famous
gold mines of Porcupine (q.v.) are about the same distance to the westward.
Both have been producing steadily since the second decade of the twentieth
century.
As already mentioned, the pulpwood resources of the territory are being
utilized by the Abitibi Power and Paper Company Limited at Iroquois Falls.
Mention has also been made of the development by this company of a total of
98,000 horse power at its three sites, and the Ontario Hydro-Electric Power
Commission's 275,000 horsepower plant at the Abitibi Canyon. A number of
other sites remain where large quantities of additional power could be
developed.
The upper reaches of the river cut through the famous Clay Belt (q.v.),
in which the land, though timber-covered, is very fertile. When the timber
is removed and the land cleared, this region could provide farm homes for a
large community. As has already been said, it has railway connection with

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada-Abitibi River

Cochrane, on the transcontinental, and with tidewater at James Bay.
The Lowlands section, while at present a dreary waste of muskeg, could
be converted into productive farm land by proper draining. It consists of
a layer of water-soaked moss and decayed vegetable matter superimposed upon
a clay subsoil. The moss prevents evaporation; the clay prevents drainage
of the water. This water, only slightly warmer than ice-water, serves to
keep the land in perpetual cold storage. If the land were drained, however,
the temperature at ground-level would certainly rise, and the rich soil, level
and free from stones, would undoubtedly prove of value for agricultural purposes.
The Lowland section is capable, also, of industrial development. Large
deposits of excellent china clay have been discovered in a number of places,
as well as immense deposits of gypsum. Cheap electrical power is close at
hand and, in addition, widespread deposits of lignite coal exist, which, while
not of sufficient quality to justify transport for any distance, could be used
to advantage locally.
The Abitibi River has provided a highway to James and Hudson Bays since
the seventeenth century. French fur traders from Montreal followed it to the
Moose and thence to the Bay as early as 1662. It has been a favorite canoe
route of traders, missionaries and explorers ever since. The railway now
makes canoe travel unnecessary, except for recreation. In this region, how–
ever, it is likely that it will long continue to attract those who enjoy the
thrill of canoeing in white water.
References:
<bibl> Bell, J. Mackintosh. Economic Resources of Moose River Basin . Report of
the Bureau of Mines, 1904. Toronto, The King's Printer,
1904. </bibl> <bibl> Williamson, O.T.G. The Northland Ontario . Toronto, The Ryerson Press, 1946. </bibl>

Albany River

EA-Geography: Canada
(D. M. LeBourdais)

ALBANY RIVER

The Albany River, in northern Ontario, Dominion of Canada, drains
an area of 59,800 square miles southwest of James Bay, and is 610 miles
in length to the head of its farthest tributary. It is one of the most
important rivers in Ontario, although yet very little known. Its drain–
age basin extends from latitude 48° 45′ N. to latitude 52° 30′ N; and
from longitude 81° 30′ W. to longitude 92° W. The greater part of this
area lies south of the main stream, drained by the Ogoki and Kenogami
rivers, with their network of tributaries.
For many years the Albany formed the northwestern boundary of Ontario,
separating that province from the District of Keewatin, then part of the
Northwest Territories administered by the Government of Canada. A new
boun [: ] ry was established in 1912, when the province of Ontario and Manitoba
were extended to Hudson Bay and that portion of the District of Keewatin
lying south of latitude 60° N., and north of the Albany River, was divided
between them.
The Albany River proper rises in St. Joseph Lake, which lies in a
general east-west direction practically along the 51st parallel of north
latitude, between 90° W. and 91° 30′ W. longitude, but its headwaters are
generally taken to be the source of Cat River, which flows through Cat Lake

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Albany River

and a series of other lakes into the western end of St. Joseph Lake. This
chain of lakes lies in a direction slightly west of north between latitudes
51° and 52° N., and between longitudes 91° 30′ and 92° W.
St. Joseph Lake is a splendid sheet of water, about 80 miles in length,
with an elevation of 1,218 feet above sea level. Since it is entirely within
the region of Precambrian rocks, its shoreline is extremely irregular, as is
characteristic of lakes in that region, and consists of long bays and inden–
tations, and the lake is studded with innumerable islands. The surrounding
country here, and for the greater part of the Albany's course across the
Canadian Shield, consists of an undulating upland plain of low relief, occa–
sional or ro cky hills or knobs rising from 50 to 200 feet above the general
level. The shores and islands of the lakes and rivers are well wooded with
large spruce, both black and white, tamarack, aspen and balsam poplar, with
some Banksian pine, cedar and white birch.
Like many other lakes in the Canadian Shield section of northern Canada,
St. Joseph Lake has two outlets — at its eastern extremity, where the end
of the lake is formed by an island, five and a half miles north and south
by about three miles at its greatest width. The outlets, one at each end
of the island, discharge into Osnaburgh Lake, a crescent-shaped, island-
studded lake about 12 miles long and a mile and a half wide at its widest,
lying approximately north and south. Both channels, near their entry into
Osnaburgh Lake, drop over ledges with a fall of 10 feet. The Albany River
flows eastward out of the southern end of Osnaburgh Lake in a channel filled
with islands and broken by many rapids. Four miles below Osnaburgh Lake, it
enters Atikokiwam Lake, three miles long by two miles wide. The river divides
into two channels as it flows out of Atikokiwam Lake, and the two come together

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Albany River

ten miles below, having encompassed Kagami Island in their course. The
descent between Atikokiwam Lake and the point where the channels reunite
is about 100 feet. In the northern channel, the first fall occurs five
miles below Atikokiwam Lake, where the drop is 34 feet; at the Kagami Falls
four miles farther downstream, the fall is also 34 feet; and three-quarters
of a mile below the latter another fall, of 14 feet, occurs. The drop in
the southern channel is more continuous.
Beginning a short distance below the foot of Kagami Island, the Albany
River enters an arm of Achapai (Elbow) Lake, which is about four miles long
and not more than a mile wide and lies in a northeasterly direction. At the
end of this four-mile reach, the arm bends sharply to the southeast, and a
mile farther joins the main part of the lake, which is about six and a half
miles long, lying south of and parallel to the arm just mentioned. The river
flows out of Achapai Lake at its northeastern extremity, not far from the
point at which it enters, and flows northward for a mile and then swings to
the northeast, holding that course in a well-marked channel, free from ob–
structions, until a short rapid leads to a lake-expansion five miles long
and less than a mile wide. This lake-expansion terminates in a rapid with
a four-foot descent, after which the river makes an abrupt turn to the east–
ward, and with many twists and turns drops 55 feet in the next six miles of
rapids. At the end of this stretch, the Misehkow River comes in from the
southwest. Swinging to slightly east of north, immediately below the mouth
of the Misehkow, the Albany widens and for the next eight miles continues
wide with a slack current, bending abruptly to the east at the end of this
stretch, and expanding about a number of islands as the Etowamami River comes

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Albany River

in from the northwest. This easterly course is about four miles in length,
and, at the end of it, is another island-filled expansion. Here, in a region
of morainic hills, from 200 to 300 feet high, the river makes a sharp bend to
the south for five miles in the course of which it is interrupted by many
rapids. This southward stretch terminates in a lake-like expansion pendant
to the main river; the Shabuskwia River flows into this expansion from the
south.
Making a hairpin bend to the northeast, the Albany River, in the next
eight miles, drops over Upper Eskawa Falls, with a descent of 22 feet, Eskawa
Falls, with a descent of 23 feet, and Snake Falls, with a descent of nine
feet. Below the last mentioned falls, the river widens, and for four miles
flows in a direction slightly east of north. It then swings to the east,
still wide and with a slack current, and flows into Miminiska Lake, dividing
into two channels just above its entrance. Miminiska Lake has a total length
of 12 miles and a width of about six, but a considerable portion of its area
is occupied by what appears to be an island about five and a half miles long
by five miles wide, but which, in reality, is a promontory attached to the
north shore of the lake by a short, narrow ridge of rock. Miminiska Lake
lies in a northeasterly direction, but the Albany River flows out of its
[: ] s outheasterly angle. Continuing in a southeasterly direction for two and
a half miles, in which the descent is 32 feet, the river enters Petawanga
Lake, 15 miles long and less than two miles at its greatest width, lying
mainly in an east-and-west direction. After leaving Petawanga Lake, the
Albany flows in a general easterly direction through a number of lake-ex–
tensions, receiving from the north the discharge from Kabemet Lake, where
a Hudson's Bay Company's post is established. The river now swings to the

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Albany River

southeast, continuing in that direction for about four miles to Makokibatan
Lake. In the six miles between Petawanga and Makikobatan lakes, the river
has a total descent of 68 feet.
Makokibatan Lake is about 18 miles long, by less than two miles wide,
and lies in a direction slightly north of east. The river leaves the lake
by two channels, one at the southeastern, and the other at the northeastern
angle. These two channels proceed on a roughtly parallel northeasterly
course, and unite about 15 miles below the lake. The northern channel flows
into and out of the southern side of Washi Lake, a double lake about 10 miles
long, while the southern channel flows through a number of small expansions.
In the stretch between Makokibatan and Washi lakes, the river has a drop of
33 feet in three principal rapids that are separated by short sections of
quiet water.
After the junction of the two channels, the river flows slightly north
of east through many expansions, separated usually by rapids. It then swings
to a northerly course for four miles, still expanding into lake-like stretches.
Three miles from the bend, it drops over Kagaimi Falls, which, including the
rapids above, have a total descent of 44 feet. The river continues its
northerly course for another mile below Kagiami Falls, and then bends to the
northeast, holding that course for 10 miles to Martin Falls, where it drops
25 feet. In the stretch between Kagiami and Martin falls, the river drops
40 feet in three rapids of 14, 12 and 14 feet, respectively. Below Martin
Falls, the course continues generally northeasterly for a further eight
miles in which the current, while swift, is uninterrupted. Beyond this, the
river swings to the north, continuing on that course for four miles, at the
end of which a slight bend to the east occurs and after two miles is interrupted

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Albany River

by the final rapid on the river (except for two slight ones in its lower
reaches), where there is a drop of six feet.
From this point the river swings to the northeast in a gradual curve,
maintaining this course for about eight miles to the south of the Wabassi
River, flowing in from the west. Below the mouth of the Wabassi, the Albany
turns to the east and then swings to the southeast. Beginning about two
miles above the mouth of the Wabassi, the river widens with many islands,
and after the turn to the east, it separates twice into two channels, in
each case enclosing an island about a mile and a half long. Where the river
changes from the eastward to the southeastward course, it flows in several
parallel channels which enclose islands; and below that point, while confined
to one channel, it occupies a wide trough and runs with a slack current. The
Albany has now reached the lowland section, and from here to the coast its
nature undergoes a radical change. Its course consists of relatively straight
stretches, with steep banks cut through the till. For a hundred miles the
channel is cut through boulder clay which has washed away, leaving a bed and
banks of boulders. Nearer the sea, where the flat-lying limestones are
closer to the surface, the stream has cut down into the bedrock, in places
as deep as 30 or 40 feet.
At the end of the southeastern stretch, the Ogoki River joins the Albany,
coming from the southwest, after which the latter runs eastward for 25 miles,
again swinging to the southeast for a further 60 miles. The many expansions
of the upper reaches are now absent, but a shallow expansion occurs opposite
the mouth of the Kenogami as it comes in from the southwest at the end of the
80-mile stretch just mentioned. Immediately b e low the mouth of the Kenogami,
the Albany resumes its northeasterly course, which it holds until it reaches

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Albany River

James Bay in latitude 51° 20′ N., longitude 80° 20′ W. In the final 150
miles, it maintains a wide channel, with clay and gravel banks from 60 to
80 feet high, dividing in many places to enclose low sand and gravel islands
of considerable size, and averaging from a quarter of a miles to over a mile
in width. The surrounding country consists mainly of muskeg, in which the
principal trees are black spruce and tamarack of small dimensions. The river
is bordered on each side by a narrow strip of green timber in which the trees
are sometimes of considerable size, but both size and numbers diminish within
a short distance from the river's edge.
The Albany, by means of its tributary, the Kenogami, and the latter's
tributary, the Pagwachuan, provides an uninterrupted water way from the
Canadian National Railways line at Pagwa station to James Bay. The Pagwa–
chuan is shallower than the Kenogami, but in high water is navigable for
river boats of sufficient size. Revillon Freres and the Hudson's Bay Company
transport goods down these rivers to their trading posts, using 15-ton scows
propelled by power boats. Although the Albany has two rapids below the
junction with the Kenogami, neither offers any serious obstruction to navigation.
The Albany River has been familiar to officers of the Hudson's Bay Company
for more than two centuries. The first scientific exploration of any part of
the area was not undertaken until 1870, when Dr. Robert Bell, of the Geological
and Natural History Survey of the Department of the Interior of Canada, ex–
plored part of its watershed. Robert Bell made a further exploration of the
territory about St. Joseph Lake in 1887, crossing the divide to the Attawapis–
kat, which he descended to the sea. Following the James Bay coast to the mouth
of the Albany, he ascended that river to the mouth of the Kenogami, ascen [: ] ing
the latter to its source in Long Lake.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Albany River

In 1920, Dr. M. Y. Williams, of the Geological Survey of Canada, descended
the Pagwachuan from Pagwa to the junction with the Kenogami, and descended
the latter and the Albany River to James Bay, examining the country with a
view to its possibilities for petroleum.
The first activity, and the only one for many years, in the Albany River
region was the fur trade, conducted at first exclusively by the Hudson's Bay
Company, and in later years also by Revillon Freres. The region through which
the river runs in its upper reaches is underlain, as has been said, by the
Pre c -C ambrian rocks of the Canadian Shield, in which rich mineral occurrences
have been found in various parts of the country. The geological indications
in the area surrounding its headwaters, and through which it flows until it
drops down to the lowland level, are favorable in different places for gold,
silver, lead, copper, nickle, cobalt and vanadium; while in certain places
formations exist in which iron ore deposits are a possibility.
The economic resources of the lowland section cannot yet be guaged
with any certainty, owing to the heavy overburden of glacial drift with
which the underlying formations are covered. The limestones and dolomites
of the region are similar to those which elsewhere are productive of oil,
but wherever they have been examined their flat-lying position seems to pre–
clude the possibility of any great concentration of oil but the amount of
actual prospecting that has so far been done is negligible and too slight to
admit of a definite answer to the question as to whether oil exists.
In the Moose River basin, farther to the southeast, extensive deposits
of high-grade fireclays exist, as well as widely-distributed deposits of
gypsum. It is possible that similar deposits exist in the Albany River region,
but, as with oil, the amount of prospecting so far done is too slight to
admit of any definite answer to that question. A similar situation exists

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Albany River

exists with respect to the possible existence of lignite coal, of which
large deposits exist in the Moose River basin.
In the Canadian Shield section of the Albany River drainage area,
especially in the southern part, large quantities of pulpwood are available,
but stands of merchantable timber are not very extensive.
One of the most important resources of the region is the amount of
potential hydro-electric energy. While the power is too far from the present
industrial sections of Ontario to be of use in those parts of the province,
its availability in the development of the mineral resources of the region
renders such development much more likely. The geological indications added
to nearby waterpower go far to assure an important industrial development
some day in the territory drained by the Albany River.
References:
<bibl> Selwyn, A.R.C. Summary Report of the Operations of the Geological and
Natural History Survey to 31st December, 1887, being
Part III of the Annual Report of the Department of the
Interior, 1887. Ottawa,
1888. </bibl>
Williams, M.Y. Palaeozoic Stratigraphy of the Pagwachuan, Lower Kenogami,
and Lower Albany Rivers, Ontario
. Geological Survey of
Canada, Summary Report, 1920, Part D.

Artillery Lake

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

ARTILLERY LAKE

Artillery Lake, in Mackenzie District, northwestern Canada, is the
largest in the series of lakes forming part of the Lockhart River system,
which extends for 300 miles from MacKay Lake in latitude 64° N., longitude
111° 30′ W., to the eastern end of Great Slave Lake. Artillery Lake is
about 55 miles long and about seven miles at its widest, lying in a northeast–
southwest direction, the lower end of which terminates in a long narrow bay,
less than half a mile wide. It has an area of 190 square miles, and has an
elevation of 1,190 feet, which is 695 feet above the level of Great Slave
Lake, only 25 miles distant by way of the lower section of Lockhart River.
Its shores are bold and high, in some places 200 feet above the lake.
At the south end of the lake the country is very rough and appears to
have been heavily glaciated. The hills show the characteristic rounded tops
and the valleys have numerous furrows and troughs resulting from ice action.
The glacia [: ] l drift here is very light, usually in the form of scattered
boulders. The underlying rock is granite and gneiss of a dull red to pink
color and of medium grain. Northward along the lake the glacial deposits
become thicker and the country becomes more gently rolling.
About 20 miles north of the southern end of the lake a new series of
rocks appears. These extend across the lake, and all the islands from this
point northward to the top of the lake show outcrops of the same rocks which
consist of dolomite limestone of massive form, varying from a light cream to
a dark grey. The largest of these islands, Crystal Island, about five miles

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Artillery Lake

long by about half a mile wide, lies toward the east shore, about half way
up the lake. Innumerable white quartz stringers occur throughout the forma–
tion and in them are found clusters of small, clear quartz crystals, hence
the island's name.
At the north end of the lake are many well-defined moraines with an
east-and-west axis causing swift water or rapids in Lockhart River between
Ptarmigan and Artillery Lakes. A feature of this district is the sand ridges
that extend for many miles across the country, also with east and west axes.
In some cases the sand is formed into distinct ridges up to 60 or 70 feet
high, with their tops horizontal, evidently glacial deposits and old lake
beaches.
The timber-line is about half-way up Artillery Lake; on the west, the
slopes back from the shore are fairly well timbered with small spruce for
about 10 miles from the south end; beyond this point trees, although thinly
scattered, continue northward for a further 20 miles, about eight miles
farther north than on the eastern shore.
The resources of Artillery Lake and vicinity, outside of any mineral
wealth it may possess, lie chiefly in its fish, furs and meat supplies.
The deep cold waters abound with the finest lake trout as well as whitefish,
pike and carp. Caribou are numerous and are the chief source of meat supply
for the natives, although muskoxen have been found at no great distance to
the northeast. The area, however, is in the Thelon Sanctuary and as such its
game resources are not for general use.
Artillery Lake, with those in the Lockhart River system above, was first
explored by Sir George Back in 1833, who named it as well as others. In 1900,
J. W. Tyrrell, making a survey for the Geological Survey of Canada, proceeded

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Artillery Lake

up the lake on his way to the Thelon River, and since then other surveys
have been made.
References:
<bibl> Back, George. Narrative of the Arctic Land Expedition to the Mouth of
of Great Fish River and Along the Shores of the Arctic
Ocean in the Years 1833, 1934 and 1935
; London, 1836. </bibl>
Tyrrell, J.W. Annual Report ; Geological Survey of Canada, 1900.

Ashuanipi River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

ASHUANIPI RIVER

The Ashuanipi River is the larger of two principal tributaries form–
ing the Hamilton River, in the Labrador portion of the Province of Newfound–
land, Canada. It rises at the southwestern angle of the Hamilton River
drainage basin, in the height of land separating the Hamilton watershed
from that of the St. Lawrence, on the south, of rivers draining into James
Bay, on the west, and of rivers flowing northward into Ungava Bay. The
height of land here consists of much swampy country and of innumerable lakes
connected by short stretches of stream, all apparently flowing on the surface,
without any perceptible river valley. The slope of the country occupied by
the network of streams and lakes which constitutes the Ashuanipi River, is
mainly northwestward to the northwestern extremity of the Hamilton River
drainage area, and then eastward, where the main drainage is carried by the
Hamilton River to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Ashuanipi drainage basin is long and narrow. On the west it is
limited by the nearness of the watershed between the Hudson Bay and Atlantic
drainage areas; while, on the east, it is limited by the proximity of the
Attikonak River, which follows a roughly parallel course to join the Ashuanipi
in Sandgirt Lake.
Ashuanipi River has its source in the lake of the same name, which is
upwards of 50 miles long and generally very narrow, irregular in outline, filled

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Ashuanipi River

with islands, and in every way typical of most of the lakes found through–
out the Canadian Shield. As the river flows out of the lake, it is wide
and shallow, but contracts to about 75 yards, except where it spreads into
frequent lake-expansions of various sizes. The stream, like most others
in the Shield, is broken by many rapids, the ones here filled with boulders.
The banks are generally low, consisting chiefly of glacial till. In the
stretches of quieter water, the current is about four miles an hour.
About 50 miles below the outlet of Ashuanipi Lake, the river passes
through a series of three lakes known as the Menihek Lakes, separated by
short stretches of river. The first lake is about 10 miles long and about
two miles wide, very shallow, and filled with islands. This lake is joined
to the next by a stretch of river three miles long, which, for the greater
part of the distance, is about half a mile in width. The river here has a
moderate current, flowing in a shallow channel between banks which, on the
east side, are terraced for about 60 feet above the water. The middle lake
is 23 miles long, and averages about two miles in width. At a point about
11 miles from its head, a large stream comes in from the west through a deep
out in the hills, flowing over a heavy rapid as it enters. The lowest of
the three lakes is about 15 miles in length, and varies in width from one
to two miles.
As the stream leaves the third Menihek lake, it passes over a wide,
shallow rapid, and follows a northeasterly course in a very irregular channel,
frequently spreading to enclose large islands, and, at one point, filling a
depression that extends for some miles to the northwest, and at right-angles
to its own course. After flowing thus for six miles, in which several rapids
occur, the river makes an abrupt turn to the southeast and flows in this

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Ashuanipi River

direction for another six miles, still in a shallow channel, which, in
places, is over half a mile wide, between low, swampy shores. Many sandy
shoals obstruct the channel and huge boulders are scattered about. The
river next flows into Marble Lake, lying in a northwest-southeast direction,
entering its southeastern end, at that point not more than a mile in width,
but expending within a mile to three miles, continuing at that width for a
further four miles. The shores are low, often consisting of white limestone
ledges; the surrounding country is also low, much of it swampy, and generally
well wooded with small black spruce and tamarack, with an occasional white
birch.
The river leaves Marble Lake by two channels, which continue apart to
the next lake — Astray Lake, — which they enter several miles from each
other. Astray Lake is over 30 miles in length, but not more than four miles
at its widest. Its shore is indented by many deep bays, which are separated
by high ridges which also extend into the lake. Two of these form chains of
rocky islands down the center of the widest part of the lake. From Astray
Lake, the river continues on a northeasterly course for less than a mile,
and then flows into the south side of Dyke Lake, lying in a northwest-
southeast direction. This is a lake of considerable size, almost severed
in places by rocky points, spreading into deep bays, the longest of which
follow the general trend of the country, and filled with islands, some of
which are quite large. No accurate map of this lake is available, but it
is probably more than 20 miles in length and in places is about 12 miles
wide. At the northwestern end, a stream flows in from Lake Petitsikapau
(Q.V.), about 25 miles long, beyond which is Lake Attikamagen, of about the
same size, which occupy the northwestern extension of the valley in which

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Ashuanipi River

Dyke Lake itself lies, and along which the Ashuanipi continues after it
leaves Dyke Lake.
From the head of Lake Ashuanipi, through the streams and lakes already
described, to the head of Lake Attikamagen, a straightline distance of
about 200 miles, the country represents the summit of watersheds draining
southward into the St. Lawrence (Moisie River), northward into Ungava Bay
(George and Koksosk rivers), west into James Bay (Eastmain and Fort George
rivers) and eastward into the Atlantic (Hamilton River). From the head of
Ashuanipi Lake to Dyke Lake, the trend has been northwesterly, but from the
head of Attikamagen Lake, through Dyke Lake, to the Hamilton River, the
slope is eastward.
Shortly after issuing from Dyke Lake, the river divides into two
channels, each of which is often subdivided by islands. The current in
these channels is swift and broken by numerous rapids during the whole of
the 12 miles to Birch Lake. The latter is about 10 miles long, its shores,
like other lakes in this region, indented by long bays, and, also like other
lakes, containing many rocky islands. These, with its many deep bays and
projecting rocky points, make its outline difficult to determine. In its
final 30-mile stretch to Sandgirt Lake, the Ashuanipi follows a southeasterly
course. It spreads into the usual lake-expansions, separated by rapids.
The river is also, in this part, divided into different channels in places,
which enclose islands of all sizes. Where it flows in a single channel, it
is usually from 100 to 500 yards in width, with banks from 10 to 60 feet in
height, out in glacial drift. The country, generally, is well wooded, with
white and black spruce, tamarack, balsam fir, white birch, and some pop u lar.
Occa tional white spruce in this section may measure in 15 inches in diameter.

EA-Geog. LeBourdaise: Canada - Ashuanipi River

The Ashuanipi River flows into the western side of Sandgirt Lake,
which, like those above is very irregular and filled with rocky islands.
Into it also flows the Attikonak River (q.v.); and these, with other streams
discharging into Sandgirt Lake, provide the source of the Hamilton River
(q.v.). Ashuanipi River was fir s t explored in 1894, when Dr. A. P. Low, of
the Geological Survey of Canada, made an exploratory survey of the Hamilton
River and its two principal tributaries. Since then, only an occasional
trapper has traversed it. In recent years, serial surveys have been [: ]
conducted in connection with the search for iron ore, but reports of such
surveys are not available.
Reference:
<bibl> Low, A.P. Report on Explorations in the Labrador Peninsula along the
East Main, Koksoak, Hamilton, Manicuagan, and Portions of
Other Rivers in 1892-93-94-95
. Geological Survey of Canada,
Annual Report, Vol. VIII, pp. IL-387L, 1895. </bibl>

Athabaska Lake

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

ATHABASKA LAKE

Athabaska Lake, northern Alberta and Saskatchewan, is the third
largest lake wholly within the borders of the Cominion of Canada. It
is exceeded in size only by its northern neighbors, Great Slave Lake
and Great Bear Lake, and by Lake Winnipeg; and on the North American
continent only by these and the five Great Lakes in the St. Lawrence
waterway system. Athabaska Lake has an area of 3,058 square miles, of
which 893 square miles are in Alberta and 2,165 square miles in Saskat–
chewan. It lies at an elevation of 699 feet above sea level, has a shore–
line of 520 miles, is 195 miles long at its greatest length, and 35 miles
wide at its width. Like the other lakes in the series extending northwest–
ward from Lake of the Woods to Great Bear Lake, it lies across the contact
between the crystalline Pre c -C ambrian rocks of the Canadian Shield and the
sedimentary Palaeozoic rocks to the westward. It lies between latitudes
58° 37′ N. and 59° 39′ N., and longitudes 106° W. and 111° 14′ W., with
its axis in an east-northeasterly direction. Its shoreline is irregularly
bow-shaped, with its southern shore constituting the string. The chief
source of its waters is the Athabaska River, which rises in the Rocky
Mountains far to the southwestward, and which cuts a deep gash across the
intervening Alberta Plateau, and thus brings a rich alluvium with which to
build a delta that practically fills the western end of the lake. In fact,

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Athabaska Lake

it has cut off a section of what was once the western end of Athabaska
Lake which now contains a number of lakes of various sizes, the largest
of which are Lake Claire and Lake Mamawi. Almost opposite the mouth of
Athabaska River, the Slave River flows out, car r ying its quota of water
northward to constitute the great Mackenzie River.
The height of land separating the Athabaska Lake drainage area from
that of Great Slave Lake lies only a few miles north of Athabaska Lake, at
its nearest point coming to within three miles of the shore of the lake.
For this reason, all the streams flowing into Athabaska Lake from the north
are short, rapid and unavailable. While the height of land to the south,
separating the Athabaska and Hudson Bay drainage areas si somewhat farther
removed from the shoreline of Athabaska Lake, the rivers flowing in from
that direction — with the exception of the Athabaska River itself — are
likewise short. Toward the eastern end of the lake, these rivers descend
from a relatively high tableland and consequently are to a great extent inter–
rupted by rapids and falls. Fond du Lac River, draining an area of the
Canadian Shield to the eastward, flows into the lake at its extreme eastern
end.
On the north shore of Athabaska Lake, near its western end, the fur
trading post of Chipewyan has stood for over a century, having been moved
from its first location on the opposite side of the lake. It is still an
important center. The shore back of Chipewyan to the eastward consists of
evenly rounded rocky hills, sparsely wooded with small black spruce. The
rocks, which are thinly covered with soil, consist generally of a dark red
banded hornblendic gneiss. From Chipewyan, the north shore of the lake runs
northeastward for 12 miles to Shelter Point along the foot of a rather high

EA-Geog. Lebourdais: Canada: - Athabaska Lake

ridge of hills consisting of the banded gneiss already referred to. Bustard
Island lies off Shelter Point.
The shore now swings due north for seven miles, after which it curves
to the northeast, culminating in a projecting ridge of sandstone called
Sand Point, beyond which the trend is again northeasterly for 15 miles,
where the shore consists of cliffs rising from 100 to 200 feet. Turning
directly eastward at the end of this stretch, the shore runs in this direc–
tion for about five miles to Fidler Point, and then resumes its northeasterly
course. A shore distance beyond Fidler Point, Fishing River flows in; it is
a small stream draining a swamp a few miles back from the lake shore. The
shore continues northeastward from Fishing River, past Cypress Point, to
Greywillow Point. The shore along this stretch is low and sandy, with a
sand plain lying back from it and stretching toward a ridge of granite hills
running parallel with the shore, a few miles to the north.
A mile and three-quarters beyond Greywillow Point, Singed Dog Island
lies a short distance off the shore. About this point, the boundary (110° W.)
between the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan cuts across. From Singed
Dog Island, the coast swings to the northwestward to enclose a shallow bay
about seven miles across from Fair Point to Maurice Point. The shore of this
bay is low and sandy, with the exception of a sandstone point about midway.
The granite ridge here recedes from sight and the sandy plain, evidently
laid down when the lake level was higher than it is now, extends westward
as far as the eye can reach. The shore at this point is trending irregu–
larly northward, and for a straight-line distance of about 20 miles consists
of Athabaska sandstone, mostly broken down and weathered.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Athabaska Lake

Beyond Maurice Point, which with Fair Point marks the southern limit
of the sandstone formation, the coast again recedes into an irregular bay
bounded on the northeast by Spring Point. From the latter, the coast
bends back to the westward, enclosing a wide bight eight miles across to
Lobstick Island, which lies off the northern limit of the sandstone stretch.
Beyond this point, the shore becomes more rugged, trending northeasterly
to Cypress River, flowing in from the northwest. From this point the coast
runs almost due east, and constitutes the most northerly part of Athabaska
Lake. A narrow bay extending northeasterly separates a narrow, rocky point
from the mouth of Charlot River, flowing in from the northeast. From the
mouth of Charlot River the shore runs southeasterly to a blunt promontory.
The coast here is high, rocky, and slopes steeply to the water. Beyond the
promontory, the shore swings to the northeastward, forming the northwestern
portal of Black Bay, about seven miles across at its mouth and extending
northeastward for about 10 miles. Crackingstone River, draining Beaverlodge
Lake, flows into the head of Black Bay. The southeastern shore of Black Bay
is formed by a wedge-shaped promontory which terminates in Crackinstone
Point, which constitutes the southwestern portal of Black Bay. Beaverlodge
Lake, at the base of this promontory, almost severs it from the mainland.
Many islands, all narrow and lying in the same general direction as the
promontory, consisting in the main of quartzite, lie off its end.
From Crackinstone Point, the shoreline continues eastward for about
seven miles, swinging northeastward again to complete the southeastern
shore of the promontory. This shore is also composed of hard white quart–
zite. Lodge Bay occupies the angle at the base of the promontory, and is
partly enclosed on the east by a shorter, very irregular promontory extending

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Athabaska Lake

southward from the main shore of Athabaska Lake, which here trends easterly.
A mile and a half southwest of this promontory, Beaverlodge Island, a high,
rounded dome of quartzite, is a conspicuous landmark. The townsite of
Goldfields is located at the base of the promontory, on a deeply indented
bay which separates the promontory from the mainland to the northwest. Be–
yond here, the main shore of the lake is backed by the Beaver Hills, mainly
of gneiss, which rise 500 or 600 feet above the level of the water. The
shoreline, generally high and rocky, and lined by many small islands, in
which Oldman and Beaver rivers flow in from the north, trends generally
eastward for the next 36 miles. At Fond du Lac, which has been the site
of a trading post for upwards of a century, the lake is only two miles
wide. Beyond Fond du Lac, the shore continues eastward for a distance of
about 40 miles and is high and rocky. Here the lake's greatest width is
not more than five miles, most of it less than two miles, with a minimum
width in places of about a mile. The contrast between the geological
formation on the north and that on the south shore is striking. Along
the north shore, the rocks consist of highly glaciated gneiss; while the
south shore presents an escarpment of horizontal sandstone, rising to
heights of 400 and 500 feet.
A hill, morainic in composition, marks the eastern end of the lake,
into which Fond du Lac River flows. Westward from the mouth of Fond du
Lac River, the south shore of Athabaska Lake runs irregularly slightly
north of west and consists of the sandstone escarpment already mentioned,
which follows the line of the coast until within about 15 miles of Fund du
Lac post, when it recedes and lies back of a low, boulder-covered coastal
strip. Poplar Point marks the transition from the narrow, eastern portion

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Athabaska Lake

of the lake to the wider western portion, the width here being not more
than five miles. From Poplar Point, the shore bears off to the south for
about 10 miles, and then continues irregularly in a direction slightly
south of west to William Point, a projection caused by the delta of William
River. The Fish Mountains parallel this stretch of coast, lying about five
miles to the south. From William Point, the coast, low and marshy, trends
southwesterly, terminating in Moose Point, partly enclosing Old Fort Bay,
into which Old Fort River empties. From the southern angle of Old Fort Bay,
the coast continues slightly north of west to Old Fort Point, between which
and Big Point, five miles farther west, a wide bay is enclosed. A short
distance beyond Big Point, the delta of the Athabaska River begins, extend–
ing westward for about 13 miles, through which several channels wind their
way. Beyond the delta the shore swings to the northwestward to enclose a
bay west and north of the promontory upon which Fort Chipewyan is situated.
Out of the northern end of this bay, Rocher River flows, to become the
Slave River 30 miles northward; while at the extreme northwestern angle
of Athabaska Lake proper, the Quatra Fourches channel extends northwest–
ward across the delta of Peace River through which, at certain stages,
water flows from Athabaska Lake into Peace River, and at other times flows
into Athabaska Lake from Peace River.
Since Athabaska Lake lies along the contact of the Precambrian and
Palaeozoic rocks, it has been considered a likely spot for the deposition
of metallic minerals of economic value, and a considerable amount of pros–
pecting has been done along its shores. At one time, what seemed to be a
thriving mining community was established at Goldfields, about 112 miles
east of Fort Chipewyan. Early prospecting in the district showed indications

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Athabaska Lake

of iron, nickel, silver and copper, the first claims in connection with
which were staked as early as 1921, although no immediate development
resulted. In 1934, after considerable investigation, The Consolidated
Mining and Smelting Company of Canada Limited, subsidiary of the Canadian
Pacific Railway Company, began development work on its Goldfields proper–
ties. Production started in 1939 with a 1,000-ton mill, which was increased
to 1,300 tons in 1940. In addition a hydro-electric plant was erected at
Wellington Lake, 20 miles west of Goldfields. Operation of the property
known as the Box mine was continued until production was suspended in 1942
because of conditions due to the war. As a result, the town of Goldfields,
with a pre-war population of about 500 people, gradually melted away and has
since become a typical ghost town. With the more promising field at Yellow–
knife, 350 miles farther north, both development companies and prospectors
have preferred to devote their time and money to an area where the chances
of return seem greater. The That Athabaska Lake is still a promising spot for
mineral exploitation is still generally conceded, but it is probably that
its large deposits of relatively low-grade ore will have to await the lower
operating costs which better transportation facilities will some day make
possible.
A considerable area about the western end of Athabaska Lake has agri–
cultural possibilities of greater or less extent, but farther east they
are practically negligible. Such timber as exists is also found to the
west and south of the lake, and many good stands of spruce, pine, poplar,
birch and tamarack are to be found along the valleys of the rivers and in
the low, wet areas of that section of the country.
The first person of European descent to see Lake Athabaska was undoubtedly

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Athabaska Lake

Peter Pond of the Northwest Company who, in 1778, established a trading
post on the shore of Athabaska River, about 30 miles from its mouth. In
1787, he was succeeded by Alexander Mackenzie, also a partner in the
Northwest Company who, after establishing Fort Chipewyan on the south
shore of Athabaska Lake, then called the Lake of the Hills by the fur
traders, proceeded to the exploration of the river which now bears his
name. Fort Chipewyan was for many years the most important center of the
fur trade west of Hudson Bay. Philip Turner, a surveyor, was sent out by
the British Government in 1790 to ascertain the nearness of Athabaska Lake
to the Pacific. In the following year, he made a survey of the north shore
of Athabaska Lake eastward from Fort Chipewyan fo the mouth of Fond du Lac
River, and may perhaps have also surveyed the south shore.
He was followed in 1796 by David Thompson who, coming westward from
the Churchill River by way of Wollaston Lake and Fond du Lac River, sur–
veyed the north shore of the lake as far west as lobstock which had been
cut by Turner five years before. In 1881, A. S. Cochrane, then a topographi–
cal assistant on the staff of the Geological Survey of Canada, followed
Thompson's track and surveyed the north shore of Athabaska Lake from the
mouth of Fond du Lac River to Chipewyan.
In 1892-93, Dr. J. B. Tyrrell, of the Geological Survey of Canada,
assisted by D. B. Dowling, of the Survey, in 1892, and by his brother
James W., in 1893, surveyed both sides of the lake. Since that time various
members of the staff of the Geological Survey of Canada and other department [: ]
of the Canadian government have explored or surveyed sections of its shores,
of which the most extensive work is probably that done by F. J. Alcock (Q.V.)

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Athabaska Lake

which was begun in 1914 and 1916 and continued in 1935.
References:
<bibl> Tyrrell, J. B. Report on the Country Between Athabaska Lake and Churchill
River. Geological Survey of Canada. Annual Report, Vol. VIII,
1896. </bibl>
Alcock, F. J. Geology of Lake Athabaska Region . Geological Survey of
Canada, Memoir No. 196, 1936.

