Appendix 8. Rapids in general.

Major renovations were completed in early November 2017 but I expect that warts remain.
Thanks for your patience. Allan

Appendix 8. Rapids in general.

Foreword.
Some overlap of material presented here (Rapids in general) is unavoidable with that presented in Preliminaries.
1. Moffatt was fully aware of the difficulty of the rapids that lay ahead, as witnessed by his comment
Dr. J. B. Tyrrell left on July 2. Almost two and a half months later, after running scores of dangerous rapids, the party reached the coast. [Art Moffatt’s Prospectus, Sports Illustrated, p 71].
This remark went unmentioned in all the accusatory literature.
2. The Sports Illustrated editor was in full possession of Moffatt’s journal, which describes in particular Dubawnt rapids and how the party dealt with them. In this context, I refer the reader to my discussion (below) of Assertions 1 and 2 of the SI editor.
3. Moffatt’s last journal entry (that for 13 September) contains the passage Following Tyrrell’s route.
We shall soon see what the Sports Illustrated editor did with that passage.
4. The remark If the rapids were too rough, Art simply portaged around them of participant Grinnell [book, middle of p 75, 1996] went unmentioned in all the accusatory literature.
5. Lanouette’s journal for the day of Moffatt’s death contains the passage In a few minutes we heard and saw rapids on the horizon. This surprised us. Art had figured we had already shot the last two rapids into Marjorie Lake. Actually, what we had gone down were only riffles, and what lay ahead was the real beginning of the first rapids.
We shall soon see what Grinnell did with that passage.

The redactions.
1. The SI editor redacted the passage Following Tyrrell’s route from Moffatt’s last journal entry, that for 13 September. [SI article, p 82, lower right column].
A full discussion of this passage is provided below, but what conclusion is possible but that Moffatt had obtained route advice from Tyrrell (J B Tyrrell) and that he was following it?
A request.
I ask that the reader reflect on the editor’s reason for redacting this passage.
2. Participant Grinnell redacted the passage In a few minutes we heard and saw rapids on the horizon. This surprised us. Art had figured we had already shot the last two rapids into Marjorie Lake. Actually, what we had gone down were only riffles, and what lay ahead was the real beginning of the first rapids from his version [p 202] of the SI condensation of Lanouette’s journal for 14 September 1955. I note that Lanouette was Moffatt’s bowperson.
Begin aside. The full item (not the condensation) is provided
Ancillary 2. Lanouette excerpt. My opinion is that the condensation is a faithful one.
End aside.
Why were Moffatt and Lanouette were surprised?
Because J B Tyrrell had informed Moffatt, implicitly, that there were no rapids of significance in that reach. That is, Grinnell redacted evidence that Moffatt had been misled by Tyrrell’s advice.
A request.
I ask the reader to reflect on Grinnell’s purpose in redacting that passage,
3. Opinion. Given that both the SI editor and Grinnell redacted evidence that I believe to be exculpatory, it concerns me that the two had at least corresponded before the publication of the SI article, as evinced by the Epilogue on p 88 there.
4. Discussion of the passage Following Tyrrell’s route
redacted by the SI editor from her/his version of Moffatt’s journal entry for 13 September
Does the passage evince that Moffatt had followed the Tyrrell party in taking the eastmost of the two exits from Wharton Lake?
Or does it evince that Moffatt was only following Tyrrell’s advice when he ran the fatal rapids without a scout?
I confess that I don’t know.
The matter of the interpretation aside, again I ask that the reader reflect on the editor’s purpose in redacting the passage.

