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Guide's Report #2

By Geoffrey Peake

Friday, July 13, 2001


 A flurry of activity this morning: at breakfast the Dutch hiking crew piled into waiting vehicles and made for the airport. They too are heading for Nain, and Michael immediately grabbed the phone and called Air Labrador. Hope for travel was in vain however as fog banks and light rains continued to shroud the Labrador coast. The Dutch crew returned some hours later, with a squeal of tires and some rather long faces. Such is travel in the north.

 The afternoon offered several interesting adventures. It is no secret that the Hide-Away Canoe Club is a major financial supporter of the CBC. As such it was a thrill to be invited into the Happy Valley-Goose Bay CBC headquarters. Gayle St. Croix (who Andrew and Sally had met last winter) and Teresa Blackburn interviewed Michael and Andrew, with the story to be aired next week.

 The town of North West River was our next destination. First stop: the Labrador Interpretation Center. Our excellent guide, Ann, explained that the Center's displays represent important dimensions in the culture and history of the three central groups in Labrador society: Inuit, Innu and Settler. One of the exhibits was a recreation of a Shaking Tent, used (obviously) in the Shaking Tent Ceremony. Some readers from our last Winisk River trip might remember our conversation with an elder from Peawanuk, Louis Bird (www.canoe.ca/winiskriver/aug15_gpeake.html) who described how shamans used the Shaking Tent to communicate with others over a great distance. Ann showed us a video of an Innu elder from Sheshasheits (the Innu community just across the river) explain the significance of this ceremony. The Shaking Tent was an important aspect of Shamanistic tradition in communicating with the "Animal Masters" who ruled the forests. The Tent itself is little more than a closed tube that is strongly built and tethered down in order to withstand the force of the shaking. We also had the privilege of seeing a temporary exhibition of the renowned Labradorite carver John Goudie. Labradorite is a remarkable stone often found on the north Labrador coast that refracts a spectrum of blue light.

 En route to the Heritage Museum we paused at a lookout; looking north we had a clear view of the narrow opening between Little Lake and Grand Lake. This was the route to the Labrador Interior. The Museum is the original Hudson's Bay Post building established by Donald Smith in 1852. It houses a fascinating exhibition of photographs and artifacts from the Hubbard-Wallace expeditions of 1903 and 1905, including a large canvas map done by Wallace as well as Hubbard's boiled moccasins! Those interested in learning the full story of these trips should check out our other online trip at www.canoe.ca/georgeriver .

 We've spent a lot of time lately looking at the weather channel. This morning they described the weather stuck over the Labrador as the most unsettled in the country. There is hope on the way, however. A high pressure is slowly sliding its way across the north and we expect to be flying tomorrow-until then we're keeping our fingers crossed and an eye to the north.

 (today's column was co-produced by Andrew and Geoffrey)


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