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August 1, 1997
Geoffrey Peake, Chief Guide of the Hide Away Canoe Club (HACC) writes:
CAR 1654, WHERE ARE YOU?
This will be our fifth canoe trip up to northern Quebec. Almost every one has had one defining characteristic--Delay. On our first trip down the George in 1983, the train schedule was moved up a day, a fact we discovered when we arrived at the station only to find the new schedule posted to the station door telling us the next scheduled train would leave a week later. In 1986 on our trip down the Leaf River, the outboard motor of the Inuit guides we had chartered to ferry us up the coast of Hudson Bay self-destructed, leaving us stranded on an ice-incrusted island for five days (apparently they had forgotten to put oil in the lower unit)
In 1988, the Twin Otter that was supposed to fly us into the headwaters of the Povungnituk River broke down a few minutes before takeoff. Result: a 2 day delay. In fact, the only trip which there were NO logistical problems (Payne River, 1990) I was not along--a fact which my compatriots have been pointing out with alarming frequency.
Travel in the north is rarely predictable. In our experience the actual canoe trips are relatively easy compared with the wide array of obstacles that must be overcome in order to get to the put-in. About 9 a.m. this morning, we walked into the QNS&L railway to pick up our canoes and were issued an invoice. The collection process is a lot more casual than in many stations. Mike held up the paper and looked for the boxcar number our canoes were in, #1654. A quick scan of the yard and the handful of railcars led us to the inescapable conclusion that car #1654 was nowhere to be found. Mike and I looked at each other in a knowing look. One of the cardinal rules of northern travel is travel with your own gear at all times. In this case there was nothing we could have done.
A quick inquiry at the office told us that car #1654 was in fact on a siding somewhere in Labrador City, about 270 kilometers away. Not to worry, though. They assured us that we will be able to collect canoes tomorrow at 8 a.m.
Some years ago, this event would have caused considerable stress. Having lived through the many unplanned crises of travel in Ungava, though, this is just another in a series of predictably unpredictable roadblocks that are the hallmark of any northern trip. For now, we can enjoy a relatively quiet day and hope that we'll be on the water tomorrow.
I have bread rising to bake later on this evening. How I'm going to bake it without my Coleman Oven is still a mystery--but that's another story...
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