"Local Man’s Experience in Northern Wilds", The Owen Sound Sun, September 27, 1912

[ Canoeist's camp ]

Canoeist's camp, Tom Thomson, 1912, Library and Archives Canada/Bibliotheque et Archives Canada, PA-193562, This photo may have been taken by Thomson on his trip through the Mississagi (Provincial) Forest Reserve, Northern Ontario, in summer 1912. The negative has been damaged, explaining the distorted nature of the image

A well known Owen Sound man, Mr. Thos. Thomson, son of Mr. John Thomson of 528 Fourth Avenue East, formerly of Leith, accompanied by his friend, Mr. W.S. Broadhead of Toronto, arrived in town on Monday night on the steamer Midland after spending two months in the wilds of New Ontario. Mr. Thomson and Mr. Broadhead are employed the by The Photo Engraving Co., Designers and Illustrators, Toronto, and took this novel means to spend their holidays and incidentally to do some sketching and secure some snapshots in the forests of the North. The Sun interviewed the young men, who are bronzed and weather beaten from exposure to sun and wind, and secured from them an account of their interesting trip.

Taking the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway they stopped off at Bisco and remained there a few days getting supplies to take in with them. These were procured at the Hudson Bay Company’s store in Bisco and consisted of flour, sugar, pork, beans, rice, prunes, baking powder and other commodities which are not affected by the dampness and are most easily carried. They also procured some desiccated potatoes, onions and milk which are light to carry and which go a long way. These articles together with their tent, blankets and clothes made packs of about two hundred pounds each.

With a light Peterboro canoe they left Biscostasing about the last week in July and paddled down the beautiful Bisco Lake, camping where night overtook them and sketching and photographing where the scenery was grandest. From Bisco Lake they went on to Ramsay Lake, another fresh water body of unsurpassed beauty, then up the Spanish River, through Spanish Lake and portaged into Canoe Lake. Here the moose became more plentiful and they secured some splendid sketches of these immense denizens of the Northern Forests. Out of Canoe Lake there is a portage of about three miles and near this portage is a beautiful little falls just at the head of Osagama Lake. From this lake they proceeded into Green Lake and here the two men were held up for some days by a storm and a cloud-burst. The cloud-burst happened as they were paddling down the lake and it swamped their canoe, throwing the men into the water and wetting all their blankets and provisions. However, they didn’t lose anything and recovered the canoe as both the men are expert swimmers. Owing to the continued rainy weather the lakes and rivers in the north are very high and one place near Clear Lake portage there had been a washout. The young men discovered a tent here that had been partly buried by the sand which was washed up on the bank of the river and thinking that some fire-rangers might have buried beneath it they investigated but didn’t find anyone.

Proceeding on their trip, they entered the Mississauga Forest Reserve and in this reserve the portages are cleaner because the fire rangers keep them cleared. They had now left the waters flowing to the James Bay and crossed the height of land which divides the head waters of the Hudson and those of Lake Huron. The canoeing became easier as they were going with the current and not against it and soon they reached the Aubinadong River, a branch of the Mississauga. They spent some days at Auberry Falls, one of the most superb beauty spots in the North and secured some more pictures, although, as Mr. Thomson says, the weather was not favorable for either sketching or photographing.

Wolves are plentiful all through the Reserve and Mr. Broadhead was fortunate enough to be within about five feet of one, a splendid specimen of the Canadian timber wolf and of which he got a photograph. Deer and bear are also plentiful and ducks and partridge are in abundance. The fishing was not very good although the two young men got some fine speckled trout in Clear Lake. In the upper waters of the Hudson Bay only pike are to be caught and the trout and bass are a minus quality there.

Leaving Auberry Falls, the two companions made their way along the mighty Mississauga river, running between rocks of immense height and grandeur and through forest wealth of pine, jack pine, spruce and poplar. Entering the forty-mile rapids, where the river rushes for forty miles over the rocks and boulders and especially so this season because of so much rain, they made rapid time to Squaw Chute where an old character, well known to tourists and sportsmen, Mark Ripley, lives, his only companions being the tame deer and the rabbits with which he has made friends. A settler, Mr. Dan Mitchell, formerly of Sullivan, drove the two men out to Bruce Mines where they embarked on the Midland Saturday.

The young artists think it is a grand country and are only waiting until next year when the call of the wild will take them back to that land of rich resources and scenic beauty – rich in mineral wealth because iron and copper have already been discovered and the time may not be far distant when some lucky prospector will strike something that will make of it a second Cobalt – rich because of its forests and red and white pine and spruce – rich because of its immense waterfalls and consequently water-power, and rich because of the abundance of fish and game to be found there.

Mr. Broadhead said a party of English aristocrats started in from Bisco after they left, taking with them camp beds, chairs, carpet slippers, table napkins and other civilized luxuries, but how they have fared since he does not know, but can easily imagine. The two young men leave this week to resume their work in Toronto.

Source: "Local Man’s Experience in Northern Wilds," The Owen Sound Sun, September 27, 1912. Notes: Page two

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