Athabaska River

EA-Geography
(D.M. LeBourdais)

ATHABASKA RIVER

The Athabaska River is the most southerly of the great rivers that
go to make up the Mackenzie, which drains a great part of northwestern
Canada into the Arctic Ocean. It was known to the early fur traders as
the Elk and for more than a century was an important link in the route by
which they reached Lake Athabaska, Great Slave Lake and the Mackenzie River.
It rises in the Rocky Mountains in about latitude 52° 20′ N. among that
plexus of high mountain peaks and glaciers which is also the source of the
North Saskatchewan, whose waters go eastward into Hudson Bay, and the
Columbia, which empties into the Pacific. Mountains rising to 10,000 and
11,000 feet tower above its place of origin. Flowing at first northward,
the Athabaska continues in a generally northeasterly direction across the
Alberta Plateau, in which it has carved a deep, picturesque valley, and
after a course of 765 miles, discharges into Lake Athabaska. In many places
rocks resist it s progress, resulting in rapids; but despite this it is navig–
able for river steamers of 3-foot draft from the mouth of the McLeod River,
178 miles below its source, to the Grand Rapids, a distance of 325 miles.
From the Grand Rapids, where the river drops 50 feet in half a mile, to
McMurray, 87 miles below, it is suitable only for scows and canoes, and then
is navigated with difficulty; but from McMurray to the lake,175 miles, it is

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Athabaska River

navigable for good-sized boats.
The Athabaska River drains an area of 58,000 square miles, and in a
sense connects the settled with the unsettled portions of Canada. For
example, it shares Yellowhead Pass with the main line of the Canadian
National Railways, and at one point flows within 100 miles of the city of
Edmonton; yet for long stretches its course is till through a virtual
wilderness. Although its drainage basin extends in places across six degrees
of latitude — from 52° 20′ N. to 58° 30′ N. — and almost eleven degrees
of longitude — from 118° 30′ W. to 107° 45′ W. — its drainage basin is
mainly a narrow one, hemmed as it is between the North Saskatchewan and the
Peace. With the exception of that contributed by the Clearwater, which flows
in from the east and gathers the run-off p from a portion of the Canadian
Shield, the Athabaska's waters come almost entirely from the Rocky Mountains
and the Alberta Plateau, which it traverses in its course f r om the mountains
to the lake. It receives innumerable tributaries, most of which are short,
owing to the narrowness of its drainage basin, but two, the McLeod and the
Pembina, both coming in from the southwest, are important rivers in their
own right.
After leaving its source in the Rocky Mountains, the river flows north–
ward till it reaches Yellowhead Pass. While it is flowing through the moun–
tain valleys and defiles on this northward course, it is swift and tumultuous;
but when it comes to Yellowhead Pass its channel has been eroded down to an
easy grade and it has expanded into two lakes, Brule and Jasper. Near Jasper
Station, on the main line of the Canadian National Railways, it turns north–
eastward and holds that general course till it reaches latitude 54° 20′ N.,
longitude 116° 15′ W. At the end of this stretch, it turns slightly south

EA-Geog. LeBourdaise: Canada - Athabaska River

of east, running thus for about 35 miles to Whitecourt, at the mouth of
the McLeod River, where it turns to the east, continuing in that direction
for 15 miles. Swinging again to the northeast, it keeps that course until
near the mouth of the Pembina, its largest tributary, which drains an
immense territory extending southward to within a few miles of the North
Saskatchewan Valley and westward to the foothills of the Rockies. From
the mouth of the Pembina, the river swings to the north-northeast, follow–
ing that course to the mouth of Lesser Slave Lake River, draining the lake
of the same name lying off to the northwestward. Beyond the mouth of Lesser
Slave Lake River, the Athabaska, now a large stream, flows northeastward
for 15 miles and then, making a sharp bend to the southward, follows a
generally southerly course for 30 miles, after which it bends sharply to
the east, continuing in that direction for 10 miles to Athabaska, long known
as Athabaska Landing. Here, in times past, since it was less than 100 miles
north of Edmonton by wagon road, travelers going to the Athabaska and
Mackenzie country took snow or steamer for points down river.
The river runs northward for five miles below Athabaska, completing a
horseshoe bend with the town of Athabaska at its lowest point, and again
takes a turn to the northeastward. This course is continued for 25 miles;
and after a sharp bend to the north and another to the west, the river
straightens out for a run of 120 miles, almost directly northward. It
then strikes a range of hills which deflect it northeastward on a course
which it continues for 75 miles, and in which it drops about 400 feet in
a succession of rapids, the most serious of which is Grand Rapids. Below
this, at McMurray, it receives the Clearwater, and from here to Lake Atha–
baska, 175 miles, its course is practically northward. It enters the lake

EA-Geog. LeBourdaise: Canada - Athabaska River

through t a delta which begins about 35 miles above. Between Athabaska and
the Grand Rapids the river varies in width from 250 to 400 yards and its
valley is from 300 to 400 feet deep. Below the Grand Rapids, however, the
Athabaska Valley becomes more gorge-like, with banks rising from 500 to
600 feet above the water. Below McMurray, the channel widens, the current
slackens, and the banks become lower.
Although the Athabaska is navigable for river steamers below the mouth
of the McLeod River, Athabaska Landing was for all practical purposes the
head of navigation before the advent of the railways. From there steamers
made regular runs to the Grand Rapids, a distance of 165 miles, where freight
from steamers above was portaged across an island in the stream to scows
below for the final 87 miles to McMurray. At the latter point, other steamers
were available to carry passengers and freight to Fitzgerald, or Smith's
Landing, as it was then called, at the head of the only other serious
obstruction on the Mackenzie system. When the Alberta and Great Waterways
Railway reached Waterways, 304 miles northeast of Edmonton and seven miles
east of McMurray, in 1921, Waterways became the head of navigation, and the
section of the Athabaska above McMurray was thereafter relegated mainly to
local traffic.
From 1884, when the Hudson's Bay Company placed the steamer Grahame
in commission between McMurray and Smith's Landing, and the Wrigley , two
years later, below the rapids, that corporation has been in the transpor–
tation business on the Mackenzie system, Northern Transportation Company,
subsidiary of Eldorado Mining and Smelting, Limited, has since 1936 also
been engaged in transportation between Waterways and Great Bear Lake. Its
steel vessel, the Radium Queen, operates between Waterways and Fitzgerald,

EA-Geog. LeBourdaise: Canada - Athabaska River

and its consort, the Radium King , on the lower river. Since the discovery
of gold at Yellowknife, on Great Slave Lake, traffic on the river has in–
creased enormously, requiring the existing companies to add to their facili–
ties, and several other concerns have entered into the transportation
business. The lower Athabaskan has since been a very busy traffic artery
during the summer time.
The Athabaska River is tapped in four places by railways, in addition
to its contact with the Canadian National Railways in Yellowhead Pass.
Besides the Edmonton-Waterways line referred to above, another originally
called the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway, first strikes
the Athabaska Valley near the mouth of the Pembina River and follows it to
the junction of Lesser Slave Lake River, crossing there and continuing up
the valley of the latter to the Peace River country. Both of these are now
operated jointly by the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National Railways.
The Canadian National Railways operate a line from Edmonton to Athabaska,
97 miles, and another to Whitecourt, 110 miles.
The Athabaska country is also well served by air. For many years the
Peace, Athabaska and Mackenzie valleys were served from Edmonton by two
principal companies, Canadian Airways and Mackenzie Air Service, Limited,
both of which at first operated on a charter basis, but after about 1936
began regular flights. In 1937, Yukon Southern Air Transport, Limited, at
first under another name, began scheduled flights between Edmonton and
Whitehorse, Y. T., with stops at intermediate points in Alberta, British
Columbia, and Yukon Territory. These three services were taken over in
1942 by Canadian Pacific Air lines, Limited, a subsidiary of the Canadian
Pacific Railway, which, because of the growth in traffic, has greatly

EA-Geog. LeBourdaise: Canada - Athabaska River

increased the services inaugurated by its predecessors.
The first white man to reach the Athabaska River was the fur trader,
Peter Pond, a partner in the Northwest Company. Crossing the since-famous
Methye Portage from the headwaters of the Churchill River, in 1778, he pad–
dled down the Clearwater to its confluence with the Athabaska and down the
latter to a point 30 miles above its mouth, where he built a trading post,
known later as the Old Establishment. He was succeeded in charge of the
Athabaska district by Alexander Mackenzie, who was shortly to discover the
river that now bears his name. Mackenzie built a new post on the south shore ?
of Lake Athabaska and called it Fort Chipewyan, Resolution? which soon became an important
trading center. The Athabaska River, too, became an important link in the
transcontinental transportation route of the fur traders over which supplies
were brought in and furs taken out. In the spring of 1799, David Thompson,
astronomer and fur trader, in the employ of the Northwest Company, crossed
with horses from Fort Augustus on the North Saskatchewan River to the Pembina
River, which he descended by canoe, surveying it to its mouth and then pro–
ceeded down the Athabaska to the mouth of the Lesser Slave Lake River.
Turning up the latter, he surveyed it to its source; and returning to the
Athabaska, continued his survey down to the mouth of the Clearwater, after
which he traveled eastward by way of Methye Portage.
Thompson returned to the Athabaska five years later and surveyed the
river from its mouth to the mouth of the Clearwater. Again, in 1810, he
was on the Athabaska, this time in search of a pass through the Rockies.
Traveling northwestward from the North Saskatchewan, he crossed the Pembina
River, continuing till, on December 1, he reached the Athabaska, which he
ascended to latitude 53° 44′ 15″ N., where he built a small cabin and set

EA-Geog. LeBourdais e : Canada - Athabaska River

his men to hunting for meat to provide food for the continuance of his
journey. Setting out from this camp on December 29, he had reached the
headwaters of the Whirlpool River, one of the farthest tributaries of the
Athabaska, by January 8, 1811, and three days later had begun the descent
of the western slope. Although Athabaska Pass had previously been found
by independent traders, Thompson may be considered its discoverer since he
was the first person to traverse it who was capable of fixing its location.
The Athabaska Valley contains considerable quantities of timber, great
sections of which, however, have been burned over. Nevertheless, there
still remains sufficient, both of pulpwood size and merchantable timber,
to provide a lumber industry of more than local importance. The valley
has also extensive agricultural possibilities, but settlement is slow and
confined to the vicinity of the railways.
For a considerable distance along the banks of the Athabaska near
McMurray, extensive outcroppings of bituminous sands, generally referred to
as tar sands, can be seen. Although these sands contain one of the world's
greatest concentrations of petroleum, variously estimated at from 100 to 250
billion barrels, they have not yet been developed commercially. Even before
the beginning of the present century, efforts had been made to devise a
profitable method of extraction; and during World War II it seemed likely
that this hope might be realized. With the end of the war, however, interest
in the project slackened, although in many quarters the demand continues for
some way to utilize this enormous potential resource. In addition to the
tar sands, oil seepages have been found as well as natural gas, while coal
measures are exposed in many places along the Athabaska and a number of its
tributaries. At the Grand Rapids and at other places where obstructions occur,

EA-Geog. LeBourdaise: Canada - Athabaska River

considerable amounts of hydro-electric power could be developed. All this
would seem to suggest that the Athabaska Valley contains definite possibili–
ties for future industrial activity. So far — aside from transportation —
the principal industry is the salt works near Waterways, where at the end of
World War II 50 men were employed. The salt beds are 250 feet in thickness
and provide salt for a large portion of western Canada.
Like the Peace, a few miles farther north, whose course it closely
parallels, the Athabaska flows through a country in every respect well sup–
plied with the resources to provide homes for millions of people. Dr. Griffith
Taylor (q.v.) has predicted that the day will come when Alberta will be the
most populous province in Canada; and this great tributary of the far greater
Mackenzie, lyin g wholly within the Province of Alberta, will undoubtedly
provide one of its most important centers of concentration.
References:
Mackenzie, Alexander. Voyages from Montreal on the river St. Lawrence through
the Continent of North America to the Frozen and Pacific
Oceans in the years 1789 and 1793 with a preliminary
account of the rise, progress, and present state of
The Fur Trade of that country
. London, 1810 1801.
Camsell, Charles, and Malcolm Wyatt. The Mackenzie River Basin . The Geological
Survey of Canada, Memoir No. 108; 1919.
Burpee, Lawrence J. The Search for the Western Sea . Toronto, 1935.
Dawson, C. A. The Great North-West . Toronto, 1947.

Attawapiskat River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdaise)

ATTAWAPISKAT RIVER

The Attawapiskat River, in northern Ontario, Dominion of Canada,
drains an area of 18,700 square miles into the western side of James Bay.
Its watershed lies between that of the Ekwan on the north and the Albany
on the south. Its general course is northeasterly and its total length,
465 miles. Like the other rivers flowing into Hudson or James bays on the
west side, it rises in the Canadian Shield, the great region underlain
principally by Pre-Cambrain rocks which comprises the major part of northern
Canada. At the headwaters of the Attawapisket, the Shield has a maximum
elevation of about 1,500 feet, sloping north and east toward Hudson and
James bays with an average grade of about 3.4 feet per mile. Between the
Shield and the Bay is a zone underlain by Paleozoic rocks, chiefly lime–
stones and dolomites, much lower in elevation than the former. In its
course across the Canadian Sh ei ie ld, and in the descent to the James Bay low–
land, the Attawapiskat is interrupted by many rapids and falls, but after
it reaches the lowland section its flow is practically uninterrupted.
The country, both in the Canadian Shield and lowland sections, is
covered generally with a layer, varyi n g in thickness, of glacial till,
superimposed, in the intermediate region, upon strata of boulder clay. These
glacial deposits, owing to their impervious nature, result in extensive
tracts of muskeg-like territory, especially toward the Bay. These sections

EA-Geog. LeBourdaise: Canada - Attawapiskat River

are carpeted with a thick mantle of sphagnum moss in which grow only
stunted black spruce and tamarack. The higher ground is forested fairly
thickly with both white and black spruce, Banksian pine, white birch, bal–
sam and poplar, which grow to a good size immediately along the banks of
the river, but diminish in size and density of growth a short distance from
the river's edge.
The farthest branch of the Attawapiskat River originates in a series
of small lakes lying on the height of land separating the Albany and Atta–
wapiskat river watersheds, a short distance east of Cat Lake, in latitude
51° 45′ N., longitude 91° 40′ W. The stream here is called the Otoskwin
River. In its upper reaches, it flows in a generally easterly direction,
widening into frequent lake-expansion, which are separated by short stretches
of stream in which many rapids and falls occur. It flows through a region
of low, granite hills, interspersed with considerable areas of muskeg.
Still following a generally easterly course, but with many deviations to the
south and the north, the Otoskwin River flows through five lakes of varying
sizes in addition to numerous expansions before it enters the western side
of Badesdawn Lake, 20 miles long and less than a mile wide, lying in a north–
east-southwest direction.
At the southwestern extremity of this lake, the Kawinogane (or Crow)
River enters. This river is also one of the sources of the Attawapiskat
River. It has its origin in a series of lakes in latitude 51° 30′ N., longi–
tude 91° W., in the angle formed by Cat River and St. Joseph Lake. The
Kawinogans River flows in a generally northeasterly direction into Badesdawa
Lake, passing in its course through many other lakes, some of them, such as
Kawinogans Lake, of considerable size. A few miles below its entry into

EA-Geog. LeBourdaise: Canada - Attawapiskat River

Badesdawa Lake, near the confluence of a stream draining Pickle Lake, two
important gold mines are located, operated, respectively, by Central Pat–
ricia Gold Mines Limited and Pickle Crow Gold Mines Limited. They can only
be reached from outside by air or, in winter, by tractor train.
The Kawinogans River ends at Badesdawa Lake, but the Otoskwin River
continues beyond the lake, flowing in a northeasterly direction, over several
rapids, and expending, about 11 miles below Badesdawa Lake, into a narrow,
shallow lake about 10 miles in length, from the northwestern extremity of
this lake, the Otoskwin proceeds, still in a generally northeasterly direction,
to Ozhiski Lake, which is about 22 miles in le n g th and about two miles at its
widest. This lake lies athwart the 52nd parallel of north latitude, to the
eastward of longitude 88° 30′ W., and occupies an east-west position, with
a broad arm leading off to the northeast.
The country for 50 miles or so above Ozhiski Lake is overlain by heavy
deposits of glacial drift, often from 50 to 60 feet in thickness. In places
it forms ridges rising from 70 to 100 feet above the general level, with
areas of muskeg and low, sand-covered flats occupying the intervening valleys.
The principal forest trees here are black spruce, tamarack and occasional
groves of white spruce, as well as balsam and aspen poplar, with Benksian
pine and white birch on some of the ridges.
Flowing from the north side of Ozhiski Lake, the river, now properly
called the Attawapiskat, continues northerly for 15 miles, with many heavy
rapids and a high average rate of flow, to a sharp bend, where its course
[: ] anges to the east. At the bend, the river takes in a tributary from the
north which almost doubles its volume. Twenty miles east of the bend, the
river enters the western end of Kabania Lake, 11 miles long and with a maximum

EA-Geog. LeBourdaise: Canada - Attawapiskat River

width of two miles. Two miles east of Kabania Lake, the river enters
Attawapiskat Lake, the largest expanse of water in its course. This lake
is about 30 miles long by about 10 miles wide at its greatest width. Its
axis lies almost east and west, but it is deeply indented with long bays
extending in all directions. Its surface is broken by many islands, some
well wooded with fairly large trees.
Attawapiskat Lake has two outlets, one at what may be called its
eastern end and the other at the extremity of a bay extending to the north–
east. The streams from these outlets run in a generally easterly direction
for about 30 miles before uniting, after which the combined stream bears off
slightly north of east for about 50 miles, and then makes an abrupt bend to
the north. Cutting across the angle, somewhat like the string of a bow, is
a small channel which expands into a shallow lake about midway. Continuing
in a direction slightly east of north for about 125 miles, and after passing
through another shallow lake-expansion, the river bends to a course slightly
south of east for 50 miles, in which it divides twice to encompass islands,
four and eight miles in length, respectively. Immediately below the second
islands, the river, now wide and flowing with a slack current, makes a sharp
turn to the north-northeast, continuing in that direction for about 12 miles,
in the course of which it expands about another island a mile in length. At
the end of this nor [: ] hly stretch, the river swings to the east-northeast for
about 40 miles, and then flows almost eastward for another 40 miles, the
final 20 of which consists of an expansion in places about two miles wide.
Beyond this expansion, the stream separates into two branches, one of which —
the more northerly — contains much less water than the other. half. It
follows a somewhat southeasterly course to James Bay, a distance of about

EA-Geog. LeBourdaise: Canada - Attawapiskat River

50 miles, entering the Bay through a broad estuary. The main channel
follows a parallel course, entering the Bay about 10 miles southeast of
the other.
The Attawapiskat River was first explored by Dr. Robert Bell, of the
Geological and Natural History Survey of the Department of the Interior of
Canada, in 1887, when he crossed from the headwaters of the Albany River to
the headwaters of the Kawinogans River, followed it to its mouth in Badesdawa
Lake, continued down the Otoskwin to Ozhiski Lake, and descended the Attawa–
piskat to its mouth. In 1903-04-05, William McInnes, of the Geological Sur–
vey of Canada, explored the region about the headwaters of the Winisk and
Attawapiskat rivers, descending the former to Hudson Bay. In the interval,
certain sections of the river, especially in its upper reaches, have been
explored geologically by various engineers in the employ of the Ontario
Department of Mines.
As has been mentioned earlier, two important gold mines are in opera–
tion on the Kawinogans branch of the river, and, since the general type of
country in which the gold occurrences in these mines is found extends
indefinitely along the Attawapiskat in its course across the Canadian
Shield, it would not be strange if other mines were some day to be dis–
covered in the area. The section of the river traversing the James Bay
lowlands is not so well known as that farther up; and because of its heavy
overburden of glacial drift, and fewer exposed sections owing to the smaller
number of tributary streams, the difficulty of prospecting is much greater.
Furthermore, economic minerals that might be found in the limestones and
dolomites of the lowland region are not such as can profitably be worked
far from market. While similar strata in other parts of the country are

EA-Geog. LeBourdaise: Canada - Attawapiskat River

petroliferous, it has not been possible in this region to undertake suffi–
cient prospecting to determine whether such a possibility exists there.
What prospecting has been done, however, has not been favorable to the
prospect of oil, since the strata, where observed, appear to be too flat-
lying to permit of the concentration of oil.
Selwyn, A.R.C. Summary Report of the Operations of the Geological and
Natural History Survey to 31st December, 1887, being
Part III of the Annual Report of the Department of the
Interior. Ottawa, 1887.
McInnes, Wm. Report on a Part of the North West Territories Drained
by the Winisk and Attawapiskat Rivers. Ottawa,
Government Printing Bureau, 1910.

Lake Attikamagen

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

LAKE ATTIKAMAGEN

Lake Attikamagen constitutes the northwestern extremity of the
Hamilton River watershed in the Labrador section of the Province of
Newfoundland, Canada. The height of land separating the Atlantic, Hudson
Strait (Ungava Bay), and Hudson and James bays watersheds, loops round
the northern end of this lake, and for that reason very few streams of
any length flow into it, although a considerable volume of water is dis–
charged into L [: ake ] Petitsikapau through the outlet at its southeastern
extremity, Lake Petitiskapau, in turn, discharges into Dyke Lake, through
which the Ashuanipi River runs in its course to Sandgirt Lake, where it
joins the Attikonak River to form the main Hamilton River, flowing eastward
to the Atlantic.
Lake Attikamagen, which lies in latitude 55° N., longitude 66° 30′ W.,
is about 25 miles at its greatest length, and about nine miles at its great–
est width. Like all other lakes in this region, it consists of a series of
long , narrow bays, separated by rocky ridges which lie in a northwest-southeast
direction, in conformity with the trend of the country. Its water has a
brownish tinge, and it is quite shallow, filled with low, rocky islets, mostly
of limestone and shale, with occasional islands of glacial till. The shores,
except where they are formed by rocky ridges, are low and swampy. Toward the

EA-Geog. LeBourdaise: Canada - Lake Attikamagen

north, it is bordered by high, rocky hills, lying some distance back,
which form the edge of the watershed, beyond which are the headwaters of
the Koksoak (Kaniapiskau) and George rivers, flowing northward into Ungava
Bay.
The country about Lake Attikamagen is wooded in the hollows between
the ridges, but the trees are confined chiefly to small black spruce and
tamarack. Most of the ridges are bare, but where there is sufficient soil,
are generally well covered with shrubs and mosses. This lake is on the route
of Hudson's Bay traders when travelling overland from Fort Chimo, near Ungava
Bay, to Fort Nascaupee, on Lake Petitskapau, until it was abandoned about 1873,
and to posts on the lower Hamilton. Dr. A. P. Low, on his exploratory survey
in 1894, did not continue beyond Lake Petitsikapau; he believed this lake to
discharge northward into the George River; and in the interval few but trappers
have seen it until recently, when the surrounding country has been surveyed
by air in the search for iron ore deposits, results of which are not yet
available.
Reference:
<bibl> Low, A.P. Report on Explorations in the Labrador Peninsula, along the
East Main, Koksoak, Hamilton, Manicuagan, and Portions of
other rivers in 1892-93-94-95
. Geological Survey of Canada,
Annual Report, Vol. VIII, pp. lL-387L, 1895. </bibl>

Attikonak River

E [: ] -Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

ATTIKONAK RIVER

The Attikonak River, in the Labrador section of the Province of
Newfoundland, Canada, is one of the principal tributaries of Hamilton
River (q.v.). It rises in the plateau forming the height of land between
the Hamilton and St. Lawrence watersheds, east of the watershed of the
Ashuanipi River (q.v.), in a region consisting chiefly of lakes, large
and small, connected by short stretches of rapid-filled streams. The
country here has a generally northward slope, in which direction the Atti–
konak flows for the greater part of its course to Sendgirt Lake (q.v.),
where it joins the Ashuanipi to constitute the Hamilton. The territory
through which it runs is probably much in appearance today as it was after
the glaciers retreated. It is part of the Canadian Shield, which extends
westward across Canada almost to the Mackenzie Valley, consisting mainly of
rocks of Pre-Cambrian age. The softer rocks were gouged out by ice action
and now constitute sprawling, rugged basins of coutless lakes which cover
the land. Ridges consisting of some of the harder rocks, with axes conform–
ing to the general trend of the country, are a characteristic feature of the
landscape, but many individual hummocks, drumlins, or buttes are also to be
seen. The country bears a mantle of glacial till, thinly covering the under–
lying rocks in many places, but in others to a depth of more than 100 feet.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Attikonak River

Frequent sand ridges are seen in some parts, in others, sand flats indicate
the existence at one time of lakes caused by water impounded at the foot
of the retreating glaciers.
The Attikonak River rises in the lake of the same name at the southern
edge of the plateau, not far from the headwaters of the Romaine River, flow–
ing southward into the St. Lawrence. This lake, which has a length of about
40 miles, and is about 20 miles at its widest, is a typical Canadian Shield
lake, arms extending in all directions, the deepest however, in the direction
of the general trend of country, and dotted by innumerable rocky islets. The
shores about its southern end are bold and rocky and wooded with small black
spruce and ta [: ] rack; toward the northern end, the shores become lower and
are lost in a swampy border.
As the river leaves Lake Attikonak, it flows over a wide, shallow rapid,
such as is often the case, and then over another within a short distance.
About two miles below the outlet of the lake, the river expands to a width
of nearly a m o i le, continuing at this width, with a slack current, for about
four miles, and then descends a narrow chute over a rocky ledge for a drop
of about four feet. Below the chute, the river continues northward, flowing
in a shallow channel from 200 to 600 yards wide, obstructed all along by
rocky islets, sometimes separated by rapids. At the end of this stretch,
which occupies about 16 miles, the river turns abruptly to the east, flowing
in that direction for a mile and then discharging into the western side of
Lake Panachiamitkats, about 12 miles long, its main axis in a north-south
direction. The river enters the lake about seven miles from its upper end,
and the southern end lies parallel to the river, separated from it only by a
narrow ridge. The outlet of Lake Panachiamitkats is on the same side as the

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Attikonak River

entrance, but about five miles farther north. After leaving this lake, the
river flows northward for eight miles in a wide, shallow channel, entering
Lake Ossokmanuan on its southwest side, about 10 miles from its southeastern
end. Lake Ossokmanuan is about 40 miles long, and its general trend is
northwest-southeast. It has two principal outlets, one called Valley River,
flowing out of the northeastern side of the lake, which, after passing through
a succession of lakes in a wide valley that appears to have been the ancient
valley of the Hamilton, joins the latter above Bowdoin Canyon. It has yet
to be explored.
Ossokmanuan Lake varies in width from two to four miles; in its upper
34 miles, its direction is generally northwest-southeast; in but in its lower
six miles its main axis is more nearly north and south. Long, narrow bays
extend from its shores in all directions, one of these stretching for more
than 20 miles to the northwest. The Attikonak River issues from the lake's
northwestern angle, and flows for a mile through a narrow, rocky channel,
after which it expands into Gabbro Lake, seven miles long, with a deep bay
extending farther to the southeastward. Below Gabbro Lake, the river flows
slightly west of north, passing through a series of small lakes, after which
it swings directly to the east, running in that direction with a swift current
for five miles in a narrow, irregular channel filled with rocky islets. It
again turns to the northwest and spreads into a lake-expansion three miles
long, which is separated by a stretch of rapids a mile long from another
lake-expansion of the same length. Below the last expansion, it flows into
Sandgirt Lake, which it enters on its south side. This lake also receives
the discharge from the Ashuanipi, and is therefore considered to be the
source of the Hamilton, which drains its waters into the Atlantic Ocean.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Attikonak River

Attikonak River was first explored in 1894 by Dr. A. P. Low, of the
Geological Survey of Canada, when he explored the Hamilton River to the
headwaters of both it and the Ashuanipi, and few but the trappers have
visited it since. In recent years, because of the existence, a short dis–
tance to the westward, of extensive iron ore deposits, the country has been
covered by aerial survey, but details of such explorations have not yet
been published.
Reference:
<bibl> Low, A. P. Report on Explorations in the Labrador Peninsula along the
East Main, Koksoak, Hamilton, Manicuagan and Portions of
other rivers in 1892-93-94-95
. Geological Survey of Canada,
Annual Report, Vol. VIII, pp. IL-387L, 1895. </bibl>

Aylmer Lake

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais

AYLMER LAKE

Aylmer Lake, District of Mackenzie, northwestern Canada, is one of
that chain of lakes which go to make up the Lockhart River system. The
Lockhart River rises in MacKay Lake to the west of Aylmer Lake, and follow–
ing a circuitous course of 300 miles through a succession of lakes, empties
into the eastern end of Great Slave Lake. Between MacKay Lake and Aylmer
Lake, the Lockhart expands into a number of long narrow lakes called the
Outram Lakes, connected by short stretches of river in which falls and
rapids occur. In the 30 miles between the outlet of MacKay Lake and the
head of Aylmer Lake, the river drops 185 feet. Aylmer Lake has an area of
340 square miles and is shaped like an irregular letter L, facing in the
opposite direction. Its base lies as much north of the 64th degree of
latitude as the main part of MacKay Lake lies to the south of it. A s t its
southeastern angle, Aylmer Lake discharges almost directly into Clinton–
Colden Lake, extending southeasterly from Aylmer Lake, and separated from
it by the Thanakoie Narrows.
A few miles south of the first large bay at the eastern end of Aylmer
Lake, a high rugged ridge of granite appears and extends westward. It comes
to the water's edge at the foot of the second large bay and then continues
westward parallel to the lake but about a mile distant until it again strikes
the lake at the west end, and crossing, forms a high rugged ridge along the
north shore of Lockhart River.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Aylmer Lake

Aylmer Lake was first explored and was named by George (later Sir
George) Black, who, in 1833-35, conducted a search for the lost British
Arctic expedition commanded by Sir James Ross, who was never in any of the
regions visited by Black, and who reached England before Black himself
returned. Other explorers and travelers have visited the spot, notably
Warburton Pike in 1890 and Ernest Thompson Seton in 1907, while various
Canadian government survey parties have from time to time been in the district.
Economic possibilities of the district are associated almost entirely
with minerals; and since the region is underlain by rocks of the Pre-Cambrian
formations in which valuable minerals have been found elsewhere, the prospects
are favorable for the discovery of minerals of value if and when the district
is more fully prospected. Whenever that should occur, the hydro-electric
power that could be made available would prove to be an important factor in
its exploitation. Timber is a n [: ] gligible factor, and agricultural possibili–
ties are practically nil. Aylmer Lake, like the others in that section of
the country, is well stock ed with fish, which would be important if for any
reason a settlement should be established in the vicinity, but such fisheries
would scarcely be on a commercial scale.
References:
Back, George. Narrative of the Arctic Land Expedition to the Mouth of the
Great Fish River, and Along the Shores of the Arctic Ocean
in the Years 1833, 1834 and 1835.
London, 1836.
Seton, E.T. The Arctic Prairies . New York, (revised ed.) 1835 1943.

Back River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

BACK RIVER

Back River, Northwest Territories of Canada, drains the northeastern
part of the District of Mackenzie and the northwestern part of the District
of Keewatin into the Arctic Ocean Sea . It rises in Sussex Lake, in latitude
64° 30′ N., longitude, 108° 20′ W., just north of the low divide separating
the Great Slave Lake and Arctic watersheds. After flowing 605 miles through
a number of fairly large lakes and numerous lake expansions, and holding a
generally northeasterly course, it empties into Chantrey Inlet, in latitude
67° 07′ N., and longitude 96° 40′ W.
Back River's drainage basin comprises 47,500 square miles, extending,
north and south, from latitude 64° 30′ N. to 67° 07′ N.; and, east and west,
from longitude 95° W. to 108° 50′ W. Characteristic of rivers traversing
the Canadian Shield, it is not fed by mountain snowfields, like rivers in
many other parts of the world, but depends upon the precipitation caught by
the myriads of lakes, large and small, which cover the country.
Sussex Lake lies no more than a mile north of the northern extension of
Lake Aylmer, which, by means of Lockhart River, drains into Great Slave Lake.
The height of land between the two is only a few feet above the level of the
two lakes. A few miles east of Sussex Lake is Lac de Gras, which is drained
by the Coppermine. Thus there are in this small area the headwaters of three
drainage systems — the Lockhart, which eventually reaches the Arctic by way

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Black River

of the Mackenzie; the Coppermine, running almost directly to the Arctic
Ocean; and the Back, which empties into the Arctic farther east. While
not far to the southeast, are the headwaters of Thelon River, whose waters
eventually flow into Hudson Bay.
In its upper reaches Back River flows through a poorly defined valley,
which would suggest that it has but recently cut its channel, the old one
probably being still filled with glacial debris; but in its lower reaches
the valley becomes more definitely marked and is obviously much more ancient.
In this lower stretch, lake expansions are fewer, since the river's well-
defined banks confine it more completely and prevent its straying so widely
as is the case farther up.
From its source in Sussex Lake, the river flows northeast for about
80 miles to the northwestern end of Lake Beechey, which lies in a southeast-
northwest direction. The stream thus diverted, holds the latter course
until just east of the junction with Baillie River, when it turns abruptly
to the northeast, flowing in that direction for about 100 miles to and through the
west arm of Lake Pelly, which is shaped like an inverted V. At the lake's
northern extremity, it bends southeast, continuing thus for about 40 miles,
the river flowing out of its eastern end; and thence for 70 or 80 miles the
latter follows a tortuous but generally easterly course through Lakes Garry
and Macdougall. The river's generaly northeasterly direction is again followed
after Wolf Fall, continuing to salt water at Chantrey Inlet.
Back River emerges from Sussex Lake through a narrow channel and two
miles downstream enters another lake, below which occurs a crooked rapid.
The country is broken into low hills, the whole covered with glacial debris.
Flowing through two small lakes, which are separated by rapids, the Back

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Black River

receives Icy River, a considerable stream coming from the west, which
enters through two channels caused by an island at its mouth. The lake
expansion into which Icy River flows narrows down before Musk Ox Lake is
reached. The latter, six miles long, is surrounded by steep hills, and
below, a series of rapids, known as Musk Ox Rapids, extends for about four
miles. Beyond Musk Ox Lake, the river cuts through two ranges of hills,
the second of which is called the Heywood Range, where the current is swift
and broken by frequent rapids. The stream is wide, however, in most places
averaging from 200 yards to a quarter of a mile, and spreading into frequent
small lakes.
In the 50 miles from the northern slopes of the Heywood Range to the
northwestern end of Lake Beechey, the river continues its general northeasterly
course, expanding into small lakes, breaking over rapids, and taking in
innumerable short tributaries on both sides. Lake Beechey, about 30 miles
long, lies in a southeast-northwest direction, and averages not more [: E ] t han a
mile in width. From its northwestern extremity, where Back River enters, the
distance is only about 70 miles northward to the head of Bathurst Inlet. A
range of low mountains extends along the northeastern bank of the lake,
probably continuous with the ranges to the east of Bathurst Inlet. It is
this barrier that turns the river from its previous northeasterly course to
the southeast at Lake Beechey. The latter discharges in a series of rapids
nearly two miles in length where a total drop of about 60 feet occurs. The
country still consists of rocky hills, set in low, wet stretches of tundra-like
land. c C ontinuing on a southeasterly course, the river takes a sudden bend
northward; and after a short distance turns abruptly and runs east for a few
miles, when it as suddenly bends southward between cliffs in a contracted

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - B l ack River

channel which leads into a long line of rapids. The river now becomes more
tortuous, passing through mounds of sand left by the retreating glaciers.
Hills of gneiss still appear from time to time, but the country to the east–
ward flattens out as the sand plains are approached.
Below Baillie River, which comes in from the southeast, sandbanks and
islands of sand appear, and the river is lake - like, bordered by a low, sandy
region, still, however, studded with low rocky hills, mostly detached and a
mile or two from each other. These soon disappear, giving place to the sand
plains, so flat as scarcely to rise beyond the general horizontal line of the
country.
Passing the mouth of Warren River, which enters from the northwest, the
low land is diversified by occasional mounds, and the banks become higher,
sometimes rising to cliffs, but still of a dry, sandy character. The river
swings slightly to eastward to the mouth of the Jervoise, a tributary from
the east, after which a sharp turn to the northwest is followed by a defile
filled with rapids continuing the northeast course in which the rocks on the
east bank are high and perpendicular, while the opposite side is broken and
overhanging, towering in stratified and many-colored masses far above the
stream.
Below this point, known as Hawk Rapids, the current is not less than six
miles an hour, with whirlpools and eddies. Continuing northeastward, Back
River receives the McKinley River, nearly as broad as itself, which winds its
way through the low country to the east and enters around a small sandy bluff.
The land now becomes more uneven, but soon changes into hills, partly composed
of bare [: ] ocks. Buchanan River next enters from the east, below which, Back River,

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Back River

making a bend to the north, varies in width from a quarter of a mile to a
mile and a half. The country now becomes decidedly hilly, with an odd mix–
ture of gullies, conical sandhills with black, mossy tops, and isolated rocks
which dot the landscape to the westward.
A short distance below the mouth of Buchanan River, the Back flows into
the [: ] astern of two forks constituting the southwestern extremity of Lake Pelly.
This lake also assumes the shape of an inverted V, the western arm of which
is about 25 miles long and the wider, eastern arm from 35 to 40 miles in
length. The outline of both arms is extremely irregular. Bullen River
enters from the west near the western extremity, and, just after the lake
makes its bend, the boundary between Mackenzie and Keewatin districts cuts
across.
Back River emerges from Lake Pelly about 25 miles beyond the bend, and
is connected with Lake Garry by a rapid. Lake Garry, which has an east-west
length of about 50 miles, presents a very jagged outline on its northern and
southern shores and is filled with islands, resembling a chain of parallel
north-and-south-lying lakes, rather than a single one. From Lake Garry a
short stretch of rapid-filled river flows northeastward into Lake Macdougall,
which it enters at the lake's southwestern margin. This lake at its longest
north-south extent is about 35 miles long, irregularly shaped, containing many
islands, with deep bays extending north and south. Lakes Pelly, Garry and
Macdougall, a series of closely-connected lakes, extend in a generally easterly
direction from longitude 96° W. to beyond 102° W., and lie mainly along the
66th degree of north latitude.
Back River leaves the southern end of Macdougall Lake by the usual
series of rapids, flowing in a southeasterly direction through several rapids.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Back River

As it flows in a narrow channel between two gneiss rocks from 500 to 800
feet high, it again breaks into a series of rapids, followed by an expansion
about 400 yards wide in the center of which a rock rises about 300 feet high.
It is now nearly a mile wide, full of small, rocky islands, wi h t h falls between.
them The next reach turns northward and becomes lake-like in its width. For
a few miles it continues nearly in the same course, gradually contracting
until it is broken by Escape Rapids, extending for a mile of extremely rough
water. About two miles downstream, with the current still strong, the river
turns eastward through a range of precipitous sandhills. The current rushes
on faster and soon becomes a line of heavy rapids, followed by another series;
and a short distance below, Wolf Rapids terminates in a fall of five feet.
Proceeding northward, the river spreads into a considerable lake expan–
sion, although both sides are hemmed by high hills, covered as usual with
boulders and unassorted glacial debris. Below a bold point at the band of
the river, Mount Meadowbank is seen. The latter is a picturesque and command–
ing butte with sloping sides on the southwest, and a precipitous face toward
the north. After a course of six miles to the southeast, the river again
veers northerly, running with great velocity among boulders. To the west–
ward, the rocky shores, rugged and barren, attain considerable altitude. To
the eastward, however, the country is more open and rolling. Here, Montressor
River enters from the west.
Below this point, granitic mountains make their appearance, holding the
river in a northerly course, with a breadth varying from three-quarters of a
mile to a mile. At one spot a rapid causes it to deviate a little to the
westward. Near this, the rocks become steeper and are distinguished from
those farther south by their precipitous sides and cliffs facing to the west

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Back River

and northwest. Continuing downstream, what appears to be an island is found
to be a rocky hill on the eastern shore. Its base, an enormous mass of round,
grey rock, is surmounted by a large cone resembling the crater of a volcano,
even to its blackness.
A rapid exists at the foot of this hill, below which the stream widens
and a vertical line of rocks again borders each side, the western being the
more open, with undulating prairies. At the end of six miles, a sandy bluff
on the west side seems to bar the river, but it actually marks the beginning
of a rapid, from the foot of which the river expands into Lake Franklin,
stretching to a north-northwest direction. The river leaves the lake by a
rapid, followed by another which is broken by islands where the descent is
about 20 feet. Three miles beyond a fine open reach, the river again is con–
fined between rocky walls that almost meet, causing a rapid and a fall.
The sand cliffs now become broken and dwindle in the east, while in the
west they subside into low flats relieved by a few sandy knolls. Several
channels break off to the westward, but they are shallow and not navigable.
The country on both sides is swampy, but gradually sloping upward to the
west toward the Chantrey Hills in the distance, as Back River empties into
Cockburn Bay, at the head of Chantrey Inlet.
Back River, formerly called Great Fish River, was first explored in
1834 by Captain (afterwards Sir) George Back, after whom it is named. He
was the commander of an expedition that had set off from England the previous
year to search for Captain (later Sir) John Ross, who had disappeared into
the Arctic in 1829. Late in 1833, Back discovered a small lake which he
called Sussex Lake which proved to be the source of the river he hoped to
follow to the Arctic coast. He descended the river draining Sussex Lake as

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Back River

far as a lake he called Musk Ox Lake, but since the season was too well
advanced for him to reach his objective before winter set in, Back returned
to the eastern end of Great Slave Lake where he built Fort Reliance and
spent the winter. Although word was received of the safe return of Captain
Rose, back decided to continue his geographical explorations, and in June
and July, 1834, accompanied by Richard King, surgeon and naturalist of the
expedition, and a party of Indian guides, descended the river to its mouth
and explored the Arctic coast as far east as Ogle Point, the northeastern
extremity of Adelaide Peninsula. In August and September of the same year
he retraced his course to spend another winter at Fort Reliance.
In July, 1855, James Anderson and James Stewart, officers of the
Hudson's Bay Company, commissioned by their company to search for traces of
Sir John Franklin's party, descended the river, finding on Montreal Island,
near its mouth, remains and relics of some of Franklin's men. The follow–
ing month, Anderson and Stewart returned the way they had come. In 1879,
Frederick Schwatka, U.S.A., ascended the river for a short distance from
Chantrey Inlet; in 1890, Warburton Pike d D escended it from its headwaters
to Lake Beechey; and in April, 1902, David T. Hanbury descended the Buchanan
River, one of its tributaries, by sledge, and proceeded thence to Lake Pelly,
which he crossed on his way northward to the coast. In the interval its
course has been followed by airplane many times.
Economically, the region through which Back River flows is not yet of
much consequence. The extensive prairie areas tributary to its course which
once supported immense herds of caribou and musk oxen, could be utilized for
the grazing of reindeer and domesticated musk oxen, if such an industry were

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Back River

ever undertaken. Aside from this, the only other possibility is in the
direction of mining. The upper reaches of Back River are not far from the
Yellowknife area now being developed north of Great Slave Lake and the
region is fairly accessible from that direction, while the underlying
geological [: ng ] structure is considered favorable. To the north, on Bathurst
Inlet, it is known that copper-bearing rocks exist, but whether they extend
as far south as the valley of Back River is a matter of conjecture. Any
other mineral possibilities are equally problematical and must wait until
the territory is more fully explored. Since, however, the whole region is
underlain by Pre-Cambrian rocks, and since it is in rocks of similar type
that rich mineral deposits have been found elsewhere in the Canadian north,
the possibility of mineral wealth must, until ruled out by more intensive
examination, continue to be more than a possibility.
References:
Back, George. Narrative of the Arctic Land Expedition to the Great Fish
River, and along the shores of the Arctic Ocean in the
years 1833, 1834 and 1835.
London, 1836.
Anderson, J., and Stewart J. Proceedings of the Hudson's Bay Company
Expedition to Investigate the Fate of Sir John Franklin
and Party. Select Committee on Arctic Expeditions, 1855.

