Naming Places

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If you are ever responsible for naming something, please think twice before doing it. Don’t just go for a boring name — there must be 1000 places in Canada called “Long Lake” or “Hillview.” Places in the NWT, in particular around Wrigley, have some of the best names!

river in the NWT, viewed from C172
River Between Two Mountains (photo taken out the window of a small plane)

Wrigley River (It ain’t straight!)
Moose Pasture Creek
Fish Trap Creek
River Between Two Mountains (This is my favourite!)
Willowlake River
Gun Rapids
English Chief River
Ochre River
Bear Mountain Creek (Isn’t there a coffee company named after that? Or a soap company?)
Redstone River
White Sand Creek
Mud Lake (Gee, don’t you just want to go swimming there!)
Slim Lake
Blackwater Lake
Highland Lake
Greasy Lake (I wonder if there is oil seeping there…)
Willow Ridge
Trench Creek
Twin Fish Lake
Moose Lakes

Of course, there are some geographic features named after people:
Smith Creek
Hodgson Creek
Johnson River
Mount Steiner
Mount Gaudet
Camsell Bend, Mount Camsell and Camsell Range (Whoever this Camsell guy was, he got a lot of things after himself!)
Mount Kindle (named after the inventor of the ebook reader of course!)
Ebbutt Hills (I assume this was named after someone, or someone’s butt)
McGern Island
Iverson Lake
Carlson Creek

I keep hoping I’ll find a river named after me, but not yet… Or even a creek. Really, just a trickle. Or a pond. I’m not fussy!

There are also quite a few named in the local First Nations language. I wonder if these words are descriptive, or named after people?
Dahakaycho Lake
Paeentee Lake
Peekayo Lake
Nothaykay Lake
Klochotee Lake
Eentsaymeay Pond
Dathahneelee River
Dahadinni River
Eentsaytoo Lake
Notseglee Lake
Podaytayshe Mountain
Paynaychee Mountain
Nahanni Mountain
Dokale Creek
Shegonla Hills (Or is this Fringlish? “Where’d she go? She gon la.”)
Nodaday Creek (Not a day goes by I don’t miss my honey!!)
Soto Creek
Gashoday Creek
Tonaeenlee Lake

I wonder if some of those mean “place where mosquitoes hatch” or “river with slimy rocks on the banks” or “lake where the fish don’t bite.” If you have ideas, leave them in the comments! 🙂

I’m sure in the early days of Canada, the geographical surveyors got completely blasé about naming things, judging by some of these:
Dam Creek
Fish Lake
Cap Mountain
Table Mountain (There are two Table Mountains around here, and isn’t there one near Banff too?)
Lone Mountain
Twin Peaks
Willow Creek

So, if you are ever given the opportunity to name something, go for a good descriptive name*! Or, get a Native elder to name it for you, just make sure you find out the meaning (or you might end up with a name meaning “dumbest place on Earth” or “the Great Spirit wiggles its nose at you”).

*The above does NOT apply to naming children. Don’t name your kid Redface, Screamer, Head-Full-of-Hair, Chubby, Wrinkly, Baldy, Buttonnose…

Fly in to Fort Simpson

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I would like to take a moment to encourage anyone interested in exploring the Northwest Territories to do so by small airplane! What better way to see the north? You skip over the rough roads and save time while getting a beautiful view! And right now, that’s the only way here! 🙂

Our ice bridge went out yesterday. You see, the village of Fort Simpson is situated on an island in the Mackenzie River, right at the confluence of the Liard River. There is a permanent crossing to the island over the snye, so that’s not a problem — some would argue it’s not a true island then. But our village is on the west side of the Liard, and since the highway comes from the east, a river crossing is necessary. In summer, it’s done with a ferry, the Lafferty.

Image from the GNWT site

In winter, once the ice is thick enough, they build an ice bridge. This means they grade, flood and maintain the crossing to make it as smooth and safe as possible. Last week, it was starting to get very bumpy and it was restricted to 4X4 vehicles only and yesterday, while I was working, it “went out.” This doesn’t mean that the ice was so thin or detached from the banks that it actually “left.” It just means that it wasn’t safe any more and it is likely to start breaking up soon.

What else can I say? This is a very nice area, with lots of tall trees and the two rivers (Liard and Mackenzie). It is so picturesque… There’s a business, Rowe’s Construction, that is just a construction yard like any other, but it’s on the most lovely spot, with a scenic view of the confluence. I swear, ten degrees (hundreds of km) farther south, this would be where the uppity condos or sprawling million-dollar mansions are built!