Information from the Tyrrell-Tyrrell trip of 1893.
1. Thanks to the kind, helpful and excessively patient staff at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library of the University of Toronto, I have a copy of the book (known to have been accessed by Moffatt)
Tyrrell, James Williams. Across the Sub-Arctics of Canada (Toronto, 1908)
for the entire reach from Black Lake to Chesterfield Inlet.
The material (largely ethnography) provided by JWT is fascinating in its own right but it sheds no light on the conditions that led to Moffatt’s death. Little mention is made of Dubawnt rapids in general, none of the fatal rapids in particular.
2. Thanks to the same staff, I have a copy of the book (known to have been accessed by Moffatt)
Tyrrell, Joseph Burr. Report on the Doobaunt, Kazan and Ferguson Rivers and the north-west coast of Hudson Bay and on two overland routes from Hudson Bay to Lake Winnipeg. S E Dawson, Ottawa (1897) for the same reach (Black Lake to Chesterfield Inlet).
Where appropriate, for example for the rapids immediately below Dubawnt Lake, I provide the relevant excerpts. Especially noteworthy is the excerpt regarding the reach just above Marjorie Lake, for it was in this reach that Moffatt died; as I document in Ancillary 3. Tyrrell excerpt, Tyrrell makes no mention of rapids in that reach.
3. But Moffatt had obtained rapids (and likely other) information from J B Tyrrell by other means. In particular, Tyrrell had advised Moffatt not to be concerned with the fatal rapids, as evinced by the following statements of trip participants.
(a) As mentioned above, Lanouette’s journal for the day of the tragedy contains the passage
In a few minutes … real beginning of the first rapids. [condensation of Lanouette’s journal for 14 September; Sports Illustrated, p 85]. I remind the reader that Grinnell redacted this passage, which I suggest to be exculpatory. [Grinnell book, p 202]
(b) Tyrrell’s river descriptions had proven dependable previously and indicated benign conditions entering Marjorie Lake following the last portage. [Pessl, private correspondence].
(c) His [Tyrrell’s] journal had been accurate to that point, namely lunch time on 14 September, immediately prior to the running of the fatal rapids. [LeFavour, private correspondence].
4. J W Tyrrell’s book and J B Tyrrell’s book not being the sources for the rapids information documented in point 3, the remaining possibilities are J B Tyrrell’s journal and private correspondence between Moffatt and J B Tyrrell. Unfortunately for a full understanding of the tragedy, neither source is available, as I document in
Ancillary 5. Loose ends and the future.

The assertions of the Sports Illustrated editor.
Assertion 1.
Increasingly, the men were taking chances. They now shot down churning chutes of white water, which, a month earlier, they would have scrutinized with a doubtful eye. [SI article, top of right column, p 82, between the Moffatt journal entries for 7 and 9 September].
Assertion 2.
Already nine days behind schedule, the Moffatt party races against winter on the Barren Grounds. The days grow colder, provisions dwindle, game grows scarce. In desperate haste, they take an ultimate chance. [bottom right of page 76, appearing between the Moffatt entries for 15 and 16 August].
Comment.
I call these assertions because the editor provided no evidence in support of either.

Guide to the discussion of the two assertions.
With respect to the rapids parts of the assertions (the entirety of number 1, plus parts of number 2), this Appendix addresses primarily rapids upstream from those where Moffatt died, whereas Appendix 9 is devoted primarily to the fatal rapids. Given the content of the assertions, some overlap is unavoidable.
I address here also, only briefly because I devote Appendices 6 (Food) and 7 (Schedule) to these matters, the passages provisions dwindle, game grows scarce and nine days behind schedule.
Summary.
As documented here and in Appendix 9. The fatal rapids, the editor’s assertions related to rapids (including the fatal ones) have no basis in any evidence known to me.
As documented in Appendix 6. Food, the editor’s assertions related to the food supply have no basis in any evidence known to me.
As documented in Appendix 7. Schedule the editor’s assertions related to the schedule have no basis in any evidence known to me.
Conclusion.
Given that no part of either assertion has a basis in any evidence known to me,
and that the editor redacted the phrase Following Tyrrell’s route from Moffatt’s last journal entry,
I have significant concerns regarding the objectivity of the Sports Illustrated editor.

Assertion 1 of the Sports Illustrated editor.