Bathurst Inlet

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

BATHURST INLET

Bathurst Inlet, District of Mackenzie, is one of the most prominent
indentations on the north coast of the mainland of the Dominion of Canada.
It extends slightly east of southward from near the eastern end of Corona–
tion Gulf. Authorities differ as to the point at which the indentation may
first be termed Bathurst Inlet; some give the entrance as lying between
Cape Barrow, in latitude 68° 04′ N., longitude, 110° 54′ W., and Cape Flinders,
in latitude 68° 13′ N., longitude, 109° 15′ W., thus extending inland for
about 125 miles. Others assume the entrance to be the line between Everitt
Point, in latitude 67° 42′ N., longitude, 108° 42′ W., and Wollaston Point,
about 17 miles west-southwestward; and the distance from the line between
these two points to the southern end of Bathurst Inlet is about 85 miles.
The expanse of water to the north of this line, averaging about 40 miles,
north and south as well as east and west, bears no separate name, but is
referred to as the entrance to Bathurst Inlet. Here, the inlet is considered
as extending southward only from the Wollaston- Everitt line and will be des–
cribed accordingly.
The entrance to Bathurst Inlet, north of the Wollaston-Everitt line,
is filled with islands, many of which are unnamed, and the main portion of
the inlet is likewise filled with islands. Southward of Everitt and Wollas–
ton points, the inlet is from 17 to 20 miles wide, continuing so for a distance

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Bathurst Inlet

of about 20 miles. This portion is largely occupied by the Barry Islands,
of which Goulbourn Island is the largest. South of the Barry Islands, the
inlet narrows to from five to six miles, gradually diminishing in width
until no more than two or three miles over the final 30 miles of its length.
Although the coast of Coronation Gulf from which Bathurst Inlet extends
southward is fairly low, the shores of the entrance to the inlet are bold
and rugged; steep hills rise abruptly from the water on both sides. The
islands, too, are mainly rocky. The eastern shore, while underlain by
similar rock formation, is more generally covered with overburden and sup–
ports a considerable growth of vegetation, while on the western side the
shores are rocky and much more barren in appearance.
The eastern side of Arctic Sound, at the northwestern portal of
Bathurst Inlet, consists of a long, narrow promontory, extending in a north-
and-south direction, terminating in Wollaston Point. From Wollaston Point,
the shore curves gently to the south-southeast, without any indentations of
consequence, to the bottom of Bathurst Inlet. Burnside River flows in from
the west about 30 miles north of the inlet's lower extremity. At its southern–
most tip, Bathurst Inlet receives the Western River from the south southeast,
which drains a narrow strip of territory north of the Back River watershed.
The eastern side of Ba [: ] hurst inlet is much more indented than the west
side. From Everitt Point, the coast trends south southeasterly for about
27 miles to Fowler Bay, which is about two miles deep and a mile and a quarter
across its mouth, partly blocked by a long, narrow island. About eight
miles farther south, Gordon Bay, about eight miles wide and 12 miles deep,
divided into two sections by a long, rocky point, extends southeastward.
Beyond Gordon Bay, the shore trends southward for eight or ten miles and then

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Bathurst Inlet

swings to the south-southeast, continuing in that direction without much
indentation to the lower end of the inlet.
Bathurst Inlet was first explored in 1821 by Captain (later Sir) John
Franklin, whose party traveled along the north coast of Canada from the
mouth of the Coppermine River to Point Turnsgain, a short distance to the
eastward of Bathurst Inlet. They penetrated the inlet to its bottom, giving
it the name it bears and naming most of its principal features. The inlet
was called after the Earl of Bathurst, a member of the British Government
under whose auspices Franklin's expedition was organized. On the return
from Cape Turnagain, the Franklin party ascended Hood River (named after a
member of the party who was soon to die) and crossed overland to their base
at Fort Enterprise, northeast of Great Slave Lake, encountering great hard–
ship on the way.
Thomas Simpson and Peter Warren Dease, on an exploratory expedition for
the Hudson's Bay Company, further explored Bathurst Inlet in the years 1838
and 1839. The work of these explorers was simplified and corrected in many
particulars by members of the Canadian Arctic (Stefansson) Expedition, 1913-
1918, who spent a considerable amount of time in the vicinity of Coronation
Gulf.
References:
Franklin, John. Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea in
the Years 1819-20-21-22.
London, 1823.
Simpson, Thomas. Narrative of the Discoveries on the North Coast of America
During the Years 1836-39.
London, 1843.
O'Neill, J.J. The Geology of the Arctic Coast of Canada, West of the Kent
Peninsula
. Report, Canadian Arctic Expedition, 1913-1918,
Vol. II.

Beaver River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

BEAVER RIVER

Beaver River, in Mackenzie District, northwestern Canada, drains a
narrow strip of territory lying between the head of the Mackenzie River
proper and the Cameron Hills, which lie approximately on the 60th parallel
of north latitude. Beaver River is shown on the map as only that section
which drains Kakisa Lake, about 10 miles long, which lies in a southeaste
northwest direction, and is connected with Tathlina Lake by the Kakisa
River, about seven or eight miles in length in which there is a drop of
85 feet. Tathlina Lake, is pear-shaped and about 12 miles long by eight
miles at its widest. The Beaver River proper is interrupted by the Lady
Evelyn Falls, 48 feet high, where the river drops over the escarpment of
the Alberta Plateau, where there runs parallel to the Mackenziee River.
Two principal short branching streams draining the northern slopes of
the Cameron Hills and the muskegs which lie along their base, enter Tathlina
Lake, one at the southwestern and the other at the southeastern angle. The
outlet is at the northernmost extremity. Several small tributaries enter
the connecting stream from the west. The latter enters Kakisa Lake near
its southeastern angle, and the Beaver leaves at the northeastern angle,
emptying into the expanded section of the Mackenzie River about eight miles
below its point of commencement.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Beaver Lake

The country through which the Beaver River flows consists of the
Alberta Plateau section which is relieved by the Cameron Hills on the
southern edge of its watershed and by Eagle Mountain on the east. The
plateau is forested with spruce and pine, with tamarack in the swamps.
Between the foot of the escarpment on the Mackenzie, the spruce forest is
interspersed with considerable stretches of muskeg. Between the edge of
the main escarpment and the foot of the Cameron Hills, a second step in
the plateau, which accounts for the drop in elevation between Tathlina and
Kakisa lakes.
The territory does not contain much land of agricultural value and its
timber is not of commercial grade. It is, however, underlain by Palaeozoic
rocks such as, in other places, are favorable for the production of petro–
leum, and it is possible that when the area has been more fully examined
for that purpose the results might justify the final test of the drill.
The first exploration of the region was made by R. G. McConnell of the
Geological Survey of Canada in 1888, who made a traverse from Providence,
on the Mackenzie River, southward to Lake Bistcho. He did not touch the
Beaver River valley, but followed a course to the west of it. A. E. Cameron
of the Survey explored its lower reaches in 1917, but did not continue above
the falls.
References:
McConnell, R. G. Report on an Exploration in the Yukon and Mackenzie Basins,
1887-88
. Geological Survey of Canada, 1888.
Cameron, A. E. Summary Report. Geological Survey of Canada, 1917.

Big Salmon River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

BIG SALMON RIVER

The Big Salmon River is a tributary of the Lewes River, one of the
principal branches of the Yukon. It rises in Quiet Lake, 19 miles long
and a maximum of two and a half miles wide, lying approximately north-and-
south, at an elevation of 2,580 feet above sea level, just west of the 133rd
meridian, in the angle where it is intersected by the 61st degree of north
latitude. Immediately below the outlet of Quiet Lake, extending for nine
miles, it is a series of small lakes, joined by short stretches of river.
In its upper reaches, the Big Salmon is bordered by mountains from 3,000 to
4,000 feet in height, which constrict its valley, but farther down the moun–
tains are not so high and the valley broadens considerably. In its final
45 miles, it occupies a wide, wooded valley bordered by rounded hills.
The Big Salmon varies in width from 30 to 100 yards, and although there
are stretches where the current is smooth, for the greater part of its course
the river is shallow and rapid, interrupted by many sandbars and occasional
rapids. It is not navigable, except for canoes, and that with difficulty.
About 25 miles above its mouth, the Big Salmon takes in the North fork, and
20 miles farther up, the South fork enters. Its course is generally north–
westerly, and it is about 142 miles in length from the foot of the chain of
lakes in which it rises. It flows into the Lewes about 60 miles below the
outlet of Lake Laberge.

Black Lake

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

BLACK LAKE

Black Lake, in northern Saskatchewan, Dominion of Canada, is a long,
narrow body of water lying in a general northeast-southwest direction. Its
greatest length is 49 miles, its greatest width about nine, and its area
about 200 square miles; it lies at an elevation of 1,000 feet above sea
level. It is the largest lake in the course of the Fond du Lac River, which
originates in Wollaston Lake and empties into Lake Athabaska, and is thus
part of the great Mackenzie drainage system. Black Lake is shaped like a
club, wi t h a long, narrow, curved handle-like section extending southwestward
from the wider part of the lake, which lies more nearly east and west and is
roughly diamond-shaped. The eastern end of the lake is in longitude 105 W.;
its western end is in 105° 55′ W.; its southernmost point is in 58° 45′ N.;
and its northernmost point is in latitude 59° 18′ N.
Black Lake, like Lake Athabaska to the West, and Wollaston and Reindeer
lakes to the east, is on the line of contact between the Pre-Cambrian rocks
lying generally to the eastward and the Paleozoic rocks lying to the south–
westward. Consequently the southern shore of Black Lake is chiefly composed
of stratified sandstone, or of boulders with an escarpment of sandstone lying
farther back; while the northern shore consist chiefly of granites and gneisses.
The boundary between the two rock formations is marked at either end of the
lake by the Fund du Lac River. Beginning at the outlet of the lake, on its

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Black Lake

northwestern shore, the gneissic rocks continue in a northeasterly direction
for 15 miles, the lake shore following the foot of a ridge from 200 to 400
feet in height. Fir Island, with an area of 12 square miles, lies off this
shore, just north of the outlet. The island is underlain mainly by Atha–
baska sandstone. Chipman River, a rapid stream about 50 feet wide at its
mouth, flows into the lake from the north at the point where the lake shore
diverges from the northeasterly-trending ridge, and turns eastward. The
north shore continues almost due east for about 13 miles, the shores con–
sisting mainly of gran i tic rocks, rising in places to about 100 feet above
the lake. From the northeastern angle of the lake, the shore swings south–
westward for about 12 miles, receiving about midway the upper Fond du [: ] ac
River, which enters by two months. The shores of the lake, on all sides,'
are wooded with black spruce, occasional white spruce, birch and tamarack,
with black spruce and birch predominating. The growth is heavier on the southern
and southeastern shore , s , where the underlying rocks are mostly sandstone.
Cree River flows into the southernmost extremity of the lake from the
southwest.
Black Lake was first explored in 1796 by David Thompson of the North–
west Company, who gave it its name. In that year he ascended the Churchill
River to the mouth of Reindeer River, and the latter to Reindeer Lake, pro–
ceeding from that lake by way of Swan River and connecting portages and
lakes to Wollaston Lake, which he traversed to its northwest angle, and
then descended Fond du Lac River (previously called Stone River) to Black
Lake, and thence to Lake Athaba [: ] ka.
In 1881, A. S. Cochrane, of the Geological Survey of Canada, followed
Thompson's course as far as Reindeer Lake, but left that lake by the river
now named after him, which rises in Wollaston Lake. From the latter, Coch–
rane continued along Thompson's course to Lake Athabaska. In 1892,

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Black Lake

J. B. Tyrrell and D. B. Dowling, also of the Geological Survey, reached
Black Lake from the south, by way of the Cree River, and surveyed its
shores, making a geological examination of its rocks.
Reference:
<bibl> Tyrrell, J. B. Report on the Country Between Athabaska Lake and
Churchill River . Geological Survey of Canada.
Annual Report, Vol. VIII, 1896. </bibl>

Black River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

BLACK RIVER

Black River, northeastern Ontario, Dominion of Canada, is a tributary
of the Abitibi River (q.v.), whose waters flow into the southern end of
James Bay by way of Moose River (q.v.). Black River rises in a group of
small lakes on the height of land in latitude 48° 15′ N., longitude 80° W.
These lakes, which lie at an elevation of about 1,150 feet above sea level,
are connected by short stretches of rapid streams, which join to form Black
River. In its initial stages, Black River runs in a northwesterly direction.
Like most rivers traversing the Canadian Shield, it flows through a shallow
valley, with many twists and turns. The Ontario Northland Railway (q.v.)
enters its valley a short distance south of Yorketon Station, where the
railway follows the west bank of the river. Railway and river run almost
side by side for about 16 miles, when, near Matheson Station, the railway
veers slightly to the west, and the river continues to its junction with
the Abitibi at the big bend between Twin Falls and Iroquois Falls.
From Matheson to its mouth, Black River is wide and sluggish, with many
lake-like stretches. While in its upper reaches, it is interrupted by numerous
rapids and falls, its lower course is uninterrupted. It traverses a country
well forested with white and black spruce, Banksian pine, balsam, white birch,
tamarack and poplar. Large areas have been burned over, but much good timber
still remains. The greater part of the timber, however, is better suited to

EA-Geog. LeBourdais. Canada - Black River

pulpwood than to saw logs, although some stands of merchantable timber are
also found in the area. Black River has a total length of about 60 miles
and drains an area of about 1,000 square miles.
Reference:
<bibl> Williamson, O.T.G. The Northland: Ontario. Toronto. The Ryerson Press,
1946. </bibl>

British Columbia: Subarctic Section

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

BRITISH COLUMBIA: SUB - ARCTIC SECTION

British Columbia, the third largest of the Canadian provinces, lies
between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, extending north and south
from the 49th to the 60th parallel of north latitude. The Rocky Mountains
do not, however, constitute its entire eastern boundary: from the point near
latitude 53° 45′, where the crest of the mountains cuts the 120th meridian of
west longitude northward to the 60th parallel, the boundary follows the meri–
dian. Consequently, in its northern part, British Columbia comprises a
considerable area that lies east of the mountain barrier. The province has
a total area of 366,255 square miles, of which approximately 109,000 square
miles, that is to say, that section north of latitude 57°, can be considered
as sub - arctic.
Because the Rocky Mountains run northwest and southeast — while the
eastern boundary of the sub - arctic section runs due north and south, that
section of British Columbia contains a larger percentage of territory on
the eastern side of the mountains than any other part of the province. This,
in some respects, makes for a greater diversity of terrain and climate. On
the other hand, since all of this region is bordered by the Alaskan Panhandle,
it has absolutely no coast line, and only a small part of it is subject to the
climatic conditions peculiar to the Pacific coast.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: SubArctic

Like most of British Columbia, and despite the large relatively level
section east of the mountains, sub - arctic British Columbia is predominantly
mountainous. In the first place, unlike most of southern British Columbia,
both the western and the eastern slopes of the continuation of the Rocky
Mountains, known as the Mackenzie Mountains, are within its boundaries.
The highest mountain peaks in Canada, and some of the highest on the con–
tinent are in that section, including such giants as Mount Fairweather,
15,287, and Mount Root, 12,860 feet in height.
It is a region of few lakes, the principal ones being in the northwestern
corner of the province, where a group of remarkably beautiful lakes lying
across the boundary between British Columbia and Yukon Territory are drained
northward into the Yukon River system. This lack of lakes is characteristic
of the region which, in this respect, differs considerably from other sections
of the province, especially the one next to the south.
Although well watered, it is also a region of few rivers. Two principal
river systems, whose valleys are almost continuous, one flowing into the
Pacific and the other a tributary of the Mackenzie, which empties into the
Arctic, drain almost the entire section, except for a narrow strip in the
northwestern corner.
Aside from a small area of prairie in the extreme southeastern corner,
the section is well forested. Along its western boundary, bordering the
Alaskan Panhandle, red cedar and hemlock are found, with amabilis fir and
yellow cypress as subsidiaries. Farther east, the predominating trees are
typical of the sub-arctic regions of Canada elsewhere. The river-valleys
are lined with poplars, chiefly cottonwoods, while in wet and marshy areas the
eastern larch, or tamarack, is commonly seen; in the fall its yellow needles

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Sub-Arctic

match in color [: ] the golden hues of the cottonwoods.
The section has a wide variety of climate. Along the western border
the high mountains comb the moisture out of the westerly winds, which falls
as rain or snow upon the western slopes of the mountains. This causes what
are known on the prairies as Chinooks. As the winds proceed eastward they
pick up further moisture, which again is precipitated on the western slope
of the next high range of mountains, repeating the Chinook conditions. The
result is a succession of longitudinal dry and moist zones, lying one parallel
to the other.
During the summer the strong winds blow inland through such gaps as the
Stikine valley and the passes leading from the head of Lynn Canal, such as
the Chilkat, the Chilkoot and the White; while, in winter, during most of
the time, the process is reversed: the winds, as a rule, blow outwards from
the interior plateaus. The exceptions are when Chinooks occur, as described
above.
It is a sparsely populated region. According to the 1941 census, the
population of British Columbia was 817,861, which during the war was con–
siderably augmented. The bulk of this population, however, resides in the
extreme southwestern corner of the province, in the cities of Vancouver, New
Westminster and Victoria, although of late years a number of thriving com–
munities have grown up in other parts of the southern section of the province.
The war helped to depopulate rather than increase the population of subarctic
British Columbia. Only two towns exist within the whole area, and neither
can boast of more than a fraction of the population it once had. Even the
Indians, never very numerous, have lost ground. It is doubtful if, including
the Indians, the population of the whole subarctic section exceeds 1,500
persons.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

The first white men in subarctic British Columbia were undoubtedly
traders of the Hudson's Bay Company who, coming up the Liard from the
Mackenzie, established Fort Halkett, beyond the western foothills of the
mountains. In 1834, John McLeod, Chief Trader of the Hudson's Bay Company,
went up the Liard from Fort Halkett to the mouth of the Dease, which he
named after a fellow officer of the Company, went up the lake in which the
river had its source, which he also named, and crossed the divide to the
Stikine, with the intention of establishing a post there. This attempt failed
because of the opposition of Russian traders at the mouth of the Stikine, and
McLeod returned to the Liard. Four years later, another Hudson's Bay Company
trader, Robert Campbell, succeeded in establishing a post on Dease Lake,
which, after a winter of hardship, he abandoned. The next visitors were
prospectors, in the 1860's, and the country was kinder to them than it had
been to the fur traders.
Following the failure of the attempt to lay the Atlantic cable in 1858,
the Western Union or Collins Overland Telegraph Company proposed to build
a telegraph line overland through British Columbia, Yukon Territory and
Alaska to Bering Strait, where a short cable would connect with a line to
be built through Siberia to Europe. The route through British Columbia had
been located as far north as Telegraph Creek — which thereby gained its name —
when, in 1867, the cable was successfully laid, and the overland project
abandoned.
After gold was discovered in the Klondike, the Dominion Government
built a telegraph line from Ashcroft, on the main line of the Canadian
Pacific Railway, to the boundary between Yukon Territory and Alaska, and an
office was opened at Telegraph Creek. The line leaving Hazelton, followed

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

the Skeena River northward to its eastern bend, then crossed to the headwaters
of the Nass, thence along the north fork of the Iskut River to the First South
Fork of the Stikine, and thus to Telegraph Creek. From Telegraph Creek, the
line ran somewhat irregularly northward to Atlin, and followed the east shore
of Atlin Lake till it crossed into Yukon Territory. Cabins were built at
intervals of about fifty miles, at each of which a telegraph operator and a
lineman were stationed whose chief duty was to keep the line in operation.
The coast ranges consist mainly of granitoid rocks, which form a belt
about sixty-five miles wide where they are cut by the Stikine River, and
probably averaging fifty miles along the western border up to latitude 60°.
This mountain upthrust is simply a continuation of the great orthographic
axis extending northward from almost the southern boundary of British Columbia.
To the eastward of the Coast Ranges, the great interior is mainly under–
lain by a complex structure of sedimentary rocks of diverse ages, and volcanic
rocks chiefly of Mesozoic age. These rocks are broken by the Cassiar-Omenica
mountains which constitute a granitic axis maintaining a general alignment
northward into Yukon Territory. It is along the contact of this axis that
most of the placer gold discoveries have been made.
The Mackenzie Mountains consist chiefly, as do the Rockies, of sedimentary
rocks of Palaeozoic and Mesozoic age. So far, few minerals of economic value
have been found in them, although coal is more than a possibility, in view of
findings farther south.
The area east of the Mountains is part of the Great Plains region, and is
underlain by sedimentary rocks, chiefly of Mesozoic age, in which evidence of
coal and petroleum have been noted.
About two-thirds of subarctic British Columbia drains into the Arcti [: ] ,

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

chiefly through the Liard and its many branches; but a small portion is also
drained into the Arctic through the Peace by way of the Finlay, which makes
a great bend north of latitude 57°, although its actual headwaters lie south
of that latitude. The Liard, however, is the principal channel through which
most of the water from subarctic British Columbia is drained. It rises in
Yukon Territory, almost as far west as the 132nd p meridian, and crosses the
British Columbia - Yukon border between the 128th and 129th meridians, and,
shortly after, receives from the southwest the Dease River, 180 miles long,
which rises in the lake of the same name. It follows a generally southeasterly
course until it dashes against the northern escarpment of the Rocky Mountains,
which come to an end between the 59th and 60th parallels of north latitude.
The mountains deflect the river sharply northward until it reaches the low–
lands beyond the eastern foothills, when it sets an almost northeasterly
course for its destination in the Mackenzie River. The Liard leaves British
Columbia at the point where the boundary separating the District of Mackenzie
and Yukon Territory joins the northern boundary of British Columbia. Just
before crossing the border, the Liard receives the Fort Nelson, a considerable
stream, 260 miles in length, coming in from the southeast. The Fort Nelson
drains a large area in the northeastern corner of the province, and the most
important agricultural portion of subarctic British Columbia.
The next most important river in this section is the Stikine, which
drains an area of 20,300 n square miles in the southwestern portion. It is
335 miles in length, rises on the western flank of the Cassiar-Omenica moun–
tains between latitudes 57° and 58°, and, after describing a great arc, breaks
through the coast ranges to the pacific in latitude 56° 34′. Its final lap
traverses the coastal strip that is part of the Alaskan Panhandle.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

Next along the coast to the north is the Taku River, which drains a
belt of territory comprising about 7,600 square miles, lying south of Atlin
and north of the Stikine watershed. It flows into Taku Inlet, not far from
the Alaskan city of Juneau. The Chilkat, Tatshenshini and Alsek drain the
comparatively narrow area between the western limits of the Yukon watershed
and the Alaskan coastal strip northwest of Lynn Canal, which is flanked by
the St. Elias Range. The chief of these is the Alsek, 260 miles long, which
has a drinage area of 11,200 square miles.
When Charles II of England, in 1670, granted sundry lands to the Hudson's
Bay Company, the territory now known as British Columbia was not included,
probably because that freehanded monarch had no idea such a country existed.
The Hudson's Bay Company, however, when the time came, secured the right to
trade there and became virtual masters of the region. It was the discovery
of gold in the sand bars of the lower Fraser River in 1858 that was the be–
ginning of the end for Hudson's Bay Company rule west of the Rocky Mountains.
The fate of a few thousand Indians could well be left to the despotic sway of
a fur-trading organization; but when the country became infested with miners,
many of whom were from the United States and had quite unorthodox ideas about
the sanctity of the fur trade, some other arrangement became necessary for the
control of the country. It was created a Crown colony in 1858 and in 1871
joined the newly-formed Dominion of Canada.
The sand bars of the lower Fraser soon became exhausted, leaving thousands
of eager goldseekers at loose ends. Many of them returned to California from
whence they had come, but others pushed on up the canons of the Fraser, pros–
pecting every tributary, sometimes penetrating far afield. On many of these
streams gold was found, not in great quantity, but enough to keep the prospectors

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

pushing onward. Eventually, in 1862, among the mountains sixty miles inland
from the Fraser, on a small stream running into a tributary of the Fraser,
an enterprising prospector found heavy gold in the gravels of the creek bed.
Then began one of the three or four great gold booms in history, to be
compared only to the Klondike rush a generation later. The scene of the
strike was five hundred miles inland through one of the most rugged regions
on the continent. But that did not seriously retard gold seekers sustained
by the knowledge that gold in chunks could be washed from the gravels of
Williams Creek, Lightning Creek and a rapidly growing list of other creeks
in what became known as the Cariboo.
Within a short while a pack trail had been slashed through the wilderness;
before five years had passed a well-graded wagon road had replaced it, a feat
which, considering the circumstances, deserves to be ranked with other great
engineering feats of the century. Within two years more people were in the
Cariboo than in all the rest of British Columbia. Barkerville, center of
the field, was the largest town in Canada west of Toronto; and nothing but
San Francisco could touch it to the southward. Placer camps, however, are
notoriously short-lived; within a short while after the first strike was
made, the richest ground, which was usually the shallowest and easiest worked,
had become largely exhausted. Placer mining has never ceased in Cariboo; the
total value of gold taken from its creeks since 1862 is estimated at
$51,000,000, but if it were not for the subsequent discovery of rich gold
quartz mines, its once booming camps would now be ghost towns, typical of
all worked-out placer diggings.
Long before the Cariboo diggings were worked out, however, all the
available ground had been staked, and, as usual, hundred were disappointed.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

Some dejectedly tramped back to the coast; but others pushed on to find gold
on new creeks farther north. Most of these creeks were on the western flank
of that great depression known as the Rocky Mountain Trench, which, for 800
miles, parallels the Rocky Mountains, and in which most of the great rivers
of British Columbia, including the Peace, have their source. In 1868, gold
was discovered on the Omenica and Ingenica rivers and on Manson Creek, all
of which flow into the Finlay, northern tributary of the Peace.
As before, the available ground was not enough to go round, and some
again ranged farther inland, panning the sand bars on streams yet unnamed,
getting some gold here and there, but never succeeding in striking anything
to compare with the fabulous Cariboo. Others entered the interior valleys
by way of the coast, up the Stikine River; while still others came in from
the Mackenzie valley, up the Liard and its tributaries.
The first gold discovered in what later became known as Cassiar District
was, in fact, discovered before gold had been found in the Cariboo, when two
prospectors, Choquette and Carpenter, first panned gold dust out of the sand
bars of the Stikine River. By the end of that year a considerable number of
men were working there. The section of the river in which the pay was rich
enough to justify working was short, and was soon worked out, although some
prospectors kept on for a number of years after the height of the boom.
Placer camps nearly all follow the same life-cycle. As a rule, the coarsest
gold is found in that part of the stream nearest its headwaters, but this
does not always apply. In most cases, however, the richest ground, consider–
ing both quantity and coarseness, is fairly shallow, requiring very little
digging or excavating to reach the bedrock, upon which most of the gold is
usually found. Although the greatest concentration is generally on bedrock,

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

some gold may be distributed throughout the entire gravel bed, or at least
in a certain portion of the lower gravels.
If the gravel bed, from surface to bedrock, is shallow, the prospector
may work it by sluicing, in which case he will construct sluice boxes, or
flumes, about three feet wide and eighteen inches deep, of one or one-and-
a-half inch lumber, the bottom of which will be paved with wooden blocks to
prevent the bottom from wearing out. Each sluice box may be from twelve to
sixteen feet long, added end to end as the ground ahead is washed away.
Sufficient water almost to come to the top of the sluice boxes is now diverted
to run through, and gravel is thus washed through with the water. In addition,
gravel is shoveled into the boxes from the sides, depending upon how many
men are engaged in the operation. Such gold as there is in the gravel, no
matter how fine it may be, will lodge in the interstices between the paving
blocks and will rarely be found to have moved farther down the flume than a
few feet from where it entered.
Where the gravel is too deep and where most of the gold lies on or near
the bedrock, such ground can best be worked by sinking a shaft to bedrock and
then taking out the gold-bearing gravel by means of a drive or tunnel driven
upstream along the gutter of the channel. The gravel is hoisted to the
surface by a windlass and there run through sluice boxes as described above.
When ground is worked in this manner, it will be necessary to pump the water
that will otherwise accumulate in the workings. In such case, pumps may be
of local construction and operated by water wheels. Shafts and drives must
be timbered to prevent caving, all of which adds to the expense and labor
of the operation, and, of course, requiring richer ground.
Sometimes, where the extent of gravel is large and the gold widely dis-

EA-Geog. LeBourdas: British Columbia: Subarctic

tributed through it, the mine is worked by hydraulic method. In this
process, water is brought by ditch to a point near the proposed workings
at a level that will allow of the maximum pressure. The water is then fed
through a penstock into an iron pipeline, ranging in size from four to six
inches to two or three feet in diameter, depending upon the scale of the
operation. At the end of the pipeline, a long nozzle, or monitor, is
connected by a swivel joint. This monitor compresses the water into a tight,
compact stream, which, according to the pressure, will tear down and wash
away a bank of gravel. From then on the process is somewhat like sluicing,
except that much more gravel is handled.
The hydraulic process, like the use of dredges, usually comes with a
later stage in the life of a mining camp. At present these methods are
almost the only ones employed in Cariboo and the Klondike; but they were not
used to any great extent in Cassiar. The mining methods used there were
mostly confined to sluicing, shoveling in, and drifting. When the white man
finds the going too unprofitable for him, he is usually succeeded by Chinese,
who work over ground already mined, or undertake new operations in ground not
considered rich enough to tempt the white man.
Sometimes their operations are conducted on such a small scale that all
the gravel they handle is washed in a rocker, a contrivance somewhat like a
baby's rocker'cradle. Its principal feature is a wooden riffle-frame resemb–
ling a washboard, which is placed in an inclined position within the rocker.
Over this riffle-frame a piece of blanket is spread. Water is brought from a
nearby stream in a small flume or pipe which empties into the rocker where it
can spill over the blanketed riffle-frame. Gravel is then poured onto the
riffle-frame so that, as the contrivance is rocked from side to side, the gravel,

EA-Geog. LeBourdaise: British Columbia: Subarctic

with the aid of the running water, moves down the incline, leaving the
gold in the meshes of the blanket. At intervals the blanket is replaced
by another and the one removed is then burned and its ashes panned to
secure the gold.
Ca A ssiar's second gold strike was in 1872, when Henri Thibert, a French–
Canadian, and his partner, McCulloch, a Scotsman, advancing from the MacKen–
zie and prospecting up the Liard and Dease rivers, reached Dease Lake.
Hearing that miners were still working on the Stikine, they crossed the
height of land and for a time tried their luck on that river, but without
much success. On their way back to the Liard, the following spring, they
discovered gold on a creek flowing into the western side of Dease Lake, near
its northern end, which they called Thibert Creek. Other prospectors joined
them, and soon gold was discovered on Dease Creek, another stream flowing
into the west side of Dease Lake, a few miles south of Tibert Creek. At the
mouth of Dease Creek, a small settlement grew up called Laketon. On several
tributaries of Dease River, gold was also discovered, and one of these McDame
Creek, was for a time relatively rich. In fact, to McDame Creek goes the
record for the largest all-gold nugget ever produced in British Columbia,
when in 1877 a lump of gold was taken out which weighed 72 ounces and was
valued at $1,300.
While no figures are obtainable showing actual production in Cassiar
District during the period of greatest activity — because it is easy for
gold in the form of nuggests and dust to be taken out of the country without
any record being kept — the British Columbia Department of Mines estimates
that the total production in 1874 was about $1,000,000, which may be somewhat
high. The estimate for the following year is $830,000 which, by 1876, had

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

dropped to $556,474. Value of production dropped by gradual degrees until
by 1885 the annual output of the whole region was estimated at only slightly
more than $50,000. Some gold still comes g from Cassiar, but the amount is
negligible, and total production to date since 1873 is placed at about
$4,500,000.
On the other hand, the geological structure of the country — and experi–
ence in Cariboo — suggests that profitable lode mines might be looked for
in the district, but so far very little systematic prospecting for minerals
has been done. Lode mining lacks the attraction for prospectors that placer
mining holds. In most cases the placer miner needs only a few sluice boxes
for which he himself can saw the lumber from timber growing nearby. Within
a short time he can get his hands on the gold itself; and with it he can buy
whatever further equipment he needs. In a word, he is independent of anyone
else.
The lode miner, on the other hand, after locating a promising deposit,
must interest a broker or capitalist to secure the money necessary for pros–
pecting at depth by means of diamond drilling, or geophysical examination,
either of which requires a considerable amount of money. Quite often, the
prospector fails to interest a broker or capitalist; accustomed to the hills,
he does not often know the ways of cities. It may be that the scene of his
discovery is too remote to attract capital, or perhaps the prospect of
eventual success does not appear sufficiently alluring to tempt the investor.
Supposing, however, that the prospector does succeed in interesting someone
with money, and assuming that further exploitation confirms the prospector's
belief that he has a possible mine, there is still the question of transpor–
tation and the availability of an adequate labor supply. Many a prospector
with a good mine has been compelled to wait indefinitely till the general

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

advancement of the country has made possible the development of his property.
Such, at present, is the situation in Cassiar.
One other part of the section we are discussing has passed through a
mining boom and is now awaiting the general development of the country to
make t possible the adequate exploitation of its lode mines, although it
has made greater progress in that regard than Cassiar. In 1898, when the
Klondike boom was at its height, placer gold was discovered in the Atlin
district, in the northwestern corner of the province, within less than fifty
miles of the British Columbia-Yukon boundary.
The first gold was discovered by Fritz Miller and his companions, who
staked Discovery Claim on Pine Creek, a small stream, eleven miles long,
which flows into Atlin Lake, about halfway up its east shore. Since nearly
all the other productive creeks flowed into Pine Creek, it was the center of
the Atlin diggings, an area roughly about fifteen miles north and south, by
twenty miles east and west. The gold, fairly coarse and described as about
the size of flax seed, was found in layers of gravel on or near the bedrock.
Some of it was much heavier than that mentioned above. One nugget, found on
Spruce Creek, composed partly of quartz, weighed 85 ounces, valued at $800;
while another, found on Birch Creek, weighed 73 ounces and was valued at
$1,200. Some gold was obtained from a few creeks outside the Pine Creek
radius, but the productive area was not extensive, and eventually became
worked out, as in other placer camps. The total production of the Atlin
placer diggings to date is estimated at about $12,000,000.
Atlin City, located on the eastern shore of Atlin Lake, about halfway
up the lake, a mile north of the mouth of Pine Creek, was the metropolis of
the gold fields. During the first year or two after the strike there were

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

between 1,500 and 2,000 men working on the various creeks and prospecting
nearby. During its heyday, Atlin was a booming community, but for a long
time now it has settled down to patient waiting for what the future holds.
And that future seems reasonably certain. Unlike Cassiar, many promising
mineral properties have already been discovered, and while few of them have
yet been developed to any extent, there is much to show that when transpor–
tation and markets are available, Atlin will take its place as one of the
principal mining areas of the province.
In one sense, however, Atlin is not as inaccessible as might appear.
It is only 140 miles away from Skagway, Alaska, on tidewater at the head
of Lynn Canal with which it is connected partly by rail and partly by water;
but the barrier of an international boundary, while theoretically not an
obstacle, nevertheless does act as a bar to easy commercial intercourse.
The hope of the Atlin country, as with every other part of the section of
the province being treated here, lies in the joint development of the
northern part of the province and Yukon Territory in conjunction with that
of regions to the south and to the east. Extensions of the Alaska Highway
to tap the Stikine and Atlin regions would seem to be the logical develop–
ments of the near future, although this is not to be considered as a propheay!
Except for pulpwood in a great many places throughout the section, there
is little merchantable timber concentrated in such a manner as to constitute
an export lumber industry, but almost everywhere there is more than enough
timber to provide for whatever local needs may reasonably be expected for
any conceivable length of time. The area about Atlin is perhaps typical of
much of the territory west of the Mackenzie Mountains, and east of the Coast
Ranges. There the valleys are generally well forested, the timber often

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

extending up the slopes of hills or mountains to a height of from 1,500 to
2,000 feet above the level of the valley. The chief species are white
spruce (Picea alba), black spruce (Picea nigra), Balsam fir (Populus tremul–
oides), balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), willows, dwarf birch (Betula
glandulosa) and a species of alder.
Black and white spruce, about equally prominent, are the most abundant
and often are found in valley bottoms running from two to three feet on the
stump. Balsam fir usually climbs higher up the slopes than most other
species and even when quite near the timber line sometimes measures from
twelve to eighteen inches on the stump. The black pine is less plentiful,
and its dimensions do not usually reach the size of either the spruces or
the balsam fir.
In the Stikine valley, east of the Coast Ranges, where the climate is
of the "dry belt" variety, the principal trees are black pine and aspen
poplar, with occasionally white birch along the benches and lower slopes
of the mountains; while in the valley-bottoms are alder and willow.
Farther east, along the Dease and Liard, to these are added the
larch, or tamarac (Larix Americana). Farther east still, beyond the moun–
tains, in the region drained by the Fort Nelson River, where considerable
muskeg exists, the trees are poplar, tamarack and black pine. Some parts
of this region are quite heavily timbered, but the timber is of a size
only suited for pulpwood. Generally, along the river bottoms, the chief
trees are cottonwoods, often reaching large size. It is these that gave
the Liard its name.
As might be expected when such a vast extent of territory is being
considered, the climate varies considerably with the location, but certain

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

characteristics are to be expected. In the first place, since none of it
touches the sea, the climate over the greater part of the area is of the
continental type, and, because of the high latitudes, with long days in
summer and correspondingly short days in winter. Summer temperatures run
high, but without humidity; while winter temperatures at times drop extremely
low. Over most of the region, the precipitation is light, requiring in some
places irrigation for the growing of crops. Only on the western slopes of
the mountains is the precipitation more than average. The dryest territory,
on the other hand, is that which lies on the eastern side of the Coast Ranges;
and this condition is reproduced, although to a lesser degree, in the lee of
the Cassiar-Omenica mountains. In the Atlin district and along the Stikine,
placer mining operations are usually able to get underway realy in May and
continue (if water is available) till the first of November.
Except in part of the plains area, agriculture, as such, does not exist.
In most of the valleys, potatoes, carrots, turnips, and cabbage can be grown
without much difficulty. In some places coarse grains will ripen, and in
occasional spots even wheat. At Telegraph Creek and in its vicinity on the
Stikine, east of the Coast Ranges, between latitudes 57° and 58°, wheat,
barley, oats, potatoes, and other vegetables, have been grown since the
early mining days, but irrigation is necessary. On the coastward side of
the mountains, however, most of these crops cannot be grown successfully. In
the triangle, east of the Mackenzie Mountains, particularly in its southern
part, there are considerable areas which, after being cleared, would be
suited to agriculture; and some of this area is already being farmed. There
are few places, outside of this same area, where wild hay can be cut, and
not many where any considerable quantity of hay could be cultivated. For