I’ve sort of become used to living somewhere people go to get things…. High Level, Edmonton, and Sudbury are all “hub” communities, with significant populations of people located on the edges, or for miles around, who come into town to get the things they need. Now, I live somewhere that people live. Does that make sense? It’s a subtle difference. Fort Simpson isn’t a hub, although it’s the only town (village, actually) for hundreds of kilometres (not exaggerating). Everyone just lives together peacefully — First Nations people, English, French, many other nationalities and every possible combination!

There is a different feel in town. Perhaps it’s our removal from mainstream society that brings us together, much as facing common hardships bonds people as friends. Not that we have very many hardships to endure, but our groceries are sometimes lacking (or ridiculously expensive), and our mail service a little slower than major centres, and we live without many conveniences that those of you in urban centres cannot imagine! There is no coffee shop, and I have found myself wishing on days off that I had a place to go, sip a latte and surf the wireless, but alas, I must make my own latte and enjoy our wireless at home! I won’t even go into the speed of the internet, but for those of you geeks out there, let’s just say it’s about a tenth of what the rest of southern Canada has. I’m not sure how the internet gets here, but I’m pretty sure we are all funneled through a common, monster satellite connection (hence at busy times, it slows down even more).

The village has its own power generation on site, as transmission lines long enough to reach us from, well, anywhere, are completely impractical. Once in a while, something gets a little out of whack with the phases of the power, and one day, an alarm went off at the airport because of that. Suddenly, even though the regular power appeared to be unaffected, the runway edge lights and PAPIs stopped working, as did the microwave in the lunch room. Go figure! This power-phase issue might relate to the little-known fact that stove clocks in Fort Simpson run fast. My roommate told me this, and sure enough, we set our stove clock a few weeks ago, and it is now running about 40 minutes fast. It used to only run 10 minutes fast (we had trouble setting the minutes). So, one of my running jokes is that time is weird in Fort Simpson.

And it is weird! I have been here less than a month, and it feels like three! Days pass amazingly slow when there isn’t a lot going on, and at work, if I am busy (one day I had 80 acft movements in my 12-hour shift!), it only speeds up a little. I’ve had second- and third-order deja vu a few times, which I haven’t had in quite a while. I think it’s aliens! Or the northern lights — we get them a lot here, and they are so amazing. Maybe the aliens are using the aurora to control our minds! If that’s the case, the message they are sending here is “what’s the rush? Relax. You have lots of time…”

The preceding post was started last week, on April 26. As of today, I am actually done in Fort Simpson for a month or so. I’m being transferred to Wrigley! But that’s a whole other post (which will have to wait, because I won’t have internet there…)!

More Adventures

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Since the York boat expedition ended, I’ve been having lots of adventures, although none as publicized as that one was! My honey and I went on a 4-day trip on the Hay River, which was awesome! Later, I went on a 2-day trip on the Chinchaga with a good friend of mine, and last week, I guided a 3-day trip on the Peace River. I taught my first introductory session for kayaks today too! So, I’ve been canoeing on overnight trips a total of 9 days, and sometimes, frankly, I just have to pinch myself. This is my job?!?! Man, I am the luckiest son-of-a- !

Today, we tried out our sailing canoe! Darren did all the rigging and took it out first, while I was kayaking, and figured out how to steer and turn and all that! When I was done, he took me across the lake, which was awesome! We actually had the boat tilting enough that I had to lean, which was exciting and a little scary, but in a good way. It was very cool. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any pictures of it, but I’ll leave you with a pic of the boat on land. Extra-special thanks to Uncle Keith for giving it to us! We love it!

And here’s a few from the Hay River and Chinchaga River trips!

A neat spot on the Hay River where a loop of the river has been closed off, creating an oxbow lake.
Lovely scenery along the Hay River
One of many Canada geese we saw.
Looking towards the Chinchaga River from our campsite
The bank is eroding out from under an old cabin along the Chinchaga River.