Restatement of Assertion 1.
Increasingly, the men were taking chances. They now shot down churning chutes of white water, which, a month earlier, they would have scrutinized with a doubtful eye. [SI article, top of right column, p 82, between the Moffatt journal entries for 7 and 9 September].
Comment. Given that the assertion appears between the Moffatt journal entries of 7 September and 9 September, perhaps I should have provided evidence for only the reach below Grant Lake (reached on 5 September [Pessl, p 120].
Well, I omit all mention of the evidence for the evidence for the reach above Nicholson Lake (reached on 14 August [Pessl, p 86]), but I decided to provide (for background) the evidence for the entire reach from the downstream end of Nicholson Lake to the downstream end of Wharton Lake (reached on 8 September [Pessl, p 127]).
The evidence for the reach (between Wharton Lake and Marjorie Lake) where Moffatt died is provided in Appendix 9. The fatal rapids.
Note.
Assertion 1 is a general remark regarding Dubawnt rapids below Grant Lake, but the suggestion is clear that Moffatt died because he had taken a chance in the rapids above Marjorie Lake.
Pessl’s opinion of Assertion 1.
unsubstantiated nonsense [private correspondence].
Reminder.
The editor redacted the phrase Following Tyrrell’s route from Moffatt’s journal entry for 13 September, the day before Moffatt died.
Comments.
It bears repeating that Moffatt’s journal was the only published source for the SI article.
The SI editor identified the locations of none of the churning chutes of white water. Given that the remark appears between selections from Moffatt’s journal for 7 and 9 September, and that no significant rapids were encountered on any of those three days, the SI editor must have been making a general assertion.
I surmise that this one is intended to provide background for the editor’s later assertions taking chances and desperate haste regarding the fatal rapids.
For completeness, I began a general search for churning chutes.
5 August (when the first caribou was shot) is about a month earlier than 7 September, and so I restricted my search (for candidates in Pessl’s book) for the churning chutes) accordingly.
6 August. The wind caused some difficulty, but there was no other problem. [Pessl and Franck, in Pessl, pp 70&71].
7 August. Some water was shipped. [Pessl and Franck, in Pessl, p 71].
8 August. The party portaged the rapids met that day. [Pessl and Franck, in Pessl, p 76].
10 August. Four rapids (one big one) were run. Pessl and Franck, in Pessl, pp 77&78].
13 August. One rapid was run.[Pessl and Franck, in Pessl, pp 84&85].
15 August. As described in the next paragraph, the next rapids were met this day.
I quit.
Out of impatience with the editor’s failure to identify locations of the churning chutes of white water, at this point, I gave up the day-by-day search of Pessl’s book and used other means.

Candidates for the editor’s Assertion 1.
For the entire reach from the downstream end of Nicholson Lake to the downstream end of Wharton Lake, I identified only three candidates for the editor’s churning chutes. The reach immediately below Wharton Lake (the reach where Moffatt died) is discussed in Appendix 9. The fatal rapids.
Candidate 1
is the rapids between Nicholson Lake (lake exited on 15 August 1955, rapids exited on 19 August) and Dubawnt Lake (entered on 21 August).
Candidate 2
is the rapids between Dubawnt Lake (exited on 30 August) and Grant Lake (entered on 6 September).
Candidate 3
is the falls above Wharton Lake (entered on 11 September).
Summary of the evidence for candidates 1 through 3.
The assertion Increasingly, the men were taking chances. They now shot down churning chutes of white water, which, a month earlier, they would have scrutinized with a doubtful eye has no basis in evidence for any of the rapids between the downstream end of Nicholson Lake and the upstream end of Wharton Lake.
Moreover, as documented in Appendix 9. The fatal rapids, the assertion has no basis in any evidence known to me with respect to the rapids where Moffatt died, those from the downstream end of Wharton Lake to the upstream end of Marjorie Lake.
Conclusion.
No part of the assertion of the Sports Illustrated editor
Increasingly, the men were taking chances. They now shot down churning chutes of white water, which, a month earlier, they would have scrutinized with a doubtful eye
has a basis in any evidence known to me.

Candidate 1. The Dubawnt River between Nicholson Lake and Dubawnt Lake.