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

this reason, although there are some spots in the sheltered valleys east
of the mountain ranges where horses and cattle could be wintered out,
stock raising is not possible. A year of exceptional snow, with no reserve
of hay, would be fatal.
The whole section produces great quantities of wild berries, chief of
which are blueberries, saskatoons, raspberries, gooseberries, strawberries,
bearberries, cranberries, both high and low bush, and several varieties of
wild cherries.
The most profitable commodity which the section now produces is undoubtedly
fur, as has been the case since the earliest days. The marten is perhaps the
most common of the fur-bearing animals, and next the mink and lynx, but their
incidence varies with the locality. It is generally a good area for foxes,
cross, black, silver and red. Wolverines and weasels are also plentiful. At
one time the beaver was the principal fur animal, but its mode of living rendered
it too easy a prey to the hunter and, while the country in places still abounds
in beaver, the number caught each year has dropped considerably from its one-
time high level. Wolves are to be found all over, but they are not specially
plentiful.
Perhaps the most common game animal is the moose, which is found prac–
tically everywhere from east of the Coast Ranges to east of the Mackenzie
Mountains. It and the caribou, which is almost as ubiquitous, provides the
bulk of the food requirements of the Indians. Mountain goats and mountain
sheep (both Ovis dalli and Ovis Fanninii) are to be found on all the mountain
ranges, including the Coast Ranges and the Mackenzie Mountains, but they do not
contribute much toward providing the natives with food. The small black-tailed
deer (Cariacus Columbianus) is occasionally seen in some of the valleys of the

EG-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

Coast Ranges, but never to the eastward of them. Black, brown and grizzly
bears are common throughout.
Next to commercial trapping, the area seems to offer possibilities for
fur farming; but like many other industries of the future, it must await
better transportation facilities.
In view of the widespread incidence of caribou, large parts of the
section would appear to be ideally suited for reindeer. But this is not an
industry that can spring up spontaneously; and unless the initiative is
taken at the governmental level it is not likely ever to become established,
no matter how logical it may seem to be.
At present, except for the Alaska Highway, cutting across the northeast–
ern portion of the section; the Stikine River, navigable for river steamers
as far as Telegraph Creek, 138 miles from the coast; and access to the far
northwestern corner from Skagway or Haines, Alaska, the section is almost
inaccessible. It is a country of magnificent scenery, and — as soon as
there is a way for them to get into the country — should attract its share
of tourists. The line of airports paralleling the Alaska Highway, known as
the Northwest Staging Route, will ultimately offer an opportunity for tourists
to reach that part of the country through which it runs; and it would not
be a difficult matter to open up other areas with the aid of additional airports;
but up to the time of writing there is no indication that either the British
Columbia or the Federal Government has any such idea in mind.
The British Columbia Government owns a railway which for thirty years has
ended at Quesnal, on the 53rd parallel, in Cariboo District. During World War II,
it was decided to extend the road to Alaska. Plans to that end had been adopted
when the Japanese were driven from the Aleutians and the necessity for such a

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

railway become much less urgent. Since then, the British Columbia Government
has announced its intention to extend the railway through Pine Pass to the
Peaca River area east of the Rocky Mountains. Many persons in Alaska and
the United States who are interested in Alaskan affairs would like to see an
extension of this line from the nearest point west of the Rockies through to
Alaska. If they get their wish, such an extension would traverse the section
of British Columbia with which we are here concerned, and thus provide a means
for tourists and others to enter the country. If and when this occurs, the
big-game hunter will find a country that for some time to come will continue
to be the resort of the mountain sheep and goat and the grizzly bear, all of
which are bagged only by hunters equipped with patience and skill. Further–
more, the country is a fisherman's paradise.
For the mountain climber, the territory offers climbs to suit every
taste, from peaks that an amateur might attempt with impunity, to some of
the most formidable to be found anywhere. At present, none within the section
is sufficiently accessible to tempt amny climbers; but as peaks more easily
reached succumb to the skill and endurance of alpinists, these giant northern
British Columbia peaks will undoubtedly find challengers.
It is conceivable that some day the remarkable group of lakes, some of
them interconnected, in the northwestern corner of the province will become
one of the choice playgrounds of North America. While there are a number of
smaller lakes in the immediate district, three larger ones constitute the
chief features of this group. Tagish Lake, comprising 139 square miles,
lying like a strip of cobalt between lofty mountains, spread out into many arms
and inlets, is the westernmost. It is connected with the Yukon River system,
which means that with but one three and a half mile interruption north of

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

White Horse, it is at the head of a navigable waterway 2,500 miles long,
culminating in Bering Sea. Next on the east, and connected with Lake Tagih
by a river two and a half miles long, is Atlin Lake, 60 miles in length and
342 square miles in area, a gem of rare beauty lying at the feet of its
bordering mountains; and, finally, lying farther east, Lake Teslin, 246
square miles in extent. All three are cut by the British Columbia — Yukon
boundary. Teslin is divided exactly evenly, but Atlin and Tagish are both
mostly in British Columbia.
Some of the great glaciers in North America are to be found in this
section of British Columbia, chiefly in the valleys of the Coast Ranges,
within easy reach of both Telegraph Creek and Atlin, and they will doubtless
one day attract their share of enthusiasts.
Except for an occasional trading post, and now the airports along the
Northwest Staging Route, there are only two places that can be considered as
communities. The first of these, Telegraph Creek, has been established since
the early 60's of last century. It has gone through various vicissitudes,
but its most exciting period was undoubtedly during the gold mining era on
the Stikine River, when it was in the middle of the gold-bearing stretch of
the river. According to the 1941 census, its total population, including
the adjacent district, was only 218 persons, of whom only 50 were in the town.
The other community of consequence is Atlin. It, too, as described
above, has seen its days of excitement and once was a busy and thriving
town. Although, in 1947, its population consisted of only 518 persons, it
is still the metropolis for a large extent of country. It is a well-built,
modern community, despite its remoteness from outside contacts; and since
its hopes for the future are founded on lode mining, rather than the effemeral

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

glories of placer mining, its future should be reasonably well assured.
The native peoples who inhabit subarctic British Columbia belong to
the Athapaskan or Dene tribe, made up of two principal groups, the Tahltan,
who live along and north of the Stikine River, and the Kaska, who live far–
ther east. The Tahltans' territory adjoins on the south that of the Tshim–
shian Indians, who live in the area comprised by the Nass and Skeena water–
sheds. Likewise, the Kaskas adjoin the territory of the Sekanis, who live
immediately to the south of them.
Probably because of their isolation, these Indians are more primitive
than most others in British Columbia. Those living near the coast are cut
off from the sea by the high mountains of the Coast Ranges; few deep inden–
tations, such as characterize the coast farther south, are to be found there;
and the rivers are also few with drainage areas that do not extend very far
from the coast.
Physically, these people are inferior to most others in the province.
Tahltan men attain a maximum stature of about five feet, seven and a half
inches, and are small of bone. The Kaskas are even smaller people, and are
described as timid, under-sized and of poor physique. Dawson and McConnell,
of the Geological Survey of Canada, traveling through their territory in
1887, found them lazy and untrustworthy.
They count kinship through the mother; the father is not even considered
a blood relative. They are divided into two castes, the Birds and the Bears;
a man who is a Bird must marry a Bear; but his children belong to the Birds,
although his mother's people inherit his effects.
Before the whites arrived, polygamy was practised, but not many had more

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

than one wife. Divorce was easy, although not particularly common. A
killing must be avenged by the relativesofthe person who was killed.
They had no particular religion, but, like many other Indians, were bound
pretty rigorously by the edicts of their medicine men.
Unlike the Haidas and other coast Indians, these interior Indians
had developed very little art. They did not have totem poles like their
neighbors along the coast farther to the south. Occasionally, one of them
might make a mask, obviously copied from their neighbors. They made birch
bark baskets, which were used for cooking pots before the advent of trade
goods; and they wove blankets and rugs from the hair of the mountain goat,
which they decorated with bright colors.
Since there was no agriculture, they lived almost entirely by hunting
and fishing. Their habitat was one of the best game countries on the con–
tinent; add the streams and lakes were well stocked with fish, especially
the rivers flowing into the Pacific where each season salmon came up from
the sea to spawn.
Until they became possessed of metal tools, their canoes were made of
spruce bark, although some living nearer the eastern border of the section
learned to make canoes of birch bark. After tools were secured, they made
dugouts out of cottonwood logs, burning and cutting out the wood. The
gunwales were flared by wedges inserted across the top, the length being
increased as the canoe spread, the final set remaining as thwarts.
Like other Indians farther south, they used sweat houses. These were
usually made of willow or other pliable rods pushed into the ground at each
end and fastened across each other with withes to form a hemispherical structure,
which was then covered with skins. Into a hole in the ground just inside the

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

entrance red-hot stones were cast, upon which water was then thrown. When
the bathers were soaked with sweat, they would often rush out and plunge
into a pool of cold water. These steam baths were not always indulged in
for remedial or hygienic purposes; more often they had a much deeper meaning.
In some cases they were intended to invoke the good offices of spirits on
behalf of a hunting or trapping expedition; in others, the bath was an
expression of atonement for some transgression against another person or
for some breach of a tribal custom.
Never very numerous, the natives have dwindled since the first contact
with the white man; and while, even before that, they seemed to have degene–
rated to a point far lower then most of the Indians of Canada, contact with
whites has not tended to improve them, any more than it has with other native
peoples.
While this section cannot compare with the one next to the south in
variety of resources, such as wide and fertile valleys, broad rolling plains
and foothills and a lake-studded landscape, nevertheless this northern section
has its points. Its potential mineral resources are probably greater; while,
in the area lying to the east of the Mackenzie Mountains the possibilities
for coal and petroleum are probably as great as those in the corresponding
area farther south.
Since, from present indications, it would seem that its future economy
is likely to be centered about the production of minerals and subsidiary
industries associated therewith, the frequent rapids and waterfalls which
interrupt practically every stream will make available an adequate supply
of power whenever it shall be required.
Consequently, despite the fact that it is shut off from the sea; that

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: British Columbia: Subarctic

that it consists mainly of a succession of mountain masses; and that it
possesses relatively few lakes, it can be said that this subarctic section
of British Columbia, at present practically unpopulated, could some day
provide homes and the means of livelihood for many hundreds of thousands
of people. But before that is possible, it will need to be consolidated
with the regions adjoining, south, north and east of it, so that it may
develop, not as an isolated outpost, but as an integral part of a larger,
self-contained entity.
References:
Bulletin No. 21, British Columbia Department of Mines, Victoria, B.C., 1946.
George M. Dawson. Report on an Exploration in the Yukon District, N.W.T.
and adjacent Northern Portion of British Columbia, 1887,
Geological Survey of Canada, 1898.
Summary Report on the Operations of the Geological Survey
for the Year 1899, by the Director, 1900.
Summary Report on the Geological Survey Branch of the
Department of Mines for the Calendar Year 1910, Ottawa,
1911.
Canada Year Book, 1946.
Alice Ravenhill. The Native Tribes of British Columbia, 1938.

British Mountains

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

BRITISH MOUNTAINS

The British Mountains, northwestern Canada, are the eastern extension
of the mountains of northern Alaska known as the Brooks Range. Commencing
at about latitude 68° 20′ N., longitude 138° 50′ W., they continue north–
westward for about 80 miles to the boundary between Alaska and Yukon Terri–
tories, where they attain their maximum width of about 45 miles. The area
in Canada is triangular in shape, with the apex of the triangle toward the
southeast.
The British Mountains are said to consist chiefly of sedimentary rocks,
and are probably similar in structure to the Richardson (q.v.) and Mackenzie
Mountains (q.v.), but they differ in that they also contain some intrusive
rocks. They are flanked on the north, east, and southeast by the Arctic
Plateau, and on the south by the Porcupine Plateau. The British Mountains
attain their highest elevations near the International Boundary, where they
reach heights of about 6,000 feet. Most of their ridges trend nortwestward,
with the general line of the mountains, but those at the southeast bend next
southward as though to parallel the ridges of the Richardson Mountains. The
Firth River has cut a wide valley through the British Mountains from southwest
to northeast, on its way to the Arctic Ocean. Several small rivers, of which
the Babbage is the chief, have their rise in the British Mountains and flow into
the Arctic Ocean; while on the southwestern side of the watershed, the Old Crow
River, which flows into the Porcupine River (q.v.), is the principal stream.
Reference:
<bibl> Bostock, H.S. Physiography of the Canadian Corcillera, With Special Reference
to the Area North of the Fifty-fifth Parallel
; Geological
Survey of Canada, Memoir No. 247, 1948. </bibl>

Broadback River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

BROADBACK RIVER

Broadback River, in northwestern Quebee province, Dominion of Canada,
drains an area lying between the watersheds of the Rupert River (on the
north) and the Nottaway River (on the south), and flows in to the same
estuary in the southwestern angle of James Bay as do the two above-mentioned
rivers. Its source is in Asinika Lake, a sprawling complex of arms and bays,
the northern shores of which are in latitude 50° 30′ N., its eastern portion
cut by longitude 75° W. Issuing from the northwest angle of Asinika Lake,
the Broadback flows irregularly westerly and northerly, receiving a number
of tributaries, chief of which drains a string of connected lakes south of
its general course, consisting of Lady Beatrix Lake, an irregular aggrega–
tion of bays and arms, which connects by a short, rapid-filling stream with
Kenoniska Lake, long and narrow, which empties into the Broadback through
several outlets. Beyond the Kenonisk [: ] outlets, the Broadback flows westward
for 25 miles into the eastern side of Lake Evans, the largest lake in its
course, like all others in the region, composed of long, narrow bays and
arms. It has a length in its longest part of 30 miles and a maximum width
of 18 miles. The Broadback leaves Lake Evans at its northwestern extremity,
flowing shortly into Sandy Lake, which has a length of about nine miles.
From the outlet of the latter, the river flows slightly north of west to its

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Broadback River

mouth, a distance of about 100 miles, through a well-defined valley. No
figures are available concerning its total length, but the Canada Year
Book gives its drainage area as 9,800 square miles.
It traverses a country underlain by Pre-Cambrian rocks in which hills
rise in places from 400 to 800 feet above the general level, but mainly the
country consists of an elevated plain, dropping by a series of terraces
gradually to the level of James Bay, In cutting its channel from one level
to the next, it flows over many falls and cataracts in the process. The
country is in general heavily timbered with white and black spruce, poplars,
tamarack and Jack pine, suitable mainly for pulp, but some stands of merchant–
able timber are to be found here and there.
While no important mineral occurrences have yet been discovered along
its course, the geological structure is favorable for the deposition of gold,
copper and other valuable ores.
References:
<bibl> Geological Survey of Canada. Various reports and maps. </bibl>

Buffalo River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

BUFFALO RIVER

Buffalo River, in southern Mackenzie District, northwestern Canada,
flows into the western end of Great Slave Lake, about midway between the
mouths of Hay and Little Buffalo rivers. It rises in the maze of small
lakes and muskegs bordering the foothills of the Caribou Mountains,
slightly south of latitude 60° N., and runs in a generally northwesterly
direction to Buffalo Lake, 35 miles long by about 10 at its widest. Issuing
again from the northeastern angle of Buffalo Lake, Buffalo River flows mainly
northeasterly to Great Slave Lake, a distance of 75 miles. Its drainage area
is limited because it is closely paralleled on the west by Hay River and on
the east by the Little Buffalo River, with whose headwaters it interlocks.
The proximity of the Caribou Mountains on the south is also a limiting factor.
Buffalo river and lake were explored and mapped in 1917 by Dr. A. E.
Cameron of the Geological Survey of Canada; and since it is not on any
traffic route, it has not been very much traveled in the interval. Considerable
sections of the surrounding country have agricultural possibilities, but since
most of it is in the Wood Buffalo Park, there is not mcuh likelihood that it
will be available for settlement, even after much more desirable sections,
such as the Hay River Valley, have been occupied. Its underlying geological
formations are such as might be favorable for petroleum.
Reference:
<bibl> Cameron, A.E. Summary Report . Geological Survey of Canada, 1917. </bibl>

Burntwood River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

BURNTWOOD RIVER

Burntwood River rises in Burntwood Brutnwood Lake and flows in a generally
easterly direction to Split Lake, an expansion of the Nelson River, about
250 miles in length. Burntwood Lake is a sprawling expanse of bays and
inlets in latitude 56° 30′ N. and longitude 100° 15′ W., a short distance
south of the height of land which divides the Saskatchewan-Nelson watershed
from that of the Churchill. A shallow, rapid stream in its upper reaches,
it is broken by many rapids; and although winding about considerably, it
maintains a generally northeasterly course until it empties into Threepoint
Lake, which in its main section, is about four miles each way, with a long,
narrow arm hanging from its northeast corner. From the lower extremity of
this arm, the river again continues, now on a southeastward course. In the
twenty miles between Threepoint Lake and Wuskwatin Lake, only one rapid is
encountered.
The latter lake, eight miles long by four wide, with a long bay-like
extension running off to the west from its southern end, abounds in whitefish
and small sturgeon. It is also the center of a considerable area of clay land
well suited to agriculture. Below the lake are the Wuskwatin Falls; and a
few miles beyond, the river widens into Opegano Lake. Shortly below are
the Kepuche Falls, in a stretch of river in which the current is strong.
The next ten miles to Manazo Falls consists of a long, narrow lake-like
expanse, bordered by rocky walls. At Mazano Falls, the river tumbles over a

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Burntwood River

ledge of rock; and then, for the next twenty-eight miles the river continues
through another narrow, rock-bound stretch, from half a mile to a mile in
width, more like-like than suggestive of a river.
From immediately below the Kepuche Falls, the river has followed a generally
northeasterly course, which direction it continues to its mouth, except that,
about eight miles from its destination it makes an abrupt turn, almost at
right angles, and for two miles runs directly westward. At the point of
this westward turn, the Odei River flows in from the west, after having run
a parallel course with the Burntwood for a considerable distance, at one
point coming to within a mile, and separated by a ridge of rock from a hun–
dred to a hundred and fifty feet high.
The Burntwood flows generally through a forested country, but one that
has been repeatedly burned over, and in which very little timber of commercial
grade can now be found. It is a country if low elevation; and although it is
generally underlain by Pre-Cambrian rocks, it is thickly covered by a clay
deposit left by the ancient glacial lake that once occupied a large section
of what is now northwestern Manitoba.
References:
McInnes, William. Geological Survey of Canada, Summary Report , 1906.
----. Geological Survey of Canada, Memoir No. 30, 1913.

Burwash Landing

EA-Geography – Canada
(D. M. LeBourdais)

BURWASH LANDING

Burwash Landing is situated near the north end of Kluane Lake about
186 miles west of Whitehorse. It is served by the Alaska Highway and is
also on the route of air lines operating from Whitehorse to Fairbanks.
The settlement contains a trading post and an emergency landing field,
and is an outfitting centre for big game hunting parties. Kluane Lake,
situated in southwestern Yukon, is one of the largest and most beautiful
bodies of water in the Territory. The lake lies northeast of the St. Elias
Mountains, whose snowy summits and glistening glaciers may be seen from
points along the Alaska Highway. Discoveries of gold on a number of
streams entering the lake caused a small gold rush in 1903-04. There
are small Indian settlements at Kluane, situated at the southeastern end
of the lake, and at Burwash Landing.
From: Nor' West Miner
March, April 1950

Camsell River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

CAMSELL RIVER

Camsell River, in MacKenzie District, northwestern Canada, drains a
considerable area south of Great Bear Lake, flowing into the latter. It
rises in Sarah Lake, in latitude 63° 40′ N., longitude 117° 10′ W., and
flows through a series of lakes connected by short stretches of river in
a direction slightly west of north. In its course, the extent of lake,
which is estimated at approximately 6,000 square miles, far exceeds the
amount of river (on the basis of lineal measurement), but the Camsell River
holds a common name throughout the whole distance, even though the river
sections in most cases are extremely short.
Sarah Lake lies at an elevation of 760 feet above sea level and is
about eight miles long, lying in a north-south direction. Its outlet is
from a bay at its northeastern angle, the river passing over a succession
of rapids just below the lake, soon flowing into Faber Lake, which is only
seven feet lower than Sarah Lake. It is about 20 miles long, by about 10
miles wide, and has an area of 163 square miles. A short stretch of river
and then Rae Lake expands, island-studded and spreading into innumerable
bays and inlets, the river entering at the extreme southern end. From Rae
Lake, Camsell River drops into Lac Ste Croix. These lakes, typical of their
kind in the Canadian Shield, with long bays extending in all directions from
a narrow central — if such a term can be used — section, are hard to describe

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Camsell River

since it is so hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. The
Camsell River, so-called, after flowing through the lakes enumerated and
several others, reaches Hardisty Lake, at an elevation of 699 feet, having
made a descent of 61 feet from its source in Sarah Lake in an airline dis–
tance of approximately 55 miles. The principal lake in this series is
Hottah Lake, about 40 miles long by about 10 in width, with an area of 377
square miles. It is a magnificent sheet of clear water, studded with high
rocky islands, but it does not spread in all directions like most of the
lakes in this series. Tapering to a point at its southern end, it is
broadest at its northern extremity. The Camsell River flows in at the
southern end and flows out at the eastern side about five miles south of
the northern end. After a short rapid course the river expands into Grou–
ard Lake, about 16 miles in length by about three miles wide and spreading
into a number of arms, rendering it difficult to discover the outlet. Clut
Lake, six miles long, with a large island in its center, comes next, after
which the river, now flowing swiftly, drops over a steep rapid, 10 feet high —
the first stage in the drop to the level of Great Bear Lake. Thred miles
farther northwest, the river cascades for almost a quarter of a mile over
a series of syenite rocks, known as White Eagle Falls, for a total drop of
54 feet, where it is estimated that hydro-electric power of 22,000 horse–
power could be generated.
Two more drops, of five and four feet, respectively, occur in the short
stretch of river leading to Rainy Lake, six miles long, through which the
river now passes, and half a mile below enters Conjuror Bay, the southern–
most extremity of McTavish Arm of Great Bear Lake. At its mouth, the Camsell

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Camsell River

River has a width of about 75 yards.
Camsell River was first explored in 1900 by Dr. J. Mackintosh Bell of
the Geological Survey of Canada, who was accompanied by Charles Camsell,
who was later to become a noted geologist and was from 1920 till his re–
tirement in 1946 Dep u ty Minister of Mines for Canada. Bell named the river
after his young assistant. Since then various parties of the Geological
Survey of Canada and prospectors for various mining companies have been over
the ground, but it is still largely a terra incognita . The area drained by
the river in underlain entirely by Pre-Cambrian rocks, and since such rocks
elsewhere contain minerals of economic importance, it is more than likely
that the region will some day become much more than the wilderness it now
is. This the juxtaposition of hydr o -electric power and possible mineral
resources would seem to indicate.
Reference:
<bibl> Bell, J. Mackintosh. Annual Report , Geological Survey of Canada, 1900. </bibl>

Canada, Dominion of (Arctic and Subarctic Regions)

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

CANADA, DOMINION OF (ARCTIC AND SUBARCTIC REGIONS)

Since practically all of Canada lies north of the 45th parallel, it
is distinctly a northern country; and since more than two-thirds of its
area drains into arctic waters, it might with equal propriety be described
as preponderantly subarctic. The total area of Canada, including newly-
acquired Newfoundland, is approximately 3,843,144 square miles, while the
area that drains into arctic waters (including Bering Sea) totals 2,453,538
square miles. Canada is one of the few countries whose exact land area is not
definitely known; as late as the autumn of 1948, two islands were discovered
in Hudson Bay which added approximately 5,000 square miles to the Dominion's
area; and it is possible that still other islands in different parts of the
Canadian North remain to be discovered, which will further increase the pro–
portion that lies within the arctic and subarctic regions.
Although the arctic watershed extends as far south as the headwaters of
Red River, in the Dakotas and Minnesota, and reaches to within a few miles of
the north shore of Lake Superior, the region considered here as constituting
arctic and subarctic Canada does not go so far south. Generally speaking, the
line of permafrost is looked upon as the southern boundary of the subarctic
regions; but for the purpose of this article the line has been extended to
include geographical features that, while south of the permafrost line, defi–
nitely form an integral part of the area to the north of them, such, for

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Dominion of

instance, as Nelson River, which cuts across the line of permafrost. Further–
more, while permafrost serves a useful purpose in indicating the general
boundary, the exact location of the permafrost line over the greater part of
the region is not definitely known, and, owing to a h variety of factors, is
subject to considerable fluctuation.
Consequently, for the purpose of this Encyclopedia, the area considered
as constituting the arctic and subarctic regions of Canada consists of that
part of the Province of British Columbia lying generally north of latitude
57° N., which includes the watersheds of the Stikine and Liard rivers; all
of Yukon Territory; and Mac K enzie, Keewatin, and Franklin Districts; the part
of the Province of Alberta which includes most of the watersheds of the Atha–
baska and Peace rivers; that part of the Province of Saskatchewan which
includes the watershed of the Churchill River; that part of the Province of
Manitoba including the watersheds of the rivers emptying into Hudson Bay,
excluding rivers that flow into Lake Winnipeg; that part of the Province of
Ontario that includes the watersheds of rivers flowing into Hudson and James
bays; that part of the Province of Quebec that drains into Hudson and James
bays or Hudson Strait; and that part of Newfoundland-Labrador beyond latitude
57° N.
The outstanding characteristic of this vast region is undoubtedly the
great Canadian Shield consisting mainly of Pre-Cambrian rocks, which encloses
Hudson Bay as in a horseshoe, extending from the Atlantic on the east to the
Mac K enzie Valley on the west; and from the southern boundary of the region as
above described to and including many of the islands of the Arctic Archipelago,
wholly or in part. The second characteristic of the region is the Arctic
Archipelago itself, which contains some of the largest islands in the world.

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Hudson Bay, bringing the ocean almost to the heard of the continent, is
also worthy of mention as an outstanding characteristic of the region; while
by no means of lesser importance may be mentioned such great rivers as the
Yukon and the Mackenzie, which are entirely within the arctic and subarctic
regions. Furthermore, the myriads of lakes of all sizes and shapes which
cover most of the area, and which include such giants as Great Bear, Great
Slave, and Athabaska lakes, constitute an additional remarkable characteristic.
Climatically, the region is subject to every variation of northern tem–
perature, from cool, chilly summers to hot, dry ones; and from relatively
mild winters to extremelycold ones. In some of the valleys of northern
British Columbia, [: and ] in the lee of the high Coast Range, the winters are
so mild that horses commonly winter out of doors, and similar conditions
extend into southern Yukon Territory. The Rocky Mountains provide a like
service for sections of northern Alberta, resulting in relatively mild winters;
while the July isotherm of 59° F. extends down the Mackenzie Valley as far
as latitude 64° N. The great Pre-cambrian area to the eastward — between
the Mackenzie Valley and Hudson Bay — is subject to a typical continental
climate; hot summers and cold winters, except in the vicinity of Hudson Bay,
where the presence of such a great expanse of water affects extremes both in
summer and in winter. Subarctic Quebec is caught between the waters of the
Atlantic and of Hudson and James bays, and consequently the climate over most
of that area, while subject neither to extremes of hot nor cold, is generally
cool (except inland in the southern section) and is more subject to violent
wind storms than other parts of the region under consideration.
Agriculturally, the region varies, but, generally speaking, with the
exception of one or two areas, agricultural possibilities are not extensive.

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The most important agricultural area is in northern Alberta, along the
valleys of the Athabaska and Peace rivers and in the Mackenzie River Valley,
which are extensions of the central plains section of North America. When
better transportation facilities are provided, and when the adjacent mineral
and petroleum resources are more fully developed, the area drained by the
Mackenzie River and its tributaries will undoubtedly provide homes for a
considerable agricultural population. With respect to the production of
livestook, the region, while generally beyond the northern limit of lands
suited to cattle, contains one of the world's greatest reserves of grazing
lands eminently suited to the production of reindeer and musk oxen — if the
latter should ever be domesticated.
The greatest possibilities of the region, however, lie in its mineral
resources. In northern British Columbia and Yukon Territory, most of the
mineral wealth so far recovered has been in the form of placer gold, and
possibly the richest of these deposits have already been exhausted. Neverthe–
less, these sections contain important lode-mining possibilities, although
transportation and other costs have so far prevented exploitation, except in
a few favored localities. The rocks of the Canadian Shield provide the great–
est storehouse of mineral wealth. On the western edge of the Shield, north
of Great Slave Lake, the development of a great gold-mining region is in
progress with Yellowknife as the center. South of Great Slave Lake, extensive
deposits of zinc and lead ores are known to exist, the development of which
awaits only the provision of adequate transportation. At Flinflon and Sherridon,
in northwestern Manitoba, immense deposits of copper sulphide ores are being
mined on a large scale. In northern Ontario, extending into Quebec, is one
of the greatest mining areas of the world. The mines along this zone are

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Dominion of

principally gold producers, but silver, nickel, copper and other metals
are also being produced in quantity. In the Ungava section of northern
Quebec and in Newfoundland-Labrador deposits of iron ore extending over
wide areas are being developed which it is expected will take the place
in the North American iron and steel industry of the fast-diminishing
deposits in Minnesota and Michigan. During World War II, an oil field was
brought into production in the lower Mackenzie Valley, not far from the
Arctic Circle, while surveys show that geological formations over a large
portion of the Mackenzie Valley and some of its tributaries are favorable
to the concentration of petroleum. In the same regions and in parts of
northern British Columbia, in Yukon Territory, and on many of the islands
of the Arctic Archipelago extensive coal measures exist. Especially in the
Canadian Shield sections, where the streams are generally obstructed by
rapids and waterfalls, numerous waterpower sites exist.
Practically all the streams and lakes in the region contain large
quantities of excellent fish, the chief of which are whitefish and lake
trout, while arctic trout, sturgeon, salmon, both Pacific and Atlantic,
and many others are also found in quantit i y . Fisheries on some of the more
southerly lakes have for some time been supplying fish for the large North
American cities, the fish, in many cases, making the first lap of the
journey by air.
The fur trade brought the earliest Europeans to this great region and
the fur trade is still important, although with the spread of settlement
wild life — and with it the trapper — withdraws farther into the wilder–
ness. Large areas, however, are suited to the breeding of fur-bearing
animals in captivity, and it is likely that this industry will continue
and expand.

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The greater part of continental arctic and subarctic Canada is
forested, the density varying with the locality, depending upon such factors
as shelter, soil water, etc. The uniformity of the boreal cover is perhaps
its most striking characteristic. The same species are found over practi–
cally the entire region, differing only in size and density of distribution.
Considering the size of the region and the extent of the forested area, the
amount of merchantable timber is relatively small, but vast areas exist that
are capable of providing large quantities of pulpwood; and over the greater
part of the region timber sufficient for local construction requirements is
available.
Except in a number of localities where mining development has produced
quickly-growing towns and cities, much as Yellowknife, Flinflon, Timmins and
Kirkland Lake, it is a region practically destitute of people. The northern
coast and some of the islands of the Arctic Archipelago are thinly populated
by Eskimos, south of which a few Indians endeavor to follow their traditional
pursuits in the face of advancing white settlement. According to figures
derived from the Canada Census, 1941, the total population of the whole
region, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Coast Range, and from the southern
boundary of the subarctic region to the Arctic Ocean and the islands that
lie within it, is probably not more than 85,000, of whom 37,557 are Indians
and 7,205 are Eskimos. Most of the people other than Indians and Eskimos
live in the cities and towns that have been built around the mines along
the southern edge. Churchill may yet prove an exception if its importance
as a seaport should ever become sufficiently recognized.
Aside from the Cordilleran section of the West, the mainland part of
the region is a land of low relief. The Cordilleran section, however,
constitutes a mountainous zone about 600 miles in width. The Mackenzie

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and Richardson mountains form the boundary between the District of Mackenzie
and Yukon Territory; the Cassiar and other smaller chains rise above the
inland plateau; the granitic Coast Range, fringing the Pacific, contains the
highest mountains in Canada and some of the highest on the continent.
The portion of British Columbia here considered as subarctic comprises
about 109,000 square miles. Unlike that part of the province farther south,
its eastern boundary is not formed by the Rocky Mountains, but by the 120th
meridian of west longitude, which constitutes the boundary north of the point
where it intersects the crest of the mountains, as far as latitude 60° N.
Consequently, British Columbia, at this point, possesses territory east of the
mountains as well as west of them; and it is in this section that the most
extensive agricultural possibilities in subarctic British Columbia are to be
found, for this area belongs to the great central plains section of Canada.
Subarctic British Columbia, as here defined, is drained principally by
two rivers which, together, practically extend in an east-west direction from
the Pacific Coast to the eastern border of the province. The Stikine River,
335 miles in length, rises between latitudes 57° and 58° N., and, after a big
bend to the north, turns southwestward and flows into the Pacific Ocean. Since
this part of the province is fronted by the Alaska Panhandle, the Stikine
passes out of British Columbia about 35 miles from the coast to cross this
strip before discharging into the sea. Near the big bend of the Stikine, the
Dease River has its rise in the lake of the same name and flows northeasterly
for 180 miles to its junction with the Liard, which occurs a short distance
below where the latter crosses the boundary between British Columbia and Yukon
Territory. The Liard continues its course southwesterly and then northeasterly
until it again crosses the 60th parallel at about the point where the boundary

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between Yukon and Mackenzie territories impinges upon the 60th parallel. In
the southern corner of the area, the Finlay River has its rise, the most
distant tributary of the great Peace River; its waters eventually mingle with
those of the Liard after both have become part of the mighty Mackenzie roll–
ing on its way to the Arctic Ocean.
Aside from a few small lakes like Dease Lake, already mentioned, the area
has relatively few lakes, but in its northwestern corner, lying partly in
British Columbia and partly in Yukon Territory, are a group of lakes of con–
siderable size of which Tagish, Atlin, and Teslin are the largest. They lie
roughly parallel to each other and consist of long narrow arms winding between
high mountains and they are of wuch beauty that their loveliness cannot forever
remain hidden.
Telegraph Creek, once the center of extensive placer-mining operations,
and the head of river transportation on the Stikine, and Atlin, on the lake
of the same name, also once an important placer-mining center, are the only
communities of any size within the area, and they are both small places.
According to the 1941 Census, the district including Telegraph Creek had a
total population of 218 persons of whom but 50 lived in the town. Atlin, in
1947, had a population of 518 persons. The Alaska Highway (q.v.), cutting
across the northeastern corner of the province, may result in other more
populous communities if it should also make possible the development of the
resources of the area.
Yukon Territory lies north of British Columbia, extending westward to
the 141st meridian, which constitutes the boundary between Yukon and Alaska
territories, and north to the Arctic Ocean. The crests of the Mackenzie
and Richardson mountains form its eastern boundary. Since the mountains lie

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Dominion of

in a northwest-southeast direction, Yukon Territory has but a short strip
of arctic coastline. Yukon Territory occupies the extreme northwestern
corner of the Dominion of Canada, comprising 207,076 square miles.
Yukon Territory consists of three parallel physiographic provinces,
running northwest and southeast. The most easterly one consists of the
Mackenzie and Richardson mountains; next, to the west, is the Yukon, or
Interior, Plateau, a region of upland cut into masses of hills or low
mountains by the streams o that feed the great river which forms its axis;
farther west, the Coast Range provides the third physiographic province, con–
sisting of high, granitic mountains bordering the Pacific Ocean. This section
does not continue along the western boundary of Yukon Territory, but fades
into the Yukon Plateau section and occupies only the extreme southwestern
angle of the Territory.
The Yukon River, rising near the boundary between Yukon Territory and
British Columbia, runs northwesterly through the Yukon Plateau and crosses
the boundary into Alasla Territory, in which both river and physiographic
province are continued westward to the sea. Yukon River, fifth largest
on the North American continent, is navigable for the greater part of its
length, and provides a highway which, with its navigable tributaries, renders
the greater part of both Yukon and Alaska territories accessible.
Yukon Territory first came into prominence in the late nineties of the
nineteenth century when placer gold was discovered in the gravels of certain
tributaries of the Yukon River in the area that soon became world famous as
the Kondike (q.v.). Within a few years, millions of dollars in gold were
washed from the Klondike gravels, after which the thousands of gold seekers
and the other thousands who live on the results of the miners' efforts drifted
away; former booming cities and towns became ghost towns, consisting largely

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Dominion of

of empty shacks occupied by the few whose hope never expires, and others
in the employ of huge corporations engaged in re-working the old diggings
by means of giant dredgers. Previous to and following World War I, lode
mining was begun in the Mayo district, in the Stewart River valley, where
rice silver-lead ores were discovered. For a time high hopes were enter–
tained that a new lease of life had been gained for Yukon Territory. The
high-grade ore was shipped to smelters in the United States and development
largely ceased when this ore became exhausted. From time to time copper
properties have been operated near Whitehorse, but ore reserves sufficient
to justify the building of a smelter have never been accumulated, and with–
out a smelter the existing ores cannot be mined at a profit.
Along the Yukon River, north of Whitehorse, deposits of excellent
bituminous coal exist in almost unlimited quantities; but without a market
it is of little value. Geological conditions are favorable for other coal
measures in both the Interior Plateau and Mountain sections, but without
any prospect of market for the coal, prospectors are not interested in
searching for further deposits.
According to the Census of 1941, Yukon Territory had a population of
4,914 persons, of whom 1,508 were Indians, yet in the days of the Klondike
boom the Census of 1901 registered 27,219 persons, most of whom were in
and about Dawson and Whitehorse. With the slackening of the boom, the
population of both places dwindled until Dawson had less than 1,000 and
Whitehorse about 600. During World War II, Whitehorse became an important
point, with a greatly augmented population. Since the end of the war,
however, it has returned to its previous condition as a frontier community
too far from markets for the development of its resources, but hopefully

EA-Geog. LeBourdas: Canada, Dominion of

awaiting the day when transportation facilities and other requirements
shall be available.
The Yukon River provided the first highway when, in gold-rush days,
numerous steamers of all sorts and sizes plied from St. Michael, on Bering
Sea, to Dawson and Whitehorse. Also during the first years of the gold
rush, a narrow-guage railway was built from tidewater at Skagway, Alaska,
northward to Whitehorse, the head of transportation on the Yukon River, a
distance of 111 miles. The railway — the White Pass and Yukon — is still
being operated. The Northwest Staging Route, consisting of a line of air–
ports maintained by the Government of Canada, crosses the Territory to con–
nect with airlines in Alaska. Regular mail and passenger services are main–
tained by Canadian Pacific Airlines from Edmonton and Vancouver to White–
horse and Dawson. The Alaska Highway, which connects Dawson Creek, B.C.
with Fairbanks, Alaska, also crosses Yukon Territory.
Yukon Territory has a typical continental climate, hot in summer and
cold in winter. Although the precipitation is light, the presence of
permafrost ensures an adequate supply of moisture at the roots of plants.
While horses winter on the range in southern Yukon, the Territory is not
suited to ordinary stock-raising, but large areas are suited to reindeer
grazing. Field crops can be successfully grown in some of the valleys in
southern Yukon; wheat planted on a farm in the Yukon River valley has been
harvested in 87 days. Forest growth is typical of other parts of subarctic
Canada, thinning out toward the Arctic Circle, and absent on the coasta l
plain.
The District of Mackenzie, comprising an area of 6 527,490 square miles,
adjoins Yukon Territory on the east, and, like it, extends from the 60th
parallel to the Arctic Ocean. Its eastern boundary is formed by the 102nd

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meridian, which also constitutes the boundary between Saskatchewan and
Manitoba, to the south. Like Yukon Territory, it consists of three dis–
tinct physiographic provinces; a strip of the Canadian Shield from about
350 miles to 500 miles wide and about 630 miles long; the Mackenzie Lowland
section, about 300 miles wide at the 60 parallel and tapering to the north,
providing a background for the great river from which it receives its name;
and the Cordilleran physiographic province, made up of the Mackenzie Mountains
extending to about 66° N., when they merge into the Richardson Mountains, both
extensions of the great Rocky Mountain chain, but differing from it in some
respects.
The Mackenzie River, with its system of lakes, constitutes the predomi–
nating features of Mackenzie District. The Athabaska and Peace rivers, which
contribute most to its volume, have their rise far to the southwest, beyond
the southern border of Mackenzie District. Lake Athabaska is also south of
the border, but the two largest lakes, Great Slave and Great Bear, are wholly
within the district, East of these lakes lies across the contact between the
Pre-Cambrian rocks of the Canadian Shield and the Palaeozoic rocks which pre–
dominate to the westward; and it is along this contact that the most important
mineral occurrences have been found, and along which the prospect of other
discoveries seems most promising.
The Mackenzie River proper flows out of the western end of Great Slave
Lake in latitude 61° N., longitude, 117° W., and follows a generally north–
westerly course for slightly over 1,000 miles, discharging into the Arctic
Ocean through an extensive delta in latitude 69° N., longitude, 134-136° W.
Its southern tributary, the Athabaska, rising in the Rocky Mountains south
of latitude 53° N., empties into Athabaska Lake, which is drained into Great

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Slave Lake by Slave River, 300 miles in length. Had the Mackenzie name been
extended to apply to the latter, it would not have been inconsistent with
the practice elsewhere throughout the region, e.g .the Churchill, Thelon, Back,
etc. The Slave, about 30 miles below its source, takes in the Peace River
after its course across the Alberta Plateau from the gap in the Rocky Mountains
through which it flows from its sources on the western flank of that great
mountain chain. Liard River, also rising far to the west of the mountain
barrier through which it likewise cuts a path, joins the Mackenzie about 200
miles below the outlet of Great Slave Lake. Many tributaries flow into the
Mackenzie from both sides, but most of them are short because of the proximity,
on the east, of the height of land not far from the western edge of the Cana–
dian Shield, and of the mountains on the west. One of these, short, but not
inconsequential, is Bear River, flowing in from the east with the drainage from
Great Bear Lake. Peel River, which like the Liard, cuts through the mountains
from its sources in Yukon Territory, enters the Mackenzie below the beginning
of the Mackenzie Delta, and is an important stream.
Since such a large part of Mackenzie District is comprised within the
Canadian Sh ie ei ld, it contains myriads of the type of lakes which occupy de–
pressions gouged out of the rocks by the glaciers during the Ice Age. These
are connected by short, rapids- and falls-filled streams, the whole forming
a maze-like network covering the country. In a class by themselves are Great
Slave (11,170 sq. mi.) and Great Bear (11,660 sq. mi.) lakes. They differ
from the lakes in the Canadian Shield because they occupy basins partly
gouged out of the softer Palaeozoic rocks, and also because they provide
great reservoirs for the waters of the Mackenzie system. This is more par–
ticularly true of Great Slave Lake, through whose basin pour the waters from

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Dominion of

great rivers entering from the southwest, as well as other smaller streams
flowing in from every side. Great Bear Lake, on the other hand, although
larger than Great Slave, is fed only by the drainage from a relatively small
area surrounding its shores.
Like other parts of northern Canada, Mackenzie District first attracted
the attention of early fur traders, and although the areas which drain into
the Arctic Ocean were not included in the great trading preserve granted to
the Hudson's Bay Company in 1760 by King Charles Ii of England, it was an
officer of that company, Samuel Hearne, who was the first European to visit
what later became Mackenzie District when, in 1770-72, he made his historic
visit to the Coppermine River. In 1778, Peter Pond, an officer of the
Northwest Company, competitor of the Hudson's Bay Company, reached Lake
Athabaska, and subsequently Great Slave Lake. He was followed in 1788 by
Alexander Mackenzie who, the following year, descended the Mackenzie River
to its mouth. Thenceforth the river was an important artery of the fur trade,
and the principal establishments along its course were built by fur traders
and, even now, most of them are devoted principally to the fur trade.
The first attempt at commercial development on any considerable scale
was made in 1920, when Imperial Oil Limited, through a subsidiary company,
drilled a number of oil wells in the Mackenzie River valley at Norman Wells,
50 mils below the mouth of Bear River. Although oil in commercial quantities
was discovered, no market for it existed at that time, and the wells were
capped to await the advent of a market. This field was greatly extended
during World War II, when, under the Canol Project (q.v.), oil was secured
from Norman Wells for transmission by pipe line to a refinery built at
Whitehorse for use on the Alaska Highway and the Northwest Staging Route.