Big, New Idea

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We are having the most amazing indian summer here right now, and I hate to be stuck at the computer – or at work, and of course I am working 10 days in a row! – because all I want to do is be outside! The leaves are starting to change colours, and it’s been so nice and warm (reaching 25 degrees C the last few days), Footner LakeI just feel like it’s the last chance of the year to enjoy summer! Darren and I went paddling on Sunday morning, which was awesome, but I would love to go every day.  🙂

But no, I’m stuck at the keyboard, researching, writing, figuring, designing… And what have I been steadily working on for the last couple of weeks (hence not much blogging)? My paddling business! That’s right, I am starting my own business, which I’m naming Flow North Paddling Company. After deciding on the name, I designed the logo (see below) and I’m currently working on the webpage. My plan was to start this up next spring, but a couple of weeks ago I realized that it would be best to have a booth at the Trade Show to promote it now, even if everything’s not quite ready, just to let people know that I’ll be starting up in spring. But man, it’s been an accelerated path, trying to get everything done. Big sign ordered – check. Business cards being printed – check. Plan for the booth? Working on it…

So what made me want to start my own paddling company, you might be asking! I often hear people say that we have such nice rivers and great wilderness, but no one’s doing anything to promote it. Since I love paddling and think it would be awesome to be paid to do that, I decided to go for it. Through Flow North, you’ll be able to rent a canoe or kayak(s), go out on a river or lake for a day, or a week, and see the amazing scenery around here. Lots of wildlife, too, and not just bears! Everyone thinks of bears – usually in fear – but forgets the beavers, birds, geese, ducks, moose, deer, even elk and bison. I love paddling and just wanted to share that love and make it possible for people to get out there and enjoy the water. Local people can just rent the boat (and paddle, bailer, PFD if needed, and whistle) and put it on their own vehicle and go for the day, or I can meet tourists at a spot along a river with the boats and all the supplies they’ll need for a 2 week trip! I flow-north-logoget so excited thinking about it! I’m researching dried foods that taste yummy and are filling. I’m looking at maps and calculating distances on rivers. I’ve been contemplating marketing and practical things, like where I’ll store the boats. And I decided early on that I wouldn’t get into guided trips, because a) I don’t feel like an uber-qualified paddle master, and b) none of the water around here is particularly tricky, as long as you’ve been in a canoe or kayak before. If not, you can come a day early and get a quick course and away you go. I want to review safety things with people, but don’t feel I need to physically go with every group. Especially if I give each overnight group a SPOT GPS device! They are so cool! All you do is press the “I’m ok” button and it transmits to a satellite which relays the message to whoever you set up as your contacts, so your friends or family can track where you are. If you need help, you press “help” and if you need 9-1-1 rescue, there’s a button for that too. So, that makes me feel a LOT better about paddling in the middle of nowhere (just south of it, actually) and sending boat renters out onto these great wilderness rivers.

So I had it all pretty much figured out. Renting, outfitting, no guiding. And then, one day driving home from work, I had a real brainwave! Why not offer a buddy service to single women who want to paddle! I remember being single and wanting to do things… and sometimes trying to find someone to go along, and sometimes just going by myself because there was no one to go with. Usually, I would have preferred to have someone to go with, and for people who are nervous about being in the bush (in bear country), I can go along and offer support! I will make it clear I’m no fancy qualified guide, although I will take wilderness first aid and some other courses, but I’m willing and able to offer my experience paddling and camping, and company in general. Being in the bush by oneself is a little spooky, I know. So now I’m uber-excited about this business and the adventures that will follow! You know me, I’m all about the adventures!

To summarize, through my company, you’ll be able to:

  • rent a boat (for a day, or a few days, or a week or a few weeks)
  • get dropped off at the beginning and picked up at the end of your trip (important for river paddling!)
  • use a SPOT GPS to let others know where you are and, in the worst case scenario, if you need help
  • rent supplies like cooking stoves or tents if you need them
  • order meal supplies, packed and ready for your trip, with cooking instructions included! (And most of it will be homemade.)
  • take me along on a trip if you’re all alone and nervous about wilderness paddling! (Women only, sorry guys.)

Isn’t that great?!? I am so excited about it (perhaps you can tell!), and I know I’m really going to enjoy doing this! I have a few crazy ideas for marketing, and hope to connect with Europeans who want to explore Canada. More on that another time. But anyways, I’ll announce my webpage when it’s ready (should have something by Friday, in time for the Trade Show). Ack! I have a lot of work to do!

Please, even if you’ve never done so before, leave a comment and let me know what you think of my idea! I’m looking for input, ideas, feedback, whatever! Thanks!