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In the meantime, a limited local market had been established. In 1930,
Gilbert LaBine (q.v.) had flown to Great Bear Lake from Edmonton and had
located, on the southeastern shore of Great Bear Lake, veins containing silver
and pitchblends, the ore from which radium and uranium are extracted. This
subsequently became the Eldorado mine at Port Radium, operated by a private
company until 198 1944 when, because of the importance of uranium as a source
of atomic energy, the mine and the whole undertaking of the company were expro–
priated by the Government of Canada. As a source of power for mining operations,
oil from the Norman Wells field greatly facilitated the development of the
Eldorado mine, and to meet this need Imperial Oil Limited set up a small re–
finery at Norman Wells in 1931, which was enlarged in 1939.
About 1934, gold was discovered in considerable quantities in the vicinity
of Yellowknife River, which flows into the bay of the same name on the east
side of the North Arm of Great Slave Lake. In succeeding years other dis–
coveries were made in the area and within a short while several mines were
in operation, resulting in the establishment of a considerable community.
Because of shortage of manpower and equipment, the mines were largely shut
down during World War II, but since the cessation of hostilities, and es–
pecially after machinery and other necessary materials have become more
available, development of the area has advanced rapidly. The town of
Yellowknife is an important center; and the field which it serves has been
extended northwestward for more than 200 miles, promising eventually to
become one of the greatest mining regions on the continent.
The greater part of Mackenzie District is forested. The northern limit
of trees crosses the eastern boundary of the district almost due east of
Great Slave Lake and runs slightly north of west until northwest of the

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Dominion of

eastern end of that lake, continuing then in a northwesterly direction to
within a few miles of the western end of Coronation Gulf, thence, a few
miles inland, parallel to the Arctic Coast across the Mackenzie Delta west–
ward into Alaska. The area west and south of that line is more or less
heavily forested, depending upon such factors as soil, water, shelter,
altitude, etc. The principal varieties consist of eight, five conifers and
three deciuous trees. Of the former, white spruce is the most important;
it can be found as far north as trees grow, and also shoots tongues eastward
along the valleys of streams into the tundra lands of the Canadian Shield.
It grows best in the river valleys, and even in the Mackenzie Delta trees
measuring 18 inches and over on the stump and 100 feet high are not uncommon.
Black spruce is usually found wherever the white variety grows, but never
reaches the dimensions of the latter. In some sections of the district it
is sufficiently plentiful to provide ample supplies of pulpwood, if and when
transportation conditions make its manufacture commercially feasible. Bank–
sian pine, growing on sandy or gravelly ridges, is found generally throughout
the Mackenzie Lowland. Balsam fir grows chiefly in the valleys of the
mountain section and on the lower slopes of the mountains. Balsam poplar,
aspen, and white birch are found over most of the forested area, depending
upon the nature of the land.
In moist spots and along the borders of lakes and streams, dense growths
of alders and willows are widely distributed within the forested area; and
these, dwarfed considerably, are found pretty generally throughout the tundra
region as well. Associated with them, both in the forest and tundra regions,
are Labrador tea, bog rosemary, mountain cranberry and other shrubs. Berry-
producing shrubs other than those mentioned above are common all over the

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district. Grasses and sedges grow profusely in places where sufficient
soil has accumulated; while the rockiest land is carpeted with ma n y species
of mosses.
The vegetation of the Arctic regions, both within the forested area
and on the tundra, provides an immense grazing area capable of supporting
an extensive reindeer industry. Once vast herds of caribou roamed the
greater part of Mackenzie District, and wherever they found sustenance
reindeer can also thrive. In 1935, the Canadian Government took delivery of
a herd of 2,370 Alaskan reindeer that had been driven overland from Alaska,
and they were settled in a selected area on the eastern side of the Macken–
zie Valley, not far south of the arctic coast. By the summer of 1948, they
had increased to 6,500 head, and could easily, if properly cared for, become
the means of stocking the tundra lands throughout the Canadian North.
Large areas of good agricultural land can be found in the southern
and southwestern parts of Mackenzie District, especially along the river
valleys. The agricultural possibilities of the Mackenzie Valley itself are
considerable, and as far north as the Arctic Circle, and even considerably
beyond, vegetables and forage crops have for a great many years been raised
successfully.
Until the coming of the airplane, the principal artery of communication
into and through Mackenzie District was the Mackenzie waterway system, which,
in summer, provides an uninterrupted course for river steamers of over 1,300
miles from Fort Smith, below the cataracts on Slave River, 100 miles north
of Lake Athabaska, to the Arctic Ocean. Above the rapids, where a 16-mile
portage is necessary, Slave River, Lake Athabaska and the Athabaska River
provide an additional 300 miles of good river navigation from the end of steel

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at Waterways. Above that point, with the exception of 90 miles suited only
to navigation by small boats, the Athabaska River is navigable for small
steamers to Athabaska Landing (now the town of Athabaska) and beyond.
Athabaska, 100 miles north of Edmonton, was connected with the latter by
road in 1885 and by rail in 1912. The railway again tapped the Athabaska
River in 1921 when it reached Waterways, on Clearwater River, a tributary
which enters the Athabaska at Fort McMurray, a few miles to the west.
This largely put an end to heavy river traffic from Athabaska Landing.
The first highway to reach any part of Mackenzie District from out–
side points was completed between Grimshaw, Alberta, on the Northern Alberta
Railway, and Hay River, at the mouth of the river of the same name, near
the outlet of Great Slave Lake, in 1948. It was used before then as a
winter road for tractor trains carrying supplies to the mining region at
Yellowknife; but the Federal and Alberta governments have cooperated to
convert it into an all-year road.
Mackenzie District abounds in waterpowers. The cataracts on Slave
River, with an estimated capacity of 500,000 h.p., are just south of the
boundary line, but the power developed there would naturally be available
within the district. Perhaps the most suitable stream for for power
development is the Lockhart River, which, between Artillery Lake and the
eastern end of Great Slave Lake, a distance of 25 miles, has a drop of
700 feet. A succession of lakes above Artillery Lake would provide
reservoirs for water storage. Hay River, which enters Great Slave Lake
near its western end, is interrupted by two falls, of 140 and 52 feet,
respectively, between 40 and 50 miles above its mouth. Taltson River,

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entering Great Slave Lake from the south, a few miles east of the mouth
of Slave River, drops over a series of falls, at one point providing a
head of about 130 feet. Snowdrift River, which also flows into the south
side of Great Slave Lake, has a fall of about 500 feet in about six miles.
Bear River, Coppermine River and Camsell River are potential sources of
waterpower in the northern portion of the district, while in the southwest
corner of the district, the South Nehanni River, at Virginia Falls, pro–
vides a head of 315 feet. The first hydro-electric power actually developed
within the district was for the purpose of supplying mines and other con–
sumers at Yellowknife when 4,700 h.p. was generated on the Yellowknife River
between Bluefish and Prosperous lakes, about 20 miles northeast of the town.
This was subsequently augmented by a power installation on Snare River,
about 90 miles northwest of Yellowknife. The Prosperous Lake project was
built by the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada, Limited,
but the Snare River installation was financed by the Federal Government.
According to the Census of 1941, the population of Mackenzie District
was 5,360, of whom 4,090 were Indians belonging to the various subdivisions
of the Athapaskan nation, and 379 were Eskimos, inhabiting the northern
coastline. Since 1941, however, the population of the district has largely
increased owing to the development of mines in the Yellowknife field, as well
as through increased activity at Port Radium and Norman Wells.
Mackenzie District is administered by the Government of Canada as part
of the Northwest Territories. The administrative body, made up of senior
civil wervants at Ottawa, consists of a commissioner, a deputy commissioner,
five council members, and a secretary. Although administrative offices are
maintained at Fort Smith, just within the southern boundary of the district,

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Dominion of

and at Yellowknife, the coundil sits at Ottawa. For purposes of parliamentary
representation, the district is merged with Yukon Territory, the two being
represented in the House of Commons at Ottawa by a single member.
The airplane has been an important factor in the development of Macken–
zie District since its use was initiated by Imperial Oil Limited in 1920-21.
The principal commercial service is now maintained by Canadian Pacific Air–
lines, which provides a daily service from Edmonton to the principal centers,
with less frequent services to other points as far north as the Arctic Ocean.
All mail is now carried by air, with daily service to the more important
points and others less frequently depending upon the need.
The District of Keewatin, comprising 228,160 square miles, occupies the
territory north of the 60th parallel of north latitude, extending to the
Arctic Coast, between the 102nd meridian of west longitude and the west
shore of Hudson Bay. It also includes three islands in Hudson Bay, but
excludes Boothia and Melville peninsulas, which are included in Franklin
District. It consists mainly of a rolling plateau, sloping eastward to
Hudson Bay and northward to the Arctic; north of latitude 65° N. the drain–
age is toward the Arctic, while south of that line it is eastward to Hudson
Bay. The principal river in the Arctic watershed is the Back River, 605 miles
long, which rises west of the boundary between Keewatin and Mackenzie districts,
and, like most rivers within the Canadian Shield, forms the connection between
a series of lakes in its course to the ocean, which it enters at Chantrey
Inlet, in latitude 67° 07′ N., longitude, 96° 40′ W.
The principal river in the Hudson Bay drainage system is the Thelon,
which, with its tributary the Dubawnt, cuts across the whole width of the
district, discharging into Baker Lake, at the head of Chesterfield Inlet.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Dominion of

It is navigable for the greater part of its length and provides a means of
access into the heart of the Canadian Shield. Farther east, the Kazan River
flows into Baker Lake from the southwest, draining an area to the south and
east of the Thelon-Dubawnt watershed.
Keewatin District is covered by a maze of lakes, connected in charac–
teristic Canadian Shield fashion by rapid streams. The largest of these is
Dubawnt Lake, 1,600 square miles in extent, which is both fed and drained by
the Dubawnt River; Garry Lake, 980 square miles, is one of the many lakes
in the Back River system; and Yathkyed Lake, 860 square miles in extent, is
the largest of many in the Kazan system. All are wll stocked with excellent
fish, of which the chief are lake trout, whitefish, and salmon trout, although
many others also abound.
The climate over the greater part of Keewatin District is continental,
with hot summer days and extremely cold weather in winter. Agricultural
possibilities are negligible, limited to the growing of hardy vegetables
in more favored spots. The greater part of the district is north of the
tree line, which cuts the coast of Hudson Bay south of its border. Some
distance inland from the coast, the line curves northward to about 62° 32′ N.,
and then bears off to the westward into Mackenzie District. Spruce, both
white and black, and tamarack are the principal trees found in the Keewatin
forest. The tundra area is covered with the usual carpet of grasses and
sedges, where the ground is not covered with mosses. Owing to the prevalence
of the latter, Keewatin District is particularly well suited to the reindeer
industry, if and when it becomes established.
The chief possibility for commercial development in the district lies
in its Pre-Cambrian rocks, which underlie practically the whole area. So far,

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Dominion of

very little of value has been discovered, but lack of transportation which
makes prospecting difficult will doubtless postpone any large-scale develop–
ment until other more accessible and more favorable areas have been exploited.
Formations favorable to mineral occurrences have been discovered over a con–
siderable area along the coast of Hudson Bay, south of Chesterfield Inlet,
and it is possible that development will begin in that quarter since it is
readily accessible from the sea.
While the subarctic region cannot be considered as including any very
considerable portion of the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba,
their northern parts more definitely belong to the territory lying to the
northward of them than to that farther south. Lake Athabaska, for instance,
is part of the arctic watershed; and while its agricultural lands and mineral
and oil resources will undoubtedly be developed in connection with the more
southerly portions of the Province of Alberta, they will also contribute in
considerable measure to the development of the areas farther [: ] north.
They will also provide justification for an extension of transportation and
other facilities still farther north.
Historically, the Athabaska country has always been considered as part
of the Mackenzie system. In the days of the fur trade, the canoe route to
the Mackenzie crossed Methye Portage from the headwaters of Churchill River
to the Athabaska River by means of Clearwater River. The Churchill River,
which rises near the western boundary of the Province of Saskatchewan and
flows in a generally easterly direction across the northern parts of Sas–
katchewan and Manitoba, discharges into Hudson Bay at the port of Churchill
in latitude 58° 47′ N. This river, about 1,000 miles in length, is charac–
teristic of those in the Canadian Shield, connecting as it does numerous lakes

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Dominion of

by short stretched of river filled with rapids and waterfalls. The Churchill
in its course receives many tributaries on both sides which, like the master
stream, consist of short bits of river obstructed by rapids and falls drain–
ing series of lakes.
Considerable areas of good agricultural land, varying in accordance
with the depth of soil, moisture and other factors, exist south of the
Churchill River, especially in northwestern Saskatchewan; while in its lower
stretches, in the Province of Manitoba, extensive tundra areas suggest the
possibility at some future day of fairly large-scale reindeer grazing. The
chief resource of the area, however, is likely to be its minerals; and while
little mining activity has yet occurred along the Churchill River, extensive
deposits of copper sulphides have been [: ] discovered a short distance to
the south, at Flinflon and Sherridon, just east of the Saskatchewan-Manitoba
boundary; and at Wekusko (Herb) Lake, farther east, gold mines are in opera–
tion. Power for the operation of the mines at Flinflon and Sherridon comes
from installations on the Churchill River. Farther east still, in the Knee
Lake, God's Lake and Snow Lake areas of Manitoba, a number of producing gold
mines are in operation, while many other prospects await the provision of
cheaper transportation facilities.
The building of the Hudson Bay Railway, finished in 1929, from The Pas,
near the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border, to Churchill, a distance of 400 miles,
has helped considerably to open up the region lying west of Hudson Bay, but
lack of connecting railways or highways still leaves a huge area without
the transportation facilities required for proper development.
While the Saskatchewan River, whose waters ultimately discharge into
Hudson Bay, is in that sense part of the subarctic region, it is almost

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Dominion of

entirely linked to the prairie section of Canada and cannot therefore be
included in this account; but the Nelson River, which drains Lake Winnipeg
and carries the waters of the Saskatchewan and many other rivers that dr a in
the prairie sections into Hudson Bay, may definitely be included.
The northern and northwestern parts of the Province of Ontario, since
they drain into Hudson and James bays, may also be included in the subarctic
regions of Canada. This area consists of a fringe of territory extending
from the Manitoba-Ontario boundary southward along the shores of Hudson
and James bays to the Ontario-Quebec boundary. A lowland belt from 200 to
250 miles wide extends along the shores of Hudson and James bays which is
underlain by Palaeozoic rocks. Part of this south and west of James Bay,
consisting of about 16,000,000 acres, is known as the Clay Belt, and is
considered to be good [: ] arable land. A large part of it is fairly heavily
timbered, containing large tracts of pulpwood. To the west and south of
the Clay Belt, the country is part of the Canadian Shield, covered with
lakes and the usual network of small streams broken by rapids and waterfalls.
Most of the rivers flowing into Hudson and James bays rise within the Cana–
dian Shield, descending an abrupt escarpment, dropping in some places as
much as 500 feet within a few miles, in order to attain the lowland level.
The principal rivers flowing into Hudson Bay are the Severn and the Winisk,
while the Albany and Moose (with the latter's important tributary the Abitibi)
flow into James Bay.
Commencing in 1903, the Government of the Province of Ontario began the
building of a railway, the Timiskaming and Northern Ontario (since known as
the Ontario Northland), northward from North Bay on Lake Nipissing, to tap
the Clay Belt and eventually James Bay. Built by stages, the railway reached

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Dominion of

James Bay at Moosonee, at the mouth of Moose River, in 1932. While it
had been projected mainly to open up an agricultural region, the first
fruits of its building were the discovery of valuable silver deposits at
Cobalt, little more than 100 miles from North Bay, and later the discovery
of the extremely rich Porcupine and Kirkland Lake goldfields. The National
Transcontinental line of the Canadian National Railways from Quebec City
to Winnipeg connects with the Ontario Northland at Cochrane, which is
within the Clay Belt. The National Transcontinental, built largely through
Canadian Shield territory, in northern Ontario, traverses the southern edge
of the Clay Belt before again reaching the Canadian Shield to cross an
area in which a number of producing gold mines have been developed. This
section of northern Ontario produces large quantities of pulpwood and impor–
tant mills are located at Iroquois Falls and at Kapuskasing, both of which
are within the limits of the Clay Belt.
Subarctic Quebec consists of an area of about 343,259 square miles
comprising the territory north of the height of land which separates the
St. Lawrence watershed from that of Hudson and James bays and Hudson Strait,
usually referred to as the Ungava Peninsula. It consists of an elevated
tableland which attains its greatest elevation along its eastern border and
slopes northward to Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay and westward to Hudson and
James bays. The descent occurs in a succession of steps and the many rivers
fall over rocky escarpments, resulting in much potential waterpower.
Ungava, with Newfoundland-Labrador, forms the northeastern angle of the
Canadian Shield. In many places it is known to be highly mineralized, but
lack of transportation has until recently prevented development. Gold is
found at widely separated places, as well as copper and lead; but the mineral

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Dom in ion of

that is bringing about the development of the country is iron, extensive
deposits of which are being opened up by large corporations operating
under concessions from the Quebec and Newfoundland governments. Properly
to exploit these iron deposits, a railway is being built northward a dis–
tance of 360 miles from the St. Lawrence River, and will make possible the
development of other nearby mineral areas.
The principal rivers flow westward into James and Hudson bays. Because
of the many falls along their courses many portages are required, and they
are navigable only for canoes. The Koksoak, the chief river flowing northward,
which, with its tributary the Kaniapiskau, is 535 miles in length, discharging
into the southern end of Ungava Bay, is deep enough to accommodate ocean-
going boats for some distance above its mouth.
Typical of Pre-Cambrian country, Ungava is a land of sprawling, irregular,
island-studded lakes, ranging in size from mere ponds to Lake Mistassini,
840 square miles in extent. Nearly always, they occupy rocky depressions
and rarely have sand or gravel beaches, with very little weeds or swamp.
The southern part of the area, northward to latitude 54° N., is heavily
forested; but, except in isolated spots, the trees thin out beyond that line;
and a short distance south of Ungava Bay the grass- and moss-covered tundra
begins. The principal trees, as elsewhere in subarctic Canada, are white
and black spruce, balsam fir, tamarack, Banksian pine and balsam and aspen
poplar. In the southern sections, considerable stands of merchantable timber
exist, but distance from market prohibits its use. Vast areas of pulpwood
also exist, which are likewise still beyond the range of marketability. The
railway referred to above will open up some of these timber areas.
Except in the southern section and along the southeastern coast of James

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Dominion of

Bay, the possibilities for agriculture are negligible. The tundra regions,
which once grazed huge herds of caribou, may some day provide pasturage for
reindeer, but that day is probably far in the future considering the extent
of grazing lands in other parts of the Canadian North much more accessible
to market.
The lakes and rivers abound in fish, lake trout and whitefish being
perhaps the most common, while salmon, brook and arctic trout and sturgeon
are found in many of the rivers. Codfish are abundant along the coast of
Hudson and James bays, while the white whale, a species of porpoise, is also
common there.
The first trading post established by the Hudson's Bay Company was
built at the mouth of Rupert's River, which flows into the southeastern
angle of James Bay, and it has been in continuous operation since 1668. The
fur trade has been the principal occupation of the people of Ungava for
almost three centuries and is still their chief business. Excessive trapping
and forest fires in recent years have greatly reduced the numbers of fur bearing
animals, but it is likely that, in certain parts of the country, the fur
trade will continue for a considerable time to be an important industry.
The chief geographical feature of the peninsula is undoubtedly Ungava
Bay which, like a miniature Hudson Bay, extends for about 140 miles southward
from the south shore of Hudson Strait and is about the same distance wide at
its mouth. A number of important rivers, including the Koksoak, discharge
into the bay, which contains many islands.
The only part of the Province of Newfoundland which may be included in
subarctic Canada is that portion of the eastern mainland of Canada lying
between the watershed dividing the Hudson Bay and Atlantic drainage basins,

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Domion of

northward to about latitude 57° N., to the northern tip of Labrador at Cape
Chidley, in latitude 60° 30′ N. This stip of coast is rugged and high,
mountains which rise abruptly from the sea attaining in places altitudes
up to 5,000 feet.
The District of Franklin comprises the islands of the Arctic Archipelago
lying north of the northeastern part of the Canadian mainland as well as
Melville (24,156 square miles) and Boothia (12,960 square miles) peninsulas,
having atotal area of 549,243 square miles. The Arctic Archipelago occupies
a huge triangular area with its apex at the top of Ellesmere Island in lati–
tude 83° 05′ N., its base extending east and west from longitude 61° W. to
125° W. It contains 17 islands each with an area of more than 1,000 square
miles; about 40 with areas of over 100 square miles each; and many smaller
ones. The largest, Baffin Island, with an area of 197,754 square miles, is
the easternmost of the group, extending from longitude 61° W. to 90° W., and
lying in a northwesterly direction. Its extent north and south is from 61°
61° N. latitude to 74° N. [: ] Next in size are Victoria Island, with 80,340
square miles, and Ellesmore Island, with 77,392 square miles. Immediately
north of Baffin Island, separated from it by Lancaster Sound, is Devon Island
(21,606 square miles), and north of the latter is Ellesmere, separated from
Greenland on the east by a narrow channel.
The Arctic Archipelago is divided into two general groups by the line of
Lancaster Sound, Barrow Strait, Viscount Melville Sound and McClure Strait.
Somerset Island (9,594 square miles) lies west of the northern end of Baffin
Island, immediately north of Boothia Peninsula, with Prince of Wales Island
(13,736 square miles) to the west of Somerset Island. Victoria Island,
extending from longitude 100° 30′ W. to 126° 30′ W., lies west of Prince of

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Dominion of

Wales Island, with Banks Island (25,675 square miles) still farther west.
These islands are all in the southern group. North of the Lancaster Sound -
McClure Strait line, Axel Heiberg Island (13,583 square miles) lies immediately
west of Ellesmere Island, while Bathurst and Melville islands ( islands 16,503 square
miles) lie directly west of Devon Island, with Prince Patrick Island to the
northwest of Melville Island.
From a geological standpoint, the Arctic Archipelago is largely part of
the Canadian Shield, but Palaeozoic rocks and some of later age from a belt
through the central islands and include most of the western and far northern
islands. Along the east coast of Baffin Island, from Cumberland Sound on the
south to Lancaster Sound on the north, a rugged mountain range of Pre-Cambrian
rocks rises in places to altitudes of 10,000 feet, with an average from 5,000
to 7,000 feet. Mountains similarly high are also found in Ellesmere Island.
The northwestern part of Baffin Island as well as most of Somerset Island
consists of sedimentary rocks. Devon and Ellesmere islands are underlain by
granitic rocks along their eastern coasts, but these dip below sedimentary
formations toward the west, where the coasts are low.
Much or all of the Arctic Archipelago was covered with ice during the
last Ice Age, and areas of permanent ice caps, glaciers or snowfields still
cover large sections of Ellesmere Island, much of Devon and parts of north–
eastern Baffin Island.
While very little search has yet been made for economic minerals; native
copper has been found on Baffin Island, and coal has been found on a number of
the islands in the regions underlain by Palaeozoic rocks. In the same regions,
the prospects for oil are considered good.
Outside of a few trading posts and government stations no settlements

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Dominion of

yet exist in Franklin District. The population consequently consists almost
entirely of Eskimos. Each summer the Government of Canada dispatches in
supplies, and providing passage for personnel going to and from the different
stations as well as for a few others having some reason to visit the North.
During World War II, an air base was established under the joint aus–
pices of Canada and the United States of Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island, which
is linked with other similarly established bases on islands in Hudson Bay
and on the Canadian mainland; but no commercial air bases have yet been
established. Also under joint auspices, meteorological stations, connected
with the outside world by radio, have been set up on a number of islands in
the Arctic Archipelago, the most northerly being one on Ellesmere Island.
The discovery and exploration of the Arctic and subarctic regions of
Canada were due largely to the search for the Northwest Passage; and conse–
quently sections of the map devoted to those regions were fairly well filled
in while immense areas farther south still remained blank. In this respect,
it is perhaps significant that the arctic coast had been reached overland
before the Pacific was likewise reached. The shores of Hudson Bay were well
known before the Great Lakes had properly taken their place on the map.
Even after all hope of finding the Northwest Passage in that quarter had
been abandoned, Hudson Bay still remained the gateway to the heart of the
continent. All the great rivers of the interior ran toward the Bay, while
a 13-mile portage connected the Hudson Bay and arctic watersheds. Chipewyan,
on Lake Athabaska, was an important center long before many of the great
cities of southern Canada were even thought of. The railway has seemed for
a time to set at nought the importance of geographical factors; but it is
possible that the airplane is about to restore the balance. Certainly, since
the airplane's advent the worth of Canada's arctic regions has greatly in–
creased in the scale of world values.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Dominion of

References:
Back, George. Narrative of the Arctic Land Expedition to the Mouth of the
Great Fish River, and along the Shores of the Arctic Ocean in
the years 1835 1833, 1934 and 1835 . London, 1836.
Bethune, W.C. Canada's Western Northland: Its History, Resources, Popula-
tion and Administration. Ottawa , 1937.
Burpee, L.J. The Search for the Western Sea: The Story of the Exploration
of North Western America. Toronto, 1908. Revised edition:
Toronto, 1936.
Camsell, Charles and Malcolm, W. The Mackenzie River Basin. Geological
Survey of Canada, Memoir No. 108; 1921.
Dawson, C.A. The New North-West. Toronto; 1947.
Dawson, George M. Report on an Exploration in the Yukon District and Adjacent
Northern Portion of British Columbia, 1887 . Geological Survey
of Canada, 1898.
Franklin, John. Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea in the
years 1825, 1826 and 1827. London, 1828.
----. Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Polar Sea in the years
1825, 1826 and 1827. London, 1828.
Low, A.P. Report on Explorations in the Labrador Peninsula along the East–
main, Koksoak, Hamilton, Manikaugan, Portions of Other Rivers

in 1892-93-94-95. Geological Survey of Canada, 1895.
MacKay, Douglas. The Honorable Company: A History of the Hudson's Bay Company .
Toronto, 1938.
Mackenzie, Alexander. Voyages from Montreal on the River St. Lawrence Through
the Continent of North America to the Frozen Ocean and the Pacific
in the years 1789 and 1793. London, 1801.
Morice, A.G. The History of the Northern Interior of British Columbia (formerly
New Caledonia) 1660-1880. Toronto, 1904.
Ogilvie, William. Early Days on the Yukon. Toronto, 1908.
Robinson, J.L. An Outline of the Canadian Eastern Arctic, its Geography, Peoples
and Problems . Ottawa, 1944.
Stefansson, V. My Life with the Eskimo . New York, 1913.
----. The Friendly Arctic . New York, 1921.
Tyrrell, J.W. Across the Sub-Arctic of Canada. Toronto, 1908.

Canadian Cordillera

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

CANADIAN CORDILLERA

The Canadian Cordillera is an extension of the mountain systems that
border the west coast of North and South America. In Canada, it forms a
northwesterly-trending belt varying from 350 to 400 miles in width, occupy–
ing the territory between the Great Plains, on the east, and the Pacific Ocean
and Alaska boundary, on the west. It constitutes the watershed between the
Pacific Ocean, on the west, and the Arctic Ocean, on the northeast. The
southern limit of the arctic and subarctic section is taken as approximately
the 60th parallel of north latitude, which is also the boundary between Yukon
Territory and the Province of British Columbia.
The Canadian Cordillera falls into three general systems: an Eastern System,
presenting a mountainous barrier to the Great Plains; and even more formidable
western mountain wall along the Pacific and the Alaskan boundary; and inter–
mediate Interior Section, consisting of less continuous mountain ranges and
plateaux.
The term system is here used to designate more than one range of mountains,
or mountain area, as well as adjacent plateau and plain sections. The term
area is here used to designate a constituent part of a system, and includes
plateaux and plains regions, as well as more than one mountain range.
The three systems differ considerably in their geological structure, as
well as their topographical character. The Eastern System consists almost

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canadian Cordillera

entirely of sedimentary strata; the Interior System comprises a mixture of
volcanic, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks invaded by numerous intrusive
bodies; while the Western System, although similar in a general way to the
Interior System, consists chiefly of great bodies of intrusive rocks.
In the Arctic and Subarctic Section, the Eastern System is made up of
the Mackenzie Mountain (q.v.) and Arctic Mountain (q.v.) areas. While it
is frequently thought that the Rocky Mountains, as such, continue northwest–
ward to the Arctic Ocean, they actually end at Liard River (q.v.), south of
latitude 60° N. Neither are the Mackenzie Moutains, which succeed the Rockies,
an extension of the latter. The Mackenzie Mountains lie about 80 miles east
of a line projected northwestward from the northern extremity of the Rocky
Mountains. The Mackenzie Mountain area curves in a great arc from Liard River
to Peel River (q.v.), near latitude 66° N. From that point, the Arctic
Mountain area extends north, and then west, to the 141st Meridian. The
Arctic Mountain area includes the Richardson Mountains (q.v.) and the British
Mountains (q.v.), as well as plateaux and plains regions.
The Eastern System is out lengthwise by the Mackenzie River. A section
along the 64th parallel would show, from west to east, the Mackenzie Mountains,
with a width of about 140 miles, the Mackenzie Plain, 40 miles wide, and the
Franklin Mountains (q.v.), east of the Mackenzie River, about 30 miles wide.
The Mackenzie River enters the system near the mouth of the North Nahanni
River, and flows out of it again a short distance south of the Ramparts.
The Liard, Peel, and Arctic Plateaux are included in the Eastern System.
The Interior System, north of the 60th parallel, consists of a major
mountain and a major plateau area as well as several minor ones. What once
passed for the western part of the Mackenzie Mountains is now called the Selwyn

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canadian Cordillera

Mountains (q.v.), and is included in the Interior System. The reason is that
it is considered advisable to separate mountains formed wholly of sedimentary
rocks, such as the Mackenzie Mountains, from those, such as Selwyn Mountains,
which consist of metamorphic and intrusive rocks. The Selwyn Mountains and
the adjoining Yukon Plateau constitude the chief features of the System, north
of which are the Ogilvie Mountains (q.v.), with Porcupine Plateau and Plain
farther to the north. The Pelly Mountains (q.v.), consisting of various lo [: c ] al
ranges, in the south-central portion of the Yukon Plateau, are composed mainly
of intrusive rocks. Some peaks in the Pelly Mountains reach a height of about
8,000 feet.
The Western System of the Canadian Cordillers, in its arctic and subarctic
section, includes a belt of mountainous country with an average width of 100 miles
lying to the southwest of the Interior System. In British Columbia, to the
south, this system is much more complex; but in Yukon it consists merely of
the northern stub of the Coast Mountains, which terminate in latitude 60° 25′
W., and the St. Elias Mountains (q.v.), extending from the vicinity of Mount
Fairweather to the 141st Meridian. These mountains, which are mainly granitic
in structure, contain some of the highest peaks on the continent.
References:
Camsell, C. Report on the Peel River and Tributaries, Yukon and Mackenzie .
Geological Survey of Canada, Annual Report, Vol. XVI, 1906.
Keele, J. A Reconnaissance Across the Mackenzie Mountains on the Pelly
Ross, and Gravel Rivers, Yukon and Northwest Territories .
Geological Survey of Canada, Publication No. 1097, 1910.
Bostock, H.S. Physiography of the Canadian Cordillers, with Special Reference
to the Area North of the Fifty-fifth Parallel. Geological
Survey of Canada, Memoir No. 247, 1948.

Carcross

EA-Geography Canada

CARCROSS

Carcross, at the northern end of Bennett, is the first town reached
on entering Yukon Territory by the White Pass and Yukon Railway. It has
a landing field, suitable water area for a seaplane base, Church of
England and Roman Catholic churches, a post office, a day school, and an
Indian residential school. Connection may be made at Carcross during the
summer months with a steamer that operates on Taglish Lake and Taku Arm.
"Carcross" is a contraction of the name "Caribou Crossing", so called on
account of the great number of caribou that once crossed the narrows
between Lakes Bennet and Nares. Carcross is connected with Whitehorse and
the Alaska Highway by motor road. Lake Bennettlies astride the British
Columbia-Yukon Boundary and is one of the beautiful lakes in the Territory.
The eastern shore is skirted by the White Pass and Yukon Railway line, from
which may be observed the remarkable colouring of the mountains which, capped
with snow, rise along each side. Lake Bennett and its companion body of
water to the south, Lake Lindeman, were points of embarkation for thousands
of gold-seekers who crossed the Chilcoot Pass and launched rough boats for
their perilous voyage down the Lewes and Yukon Rivers to the gold-fields in
1897-98.
From: Nor' West Miner
March, April 1950

Carmacks

EA-Geography: Canada

CARMACKS

Carmacks, on the west bank of the Lewes River about 110 miles north
of Whitehorse, is an Indian settlement containing a post office, a trading
post, and an emergency landing field. It is also the first junction of the
water and overland routes north from Whitehorse. In the vicinity are large
deposits of coal which were worked for a number of years. A few miles
downstream on the Lewes River are the famous Five Fingers Rapids, which
provide a thrilling experience for river steamer passengers.
From: Nor' West Miner
March, April 1950

Champagne

EA-Geography: Canada

CHAMPAGNE

Champagne, situated about 56 miles west of Whitehorse on the Alaska
Highway, is an Indian village and contains a trading post. About 42 miles
west is the junction of the road from Haines, Alaska.
From: Nor' West Miner
March, April 1950

Chandalar River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

CHANDALAR RIVER

The Chandalar River is a tributary of the Yukon River, entering that
stream about 20 miles below Fort Yukon, in Alaska. The name is derived
from a corruption of the term, gens de large , applied by Hudson's Bay Company
traders to the Indians who lived within its watershed because the Indians
seemed to have no permanent place of abode. Since the Chandalar flows into
the Yukon at almost its most northerly point, and since it flows almost
directly from the Endicott Range, at no great distance to the north, its
course is one of the shortest of any of the Yukon's tributaries having any
considerable volume. For this reason, it is swift and practically unnavigable.
At one time river boats, with great difficulty, worked their way for about
100 miles up its tortuous and shifting course, but in recent years there has
been no necessity for such effort and no boats now attempt to stem its current.
The main stream flows at first southeastward and then southward and then south- ward,
swinging again to the southeastward, continuing thus to its junction with the
Yukon. All its principal tributaries flow directly southward from different
passes in the Endicott Range; but since the lower reaches of the Chandalar
are separated from the Yukon by only a short distance, practically all of
which lies within the Yukon Flats region, where the drainage is all into the
Yukon itself, no tributaries flow into the Chandalar from the south.
The Chandalar drainage basin, in a north and south direction, is narrow,

EA-Geog [: ] . LeBourdais: Canada, Chandalar River

and is not very extensive in the opposite direction. Since it joins the
Yukon from the northwest at an acute angle, its drainage, except for that
brought in by the Christian, entering its mouth from slightly east of north,
is all farther west than its mouth; and since its headwaters interlock with
those of the Koyukuk, which reach far to the eastward, the Chandalar's drain–
age area is limited in that direction also.
The main stream of the Chandalar rises among the high peaks of the
Endicott Range, considerably north of latitude 68° N., and for its first
few miles is a rugged mountain torrent. This leads, however, to a wide
valley where for 30 miles the river meanders through extensive gravel flats,
flowing then into Chandalar Lake, narrow and eight or nine miles long, between
mountain ranges. Swinging slightly to the southeast for a distance of about
25 miles, it receives Big Creek, and ten miles farther down, the West Fork,
a short tirbutary from the west, comes in. Ten miles farther on, it receives
the Middle Fork, flowing down from the Endicott Range, roughly parallel with
the main stream, but separated from it by high mountains.
Ten miles below the mouth of the Middle Fork is the site of the one-
flourishing town of Caro, the center of the Chandalar gold fields, Eighteen
miles below Caro is another abandoned place where once all was activity,
known as Chandalar Station, where the Northern Commercial Company had its
depot and store to accommodate the miners who thronged the sand bars and
terraces above this point. Twenty miles below the abandoned Caro, the East
Fork comes in. This stream might, by reason of its size, have been considered
the main branch of the Chandalar, but, probably because of the discovery of
gold on the other forks, it has been largely overlooked, and in consequence
has been little traveled and is relatively unknown. The Chandalar emerges
from the mountains which into the Yukon Flats region through a narrow gap

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Chandalar River

in the mountains which seem otherwise to present an unbroken front. After
debouching into the Yukon Flats, the Chandalar turns more directly to the
southeast and for the final 100 miles of its course meanders through a
dreary waste of gravel, driftwood and scrub timber landmarks or other dis–
tinguishing features. Shortly before it discharges into the Yukon, it re–
ceives its last tributary, the Christian River, flowing in from a direction
slightly east of north. The Christian, like the other branches or forks of
the Chandalar, rises in the Endicott Range and flows at first through a
mountainous region and then breaks through into the Yukon Flats for its
final lap.
The Chandalar River came into prominence in the winter of 1906-7 and
the following summer when gold was struck on a tributary of the Middle Fork,
and a stampede occurred. Alaska and Yukon Territory were still full of
miners who had failed to "strike it rich" in the Klondike, at H N ome or at
Fairbanks, and consequently the stage was set for a feverish gold rush.
Soon the river was lined with prospectors, and a town grew up below the
Middle Fork which was called Caro. By 1910, however, the placer diggings
had declined to such an extent that Chandalar could be listed with other
abandoned placer camps, when a revival occurred, causing hopes again to soar
at the prospect of riches through lode mining; but these hopes, too, were
soon doomed to disappointment. One result of this second boom was the build–
ing by the Alaska Road Commission of a road 80 miles in length, from "Beaver
City," on the Yukon, almost directly north of Caro.
Whether, when reduced transportation costs lower [: ed ] the costs of mining
operations, it will be possible to revive hopes based on mining prosperity,
cannot now be determined; and in the meantime the Chandalar River finds a

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada, Chandalar River

place among that considerable number of placer creeks where sufficient
gold has been found to awaken hopes, but which eventually proved insuffi–
cient to provide the basis of a permanent community. It may be that those
who termed its first dwellers, gens de large , had a truer insight than
perhaps they realized.
Reference:
<bibl> Stuck, Hudson. Voyages on the Yukon and Its Tributaries. New York, 1917. </bibl>

Chibougamau Lake

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

CHIBOUGAMAU LAKE

Chibougamau Lake, northern Quebec, Dominion of Canada, is one of
the sources of the Nottaway River, which empties into the lower end of
the eastern side of James Bay. It lies almost at the height of land
separating the Hudson and James bays drainage basin at an elevation of
1,230 feet above sea level. Its greatest length is 16 miles and it is
about six and a half miles at its width, with a total area of 138 square
miles. It lies in a northeast-southwest direction, roughly rectangular
in shape, its northwestern and southeastern sides fairly regular in outline,
but its northeastern and southwestern ends are indented by many inlets and
bays. Its southernmost point is in latitude 49° 44′ N.; its northernmost
point in latitude 49° 59′ N.; its easternmost point is in longitude 74° W.;
and its westernmost point is in 74° 24′ W. Lying parallel to it, on its
northwestern side is Lake Dore é , 12 miles long by about two miles wide
at its widest, from which it is separated by a narrow ridge of granitic
rock, called Gouin Peninsula, and an apparent extension of the penin c s ula
called Ile du Portage, three miles long by about two miles in width.
Gouin Peninsula extends in a northeasterly direction for about 11 miles
and, with Ile du Portage, provides most of the western shore of Chibougamau
Lake. At its southernmost end, a short distance from its base, Gouin

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada: Chibougamau Lake

Peninsula is only a quarter of a mile wide, expanding to about a mile and
a half at its widest, with an average of about half a mile. It is separated
from Ile du Portage by a narrow passage, about 200 yards long, in which the
drop is 12 feet. Ile du Portage, except for a bay between it and the
mainland north of Chibougamau occupies the northwestern angle of the main
portion of the latter and forms as well the north shore of Lake Dore é it
is separated from the mainland on the west by a narrow channel, and from
the north end of the main part of Chibougamau Lake by Portage Bay, about
a mile wide at its entrance. Both Gouin Peninsula and Ile du Portage con–
tain several small lakes. Part of Ile du Portage is covered with glacial
drift, but otherwise both Gouin Peninsula and Ile du Portage consist
chiefly of granitic rocks. Gouin Peninsula is low in elevation, but Ile
du Portage, at its highest, rises to about 250 feet in a bare rocky hill,
called Paint Mountain, from the rusty color of the rocks.
The southern end of Chibougamau Lake is divided into three bays by
two narrow points, the longer of which, called Devlin Peninsula, is three
and a half miles long. A high rocky promontory, about four and a half miles
wide at its base, projects 7 miles into the lake from the northern end,
dividing that portion of the lake into two bays, of which the eastern, called
Islands Bay, is the larger, being about six miles deep and about one and
a half miles wide. The western indentation extends seven miles northeastward
from the northeastern end of the main part of the lake to which it is
connected by Valiquette Narrows, which expand into Contact Lake, contract–
ing again to the McKenzie Narrows which expand into Gunn Bay, extending
eastward for about a mile and a half, then into McKenzie Bay, extending three
miles to the westward, narrowing again into Rapid Bay, one and a half miles

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Chibougamau Lake

deep from the entrance to McKenzie Bay. This indentation, extending north–
eastward from the northwestern angle of the lake, is surrounded by high
rocky hills, arranged in sharp ridges parallel to the direction of the lake.
The highest of these are the Sorcerer and Juggler mountains. The former
is situated toward the southern end of the northern promontory, and is
situated to rise to a height of 500 feet above the water; the latter lies
a short distance north of Rapid Bay; it ends in a sharp cone, having per–
pendicular sides 50 feet high. From its resemblance to the tents used by
the Indian conjurors, it has been called the "juggler's house," and is
supposed to be the dwelling place of evil spirits. The outline of the
hills in this locality is sharply serrated, in marked contrast to the
rounded outline usually seen in Laurentian hills.
Chibougamau Lake is studded with numerous islands, most of which are
low and rocky, especially those along its eastern side and in the northeast
bay; a few are also scattered along the western shore. The shores of the
lake are generally low, formed either of solid rock or of large rounded
boulders, often found piled up in low walls by the action of the lake ice,
The land rises gently from the eastern side to the height of land.
The country about the lake is well timbered, with black spruce pre–
dominating, but white spruce i [: ] also found in considerable quantities.
Balsam fir, tamarack and Banksian pine also occur, together with medium–
sized birch, aspen and a few cedars. Unfortunately, much of the country
has been burnt over, and reference to timber must be made with a reserva–
tion concerning the likelihood of fire.
Chibougamau Lake, like the others in the same territory, is well
stocked with fish, chief of which are lake trout and whitefish, although
pike, pickerel, brock trout and suckers also abound. The region has produced

EA-Geog. LeBourdaise: Canada - Chibougamau Lake

excellent furs for over a century and is still productive, but the fur–
bearing animals have been greatly reduced in numbers by excessive trapping.
The Hudson's Bay Company has maintained a post on Gouin Peninsula for many
years.
It is likely, however, that mineral production will eventually become
the principal resource of the region. Gold-bearing copper sulphide and
gold-quartz deposits occur at different points in the area. Some of these
deposits and also small amounts of asbestos and low-grade iron ore were
discovered as early as 1903, but distance from the railway and other factors
have hampered systematic exploration. Nevertheless, a considerable amount
of exploratory work has been done by a number of different mining companies;
and while nothing sensational has been discovered, enough has been disclosed
to indicate that when better transportation facilities are available, the
Chibougamau area will prove to be an important mining center. Until these
facilities are available, most of the companies holding properties in the
district are marking time. With railway transportation now b w e ing provided
for the exploitation of iron deposits in the Ungava Peninsula, northeast of
the Chibougamau area, that time may not be so far off.
Chibougamau Lake has been known to fur traders, missionaries and
explorers seeking a route from Lake St. John to James Bay for over 150 years,
but no great interest was taken in the area until the early years of the
present century when Peter McKenzie, in 1903, discovered t w hat were believed
to be valuable deposits of asbestos, copper and gold. These discoveries led
to a wider interest in the area and the Quebec Government was pressed to
provide railway transportation. Before undertaking to supply this, however,
the Chibougamau Commission, consisting of Dr. A. E. Barlow, Special Lecturer

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Chibougamau Lake

in Economic Geology at McGill University, Montreal, as Chairman, E. R.
Fairbault, of the Geological Survey of Canada, and J. C. Gwillim, Professor
of Mining at Queen's University, Kingston, was appointed by the Government
to make an authoritative report on the mineral possibilities of the district.
The report, published in 1911, stated that no asbestos deposits of economic
importance existed, and that although the country gave promise of reward to
the prospector, none of the gold or copper deposits so far found was commer–
cially valuable, even with railway facilities. This report dampened interest
in the region for many years.
This was before the great discoveries were made at Porcupine and Kirkland
Lake, in northern Ontario, and at Noranda and other points in northern Quebec,
which directed fresh attention to the possibilities of the Pre-Cambrian rocks
of northern Canada. Further prospecting in Chibougamau uncovered other mineral
occurrences and there is now little doubt in the minds of Canadian mining men
that the Chibougamau district will one day take its place among the important
mining regions of Canada.
The area early attracted the attention of the Geological Survey of Canada,
and the first of many investigations by members of the Survey staff was made
by James Richardson in 1870. Between 1884 and 1905, Dr. A. P. Low did his
great work in Ungava, which includes surveys of the region about Chibougamau
Lake. J. B. Mewdaley began detailed geological work in the region in 1927,
which was continued in 1930, and this was followed by further mapping in 1934
by G. W. R. Norman. J. A. Retty, in 1929, also did geological work in the
area for the Quebec Bureau of Mines. In addition to that done by various
surveyors in the employ of the Quebec Department of Survey, topographic
work was conducted for the Geological Survey of Canada by A. C. Tuttle in 1929;

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Chibougamau Lake

and serial photographic work was carried out in 193 e 4 by the Royal Canadian
Air Force.
References:
Low, A. P. Report of Explorations in the Labrador Peninsula Along the East
Main, Koksoak, Hamilton, Manicuagan and Portions of Other Rivers
in 1892-93-94-95. Geological Survey of Canada, Annual Report,
Vol. VIII; 1895.
Maudsley, J.B., and Norman, G.W.H. Chibougamau Lake Map-area, Quebec .
Geological Survey of Canada, Memoir No. 185; 1935.

Churchill Lake

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

CHURCHILL LAKE

Churchill Lake, northwestern Saskatchewan, Dominion of Canada, is
one of a number of lakes forming the source of the Churchill River, which
flows into Hudson Bay, 1,000 miles farther east. It is about 24 miles
long by about 12 miles at its widest, with an area of 213 square miles, and
lies at an altitude of 1,381 feet above sea level. Its southernmost point
is in latitude 55° 48′ N., and its northernmost point is in latitude 56° 11′
N.; its easternmost point is in longitude 108° 05′ W., and its westernmost
point is in longitude 108° 30′ W. It is connected to Peter Pond Lake at its
southwestern angle by a short passage in which no current exists, and it
might have been consi [: ] d ered as part of the latter, or vice versa . It drains
Frobisher and Turnor lakes, to the north, through Simond's channel, bu [: ]
otherwise it receives no tributaries of consequence. It is drained at its
southern extremity by Churchill River.
Churchill Lake, unlike its companion-lake, Peter Pond, is characteristic
of lakes in the Pre-Cambrian rocks of the Canadian Shield, in that its shores
contain many indentations and it has many islands. It occupies a transitional
position between Frobisher Lake, to the north, with its long arms and bays and
many rocky projections and islands, which exhibits the extreme type of Pre-
Cambrian lake, and Peter Pond Lake, to the west, whose low, swampy shores
hafe few indentations, and which contains almost no islands.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Churchill Lake

Churchill Lake is set in a region of low relief; to the westward the
terrain consists mainly of sand interspersed with boulders; but to the
northward and eastward rounded knobs of granitic rocks rise irregularly
above the general level. The country on both sides is sparsely timbered
with small black spruce, Banksian pine, white birch, and occasional stands
of tamarack in swampy spots.
The first person other than an Indian to see Churchill Lake was Peter
Pond, a fur trader and partner in the Northwest Company who, in 1778, under–
took an expedition from the farthest point hitherto reached by fur traders
along the Churchill River to the headwaters of the latter, thence across
Methye Portage to the Athabaska. His course was soon followed by others,
and it rapidly became the regular canoe route between the Saskatchewan and
Athabaska-Mackenzie districts. Thereafter, until steamboats on the Saskat–
chewan in 1875 and the railway in 1891 put an end to the long canoe route s ,
all trade goods for the Athabaska-Mackenzie region were taken in by that route
and all the fur went out the same way. It is still the local highway for the
fur traders and prospectors.
Reference:
<bibl> Innis, H.A. Peter Pond Fur Trader and Adventurer. Toronto, 1930. </bibl>

Churchill River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

CHURCHILL RIVER

Churchill River, 1,000 miles in length, runs approximately eastward
from the eastern border of the Province of Alberta, across the province of
Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and empties into Hudson Bay. It drains an area
of 115,500 square miles, comprised in a long, rather narrow, strip of
territory lying to the north of the Saskatchewan-Nelson drainage basin and
south of the region drained by several other streams flowing in Hudson Bay.
Before present-day highways across the continent were thought of,
Churchill River was on the main traffic route between the eastern portions
of Canada and the far northwest. It was by way of the Churchill, sometimes
called the English River, that Alexander Mackenzie traveled to the Athabaska
and eventually reached the Arctic and Pacific oceans. For many years there–
after the Churchill was an important link in that chain of streams and lakes —
to say nothing of portages! — by which supplies for the distant Mackenzie
posts — some even as far away as the Yukon — reached their destination;
and by which the furs received in exchange were taken out.
The voyageurs who first located the traffic routes across the continent
were dependant upon the lakes and streams for their highway, and they could
not afford to run against the contour of the country; they could go upstream
and they could go downstream; but they could not go very far across the lines
of drainage. It was left to the railways to do this; and for half a century

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Churchill River

trans-Canada traffic has largely ignored the principle to which the voyageurs
were forced to adhere. Now, with an ocean port at its mouth that shortens
the distance from the heart of Canada to the principal overseas markets by
1,000 miles, it is possible that the Churchill may once again become an impor–
tant part of a traffic route across the continent. Although the port of
Churchill is already a railway terminus, it is quite probable that some day
a transcontinental railway will traverse the Churchill valley as part of what
would be the shortest rail - and-water route between Europe and the Far East.
The Churchill's entire course, except for about 150 miles near its mouth,
which is underlain by Palaeozoic rocks, is within the great Canadian (Laurentian)
Shield, comprising the oldest exposed rocks on the globe. The surface of this
area, almost lacking in relief, gouged and pitted by the relentless force of
the icecap, is studded with lakes, irregular and sprawling, from the size of
mere ponds to those several hundred square miles in extent, connected by streams
most of which, in their devious courses, flow down rapids or else fall over
cliffs of varying heights.
The Churchill wends its winding way through such a country, forming the
thread upon which lake after lake is strung; and where it does not itself form
the thread for certain lakes, they hang pendant to it by connecting streams.
It is there [: ] ore almost as navigable in one direction as in the other; the lakes,
of course, have no current, and considerable stretches occur in which the
current is not strong. On the other hand, numerous rapids and falls exist.
In many cases the rapids can be safely run, and can be surmounted on the
upstream course by tracking or poling. In other cases, going either upstream
or downstream, portaging is necessary; some of the portages are short, but
others extend up to a mile or more. As rivers go, the Churchill provides a

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Churchill River

very suitable course for canoe and boat travel; it is not suited to any–
thing larger.
The Churchill rises in latitude 57° N., longitude 110° W., in La Loche
Lake, within a few miles of the height of land separating the Hudson Bay
drainage basin from that of the Mackenzie. Flowing southeasterly out of
Lake La Loche, after twenty-four moles of a shallow and turtuous course,
the river enters Buffalo, or Peter Pond Lake, thence to Clear Lake and, by
a connecting stream, into Ile a La Crosse Lake, the first considerable
expansion of the Churchill. Ile a La Crosse, about 35 miles long, is shaped
like a pot-hook and lies roughly north and south. Beaver River flows into
its southern extremity, bearing, from the south, the outflow from Lac La Plonge.
Debouching from the northern end of Ile a La Crosse Lake, the Churchill starts
on a southeasterly course through a succession of lakes and river-extentions,
including Knee, Sandy and Snake lakes, till it makes another major expansion
in Black Bear Island Lake, made up of narrow channels, deep bays and many
islands. From the head of Black Bear Island Lake to the outlet at Birch
Portage, which circumvents rapids with an eight-foot fall, is thirty-six miles.
A mile below the foot of Birch Portage, another expansion called Trout Lake
begins and continues for ten miles, terminating in another fall. About a
mile and a half below Trout Fall the river divides into two channels which
come together some seven miles farther on in an expansion known as Dead Lake.
Below Dead Lake a series of rapids is encountered known as the Devil's
Rapids and Big Devil's Portage. The former, although dangerous because of
boulders, can be run, but the latter must be portaged, a distance of about
1,400 yards. At the foot of the rapids the river spreads into Devil's Lake,
from which it again proceeds by dropping twenty feet to the level of Otter Lake,

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Churchill River

where a [: ] portage of about 700 yards is necessary. Otter L a ke is about
thirteen miles in length, following which an island-studded contraction
of the stream is reached where short portages known as Mountain and Stony
Mountain lead to Rock Lake, at the southeastern end of which is Stanley Mission,
maintained by the Church of England, and a Hudson's Bay Company's post that was
established during the early days of the fur trade. Thirteen miles farther
east, Rapid River, dropping over a fall of about thirty feet, brings in the
drainage from Lac La Ronge, lying a few miles to the south. The country
about Lac La Ronge has excellent agricultural possibilities and should one
day be a populous part of the province.
Pine Rapid follows, requiring a portage of sixty-five yards, and leads
to Drinking Lake, beyond which is another portage, this time two hundred and
twenty yards long, before Keg Lake is reached. Keg Lake is eight miles long
and is divided into several narrow channels divided by equally narrow islands.
Two miles farther on, in the course of which there are two rapids requiring
portages of sixty-five and five hundred and seventy yards, respectively,
island-dotted Trade Lake, thirteen miles long and averaging a mile and a
half in width, is reached. At the lower end of Trade Lake is Frog Portage,
[: ] terminus of the route from the Saskatchewan established during fur-trading
days. Several other routes led between the Saskatchewan and the Churchill,
but this was the principal one.
The route runs northwesterly from the Saskatchewan River across [: ] umberland
Lake and its northern extension, Namew Lake, into the Sturgeon-weir River,
which leads to Amisk Lake. Crossing this lake to where the upper reaches of
the Sturgeon-weir River enters, that stream is followed to Mirond and Pelican
lakes. Several portages are required on this part of the route, but none of

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Churchill River

of any great length. Three more portages are encountered before Woody Lake
is reached. Frog Portage, two hundred and eighty five yards in length,
connect t s Woody Lake with the Churchill.
At Frog Portage, the Churchill, hitherto following a southeasterly
course, turns sharply northward and then northeastward through a number of
expansions until a drop of seventeen feet occurs at Kettle Falls, where a
portage of about ninety yards is required. This leads to the expansion into
which Reindeer River empties. Reindeer River drains Reindeer Lake, 2444
square miles in extent, lying about 75 miles north of the Churchill valley.
The expansion which receives the waters of Reindeer River is terminated
by a fall of fifteen feet at Attik Rapid. From this point for about sixty
miles there is much rough water which includes Wintego Rapids and a number
of others, requiring several portages, the longest of which is about a mile
and a half in length. Just west of the Saskatchewan-Manitoba line, the
Nemei River comes in from the south. Also before the Saskatchewan-Manitoba
line is reached, the Churchill provides 90,000 h.p. of hydro-electric energy
at the Island Falls installation of the Churchill River Power Company Limited
to supply power for the great Flin Flon mine about 75 miles to the south.
For the next 120 miles, the river flows through a succession of lakes
requiring only four portages, none of which is very long. Cut by the Saskat–
chewan-Manitoba boundary, at the angle where the river ends its northward
stretch and once more turns eastward, is Sisipuk Lake, a sprawling extension
of the river, bending back parallel to the river's course, somewhat like the
chord of an arc. Leaving Sisipuk Lake, the river tumbles down Bloodstone
Rapids, a few miles before Pukkatawagan Lake is reached. From here on, to
about longitude 100° 30′ the river continues its easterly course; but at this

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Churchill River

point, in latitude 55° 45′, it turns northward, flowing in that direction for
some distance and then inclining in a northeasterly direction until, at the
outlet of Southern Indian Lake, in latitude 57° 25′ and longitude 98° 30′,
it again continues it a flow eastward.
In its northerly stretch, the river flows through some of the largest
lakes in its course. Granville Lake as a length of fifty miles, while
Southern Indian Lake is a huge, sprawling complex of channels and bays,
extending in all directions from the river's line of flow, if such a stream
can be said to have a 'line of flow.' Its greatest length is ninety miles,
and its extreme width about fifteen. William McInnes, of the Canadian
Geological Survey, who surveyed it in in 1908, estimates that it has a length
of shoreline, disregarding bays and points of less extent than half a mile,
exceeding 700 miles. He charted the approximate [: ] positions of eight hundred
islands, varying in area from twenty-five square miles to quite small.
The portages in this stretch are few and insignificant, except for one
above Granville Lake, where the descent is twenty-five feet in a vertical drop,
and the Missi Fall, at the outlet of Southern Indian Lake, which has a drop
of twenty feet. Below Missi Fall, the river continues in a generally easterly
direction to the mouth of the Little Churchill, coming in from the southwest,
about 105 miles in a direct line from the bay. In this stretch it expands
into Northern Indian Lake, which has a length of about twenty miles and an
average width of about ten miles, and, like most of these lakes, is studded
with islands. Following a U-shaped bend to the north, Churchill Lake, about
seven miles in length, and Billiard Lake, four miles long, are the last of the
river's many expansions. From a short distance below here, it flows through
more definitely defined banks, averaging about one-third of a mile in width.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Churchill River

Beyond the mouth of the Little Churchill, it winds about considerably, running
generally in a northerly direction. Then, turning northeastward, and running
fairly straight, when about forty-five miles from the sea, it turns directly
north and flows without deviation into the bay. From the mouth of the Little
Churchill the average width has been about half a mile, with no expansions of
consequence and few islands, except in the last twenty-five or thirty miles,
when it widens to two miles or more and contains many islands. The tide
extends upwards for about seven or eight miles, beyond which the final rapid
on the river prevents its flow. The banks along a considerable portion of
the river below the Little Churchill are covered with ice until quite late
in the season, and for this reason, coupled with the swiftness of the current,
the Indians usually avoid this stretch, preferring to take one of a number of
portages across to the Nelson.
The river narrows near its outlet, where it flows through banks of solid
rock. The western shore extends farther into the bay than its opposite, and
is called Eskimo Point. Here was the original location of the Hudson's Bay
Company's post, the Mission, and the headquarters of the local detachment
of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Nearby are the ruins of Fort Prince
of Wales. The townsite of Churchill, the Hudson Bay Railway terminals, the
docks, warehouses and terminal elevator are all on the eastern bank.
Until the tundra, which extends some distance back from the bay, is
reached, the Churchill flows through a generally well-wooded region in which
the principal trees are white and black spruce, white birch, poplar, tamarack
and jack pine. In some sections, where conditions are favorable, trees of
considerable size can be found, but as a rule most of the timber is not of
merchantable dimensions. Unfortunately, large areas have been burned over

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Churchill River

during comparatively recent times, and the second growth, while heavy, is
not of sufficient size to provide either merchantable timber, nor, in ma n y
cases, even pulpwood.
References:
Mackenzie, Alexander. Voyage from Montreal on the River St. Lawrence through
the continent of North America to the Frozen and
Pacific Oceans in the years 1789-97; with a preliminary
account of the use, progress and present state of the fur
[: ] trade of the country. 1801.
Bell, Robert. Geological Survey of Canada; Report of Progress, 1875-76.
McInnis, William. Geological Survey of Canada; Summary Report, 1908.
----. Geological Survey of Canada; Memoir No. 30, 1913.
Alcock, F. J. Geological Survey of Canada; Summary Report, 1915.

Claire Lake

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

CLAIRE LAKE

Claire Lake, in northeastern Alberta, with an area of 545 square miles,
in post-glacial times, part of Athabaska Lake, but has since been cut off
by silt brought down by the Athabaska River, and also probably by Peace
River. Its easternmost point is now 10 miles west of the westernmost point
of Athabaska Lake, into which it drains. The intervening land is, of course,
low and contains many small lakes. Claire Lake itself is very shallow and
its banks on all sides are low and swampy. While its level is no longer
influenced by the vagaries of Athabaska River, it receives, in addition to
several smaller ones, three large streams from the west and southwest, each
of which contributes its share of alluvium to reduce further its inconsider–
able depth. It lies between latitude 58° 16′ N. and 58° 52′ N., and longi–
tude 111° 40′ W. and 112° 30′ W.
Birch River, which flows in from the west, drains an area as far west
as longitude 114° W., receiving in its course four large creeks, all from
the south, is building up a considerable delta at its mouth. Steepbank and
McIvor rivers, both of which enter Claire Lake at its southern end, are
smaller, but they both carry a considerable volume.

Clay Belt

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

CLAY BELT

The Clay Belt of northern Ontario-Quebec, Dominion of Canada, is the
most extensive unsettled area within the arctic watershed of North America
capable of supporting a large population. Centered as it is upon the 49th
parallel of north latitude, it is also the most southerly, since its southern
edge lies farther south than the northern boundary of such states as Minnesota,
North Dakota, Montana, and Washington. Yet this region is drained by rivers
which flow into James Bay, and is definitely part of the arctic drainage
system.
The main part of the area known as the Clay Belt extends from slightly
east of Lake Abitibi, on the east, to near Lake Nipigon, on the west, reaching
as far south in places as latitude 48° N., and northward beyond latitude
50° N. The Clay Belt is underlain by the Pre-Cambrian rocks of the Canadian
Shield, but, unlike most other parts of the Shield, rock is only occasionally
exposed. Above bedrock lies a thick mantle of glacial deposit, which, in the
southern part, consists chiefly of glacial till, while farther north, the
covering consists of marine clays.
The region has a general elevation of about 1,000 feet above sea level,
rising in the vicinity of Lake Abitibi to about 1,200 feet, with a maximum
altitude of about 1,400 feet farther west. The higher spots, however, usuaoly
consist of rocky upshoots through the general overburden. The country slopes

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Clay Belt

gently northward and eastward toward James Bay, the Clay Belt ending, however,
along a line from 75 to 150 miles distant from the Bay, where the Pre-Cambrian
rocks dip steeply beneath overlying Palaeozoic rocks of the Hudson (James) Bay
lowland. Atk At the point of contact between these two physiographic provinces,
the elevation is about 300 feet, which slopes gradually to tidewater, continuing
at about the same gradient as the bottom of James Bay, which is consequently
very shallow.
The Clay Belt is the result of lake formation during the post-glacial
period, when lakes, very extensive in area, formed in front of the retreating
icesheet, and the immense quantities of glacial detritus, gath r e red by the ice
in planing down the face of the country, were deposited in the lake bottoms.
With the final retreat of the ice, the lakes, which occupied no rock-bound
basins, were drained by the stream-system that eventually developed. Subse–
quent rising of the land brought the present lowland region above the sea, and
the Clay Belt to its present elevation.
Existence of this great potential agricultural region was little more than
suspected until about the turn of the present century when the Ross Government,
then in power in Ontario, decided to investigate its possibilities. In 1901,
ten survey parties were put into the field, consisting of land surveyors,
soil experts, timber cruisers, and geologists. The results of their explora–
tions put the Clay Belt on the map, and for a time caused great expectations
in the way of settlement.
Shortly afterward, however, the settlement of the western plains began
in earnest, and intending homesteaders were diverted to that area. The
prairies seemed to have an average over northern Ontario because no clearing
was necessary; over large sections of the region, the plough could be put

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Clay Belt

immediately into the soil and land could be seeded and harvested the first
season. The Clay Belt of northern Ontario was, for the most part, heavily
timbered; no market existed for the timber, which, from the standpoint of
settlement, was considered a liability. On the other hand, railway building
was at its peak on the prairies, and the homesteader, in the intervals of
farming, could earn the money that in most cases was needed to eke out the
income that could be expected from farming.
The Ontario Government also began to build a railway. In 1902, a line
was proposed which would run northward from North Bay, on Lake Nipissing,
on the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and eventually reach James
Bay. Tidewater on the Bay was eventually reached in 1932, but in the interval
the emphasis had shifted somewhat from agriculture to mining. The Temiskaming
and Northern Ontario Railway, now the Ontario North [: ] and Railway (q.v.), had
scarcely passed its 100th mile post when rich silver ore was discovered at
Cobalt, which for the next 30 years was one of the world's greatest silver
producers.
The Cobalt discovery encouraged prospectors to explore the country farther
north, west and east, with the result that in the next few years the great gold
mines of Porcupine and Kirkland Lake had been discovered. Such settlers as
had been content to remain on the farm found the mining communities a good
market for their produce, but the great agricultural communities that had
been envisaged at the beginning of the century did not materialize.
While the Ontario Northland Railway was finding profitable traffic in
supplying the mining regions, and the pulp and paper communities which had
also been established, another railway was built which runs through the entire
length of the Clay Belt from east to west. In the early years of the century,

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Clay Belt

the Government of Canada, then headed by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, decided that
a second transcontinental line was needed. In consequence of this, an
agreement was concluded with the Grand Trunk Railway Company, whose lines
up to that time were confined to eastern Canada (except for some in the
United States), under which the Government of Canada was to build [: ] from
Moncton, New Brunswick, to Quebec City, thence westward through virgin
territory to Winnipeg, where it would connect with a line which the Grand
Trunk, by means of a subsidiary, would build a new port that would be
established on the North Pacific. These railways were built, but, in the
process, the Grand Trunk Railway became so heavily involved financially that
the Government of Canada finally acquired all its lines, which now form part
of the Canadian National Railways System.
The line between Quebec City and Winnipeg, then known as the National
Transcontinental, first enters the arctic watershed when it crosse d s the
height of land at the headwaters of the Nottaway River, in northwestern
Quebec Province. The line continues slightly north of west from that point
to Winnipeg, practically all of which is within the arctic watershed. The
line is the longest railway wholly within the arctic drainage basin in
North America,
The line connects with the Ontario Northland Railway at Cochrane,
Ontario, which, at present, is the center of the principal settlement within
the Clay Belt proper. Larger settlements exist farther south, on [: ] southerly
extensions of the belt, where railway connections have been available for a
longer period, and where better markets are available. Two communities, in
particular, farther west than Cochrane, have attained some size. Kapuskasing,
about 70 miles from Rochrane, has a large pulp and paper mill as well as an
agricultural experimental station maintained by the Dominion of Canada.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Clay Belt

Hearst, 60 miles farther west, is a smaller place, but it is the present
northern terminus of the Algoma Central and Hudson Bay Railway, whose
southern terminus is at Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.
The Clay Belt is drained mainly by the Moose River system of streams,
and the Harricanaw, which flows for the greater part of its course through
the northwestern part of the Province of Quebec. The Moose River system
comprises the French, Little Abitibi, Abitibi, Mattagami, and Missinaibi,
with their numerous branches, whose waters are discharged into James Bay
through Mo [: ] se River (q.v.), whose entire length of 165 miles lies within
the Hudson (James) Bay lowland, and consequently beyond the northern limits
of the Clay Belt. The latter contains no large lakes, and such lakes as do
exist are generally shallow. Its rivers, flowing over the rugged contours
presented by the underlying Pre-Cambrian rocks, are swift, and broken by
many rapids and falls. Where they expand into lakes, the latter are usually
long and narrow, following the general slope of the country.
Generally speaking, the Clay Belt is heavily timbered. In its southern
parts, many stands of merchantable timber may be found, but the great bulk
of its timber is more suited to pulpwood, much of it already being devoted
to that purpose. At Iroquois Falls, on the Abitibi River, are the large
mills of the Abitibi Power and Paper Company Limited; while at Kapuskasing
the mills of the Spruce River Pulp and Paper Company are located. As the
territory is opened up farther north, especially of transportation is pro–
vided, other mills will undoubtedly be established at various points.
Although the territory is, as has been said, underlain by Pre-Cambrian
rocks, and these are similar to those which, in other places, contain
valluable mineral occurrences, except for the mines at Porcupine and Kirkland
Lake, on its southern border, no mines of consequence have yet been located

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Clay Belt

in Clay Belt territory. This, however, is probably due more to the great
amount of overburden which covers the bedrock than to any difference in the
mineral content of the rocks. Undoubtedly, as geophysical and other forms
of scientific prospecting become more generally used, the rocks that now lie
below the covering left by the glaciers will give up their secrets as they
have done elsewhere in the great Canadian Shield.
As is to be expected in an area which covers such a wide expense of
territory, the land varies in different localities in its fertility and
general suitability for agriculture. Samples that have been analyzed by
the Ontario Government indicate that on the whole the soil is fertile and
suited to a wide variety of crops. In the southern part of the region, both
the soil and the climate seem for some reason to be suited to seed production;
considerable acreages have been sown to clover and an important clover-seed
industry has already developed. A by-product of clo b v er-growing is bee-culture,
which has proven to be another field particularly well suited to the Clay Belt.
While the average production of honey for all Ontario is 75.7 pounds per colony,
the production in the Clay Belt is 170.3 pounds per colony.
Since wild berries grow profusely throughout the area, it is perhaps
natural that cultivated berries should also do well. Strawberries up to
three and a half inches in diameter have been grown in the area, while other
berries do proportionately well. Vegetables of all sorts grow very well, and
the country in the vicinity of Cochrane is particularly well suited to the
growing of potatoes. At the experimental farm at Kapuskasing, timothy hay
grows to a height of four feet, and oats, barley, and alfalfa produce heavy
crops.
With such a profusion of forage crops, it is but natural that livestock

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Clay Belt

should thrive, and the portions of the Clay Belt already settled are producing
many fine herds of dairy and beef cattle. Dairying is another industry which
seems destined to expand as additional and better facilities are provided.
The climate is of the continental type, in which hot summers and cold
winters prevail. At Kirkland Lake, and at other points along its southern
border, some of the lowest winter temperatures in Canada have been recorded,
but the real criterion is the amount of sunshine. The Clay Belt has an
annual average of about 263 days of sunshine, with an average frost-free
period of 119 days. The Clay Belt can therefore produce as wide a variety
of crops as most lands in the North Temperate Zone, and, in amount of yield,
surpass most of them.
Here is a land which is estimated as capable of providing homes for
upward of 1,000,000 people. That it may be along time before this objective
is attained, is perhaps evidenced by the slowness with which settlement has
been effected during the half-century since the attempt began. Undoubtedly,
the Clay Belt of northern Ontario-Quebec is the largest area within the
arctic drainage basin in North America that is capable of such extensive
settlement.
References:
Ross, George W. Getting into Parliament and After . Toronto, William Briggs,
1913.
Bell, J. Mackintosh. Economic Resources of Moose River Basin. Report of
the Bureau of Mines, 1904. Toronto, The King's Printer,
1904.
Williamson, O.T.G. The Northland Ontario . Toronto. the Ryerson Press, 1946.

Clearwater Lake

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

CLEARWATER LAKE

Clearwater Lake, in Ungava District, now known as the New Quebec
section of the province of Quebec, lies in the angle formed by latitude 56°
and longitude 75° at an elevation of 750 feet above sea level. Its great–
est length is 45 miles and its greatest width 20 miles, with an area of
410 square miles. It is the source of Clearwater River which flows west–
ward into Hudson Bay. The lake lies in a northwest-southeast direction,
and is separated into two sections by a rocky point that juts out from its
northeastern shore, off which are a number of large islands. Its shoreline
is irregular, cut by many indentations; its surface is broken by innumerable
islands, most of which are grouped near its center.
No stream of importance enters the lake, the largest of which is the
Noonish, flowing into the northeast corner, nevertheless, the voluem of
water that discharges through the Clearwater River is considerable. The
lake lies in a region of rounded Laurential hills that rise from 200 to
500 feet above the water. The highest hills are around the western and
southern portions of the lake, the land becoming lower and flatter to the
north and east, especially about the southeastern end, where the country
is low and swampy.
Clearwater Lake was explored in 1896 by Dr. A. P. Low of the Geological
Survey of Canada; but in the interval no further exploration of which any
record exists has been undertaken. With the possible development of the
mineral resources in the vicinity of Richmond Gulf, however, this condition may
soon be changed.
Reference:
<bibl> Department of Mines, Quebec. Extracts from Reports on the District of Ungava
or New Qu [: ] bec, 1929. </bibl>

Clearwater River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

CLEARWATER RIVER

Clearwater River, in Ungava Peninsula, District of New Quebec, in the
Canadian Province of Quebec, is a large stream despite its short course.
It rises in Clearwater Lake, about 45 miles long at its greatest length,
and about 20 miles wide, lying in the angle formed by latitude 56° N. and
longitude 75° W., at an elevation of 750 feet. Clearwater River issues from
the northwestern end of the lake by three different outlets, and flows in
a westerly direction into Richmond Gulf. The three streams combine about
two or three miles below the lake, continuing as a sluggish stream for two
miles and breaking over a heavy rapid into a lake about seven miles long
by about half a mile wide, called Stillwater Lake. Below this, rapids are
continuous as the stream cuts its way down to the level of Hudson Bay.
The country between Clearwater Lake and Richmond Gulf consists of a
plateau about 750 feet above the level of the sea, its surface broken by
rounded ridges of granitic hills that rise from 100 to 400 feet above the
general level. Between the ridges, the valleys are filled with long, narrow
lakes, connected by short stretches of rapids. In its upper reaches, the
Clearwater, like most other streams in the area, flows almost on the surface,
but in its final 50 miles it descends by a series of falls to sea level. The
country is thinly forested, such timber as exists being confined to the
margins of lakes and the lower portions of the valleys. The greater part
of the timber consists of black spruce, with a few tamaracks scattered among them.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Clearwater River

Clearwater River, in its lower reaches, cuts across an area of late
Pre-Ca l m brian rocks similar to those exposed in the Ungava Depression in
which valuable mineral occurrences have been discovered. If similar
values are discovered along the Clearwater, it is possible that the region
might one day be of considerable economic importance, especially in view
of the close proximity of almost unlimited potential power owing to the
fact that all the streams flowing into Richmond Gulf drop over falls of
varying heights.
Reference:
<bibl> Dept. of Mines, Quebec. Extracts From Reports on the District of Ungava
or New Quebec . 1929. </bibl>

Clinton-Colden Lake

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

CLINTON-COLDEN LAKE

Clinton-Colden Lake, in the District of Mackenzie, northwestern
Canada, is one of the series of lakes comprising the Lockhart River system.
The Lockhart River rises in Mackay Lake to the west and after flowing
through a series of connecting lakes passes through Aylmer Lake, which
empties into Clinton-Colden Lake by means of a short stretch of the river at
Thanakoie Narrows. The Lockhart emerging from the southeastern extrimity
of Clinton-Colden Lake, enters Ptarmigan Lake and then Artillery Lake and
finally reaches Great Slave Lake after a circuitous course of 300 miles,
entering at its eastern end.
Clinton-Colden Lake, with an area of 253 square miles, has an elevation
of 1,226 feet, just four feet lower than that of Aylmer Lake, which it re–
sembles with respect to the nature of its surrounding country. Rocky ridges
showing up as hills along its borders ex x t end into the lake as points and
islands, separating long winding bays. The timber on its shores is small,
and the great extent of rock outcrop precludes any agricultural possibilities.
Any future economic importance that the surrounding country may have will
very likely be in the field of mining, since the country is underlain by
the Pre-Cambrian rocks of the Canadian Shield, which in other places have
proven productive. However, very little prospecting has yet been done in
the vicinity owing to its relative inaccessibility and the greater appeal

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Clinton-Colden Lake

of areas of equal promise nearer to the necessary transportation facilities.
Clinton-Colden Lake was named and first explored by George (later Sir
George) Back, who, in 1833-35, headed an expedition searching for the lost
British explorer, Sir James Ross, who turned up in England a considerable
length of time before Back himself returned. In 1900, J. W. Tyrrell, on
an expedition to explore the Thelon River for the Geological Survey of
Canada, passed up the lake and portaged across the divide from its northeast
angle.
References:
Back, George. Narrative of the Arctic Land Expedition to the Mouth of the
Great Fish River, and Along the Shores of the Arctic Ocean
[: ] n the Years 1833, 1834 and 1835 ; London, 1836.
Tyrrell, J. W. Annual Report ; Geological Survey of Canada, 1900.

Cochrane River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

COCHRANE RIVER

Cochrane River, northeastern Saskatchewan and northwestern Manitoba,
Dominion of Danada, drains Wollaston Lake, which lies wholly in the Province
of Saskatchewan, into Reindeer Lake, which lies on the boundary between that
province and Manitoba. It flows out of the norther n extremity of Wollaston
Lake, in latitude 58° 30′ N., longitude 103° W., and flows by a circuitous
course of about 200 miles into Reindeer Lake, which it enters in latitude 57° 55′
N. and longitude 101° 30′ W. Its whole course thus lies within one degree of
latitude and but one and a half degrees of longitude. Wollaston Lake bears
the distinction of dividing its waters between the Mackenzie River watershed,
by means of the Fond du Lac River, flowing into Athabaska Lake, and the Hudson
Bay watershed, by way of the Cochrane River, whose waters are drained into
Churchill River by the Reindeer River, which discharges Reindeer Lake. And
since both Wollaston and Reindeer Lakes are so near the height of land them–
selves, Cochrane River, which flows from one to the other, has few branches;
and consequently its drainage area is practically restricted to its own
actual valley. On the west, the Fond du Lac drains the bulk of the territory;
on the north, the headwaters of the Thlewiaza and Kazan rivers approach close
to its valley; while, on the east, several rivers flowing into Hudson Bay
restrict it in that direction. Nevertheless, it carries a considerable
volume of water, most of which comes from Wollaston Lake.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Cochrane River

It is a typical Canadian Shield river, consisting of lakes and lake-
extensions joined by short stretches of rapid-filled stream. Leaving
Wollaston Lake, it flows northward, for ten or twelve miles, in a wide
channel bounded by rocky shores in which many bays occur. It then swings
northeastward for 10 miles, still quite wide and lake-like, after which it
turns eastward through several lake-expansions, between two of which it
flows over the Big Stone Rapids. Two shore stretches of river and two small
lakes in this eastward course lead to Charcoal Lake, 16 miles long and about
two miles wide at its widest, lying in a northeast-southwest direction. From
the northeastern end of Charcoal Lake, the river continues in the same direction
directly for 10 miles in which it tumbles over Caribou Rapids with a fall of
25 feet. Another small lake-expansion occurs just as the river crosses the
102nd parallel of west longitude, which constitutes the boundary between the
provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Continuing a northeasterly course for
12 miles, in which two rapids occur with descents of six and three feet, res–
pectively, Cochrane River reaches its northernmost point in latitude 59° 07′
N., and then turns abruptly southward through a number of lakeexpansions and
and a rapid with a drop of seven feet, Shortly after rec or ro ssing the 59th
parallel, it swings g t o the southwestward for five miles, and then after
going over a rapid with a four-foot drop, tur s n s sharply to the east, expanding
again into a winding, lake-like stretch, continuing thus for five miles into
a small pear-shaped lake. From the southern end of this lake, Cochrane River
flows southwestward for four miles and then enters the northwestern angle
of a lake, five miles long, lying in a northwest-southwest direction. This
lake spills almost directly into Misty Lake over a rapid with a drop of
five feet. Misty Lake, seven miles at its greatest length by about five
miles wide, contains several large islands and its shores are indented

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Cochrane River

by a number of long arms and bays. Flowing out of the southern side of
Misty Lake, the river runs southwestward for two and a half miles in a com–
paratively narrow channel in the course of which it flows over White Spruce
Rapids, with a fall of six feet. Making a sharp turn to the northeastward,
it flows in this direction between wide banks, and then again turns south–
westward to enter a narrow lake 10 miles in length, lying northeast and
southwest, which does not seem to have a name. Flowing out of the southeastern
side of this lake, the river proceeds southward with many twists and turns
for five miles to Lac Brochet, 15 miles long by about five miles at its width
widest. This lake lies in a northwest-southeast direction, and is heavily
indented, especially on its northeastern shore, and contains a number of
islands. Leaving Lac Brochet at its southeastern extremity, the river is
tortuous, running over three rapids within a short distance, the third of which
has a fall of 17 feet. It than flows in a generally easterly direction through
a series of lake-expansions; and, shortly after going over Chipewyan Falls,
with a drop of six feet, it turns southeastward to enter a narrow, indented
lake, 15 miles long, lying approximately north and south. After leaving
this lake, the river flows slightly west of south for 12 miles in a compara–
tively narrow channel and then enters two parallel lake-expansions, each about
five miles in length, joined together at their northernmost ends, between which
a rapid occurs with a fall of four feet. Below the second of these expansions,
the river flows through a continuous series of expansions, holding a generally
southwesterly course, broken, however, by only one four-foot rapid until, in
the final 10 miles, it narrows and rushes between rock-bound walls with a
drop of 40 feet. Wollaston Lake has an altitude of 1,300 feet and Reindeer
Lake is at 1,150 feet above sea level, the river thus having a total drop of
150 feet.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Cochrane River

Cochrane River was first explored by A. B. Cochrane, of the Geological
Survey of Canada, who ascended it in 1881 from Reindeer Lake to its source
in Wollaston Lake. Formerly called Ice River, its present name was suggested
by Cochrane's colleague, Dr. J. B. Tyrrell, and has since been adopted.
Cochrane's report was not published, but most of the details on available
maps are derived from his notes.

Fort Confidence

EA-Geography
(Herma Briffault)

FORT CONFIDENCE

Fort Confidence, 66° 54′ N., 118° 49′ W., at the northeast end of
Great Bear Lake, immediately west of the outlet of Dease River. In ruins
at the present time, only gall chimneys stand, like monoliths, where once
were a group of log houses that served as wintering quarters in 1837 and
1838 for Thomas Simpson and Peter Warren Dease, who named the place and
set up the first buildings when commanding the Hudson's Bay Company expe–
dition sent out to survey arctic coastlines westward from Franklin's
farthest west and eastward from his farthest east. A large island fronting
it (Fishing Island) shelters the locality from winds, as do the trees of
the region. It is one of the few well-wooded spots on the northern shores
of Great Bear Lake. Over a long period of years, it was a strategic point
from which to explore the Dease River so that suitable portages for crossing
to the Coppermine could be laid out. Fort Confidence provided wintering
quarters for several Franilin search expeditions. Altogether, the site
is important in the history of the exploration of northern Canada.
The first constructions, described by Simpson, formed three sides of
a quadrangle, of which the main building was 40 feet long by 1 e 1 wide, com–
prising a central hall flanked by two bedrooms. Besides this there was the
"men's house," a structure 30 feet long and 18 feet wide; a "store," a kitchen,

EA-Geogr. Briffault: Canada - Fort Confidence

and "an observatory," the latter two buildings being erected in 1838. No
nails were used in the buildings, skillful dove-tailing being relied upon
to give them both neatness and durability. The original buildings were
subsequently destroyed by fire and were rebuilt by John Bell and Sir John
R o i chardson in 1848, when wintering on the Franklin search expedition of
1847-49. "All the houses erected by Dease and Simpson had been burnt
down," writes Richardson, "except part of the men's building. Mr. Bell reached
the site on the 17th August and immediately set to work." He constructed
a storehouse, two men's houses, a house for the officers. Richardson has
some particular remarks to make on the chimneys: "In the log houses, which
are commonly erected in this country, the chimneys are massive affairs of
tempered clay and boulder stones, and require to be leisurely constructed."
Hence their durability. Dr. John Rae, of the same expedition, wintered
at Fort Confidence in 1849-50. The buildings were still standing in 1899,
when Dr. Robert Bell's expedition reached the site in July of that year,
they were surprised, J. Macintosh Bell relates, "to find the log houses of
the fort still in good condition, although nearly half a century had
elapsed since their occupation." When David Hanbury reached the place in
August, 1902, the buildings were again in ruins, having been burnt a second
time. The walls and roofs were standing, however, and portions of the
buildings were capable of being made habitable. When Stefensson reached
the mouth of the Dease River in the autumn of 1910 (on his expedtion of
1908-12), nothing remained but the tall chimne [: ] s. In striking contrast
to this scene of desolation were the neat stacks of firewood, left by
Richardson's men and looking as if cut but the previous year, an illustration,
as he remarks, of the slowness of decay in far northern latitudes. George
Douglas, in the late autumn of 1911, pitched his tent one night on the old

EA-Geog. Briffault: Canada - Fort Confidence

site, among the ruins.
C. D. Melvill and John Hornby built their house in 1910 on Bear Lake
itself, a half mile east of the site of Fort Confidence. The house of
another famous frontiersman, John Hodgson, also built in 1910, is on the
east bank of the Dease River, not far away.
References:
Baird, P. D. "Expeditions to the Arctic," The Beaver , Winnipeg, The
Hudson's Bay Company, June-September, 1949.
Bell, J. Macintosh. Report on the Topography and Geology of Great Bear
Lake and of a Chain of Lakes and Streams thence to Great
Slave Lake. Geological Survey of Canada, Part C, Annual
Report, vol. xii. Ottawa, 1901.
Douglas, George M. Lands Forlorn, a Story of an Expedition to Hearne's
Coppermine River , New York, G. P. Putnam's, 1914.
Great Britain, House of Lords, Sessional Papers, Arctic Papers, vol. v, 1852.
Contains letters from Dr. John Rae to (1) the Secretary of
g t he Admiralty and (2) Sir George Simpson, dated Nov. 14, 1850
and April 15, 1851, from Fort Confidence.
Greely, A.W. A Handbook of Arctic Discoveries , Boston, Roberts Brothers, 1895.
Hanbury, David T. Sport and Travel in the Northland of Canada , London, Edw.
Arnold, 1904.
Richardson, Sir John. Arctic Searching Expedition (etc), London, Longman,
Brown, Green, 1851.
Simpson, Thomas. Narrative of the Discoveries on the North Coast of America ;
Effected by the Officers of the Hudson's Bay Company during
the Years 1838-39 . London, Richard Bentley, 1843.
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur. My Life with the Eskimo , New York, Macmillan Co. 1913.

Coronation Gulf

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

CORONATION GULF

Coronation Gulf, Mackenzie District, northern coast of Canada, is one
of the largest indentations on the coast. It lies in an east-northeast
direction, and is about 100 miles in length and about 55 miles wide, bounded
on the north by the south coast of Victoria Island. It is entered from the
west by way of Dolphin and Union Strait, which at the point of entrance is
about 25 miles wide. Cape Krustenstern, in latitude 68° 28′, longitude
116° 05′ W., is the eastern extremety of a hooked, rocky promontory rising
about 100 feet above the water. From Cape Krus [: ] nstern, the coast forming
the northern part of the western end of Coronation Gulf runs southward for
about 13 miles to Locker Point, which is low at the water's edge but is
overlooked by a high bluff called Kikigarnak some distance back from the
shore. At Locker Point, the coast turns abruptly westward and continues
in that general direction for about 18 miles to the entrance to Basil Bay,
about four miles wide at its mouth, which extends west-northward for about
eight miles, tapering gradually to a point. The shores of this bay are low,
with sandy beaches, rising gradually to low hills, which toward the head
of the bay are covered with grass.
Cape Hearne, a low shingly promontory, marks the southern entrance to
Basil Bay. Here, as at Locker Point, the cliffs lie some distance back from
the shore, rising at their highest to about 200 feet above the intervening
land. Between Cape Hearne and Cape Kenall, about 14 miles southwestward, a

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Coronation Gulf

triangular bay extends back from the line of the coast for about 10 miles
in a west-northwesterly direction. The shores of this bay are generally
low and grassy, with cliffs standing at some distance inland to the north.
Cape Kendall, standing out boldly, about 200 feet above the water, marks the
northern portal of Richardson Bay, which forms the southwestern extremity
of Coronation Gulf. Its entrance, from Cape Kendall to Mackenzie Point,
on the south shore of Coronation Gulf, is about seven miles across, and it
extends about the same distance southwestward, receiving at its apex the Rae
River, flowing in from the west. Richardson River, a smaller stream, flows
into Richardson Bay on its south side. A mile east of Mackenzie Point,
another, shorter, projection occurs, eastward of which, for four miles, the
south shore of Coronation Gulf is low and sandy, rising to a gravelly clay
bank about 100 feet high as the Coppermine River enters in latitude 67° 48′ N.,
longitude, 115° 30′ W. The river, at its mouth, is about a mole wide; and
on its southern side it has built up a sandspit which projects from a low,
gravelly plain [: ] lying at the foot of clay hills. The river, which rises
about 500 miles to the southeastward, follows a course slightly east of north
in its final stretch. The settlement of Coppermine (q.v.) stands on a ridge
on the western side of the river, and is the most important community east
of the mouth of the Mackenzie River.
Eastward from the mouth of the Coppermine River, the coast of Coronation
Gulf runs irregularly in an easterly direction with a slight bow to the
southward; the shore is low, with sandy or gravelly beaches. Farther east,
the coast becomes bolder, with bare, rocky cliffs, swinging to the east–
northeast. Several rocky points project into the sea in this stre [: c ] t ch, which
is also broken by the mouths of several small rivers. Tree River, the largest
of these, enters a narrow inlet called Port Epworth, extending five miles

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Coronation Gulf

southward. The shores of Coronation Gulf and the shores of this inlet are
from 400 to 500 feet in height, and on the eastern side of Port Epworth a
granite mountain rises to a height of about 1,000 feet. Beyond Fort Epworth,
the shore swings more to the northeastward and is roughly indented. Eighteen
miles northeast of Port Epworth, a rocky promontory extends in the general
direction of the coast, off the end of which is a large island called Hepburn
Island. Grays Bay lies in the angle formed by the promontory, and is further
protected by Hepburn Island. From the bottom of Grays Bay, the coast, still
high and rocky, trends in a northeasterly direction to Cape Barrow, in
latitude 68° 04′ N., longitude, 110° 54′ W.
Continuing the line of the coast northeastward for 40 miles across an
island-filled indentation, Cape Flinders, the [: ] southwestern point of
Kent Peninsula, is reached, marking the eastern extent of Coronation Gulf.
But extending southward from the line between Cape Barrow and Flinders is a
stretch of water about 40 miles wide and the same distance north and south.
This expanse of water forms the entrance to Bathurst Inlet, extending south–
ward for about 85 miles, as w e ll as the entrance to Melville Sound, extending
in a northeasterly direction. It is indented on all sides, and might reason–
ably be considered part of Bathurst Inlet into which it leads. Since, how–
ever, it is generally considered as part of Cornation Gulf, it is described
here as such.
Cape Barrow is the northern extremity of a bold headland consisting of
pink and grey granite, rising to a height of 340 feet, connected to the
mainland by a low neck of land a mile or less in width. From Cape Barrow,
the general trend of the shore forming the western side of this broad indenta–
tion is southeasterly for about 40 miles, terminating in Kater Point. In this

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Coronation Gulf

distance two indentations occur, Detention Bay, about seven miles south of
Cape Barrow, and Daniel Moore Bay, about eight miles farther to the south–
east. The latter is about six miles wide at its mouth and about the same
distance to its bottom. Kater Point is a high, bold headland, which con–
stitutes the northeastern extremity of a rounded promontory forming the
western side of Arctic Sound. The latter extends southward for about 15
miles, the final three of which constitute Baillie Bay, at the entrance to
which Hood River flows in from the southwest. At the entrance to Arctic
Sound, and for about seven or eight miles southward, the banks are high and
rugged, after which they fall away, and the country becomes low and covered
with grass. The eastern side of Arctic Sound is formed by a long, narrow
promontory, extending in a north-and-south direction, terminating in Wollaston
Point, which is generally taken to be the northwestern portal of Bathurst
Inlet.
A line from Wollaston Point east-northeasterly to Everitt Point, a
distance of 17 miles, marks the northern limit of Bathurst Inlet. Following,
now, the eastern side of the indentation connecting Bathurst Inlet with
Coronation Gulf proper, a shallow bay occurs between Everitt Point and
Cape Croker, about six miles to the northward, across the mouth of which
three islands form a chain. Cape Croker, which is on an island off the
coast, is the southwestern portal of Melville Sound, which extends north–
eastward for about 30 miles, where it connects by a narrow passage with
Elu Inlet, which continues in the same general direction for a further
40 miles, almost severing Kent Peninsula from the mainland. Opposite Cape
Cro [: ] er, and forming the northern portal of Melville Sound, are a group of
islands which enclose Parry Bay on their north side. The western end of

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Coronation Gulf

Kent Peninsula extends northward of this group of islands and is cut by
two deep, narrow indentations, the western shore of the second of which is
formed by the promontory terminating in Cape Flinders. A line northward
from Cape Flinders, across the mouth of Dease Strait to the south shore of
Victoria Island, is generally considered to mark the eastern end of Corona–
tion Gulf.
Conration Coronation Gulf, more perhaps than any other stretch of the Canadian
arctic coast, is filled with islands of all sizes and shapes. A short
distance off its western shore, just south of the entrance to Dolphin and
Union Strait, the Duke of York Archipelago consists of a cluster of relatively
small islands. As is the case with most of the principal islands and other
geographic features of Coronation Gulf, itself named in honor of the coronation
of King George IV of England, they were named by Sir John Franklin. The
Lawford Islands lie off the southern shore of the Gulf, between the mouth
of Coppermine River and Port Epworth. Hepburn Island, which helps to shield Grays
Bay, remains a monument to John Hepburn, the seaman from Orkneys to whom the
Franklin party owed so much. The section between Coronation Gulf proper
and the entrance to Bathurst Inlet is particularly filled with islands. The
Wilmot Islands are situated on the line between Cape Barrow and Cape Flinders,
consisting of a large island and a cluster of smaller ones. Southwestward
of this group lie the Chapman Islands, similar in characteristics to the
Wilmot group; and southeast of these lie the Lewes Islands, containing the
largest island of any in the three groups. Richardson Islands comprise a
group, of which one is about eight miles in length by about five miles wide.
These lie close to the Victoria Island shore, just west of a line running
north from Cape Barrow. Murray Island, about three miles in length by about
two miles wide, lies a mile or so west of the western end of the largest

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Coronation Gulf

Richardson island. It stands out boldly, its southward-facing escarpment
rising about 500 feet above the water.
The most important river flowing into Coronation Gulf is, of course,
the Ccoppermine (q.v.). About 12 miles west of Tree River, the Sallik River
enters; and between the Sallik and Coppermine two other fairly large rivers
flow in, the Kugaryuak and the Asiak. In the short stretch between Grays
Bay and Cape Barrow three streams enter, none of which is of any considerable
size, but Hood River, which flows into the bottom of Arctic Sound, is a fairly
large stream.
The timber line does not approach the coast anywhere along the shore
of Coronation Gulf nearer than about 40 miles, except for isolated clumps of
trees, and then only in the valleys of the streams. The land, however,
except where the rock is exposed, is well covered with grass and lichens,
and formerly provided pasturage for large herds of caribou and smaller numbers
of musk oxen. Coppermine River, from the coast as far upstream as Bloody Fall,
contains plentiful supplies of salmon, trout, and whitefish, which are dried
by the Eskimos and sold to the Hudson's Bay Company for use at other less–
favored posts. The region is also well stocked with furs, and the natives
there are much better off than many others along the coast.
Coronation Gulf was first explored by Captain (later Sir) John Franklin,
whose party descended the Coppermine River in 1821 from their base at Fort
Enterprise, northeast of Great Slave Lake, and then proceeded eastward in
boats along the coast as far as Point Turnagain, on the northwestern shore
of Kent Peninsula. On the return journey, the party ascended Hood River for
some distance and then marched overland to Fort Enterprise, but were reduced
to starvation before the survivors reached the post, only to find expected

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Coronation Gulf

stores of food had not been provided. John Richardson, of the second Franklin
expedition, explored the western shore of Coronation Gulf as far east as the
Coppermine River. Thomas Simpson and Peter Warren Dease, conducting explora–
tion on behalf of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1838 and 1839, traversed its
eastern and southern shores. Stefansson, journeying eastward along the coast
from his winter camp on the Horton River, traversed the [: ] western end of
the gulf as far east as the mouth of Coppermine River, which he ascended.
The following year, he descended the river and followed the shore westward to
Dolphin and Union Strait, crossing thence to Victoria Island. And in 1914-16,
much of the south shore of the gulf was surveyed by members of the Stefansson
Arctic Expedition 1913-18.
References:
[: ] Franklin, John. Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea in
the years 1819-20-21-22. London, 1823.
Franklin, John and Richardson, John. Narrative of a Second Expedition to the
Shores of the Polar Sea in the years 1825, 1826 and 1827 .
London, 1828.
Simpson, Thomas. Narrative of the Discoveries on the North Coast of America
during the years 1836-39 . London, 1843.
Stefaneson, V. My Life With the Eskimo . New York, 1913.
O'Neill, J. J. The Geology of the Arctic Coast of Canada, West of the
Kent Peninsula . Report, Canadian Arctic Expedition,
1913-1918, Vol. II.

Cree Lake

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

CREE LAKE

Cree Lake, in northern Saskatchewan, Dominion of Canada, lies in a
northeast-southwest direction between latitude 57° 13′ N. and 57° 43′ N.,
longitude 106° 01′ W. and 107° 13′ W., at an altitude of 1,570 feet above
sea level, with an area of 350 square miles. It lies just north of the
height of land separating the watershed of the Churchill River from that
of the Mackenzie River, and is drained by the river of the same name north–
ward into Black Lake, thence into Lake Athabaska by Fond du Lac River, and
ultimately reaches the Arctic Ocean Sea by way of the Mackenzie River. Its
shores are composed chiefly of Athabaska sandstone, which also composes many
of the numerous islands with which its expanse is dotted. Its shores are
heavily indented with the long, irregular inlets, divided by rocky points,
that are characteristic of lakes in that region.
The southwestern extremity of Cree Lake consists of two irregular bays,
separated by a promontory. Similar bays and promontories line the shores,
east and west and along the northern shore. Back from the shores, to the
south and east, the country consists of sandy plains, wooded with small
Banksian pine. Farther north, the country consists of gently rounded
hills wooded with small pine, where an occasional sandy escarpment stands
out. The hills and projecting points consist generally of gneiss, but these
protrude through the overlying Athabaska sandstone. Cree Lake, like many others

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Cree Lake

in the same line running northwestward from Lake of the Woods, on the south,
to Great Bear Lake, on the north, marks the contact between the comparatively
unaltered Palaeozoic and the highly altered Pre-Cambrian rocks.
This lake, after the ice sheet had receded, stood at a much higher
altitude, and was also much larger, as is shown by raised beaches to be seen
at various places along its shores. The islands with which it is studded,
except those of sandstone or gneiss, consist mainly of unassorted glacial debris,
and lie in the same direction as the main axis of the lake. They are more or
less oval in shape, rounding up from each end toward the middle, which is their
highest part. The materials of which they are composed seem t o have been
deposited by glacial streams discharging into crevasses in the ice, which thus
became filled with unassorted sand and gravel that was left in the shapes now
seen when the ice melted away from their sides. For these deposits, not quite
the same in form or composition as eskers, which are also found in many places
where glacial drift has accumulated, Dr. J. B. Tyrrell has suggested the
Indian tern ispatinow . The largest island in Cree Lake, of this type, is
called Ispatinow Island.
Cree Lake was first explored in 1892 by J. B. Tyrrell, of the Geological
Survey of Canada, when he ascended the Mudjatik River from Churchill River,
crossed the divide to a stream flowing northward into Cree Lake and then,
after traversing the west shore of the lake, descended Cree River to Black
Lake and the Fond du Lac River, g thence to Lake Athabaska.
Reference:
<bibl> Tyrrell, J. B. Report on the Country Between Athabaska Lake and Churchill
River. Geological Survey of Canada; Annual Report, Vol.VIII.
1896. </bibl>

Cree River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

CREE RIVER

Cree River, northern Saskatchewan, Dominion of Canada, drains the lake
of the same name into Black Lake, and is this part of the Mackenzie River
draindge system. It rises in about latitude 57° 42′ N., and leaves the lake
as a broad, shallow stream flowing over a bed of broken sandstone fragments
with a current of from six to eight miles an hour. Six miles below Cree Lake,
the river drops from 30 to 40 feet in a distance of two miles over what is
called the Hawk Rapids, and half a mile farther down rushes swiftly between
walls of sandstone 10 feet in height. The country through which it runs con–
sists of low hills covered with boulders and thinly wooded with Banksian pine.
For several miles beyond the swift water last mentioned, the river alternately
expands into wide bits of quiet water and rushes down stony rapids. Following
this, it enters a region of morainic hills composed of boulders which rise in
places to about 100 feet in height, after which a further stretch of sandy
country occurs. This type of river continues for 20 miles — heavy rapids
where the stream runs very swiftly, then gradually expanding and running over
a wide bed of gravel and boulders. At no point does it flow through a
definitely marked valley, which indicates, of course, the recent nature of
the channel, and the shortness of time, from a geological standpoint, since
the recession of the ice sheet. This shortness of time is accentuated by the
fact that streams in this latitude are frozen for the greater part of the year
and consequently only during the summer time is much erosive action possible.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Cree River

As the Cree River crosses the 58th parallel, Little Cree River flows in from
the southwest. A few miles below the mouth of Little Cree River, the main
stream flows for three-quarters of a mile over a heavy rapid, with another
nine miles farther down stream. The country here consists of stony hills.
Following this, the river holds a relatively straight course in a north-
northeasterly direction, between low, marshy banks in a valley a third of
a mile wide and 40 feet deep. Rapid River now flows in from the east, and
four and a half miles below, a series of heavy rapids begins, each separated
from the next by stretches of quiet water. This series is ended by a rapid
three miles in length in which the drop is 40 feet. The valley here lies
between hills of boulders rising from 100 to 150 feet on each side, and the
bed of the river consists of boulders that have fallen into it from both
sides. Deep and narrow in its upper part, the rapid spreads near its lower
end over a wide, shallow, boulder-strewn flood-plain. For four and a half
miles the river continues wide with low banks, after which a series of rapids
begins, lasting for four miles to the mouth of the Bad-water River. From the
mouth of Bad-water River, Cree River flows northward for three miles through
undulating Trout River and then flows over the last rapid in its course.
Below the mouth of Trout River, the Cree flows slightly east of north
for 16 miles to the mouth of Sandy River. Beyond the mouth of the latter,
Cree River turns sharply to the west and, flowing five miles in that direction,
enters Wapata Lake, about three miles across, out of which it flows through a
short lake-expansion before entering the long, narrow southwestern end of
Black Lake. Cree River is 108 miles long, and in the distance between Cree
and Black lakes falls 541 feet.
Cree River was first explored in 1892 by J. B. Tyrrell of the Geological

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Cree River

Survey of Canada, who descended it from its source to its mouth as part of
a reconnaissance survey conducted by him in association with D. B. Dowling
between Athabaska Lake and Churchill River. While it provides a link in a
canoe route from Churchill River to Athabaska waters, its difficulties are
such that few will be tempted to go that way, and consequently, unless
valuable minerals are some day found along its course, it is likely to
continue as unfrequented as in the past.
Reference:
<bibl> Tyrrell, J. B. Report on the Country Between Athabaska Lake and
Churchill River. Geological Survey of Canada,
Annual Report, Vol. VIII. 1896. </bibl>

Dawson

EA-Geography - Canada

DAWSON

Dawson, administrative centre of Yukon Territory, is situated on the
east bank of the Yukon River, north of its confluence with the Klondike
River. It is named after Dr. G. M. Dawson, a geologist who explored the
region in 1887. Dawson is a base of supply and distributing point for
the Klondike gold-fields, and has a population of about 800. In addition
to the Dominion Government administrative buildings, Dawson contains a
Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment, two banks, a telegraph office,
a Government radio station (Department of National Defence), a weather
station, a post office, public and separate schools, a public library, a
hospital, Church of Kngland and Roman Catholic churches, a motion picture
theatre, stores, hotels, and substantial private residences. The town has
electric light, telephone, and water services. A system of roads radiates
from Dawson to the placer mining areas of the Klondike [: ] istrict where
large gold dredges operating in the creeks and valleys are of great interest
to tourists. A ferry provides a means of crossing the Yukon River to West
Dawson, and a truck and tractor road extends westward to the Alaskan
boundary and beyond the dredge camps situated on upper Fortymile River in
Alaska. A landing field for aircraft is located in Klondike River Valley,
12 miles from Dawson.
From: Nor' West Miner
March, April 1950

Dease Lake

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

DEASE LAKE

Dease Lake, in Northern British Columbia, slightly more than twenty-
four miles long and averaging less than a mile wide, lies almost due north
and south just west of the 130th [: ] meridian, between the 58th and 59th
degree of north latitude. Its altitude of 2,660 feet above sea level, is
only about 100 feet lower than the height of the divide, two miles to the
south of its upper extremity, which separates the Pacific and Arctic
watersheds. Dease Lake, on the arctic side of the divide, drains north–
ward by way of Dease and Liard rivers into the Mackenzie River.
The lake was discovered in 1834 by John McLeod, Chief Trader of the
Hudson's Bay Company, who had been stationed at Fort Halkett, on the Liard
River. In that year he traveled up Dease River and Lake on his way to the
Stikine River to establish a post for his company. He named both river and
lake after Peter Warren Dease, a fellow-officer of the Hudson's Bay Company.
Owing to the intransigence of Russian traders at the mouth of the Stikine,
who prevented the Hudson's Bay Company's ship, Dryad, from entering the
river, no post was established in the area at the time, and McLeod returned
to Fort Halkett.
In 1838, another Hudson's Bay officer, Robert Campbell, attempted to
establish a post on Dease Lake, and in the spring of that year succeeded in
doing so. During the following winter, however, his party had a very difficult
time. "We were dependent for subsistence on what animals we could catch," he

EA-Geography: LeBourdais: Canada - Dease Lake

wrote later, "and, failing that, on ' tripe de roche '. We were at one time
reduced to such dire straits that we were obliged to eat our parchment windows,
and our last meal before abandoning Dease Lake, on 8th May, 1839, consisted
of the lacing of our snowshoes." The post was not reopened.
Dease Lake was next discovered by gold miners, when Henri Thibert, a
French-Canadian and his partner, a Scotsman named McCulloch, prospecting up
the Liard and Dease rivers, reached Dease Lake in 1872; and hearing that
miners were working on the Stikine to the southwest, continued on to those
diggings to try their fortune. They found the best ground already taken,
and the following spring were on their way back to the Liard when they dis–
covered gold on a creek near the lower end of the lake, which they called
Thibert's Creek. They remained to work the ground and were later joined by
others who crossed from the Stikine.
During that summer gold was also discovered on Dease Creek, which runs
into the west side of the lake about sixteen miles from its head. The gold
was coarse and claims were worked for about six miles above its mouth, with
one or two good claims farther up. Like most placer diggings, however, the
paystreak was quickly worked out; what may be called the life of the camp
extended over a period of about twelve to fourteen years.
Laketon, at the mouth of Dease Creek, was the principal settlement, and
during the height of the boom was a busy spot. For many years it has now been
a [: ] host town, like most others that owe their existence to the vagaries of
placer gold mining.

Dease River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

DEASE RIVER

Dease River, in Mackenzie District, northwestern Canada, drains the
territory northeast of Great Bear Lake, between that lake and the Copper–
mine River drainage basin, and should not be confused with another river
of the same name, tributary of the Liard River in northern British Columbia.
It forms part of a difficult canoe route by way of Dismal Lake to the Copper–
mine River and thence to the arctic coast at Coronation Gulf.
The branch of the Dease bearing that name on the map, rises in Lake
Rouvier, which is about five miles long and lies near the watershed between
the Dease and Coppermine drainage areas, in approximately latitude 67° 10′,
longitude 117° 30′ W., and flows westward to its junction with the branch
called the Sandy River, coming in from almost due north. Above the junction,
neither branch is really navigable, although the Sandy is considered to be
the canoe route referred to above. Following the junction, the Dease flows
southwestward, and is about 20 yards wide, with a sluggish current, flowing
between moderately high, steeply sloping and occasional cut banks. In one
place, the river has cut its way through a bed of rock, where a considerable
rapid occurs. Twenty miles below the junction of the Sandy and the Dease,
and about the same distance above the river's outlet, the East branch comes
in. This river was renamed the Stefansson by George M. Douglas because
Stefansson had his winter camp there in 1910-11, but the change of name has
not yet appeared on the maps. Below the junction with the East River, the

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Dease River

Dease is a broad, shallow stream, averaging about 130 yards wide, contracting
occasionally, however, to as narrow a stream as 10 or 15 yards. Its current
is intermittent, flowing in places swiftly over shallow rapids, succeeded by
deeper stretches where the current is almost sluggish.
The Dease has figured in a number of famous expeditions and its historic
interest is out of proportion to its size, length, or any commercial value
that has so far been disclosed. It comes first into history in 1826, when
Dr. John Richardson, of the Franklin Expedition, having gone down the Mackenzie
River to the Arctic Sea, thence eastward to Coronation Gulf and up the Copper–
mine and Kendall rivers to the source of the latter in Dismal Lake, portaged
across to the head of the Dease (Sandy River) and descended it to Great Bear Lake,
proceeding to Fort Franklin at the western end of the lake.
The next expedition to use the river was that of Peter Warren Dease
(for whom it was named) and Thomas Simpson, officers of the Hudson's Bay
Company, when the latter in 1838, from their winter quarters, Fort Confidence,
at the [: ] eastern end of Great Bear Lake, ascended the Dease to the head of
Sandy River and crossed to Dismal Lake, which received its name from him, and
then descended the Kendall and Coppermine rivers, proceeding eastward along
the arctic coast. Returning in the fall, he retraced his steps down the Dease,
and in the following year again made a trip up and down the river.
During the Franklin search, Dr. John Richardson and Dr. John Rae,
together in 1848, ascended the Cop p ermine and reached Great Bear Lake by way
of the Dease. In the second year of the same expedition, after Richardson's
departure, Rae again followed the Dease route. It is not known that the
Dease was again used from the close of the Franklin Search until 1900, when
Dr. J. Mackintosh Bell of the Geological Survey of Canada, accompanied by

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Dease River

Charles Camsell, ascended it to a point from which Lake Bouvier was visible.
In 1902, David Hanbury came by canoe up the Coppermine and Kendall to the
west end of Dismal Lake and crossed south to the Dease and thence to Great
Bear Lake.
In 1910, the Stefansson party left their sledges near the mouth of the
Coppermine. They traveled inland, back-packing themselves and their dogs,
and spent the summer hunting along the Kendall River, Dismal Lake, and the
headwaters of the Dease, especially about the head of the east branch. That
autumn, with one Eskimo companion, Stefansson followed the Dease afoot to its
mouth. He traveled up and down it several times during the winter, for the
party had their winter quarters near the tree line on the east branch.
In the autumn of 1910, Joseph Hodgson, a retired Hudson's Bay Company
trader, built a cabin a short distance up the Dease at what is now known as
Hodgson Point. He and his family hunted along the Dease that year. And a
few weeks later (in the autumn of 1910), the English explorers, C. D.
Melville and John Hornby, built a cabin just east of the site of Fort Confi–
dence. The autumn of 1911, George M. Douglas and party arrived at the mouth
of the Dease which they ascended the following year on their way to the
Coppermine, returning later by the same route, an account of which has been
written by Douglas.
References:
Richardson, John. Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar
Sea in the Years 1825, 1826 and 1827 , etc.: London, 1828.
Stefansson, V. My Life With the Eskimo . New York, 1913.
Douglas, G. M. Lands Forlorn . New York, 1914.

Dease River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

DEASE RIVER

Dease River, in Northern British Columbia, which drains the lake of
the same name into the Liar [: ] , is about 180 miles in length, but, according
to Dr. George M. Dawson of the Geological Survey of Canada, who surveyed it
in 1887, "measured in straight lengths of one mile it is one hundred and
twenty-seven miles." Its general course is N.N.E. Dease River was named
in 1834 by John McLeod, Chief Trader of the Hudson's Bay Company, after
Peter Warren Dease, a fellow-officer of the Company.
The river, after leaving the lake, has an estimated width of from 100
to 150 feet and a depth of no more than three feet. It twists and turns,
meandering about a wide, flat valley. About eight miles down stream, the
river narrows and runs between high mountains on each side, rising from
1,000 to 5,000 feet. A few miles farther, it expands into a small lake,
followed within a few miles by three other similar expansions. These lakes
are from a mile to two miles in length, and impose a limitation upon the
navigability of the river because the ice usually remains in them for a
considerable time after it has gone out of the river, and it also forms
earlier in the fall.
Dease River is fed by many tributaries and rapidly increases in size.
The first t ri ir butary of consequence, going down [: ] tream, is the Cottonwood.
It comes in from the northwest and occupies a wide valley bordered by high
mountains. Cottonwood Rapids are passed a short distance below the mouth

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Dease River

of the Cottonwood, [: ] but offer no serious impediment to navigation
for experienced canoemen.
The next important tributary is McDame Creek, coming in from the
northwest. At its mouth is Sylvester Landing, for many years the site of
a trading post, originally establish ing ed by R. Sylvester. Gold was dis–
covered on McDame Creek in 1874, and Sylvester's was the base of supply
for miners working on that and other nearby creeks.
Rapid River comes in from the east, just before the Dease, previously
following a northeast course, makes a sharp swing to the north, which it
continues for about thirty miles. Here the valley is much wider, the mountains
recede and are markedly lower. Lateral valleys here, in the leo of the high
mountains through which the river has just passed, get relatively little pre–
cipitation, and prospectors and others make a practice of wintering their
horses in them, owing to the scantiness of the snowfall. The vegetation is
distinctly that of the "dry belt" and bundhgrass predominates.
French Creek comes in from the southwest, and shortly after the river
makes an abrupt turn to the northeast, which general direction it follows
for the final thirty miles of its course. Blue River joins from the west
twelve miles from the bend. For the first time the country loses its
interesting characters; no mountains are to be seen from the river valley,
although the current continues to be strong. Four miles before the Dease
reaches the Liard near Lower Post, it rushes over a number of rapids which
sometimes annoy, if they do not otherwise inconvenience, the voyageur.

Doré Lake

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

DOR e É LAKE

Dor é Lake, northern Quebec, Dominion of Canada, is one of the sources
of the Nottaway River, which empties into the lower end of the east side
of James Bay. It is drained by the Chibougamau River, one of the principal
tributaries of the Nottaway. Dor e é Lake is a companion-lake to Lake Chibou–
gamau, in much the same way that Mistassinis Lake pairs with Mistassini
Lake (q.v.). Dor e é Lake is 12 miles long by about two miles at its greatest
width, very irregular of outline, and lies in a northeast-southwest direction.
To look at the two lakes on the map, Dor e é Lake could easily be taken for the
western section of Chibougamau Lake, separated from it by a narrow, rocky
promontory and an adjoining island; but Dor e é Lake, at an elevation of 1,218
feet above sea level, is 12 feet lower than the former, and consequently
must be considered a separate lake.
Gouin Peninsula, which, with Ile du Portage, forms the eastern shore of
Dor e é Lake, ex [: ] ends for 11 miles in a northeasterly direction, varying in
width from a quarter of a mile to about a mile and a half. Ile du Portage,
about three miles long by two miles wide, blocks the northeastern end of
the long, narrow strip of water constituting Dor e é Lake. Narrow passages
connecting Dor e é Lake with Chibougamau Lake separate Gouin Peninsula and
Ile du Portage on the east shore of Dor e é Lake, and between Ile du Portage
and the western mainland. In addition to the water communication with
Chibougamah Lake, between the [: northern ] northeastern extremity of the
peninsula and Ile du Portage, several portages across the peninsula exit.

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Dor e é Lake

The shores of Dor e é Lake, including Gouin Peninsula, consist of granitic
rocks, with the exception of part of Ile du Portage and the southwestern
angle of the lake, near its outlet, which are covered by glacial till and
where no rock outcrops. The lake contains many small islands, but about
midway a group of several fairly large islands almost divides the lake into
two sections. The southwestern end of Dor e é Lake is divided into two deep
bays by a boreal promontory; from the head of the westernmost of these the
Chibougamau River, the discharge of the lake, flows southwesterly. Several
deep irregular inlets indent the west shore, of which [: c] C ache e é Bay and Cedar
Bay, in the mid-section of the lake, are the principal. A few small streams
flow into the lake, but its principal inflow is from Chibougamau Lake, of
which it forms the only outlet.
The country surrounding Dor e é Lake is well timbered with black and white
spruce, the former predominating, balsam fir, Banksian pine, white birch,
with tamarack in the lower, swampy parts. Much of the country has, however,
been ravaged by fire at different times, and consequently a good deal of the
timber is second-growth. If it were not so inaccessible, this timber might
be commercially valuable, at least for pulp. [: ] he lake is well stocked with
fish, of which lake trout and whitefish are the principal ones, but quanti–
ties of brook trout, pike, pickerel, suckers and chub also abound. For over
a century, the region has produced excellent furs, but excessive trapping'
has not greatly reduced the number of fur-bearing animals. Steps have been
taken in recent years to conserve the fur-bear t e rs, but since the region seems
destined soon to become the scene of active mining operations, wild life will
doubtless have to give way to the demands of industry.
The principal minerals of economic importance so far discovered are

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Dor e é Lake

gold-bearing copper culphide and gold quartz, which have been found in a
number of places. One of the principal deposits up to the time of writing
is on Cedar Bay, development of which was begun in 1934 by The Consolidated
Mining and Smelting Company of Canada. No ore has yet been discovered in
the Chibougamau area sufficiently rich to justify extensive mining operations
in present circumstances; and therefore all holders of mining properties can
do is to wait until better transportation facilities are provided.
The region was visited during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
by fur traders, missionaries and explorers seeking a route to James Bay.
Fur, and perhaps some day, timber, seemed all that the country could ever
be good for, except, for local consumption, the fish with which the lakes
are filled. The granitic rocks were not then considered likely to contain
minerals of economic importance. In 1903, however, Peter McKenzie discovered
what seemed to be valuable deposits of asbestos, gold and copper. At that
time the greater emphasis was placed upon the presence of asbestos. Many
other prospectors followed McKenzie and, despite its inaccessibility, interest
was developed in the possibilities of the area. Since development depended
almost entirely upon better transportation facilities, the Government of the
Province of Quebec was pressed to build a railway into the district; but
before engaging upon such an undertaking, the Government appointed a com–
mission to investigate the mineral resources. The commission, known as the
Chibougamau Commission, consisting of Dr. A. E. Barlow, Special Lecturer
in Economic Geology at McGill University, Montreal, chairman, and E. N.
Fairbault, of the Geological Survey of Canada, and J. C. Gwillim, Professor
of Mining at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, entered the region in
1910. Its exhaustive report, made in 1911, stated that no asbestos deposits

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Dor e é Lake

of economic importance had been discovered, and that such gold and copper
deposits as had been found were not commercially valuable. This report
seriously retarded the development of the country.
Opinions in geology, as with all sciences, change as further informa–
tion becomes available. In 1911, the importance of the vast region of
northern Canada underlain by Pre-Cambrian rocks was not yet appreciated.
The gold mines of Porcupine and Kirkland Lake, in northern Ontario, and
the gold-copper of Noranda, in northern Quebec, had not yet been discovered.
The Chibougamau area, furthermore, is a difficult country to prospect; in
addition to the handicap of distance from bases of supply, the rocks are
thickly covered by moss, requiring costly and laborious stripping before
their nature can be ascertained. Prospectors, however, continued their
efforts; and many properties have since been located, some of which, with
cheaper transportation, are capable of profitable operation. This may soon
be forthcoming because a railway is being built into the Ungava Peninsula,
to the northeast, to develop extensive iron ore deposits there.
The first scientific exploration of the area about Dor e é Lake was under–
taken in 1870 by the Geological Survey of Canada, when James Richardson con–
ducted an investigation of its geology, Dr. A. P. Low, also of the Survey,
devoted much of his time between 1884 and 1905 to the exploration of Labrador,
including the Chibougamau region. Detailed work was done in 1927 and 1930
by J. B. Mawdsley, and continued in 1930 by G. W. H. Norman, also of the
Geological Survey of Canada.
References:
Low, A. P. Report of Exploration in the Labrador Peninsula Along the East
Main, Koksoak, Hamilton, Manicuagan and Portions of Other Rivers
in 1892-93-94-95. Geological Survey of Canada, Annual Report,
Vol. VIII, 1895.
Mawdsley, J. B., and Norman, G.W.H. Chibougamau Lake Map-area, Quebec.
Geological Survey of Canada, Memoir No. 185, 1935.

Dubawnt River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

DUBAWNT RIVER

The Dubawnt River, Northwest Territories of Canada, is the principal
tributary of the Thelon River, draining a considerable area in southeastern
Mackenzie and westerly Keewatin districts. It rises in the height of land
northeast of Lake Athabaska and follows a generally northeasterly course of
580 miles to join the Thelon River in Beverly Lake. Its watershed extends
from latitude 62° 20′ N. to latitude 64° 35′ N., and from longitude 99° 30′
W. to 107° 55′ W.; but because of the proximity of the Kazan, on the east,
and the upper part of the Thelon, on the west, the watershed is long and
narrow. In the Dubawnt's upper reaches, its course is through a fairly
well-wooded region; but for the greater part of its length it traverses a
treeless territory.
The Dubawnt River rises in Labyrinth Lake, on the edge of the tableland
forming the height of land between the Mackenzie River and Hudson Bay drain–
age areas, although two streams draining chains of small lakes flow into
Labyrinth Lake from the southwest. Leaving Labyrinth Lake at its northeastern
end, the Dubawnt, after five miles, expands into Brule Lake, and then into
another small lake. Flowing out of the latter, the Dubawnt continues on a
on a northeasterly course for 10 miles, and then swings southeastward for
half a mile into Sandy Lake, a triangular expansion about five miles long.
Leaving Sandy Lake, the Dubawnt flows through Mountain Lake, about the same
size as Sandy Lake, and within a short distance enters a long westerly-extending

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Dubawnt River

arm of Smalltree Lake, which lies in latitude 61° N., and longitude 105° 30′ W.
The river continues eastward out of the eastern end of Smalltree Lake, through
a small lake, and then enters the northwestern end of Anaunethad Lake, an
irregular, straggling lake about 30 miles long, lying in a northwest-south–
east direction. Between Anaunethad Lake and Wholdaia Lake, the water merely
spills over the edge of one rocky basin into the next, producing a series of
slight rapids, although the difference in level between the two is very small.
Wholdaia Lake lies at an altitude of 1,225 feet above sea level, and, in a
sense, is an extension of Anaunethad Lake, continuing the same general axis
and consisting of a similarly contorted and irregular outline. Its length,
from the point where it joins Anaunethad Lake to its southeastern extremity,
is about 50 miles; but, in addition to this, an arm stretches twenty miles
to the northeast from the end of which the Dubawnt emerges, expanding imme–
diately thereafter into two small lakes. Below these, the river flows north–
ward in a fairly regular channel for six miles, expanding into Hinde Lake,
six miles long, which inclines to the northeast. A further short stretch
of channel in a generally northward [: ] irection leads to Boyd Lake, about
15 miles long to about two miles at its widest.
During most of this distance, the surrounding country has been well
wooded, with black and white spruce, tamarack and aspen, but below this point
the timber begins to thin out. It is a region of innumerable lakes of all
sizes occupying irregular, shallow depressions sccoped out of the gneissic
rocks by the action of the glaciers in the ice age.
From Boyd Lake, the river flows mainly northward for five or xis six miles
into Barlow Lake, roughly wedge-shaped, about eight miles in length by about
three miles wide at its top, which lies across the intersection of the 62nd

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Dubawnt River

degree of north latitude and longitude 103° W. Flowing swiftly over strong
rapids, the river continues for three miles northeasterly to a somewhat
larger, more irregular lake, lying northwest and southeast, called Carey
Lake. Here the timber finally ceases, and from then on the country con–
sists mainly of rolling tundra. It was at this point that the Tyrrells, in
1893, saw a herd of caribou that covered the countryside.
At the outlet of Carey Lake, the Dubawnt plunges down a rapid with a
fall of 30 feet; and in the following 20 miles seven other rapids occur
with a total drop of 120 feet. The river here runs northwesterly into
Markham Lake, about seven miles in length by about four wide. A short
stretch of stream connects Markham and Nicholson lakes, the latter abou [: ]
seven miles by five, lying in a northeast-southwest direction. Leaving
Nicholson Lake at its northern extremity, the river swings to the northeast,
flowing over a series of six rapids for a total drop of 100 feet, and enters
the west side of Dubawnt Lake.
Dubawnt Lake, with an area of 1,600 square miles, at an elevation of
500 feet above sea level, is the largest in Keewatin District, although a
portion of its western side is in Mackenzie District. It is cut by the
102nd degree of west longitude (boundary between Mackenzie and Keewatin
districts) and is also cut by the 63rd degree of north latitude. Like other
lakes in the Pre-Cambrian region, it contains many long, narrow islands and
is consequently a maze of channels. The red and grey gneisses through which
the river has rup run up to this point now give way to red and grey sandstones
and coarse conglomerates, cut and altered by dykes and masses of dark green
trap and bright red quartz porphyry.
Dubawnt River flows out of the northeastern angle of Dubawnt Lake and

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Dubawnt River

shortly after rushes down a rocky gorge, not more than 50 yards wide, followed
by three rapids in a distance of about four miles, and then expands into Grant
Lake, about four miles long. The latter receives on its west side the Cham–
berlain River, flowing from the southwest. The surrounding country here con–
sists of long sandy ridges with terraces, probably of marine origin, extend–
ing along their sides. From Grant Lake, the river flows over a rapid and
then continues through a wider stretch of channel, where the current is slack,
running first northward and then northeastward and over another heavy rapid
into the south end of Wharton Lake, which lies in latitude 64° N., at an
elevation of 300 feet above sea level. Wharton Lake is wedge-shaped and about
12 miles long, by about four or five at its greatest width, which is toward
the north. From its eastern side an arm extends southeasterly for about half
a mile, expanding into a small lake a mile in length. From the eastern end
of this expansion, the river continues eastward for a mile, flowing in a wide
channel; and then, breaking over rapids, runs nor t hward for three miles into
the southern end of Marjorie Lake, which is triangular in shape and about
five miles long. In the four or five miles between Wharton and Marjorie lakes,
the river drops 40 feet. Where the Dubawnt leaves Marjorie Lake at its north–
western angle, a rapid occurs, after which it flows northwestward for 30 miles
at a rate of about three miles an hour between sandy banks, and again breaks
over rapids. Six miles below these final rapids, the river enters the
expansion connecting Beverly and Aberdeen lakes. Between Marjorie and
Aylmer lakes, the river drops 127 feet; and between Dubawnt and Aylmer
lakes, the drop is 370 feet.
The Thelon River, about the same size as the Dubawnt, flows into the
western end of Beverley Lake, and theceforth, until the combined stream

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada: Dubawnt River

discharges its waters into Baker Lake and Chesterfield Inlet on Hudson Bay,
it goes under the Thelon name, although formerly it was known for the whole
distance as the Dubawnt.
The first person of European descent to see the Dubawnt River was
Samuel Hearne, when he crossed and recrossed it on his journey to the Copper–
mine River in 1771-72. It was first explored in 1893 by J. B. and J. W.
Tyrrell (q.v.), of the Geological Survey of Canada, when they ascended the
Black (now Chipman) River into Selwyn Lake and crossed the height of land to
a lake on its northern side which they called Dely, after the then Minister
of the Interior of Canada, and which for some time was considered to be the
source of the Dubawnt. The name of this lake has since been changed to
Wholdaia, while the source of the river has been found to be considerably
farther west, as described above.
References:
Tyrrell, J.B. Report on the Doobaunt, Kazan and Ferguson Rivers and the
Northwest Coast of Hudson Bay. Geological Survey of Canada,
Annual Report, Vol. IX, 1896.
Tyrrell, J.W. Across the Sub-Arctic of Canada . Toronto, 1908.

Eastmain River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

EASTMAIN RIVER

The Eastmain River, in the northern part of the Canadian province of
Quebec, drains an area of 25,500 square miles in the southwestern portion
of the Ungava Peninsula, or N [: e ] w Quebec, as it is now officially called.
It rises in the granitic hills of the tableland which lies between latitudes
52° 30′ N. and 54° N., longitude 69° W. to 71° W., and flows in a generally
westerly direction, discharging into James Bay not far north of the latter's
southeastern angle. The river's chief sources are Lakes Opemiska, Wahemen
and Patamisk, which occupy rocky basins within a short distance of each other.
With a length of 375 miles, its watershed is long and narrow, due to the
proximity, on the south and north, respectively of the Rupert and Fort
George rivers; its tributaries, in consequence are many but short.
Patamisk Lake, at an elevation of 1,800 feet above sea level, is drained
through a succession of smaller lakes into Opemiska Lake. What is called the
Pemiska branch of Eastmain River flows out of the south side of Opemiska Lake;
and, as is often the case in the Pre-Cambrian regions, a heavy rapid occurs
where it leaves the lake. At this point, the Eastmain is a small stream,
occupying an indefinite, rocky channel. After flowing southwesterly for a
distance of about 20 miles, it is joined by the branch draining Lake Wahemen.
The combined stream then flows westward and, swinging to the north, takes in

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Eastmain River

Long Portage Creek, which comes in from the northeast. Below the mouth
of Long Portage Creek, the river, now considerably increased in volume,
is about 200 yards wide and averages three feet in depth, flowing through
a number of lake-expansions and over many rapids for about nine miles, after
which it divides into two channels for a distance of nearly four miles to
enclose a large island, and then receives the Misask River, which enters
from the northeast. The latter is a fair-sized stream, which again con–
siderably increases the Eastman's volume. The course is now southwesterly,
and continues thus for about 45 miles. In this section, long islands of
glacial till are numerous; the river bottom, a mile wide in places, is
strewn with boulders and angular blocks of gneiss and granite. A g t the end
of this stretch, the river takes a sharp turn, flowing almost back upon its
course for two or three miles during which a drop of 55 feet occurs. At the
apex of the turn, two small tributaries come in from the north. Once more
resuming a general southwesterly direction for about four miles, Eastmain
River again separates into two channels to take in a large island just above
the confluence of the Kowatstakau River, which com [: ] s in from the north.
Following this, the course once more becomes southwesterly for about eight
miles t o the mouth of the Tichegami River, which flows in from the southeast.
From the headwaters of this stream, a portage route leads southward to Lake
Mistassini.
The country through which the river flows in this section is low and
almost flat, with only a few isolated hills seldom rising mo [: ] e than 100 feet
above the general le a vel. The river occupies a shallow valley from 300 to
1,000 yards wide, with low sandy banks. The soil is typical glacial till,
composed of sand and clay with an admixture of boulders. The country is

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Eastmain River

thickly timbered with black spruce, Banksian pine, poplar, tamarack and
white birch.
Eastmain River is here from 200 to 400 yards wide, frequently expand–
ing into lakes of various sizes and enclosing many islands, At the point
where Grand Island, 14 miles long by nine wide, divides the river into two
channels, a stream comes in from the mouth, draining a chain of lakes which,
with portages, provides another canoe route between the Eastmain and Lake
Mistassini. Below the island, the river runs westward again for five or six
miles, and then, turning northward, flows into and out of the eastern end of
Lake Nasaskuaso, which extends westward for about six miles at right angles
to the stream. This lake lies among rocky hills which rise from 200 to 400
feet above the surrounding country. Ross River comes in from the northeast
a mile below the outlet of Lake Nasaskuaso, after which the Eastmain, with
many twists and turns, enters upon a northwesterly course. A short distance
below the mouth of Ross River, the Eastmain plunges through Ross Gorge where,
in two miles, it drops 60 feet. Then, bending to the west, it flows through
Prosper Gorge, where in a succession of rapids a drop of 100 feet occurs.
Continuing on a course slightly south of west, the river makes an abrupt
turn to the northwest, where it enters the Great Bend; its width of a quarter
of a mile now contracts to little more than 100 yards, and for the next
fifteen miles it flows between high, rocky banks over a succession of rapids
and cascades. At the lower end of this stretch, Broken Paddle River comes
in from the northeast, and beyond this the river makes a curve to the northwest
before continuing its general westerly course, during which it passes through
Conglomerate Gorge where it is divided into a number of channels by narrow,
rocky islands between which the water rushes with great velocity through chutes

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Eastmain River

with a total fall of over 100 feet. Below this point, the river, previously
flowing almost on the same level as the s [: ] rrounding country, runs in a more
definitely marked valley. Lake-expansions, which hitherto have been numerous,
now become fewer, since the river is better confined between definite banks.
A number of tributaries are received on each side in this stretch, the river
swinging to the northwest again for 10 miles below the gorge, after which it
makes a sharp turn and flows for a mile and a half through Clouston Gorge,
which is a straight chute never wider than 100 feet and sometimes as narrow
as 30, with a fall of 105 feet.
From here to its mouth the river flows in a shallow valley across a
succession of broad terraces of stratified sand anc clay. In its descent
from one terrace to the next below, the river cuts a valley back into the
sand and clay until the underlying rock is reached, and the degree of hard–
ness of this rock determines the nature of the falls or rapids which occur
in each case. Below Couston Gorge, the Eastmain flows slightly south of west
for 25 miles to its confluence with the Opinsaka River, during which, among
other obstructions, it flows through a 65-foot chute called Island Falls,
followed by rapids bringing the total fall to 120 feet. Six miles farther on,
another chute occurs with a 20-foot drop called the Talking Falls.
The Opinaka is a considerable stream draining a series of lakes, largest
of which is Eye Lake, 25 miles long by nine miles wide, lying to the northeast,
The river now approaches its lower reaches and its valley and the surrounding
country are fairly well wooded. Two miles below the mouth of the Opinaka,
the valley becomes gradually narrower and the rapids heavier; the river is now
only 100 yards wide and falls 75 feet through a shallow, rocky gorge called
Basil Gorge. In this section the banks are from 50 to 100 feet high, and

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Eastmain River

they decrease in height with the distance from the sea. In the eight miles
between the mouth of the Opinaka and the head of tidewater, 17 miles from
the coast, the river is, for most of the distance, about a quarter of a mile
wide; below [: ] hat point, flowing due west, it widens in places to over a mile,
and is filled with islands of all sizes; its current is from two to four
miles an hour, its banks low and sandy. Three miles above the river-mouth,
on the south shore, the Hudson's Bay Company's post is situated. The East–
main is about a mile and a half wide where it enters the bay, and is obstructed
by many sand bars, most of which are bare at low water, leaving shallow channels
between.
Reference:
<bibl> Low, A. P. Report on Exploration in the Labrador Peninsula along the Eastmain ,
Koksoak, Hamilton, Manikuagan and Portions of Other Rivers in 1892 -
93-94-95: Geological Survey of Canada, Annual Report , 1895. </bibl>

Fawn River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

FAWN RIVER

Fawn River, northwestern Ontario, Dominion of Canada, is a tributary
of the Severn River (q.v.). It rises in Trout Lake, in latitude 53° 45′ N.,
longitude, 90° W., and flows in a generally northeasterly direction for
about 120 mioles, after which it swings to the northwestward and flows in
that direction for about 60 miles, entering the Severn just above Limestone
Rapids, 56 miles from the sea. The nature of the territory through which
the Fawn runs is similar to that traversed by the Severn. While it also
contains many rapids, it is easier to navigate than the Severn, and conse–
quently Indians and others wishing to reach the headwaters of the Severn
usually ascent it, and portage across to the Severn from Trout Lake. F r om
the Indians' standpoint, the Fawn River route is a better one because the
lakes through which the Fawn runs are better for fishing.

Ferguson River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

FERGUSON RIVER

Ferguson River, in the Northwest Territories of Canada, drains an
area in Keewatin District lying westward of Hudson Bay. Serving chiefly
to connect a series of lakes, large and small, with which that area is covered,
its length is but 180 miles, in which distance it drops 400 feet.
It rises in Ferguson Lake, which lies approximately in latitude 63° N.,
longitude, 96° 10′ W., not far east of the northeastern angle of yathkyed
Lake, which is drained by the Kazan River flowing northward into Baker Lake,
thus draining into Hudson Bay. Ferguson River, which runs at right angles
to the Kazan River, also discharges into Hudson Bay.
The river emerges from Ferguson Lake as a shallow, rapid stream about
30 yards wide and flows eastward for five miles, draining two small lakes on
the way, and enters the western end of Kaminuriak Lake, a shallow, sprawling
lake, which lies at an altitude of 320 feet, set in a till-covered plain,
from which rolling, grassy plains sweep off to a distances. Flowing out of
the south side of Kaminuriak Lake, Ferguson River, now a much larger st r eam,
60 yards wide and two feet deep, runs swiftly for a third of a mile into a
small lake, after which it divides to enclose a long, flat, grassy island,
at the end of which is a cascade with a 15-foot drop. Below the rapid, the
river continues with a strong current to a lake extending southeast for seven

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Ferguson River

miles with a width of from three-quarters of a mile to a mile and a half.
Emerging from this lake at its southeastern angle, the river flows south
with a continually swift current for two and a half miles, and enters the
northwestern end of another lake of similar size. It flows out of this lake
at the northeast angle, continuing for two miles through a rocky gorge, and
then turns southeast for two and a half miles among bold, rocky hills, where
it breaks over a strong rapid. Below this point, the river flows eastward
for two miles in a straight channel with steep rocky banks, and then passes
through a small lake surrounded by hills. After emerging from this lake, it
flows over a rocky rapid three-quarters of a mile in length, and, still flow–
ing swiftly, flows into Quartzite Lake.
The river leaves Quartzite Lake in a rather indifferent channel, and a
mile and a half farther on rushes through another heavy rapid and into a small
lake. Flowing through three lakes, the second and third of which are separated
by a rapid, where it runs over boulders, after which it enters the northwestern
end of a narrow lake, the last on the stream. Some distance below Quartzite
Lake, a short tributary is received, which drains Kaminak Lake, which spreads over
a considerable area a few miles to the southwest, whose longest dimension is
about 34 miles.
From the southeastern end of its final lake, the Ferguson River flows in
a south-southeasterly direction down an irregular and comparatively steep decline
in a shallow, boulder-lined channel. After continuing thus for a mile and
three-quarters, the river turns abruptly to the east and flows with an easy
current in a wide channel, when it is obstructed by a heavy, crooked rapid a
third of a mile long, after which there is another half mile of east water,
followed by a rapid with a fall of 10 feet. For the next three-quarters of a
mile the river flows with a moderate current, contracting then and rushing

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Ferguson River

swiftly between walls of trap and granite. Immediately below this short
gorge, the river flows swiftly for two miles and a quarter over a wide bed
of pebbles and, passing through a rocky gap, empties into Hudson Bay at the
head of Nevill Bay.
Ferguson River was first explored in 1894, when Dr. J. B. Tyrrell (q.v.),
of the Geological Survey of Canada, portages across from the Kazan River, and
traversed it from Ferguson Lake to its mouth. It has since been geologically
surveyed by other members of the Survey.
Although the west coast of Hudson Bay, as well as the greater part of
Keewatin Districts, is underlain by granites and greisses, a group of rocks of
volcanic and sedimentary origin outcrop along the coast between Rankin and
Dawson inlets, and similar outcrops occur at various places along the Ferguson
River. Since such rock assemblages in other parts of the Canadian Shield con–
tain metallic occurrences, it is considered possible that similar deposits
might some day be found at some point on the Ferguson River; at any rate,
the Geological Survey suggests that such areas might well repay the efforts
of prospectors.
References:
Tyrrell, J. B. Report on the Dubawnt, Kazan and Ferguson Rivers and the
Northwest Coast of Hudson Bay: Geological Survey of
Canada; Annual Report , Vol. IX, (1896); 1897.
Weeks, L. J. Meguse River and Part of Ferguson River Basin, Northwest
Territories; Geological Survey of Canada; Summary Report ,
Part C.; 1932.

Finlay River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

FINLAY RIVER

The Finlay River drains a narrow strip of territory along the western
flank of the Rocky Mountains, between latitudes 58° N. and 56° N., in north–
eastern British Columbia. It is the farthest source of the Peace River, one
of the principal tributaries of the Mackenzie. It rises in a cluster of
lakes occupying adjoining valleys between the Cassiar and Omenica ranges of
mountains in or about Latitude 57° N. and longitude 127° W. The branch
flowing out of Thutade Lake is usually considered the principal source, and
after leaving that lake the stream runs northwestward for about 35 miles and
then expends into a narrow, lake-like section 18 miles long. Below this, as
it cuts through a spur of the mountains before making its great bend to the
southeast, it contracts into a succession of canons, the most formidable of
which is Long Ca ñ on, where for five miles the river rushes between cliffs
600 feet high, narrowing in places to less than 100 feet. At the end of this
southeasterly stretch, the Quachada comes in from the northeast. Owing to
the proximity of the Rocky Mountains, most of the Finlay's branches flowing
in from the east are small, but the Quachada, whose milk-white color gives
the key to its glacial origin, is an exception.
Below the Quachada, the river enters the Rocky Mountain Trench, one of
the most remarkable transverse depressions on the continent. Beginning south
of the International Boundary, it continues northwestward for over 800 miles
along the western flank of the Rocky Mountains, during which it is successively

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Finlay River

occupied by the headwa t y ers of the Kootenay, Columbia and Fraser rivers
draining into the Pacific, and the Peace, which drains into the Arctic.
Eleven and thirty-five miles, respectively, below the mouth of the
Quachada, the Paul and Akie rivers flow in from the east. The Finlay valley
in this stretch is from three to six miles wide, the channel, broken by many
sandbars, from 100 to 150 yards wide, and the stream flowing at a rate of
about four miles an hour. The general course is southeasterly, but the
river twists and turns continually. Fifteen miles below the mouth of the
Akie, the river enters Deserters' Ca n ñ on, a narrow, tortuous defile about half
a mile in length, which at its narrowest is not more than 100 feet wide.
Fourteen miles below Deserters' Ca n ñ on, the Ingenica, one of the Finlay's
principal tributaries, comes in from the west. It is about 55 yards at its
mouth and rises not far from Lake Thutade. Gold was first discovered in its
sandbars and terraces in 1891, since when mining has been more or less con–
tinuous, but the richest deposits have long been exhausted.
Fort Grahame, a trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company, is located
20 miles south of the Ingenica to supply the prospectors and Indians living
along the upper Finlay and its branches. Thirty miles below Fort Grahame,
the Ospica comes in from the east; and a mile farther on, the Omenica, the
Finlay's largest tributary, enters from the west, contributing about one-fifth
of the Finlay's volume at that point. With its many branches, it drains a
large area lying to the east of the Omenica Range, a considerable amount of
which has agricultural possibilities. Gold was discovered on the Omenica in
1868, and some of its bars and benches have been worked ever since, although
in recent years the amount of gold recovered has been negligible. A few
miles before it joins the Parsnip, at the Forks, the Finlay receives Manson

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Finlay River

River from the west, which, with the Ingenica and Omenica, has provided the
bulk of gold recovered from what is generally called the Omenica goldfields.
The Finlay meets the Parsnip head-on in latitude 56° N., longitude 123° 15′ W.,
at which point it is about 300 yards wide. After the two streams meet, they
turn abruptly to the eastward and, as the Peace, begin the passage through the
main range of the Rocky Mountains on the first lap of the way to the Arctic Sea.
The Finlay was first ascended in 1797 by John Finlay, an officer of the
North West Company, after whom it was named; and was explored to its source
by Samuel Black, of the Hudson's Bay Company, in 1824. Since it is not on any
through route, and he who goes up must come down again, and also perhaps because
of the many serious obstructions in its upper reaches, it has not been ascended
to its source by many travelers or explorers. In 1893, R. G. McConnell, of
the Geological Survey of Canada, surveyed it as far as a short distance beyond
Long Ca n ñ on, surveying also its principal tributaries.
It is the haunt of some of the largest game animals on the continent,
the grizzly bear, the moose, the caribou, as well as mountain goats and
sheep, and for that reason some big-game hunters have visited it. It and
its tributaries are well stocked with fish, the most important of which are
rainbow and Dolly Varden trout. The Indians who live along the Finlay belong
to the Sekani tribe, a branch of the great Dene family, and they live entirely
on fish and game, supplemented by supplies secured from traders in exchange
for furs.
References:
McConnell, R. G. Summary Report . The Geological Survey of Canada; Ottawn, 1893.
Haw ro or th, P. L. On the Head Waters of Peace River . New York, 1917.
Burpee, L. J. The Search for the Western Sea . Toronto, 1935.

Finlayson Lake

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

FINLAYSON LAKE

Finlayson Lake, nine and a half miles long by about a mile wide, in
southeastern Yukon Territory (latitude 61° 45′ N., longitude 130° 15′ W.),
is one of the sources of the Liard River, a tributary of the Mackenzie.
Lying in a northwesterly-southeasterly direction at an elevation of 3,105
feet above sea level, it marks the summit of the watershed between the
Yukon and Arctic drainage basins. It is drained southeastward by the
Finlayson River, which flows into the west arm of Frances Lake. No rock
exposures are seen along its shores; its beaches are mostly gravel, with
some swamp in places. The country generally is overlain by a mantle of
glacial drift; the glaciers responsible, however, were local and not part
of the ice sheets which covered the greater part of the continent during
the glacial period. Finlayson Lake was discovered in 18 4 5 0 by Robert
Campbell of the Hudson's Bay Company when he traveled from the lower Liard
River to the headwaters of the Yu i kon (Pelly) River by way of the Liard,
Frances River and Lake, Finlayson River and Lake and across the 15-mile portage
to the Pelly. River and lake were named by Campbell after Duncan Finlayson,
Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company, and were explored by Dr. George M.
Dawson, of the Geological Survey of Canada, in 1887.
References:
Dawson, George M. Report on an Exploration in the Yukon District, N.W.T. and
Adjacent Northern Portion of British Columbia, 1887 . The
Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, 1898.
Burpee, L. J. The Search for the Western Sea . Toronto, 1935.

Finlayson River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

FINLAYSON RIVER

Finlayson River, 35 miles in length, drains the lake of the same name
in southeastern Yukon Territory, and is one of the sources of the Liard
River, a tributary of the Mackenzie. It is a shallow stream, blocked by
many sandbars and choked with fellen timber, which renders it practically
unnavigable except for short stretches where the water is deeper. In its
final four miles, it flows through a narrow rock ca n ñ on filled with rapids in which the
total drop is 300 feet. Finlayson River was discovered in 1840 by Robert
Campbell, of the Hudson's Bay Company, on his way from the Liard to the head–
waters of the Yukon (Pelly) River, and named by him after Duncan Finlayson,
Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company. It was visited by prospectors in
the 1870′s and some gold was recovered from its bars, but not sufficient to
justify large-scale operations. It was explored in 1887 by Dr. George M.
Dawson, of the Geological Survey of Canada, on his exploratory journey from
the stikine River to the Yukon, by way of the Liard and Frances Rivers.
References:
Dawson, George M. Report on an Exploration in the Yukon District. N.W.T.
and Adjacent Northern Portion of British Columbia, 1887 . The
Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, 1898.
Burpee, L. J. The Search for the Western Sea . Toronto, 1935.

Fortymile

EA-Geography - Canada

FORTYMILE

Fortymile is a small placer mining settlement situated on the west
bank of the Yukon River about 47 miles below Dawson at the mouth of
Fortymile River. It has a post office.
From: Nor' West Miner
March, April 1950

Fond Du Lac River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

FOND DU LAC RIVER

Fond du Lac River, in northern Saskatchewan, Dominion of Canada, con–
stitutes a part of the great Mackenzie waterways system, draining an area
north of Churchill River, south of the Thelon drainage area, and west of
the height of land separating the Mackenzie and Hudson Bay drainage basins.
Wollaston Lake in which it rises has the almost unique distinction for such
a large lake of providing the source of two rivers of almost equal size
which flow in opposite directions. The Cochrane River issues from the
northern end of Wollaston Lake, flows into Reindeer Lake, which is drained
by Reindeer River into Churchill River, and its waters eventually reach
Hudson Bay. Fond du Lac River, on the other hand, flows out of the north–
western angle of Wollaston Lake, and, following a general west-northwesterly
course through Hatchet and Black lakes, in addition to many smaller ones,
enters the eastern end of Lake Athabaska. Its drainage basin thus extends
from latitude 56° 30′ N. to 60° 20′ N., and from 103° 35′ W. longitude to
106° W. It is a swift stream, broken by rapids and falls throughout the whole
of its length.
At the point where Fond du Lack River flows out of Wollaston Lake, it is
narrow and runs over rapids in a bed of large granite boulders, but shortly
widens considerably. For the first three or four miles the banks are rocky,
but shortly after the country becomes low, without any rock in sight. The river
here flows generally northwesterly, plunging over one serious rapid and another

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Fond du Lac River

smaller one before Hatchet Lake is reached. Hatchet Lake, irregularly
rectagular in shape, and [: ] otted with islands, is 12 miles long at its great–
est length and seven miles at its greatest width. Fond du Lac River empties
into its southeastern corner, issuing again from the opposite corner. A
short distance below Hatchet Lake, the river drops over a rapid with a fall
of 18 feet. This rapid is divided at its head into two channels by an island,
and shortly below the rapid the river expends into a small lake which consists
of a wider section of the stream lying about east and west, and from which
project northward two narrow parallel arms about two miles in length. Below
this lake, the river runs northwesterly over three rapids with drops of eight,
six and twelve feet, respectively, and enters Crooked Lake, which is merely
another expansion of the river, [: ] g extending for seven miles. Poplar Rapids
mark the outlet of the lake, and also the first appearance of poplar trees
west of Wollaston Lake. The river is now between 80 and 100 feet wide.
Three-quarters of a mile below the last rapid, another occurs with a drop of
10 feet; and about this point the river reaches the region underlain by
Athabaska sandstone, which from now on largely forms its banks.
Waterfound River, rising in the height of land which separates its
headwaters from those of the Haultain River flowing south into Churchill River,
here flows in from the southwest. It enters a deep extension of the Fond
du Lac, which in a sense reaches out to meet it. From the mouth of the
Waterfound River, the Fond du Lac River flows generally northward through
four lake-expansions of various sizes, none of any considerable size, each
of which is separated from the next by a heavy rapid. Kondaw Lake, studded
with islands, about 10 miles long by about five in width, marks the point where
the river turns from its northward course and continues generally westward. The

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Fond du Lac River

country here consists of morainic hills composed of boulders intermized with
red sand, rising from 50 to 75 feet in height. Issuing from Kosdaw Lake, the
river is again interrupted by rapids, and passes into a long, narrow Lake–
expansion below which is a stretch of quiet water about three and a half miles
in length, broken, midway, however, by a slight rapid. Below this stretch,
two further rapids occur, with drops of five and ten feet, respectively. Here
the river splits into three channels, below which it narrows and flows with a
swift current into the eastern end of Otter Lake, three and a half miles in
length. Beyond Otter Lake, the river continues westward over a small rapid
and then another with a fall of six feet and into a lake two miles long.
Below this small lake, the river plunges down a rapid with a drop of 30 feet.
This is known as Thompson Rapid, and it was here that David Thompson was upset
from his canoe in 1796 and lost all his equipment. It is 60 miles from
Wollaston Lake, and about midway between the latter and Black Lake. A short
distance below Thompson Rapid, another one occurs where the fall is 12 feet
and farther on, a second one, where the drop is 15 feet. Beyond this, the
nature of the river changes, its channel becomes much more pronounced and
fever lakes occur.
A few miles below the last-mentioned rapids, the river goes over a fall
of 15 feet, called Manitou Falls, where the water tumbles in two streams over
a rocky sandstone ledge into a narrow channel about 25 feet wide, which opens
into a shallow, rocky basin. Below these falls, the river runs northwestward
for three miles with a swift current, where the banks on the south are mostly
of sandstone, and of boulders on the north side. A drop of 15 feet occurs
at the end of this stretch. Beyond this, the river flows quietly for five
miles, continuing on a westward course through a wide, swampy valley between

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Fond du Lac River

banks of sandstone from 10 to 20 feet high, and then swinging to the north–
west, continues thus for three miles, below which Brink Rapids extend for a
mile with a total drop of 25 feet. Shortly below this, the river flows over
Brasay Rapids, nearly a mile in length, where the stream is divided into two
channels by a large island. Moose Lake, which is merely an expansion of the
river, now extends for about six and a half miles; and below the lake two
rapids occur between its outlet and the mouth of the Hawk-rock River, which
flows in from g the south. Beyond the mouth of the latter, Fond du Lac River
consists for five miles of a series of lake-expansions which terminate in an
abrupt bend to the north. The river flows in this direction for about a mile,
in which North Rapids occur, and then, following a further series of lake–
expansions, it turns northeastward, continuing thus for 13 miles to the mouth
of Perch River, coming in from the east. Just beyond the mouth of Perch
River, the Fond du Lac swings to the north-northwest for six miles in which
another rapid occurs between two lake-expansions. As the river swings again
to the westwa d r d, Porcupine River enters from the northeast; and shortly below,
the Fond du Lac, p [: ] eviously flowing through wide banks, divides into two
channels around in an island and plunges over Burr Falls, where the water
rushes for 300 yards between bare rocky walls 40 feet apart, th [: ] greater
portion of the water flowing on one side of the island and ending with a
drop of 25 feet. Below this, another divided fall occurs making a total
descent of 43 feet. Three-quarters of a mile below the foot of these falls,
the river, now about 100 yards wide, flows into the southeastern side of
[: ] Black Lake, through two channels whicn enclose Burr Island.
As it emerges form Black Lake, Fond du Lac River, flows northward for
three miles of almost continuous rapids, called Elizabeth Falls, in which the

EA-Geog. LeBourdais: Canada - Fond du Lac River

descent is 110 feet, after which it enters Middle Lake, about two miles long,
and then flows northward for half a mile and westward a mile. The whole
distance from the outlet of Middle Lake is another continuous rapid known
as the Woodcock Rapids, with a total drop of 81 feet. At the end of this
stretch, the river, running northward, divides about an island, then turns
slightly south of west, gradually widening into a lake-expansion about eight
miles long. Carp River flows into the north side of this expansion from the
northwest. Fond du Lac River contracts again below this point, rushing over
Stony Rapids for a fall of 25 feet after which, wide and quiet, it enters
the eastern end of Lake Athabaska.
The first persons to traverse Fond du Lac River, aside from Indians,
were undoubtedly fur traders. In 1796, David Thompson, of the Northwest
Company, ascended Reindeer River to Reindeer Lake, from which he crossed [: at ]
to Wollaston Lake by way of Swan River and its chain of lakes and portages;
and from Wollaston Lake he ascended Fond d g u Lac River to its mouth. In 1881,
A. S. Cochrane, of the Geological Survey of Canada, made a track-survey
from the lower Saskatchewan River, by way of Churchill and Reindeer rivers,
to Reindeer Lake, and from there ascended the river since known by his name
to Wollaston Lake, and from there descended Fond du Lac River to Lake Atha–
baska. In 1892, J. B. Tyrrell, also of the Geological Survey, assisted by
D. B. Dowling, explored the river from its source in Wollaston Lake to its
mouth, as part of an extensive reconnaissance survey conducted by them
between Athabaska Lake and Churchill River.
References:
<bibl> Tyrrell, J. B. Report on the Country Between Athabaska Lake and Churchill
River . Geological Survey of Canada; Annual Report, Vol.
VIII, 1896. </bibl>

Fort George River

EA-Geography
(D. M. LeBourdais)

FORT GEORGE RIVER

Fort George River, formerly called Big River, drains a considerable
area in the central partof the Ungava Peninsula, now called New Quebec,
in the Canadian province of Quebec. It is 520 miles