I note that Nicholson Lake is the last major lake upstream from Dubawnt Lake.
For the corresponding rapids, I provide excerpts from J B Tyrrell’s book, Moffatt’s journal, the Sports Illustrated article, Grinnell’s book and Pessl’s book (which contains also the evidence of Franck).
1. The excerpt from J B Tyrrell’s book.
From the north end of Nicholson Lake, the river flows northward for two miles and a half down a heavy rapid, with a descent of about forty feet… Near the foot of the rapid the stream turns eastward, and for about six miles flows in the bottom of a valley from 150 to 200 feet deep. [p 55F]
2. The excerpt from Moffatt’s journal.
All along it was it was very heavy current and big waves. I was tired + hungry – it was now 5 pm. – and knew it was no time to make decisions -… [Pessl, private correspondence]
3. The Sports Illustrated version of Moffatt’s journal.
All along we could see it was a very heavy current and big waves. We were hungry. It was late now and I was tired. I knew this was no time to make a decision. [SI article, right column of p 76]
One sees that the SI version is a faithful version of Moffatt’s, but a gratuitous one.
4. The evidence of Grinnell’s book.
Passage 1.
The date was August 15th. We had been held up by a dangerous rapids that ran through a gorge ahead. There was a high cliff on our side of the river, which made scouting the rapids difficult. After spending an afternoon scouting, Art had been unable to decide whether to portage around the gorge or to shoot it. By the end of the day, he had decided to make camp and to take a second look in the morning.
The next morning, rain squalls were lashing our tents. Art decided to wait out the storm. He thought that if the weather would cooperate, the gorge could be shot; but the weather was not co-operating. The squalls blowing up the gorge created high waves in the rapids.
We set up the kitchen tarpaulin to wait out the weather. Wild storm clouds continued to blow this way and that… ; and thus we waited for four days for Art to make a decision about the gorge.
[p 122].
Passage 2.
The following is identical to the SI version apart from the addition of the date. August 15th: … All along we could see it was a very heavy current and big waves. We were hungry. It was late now and I was tired. I knew this was no time to make a decision. [p 132]
Passage 3.
Three days later, Art had still not made a decision…; but on the following day, Art loaded his canoe and took Skip down the rapids as his bowman. … As it turned out, the portaging had been an unnecessary precaution: the rapids in the gorge were no worse than many others we had shot. But perhaps Art had been right to be cautious, even though we had wasted the better part of four days. In the wilderness, it is both easy and fatal to get careless; and after the gorge, Art did get careless. [p 133].
As I remark also below, I caution that Grinnell’s Art did get careless refers only to the rapids of 20 August. In particular, it does not refer to the fatal rapids of 14 September.
Comment.
According to Grinnell, Moffatt’s caution regarding these rapids had resulted in the loss of the better part of four days. I agree that Moffatt had exercised great caution, but quibble that the storm cost one of those days.
5. The evidence of Pessl’s book.
15 August.
…We soon stopped to look over two rapids, both of which we decided to run. As I entered the first rapid it became evident that things were not entirely as they had looked from the shore. … By the time we reached the lower eddy, we crouched in a waterlogged, sluggish canoe and slowly made our way to shore. … Bruce and I helped the other two canoes portage. … We stopped for the night at the head of a heavy rapid… [Pessl, pp 88&89].
… we pulled over to look at the first rapid. There was about a quarter of a mile of swift water above it, but the main rapid is short, steep and narrow; no rocks, but full of bad waves. Skip ran it first, but almost swamped, … the river narrowed down and got very swift heading into a deep gorge. Here we pulled aside on the right and walked down half a mile or so to scout. This one is very bad. [Franck, in Pessl, p 89]
16 August.
We spent the entire morning scouting this very difficult rapids…large breaking waves and sharp curves…pulsating current…Returned to camp with two plans…The protection of our supplies dictates our caution. [Pessl, p 90]
For that day, Franck records plans for the rapids. [Pessl, p 91]
17 August.
The day was spent in camp, due to bad, then threatening weather.
The big rapid still remains a problem. Hope we can tackle it tomorrow. [Pessl, p 92]
No new decision has been reached on the rapid question… [Franck, in Pessl, p 93]
18 August.
Art and I spent the morning scouting the w shore after a tricky crossing and returned with the dilemma still unresolved. … We spent the rest of a cold, disappointing day huddled in the tent… [Pessl, p 94]
19 August.
…Well, we finally shot the rapid and the beauty and the pride and the confidence of overcoming a difficult obstacle pervades us all. …The rest of the afternoon was spent in an exhilarating ride down the swift, sharply defined river as it flowed thru beautiful bedrock canyons in long sweeping S turns. [Pessl, p 94]
Comment. Franck provides more details regarding the running of these rapids. [Pessl, p 95]
Summary regarding Candidate 1.
Please note Moffatt’s extreme caution regarding the rapids below Nicholson Lake, caution that Grinnell suggests to have been largely unnecessary. I’m not sure though that I agree with Grinnell’s assessment.
The important point is that the Moffatt party ran these rapids only after considerable scouting.
With regard to these rapids, the party was certainly not taking chances; it certainly did not shoot down churning chutes of white water.
Conclusion.
The Sports Illustrated editor’s
Increasingly, the men were taking chances. They now shot down churning chutes of white water, which, a month earlier, they would have scrutinized with a doubtful eye
has no basis in any evidence known to me with respect to the rapids between Nicholson Lake and Dubawnt Lake.

The rapids of 20 August.

Although these rapids, which lie several days’ travel below Nicholson Lake, are not candidates for the churning chutes, I discuss them because I found disturbing the editor’s representation of the evidence regarding them.
1. The relevant passage from Moffatt’s journal.
Off at 11 in am. Up little lake against head wind, into river, and down with swift current to couple of heavy but short rapids, of which I looked over the 2nd only. Shot both. [Pessl, private correspondence]
2. The corresponding excerpt from the Sports Illustrated article; the editor alleges this to be an excerpt from Moffatt’s journal.
Today we shot a couple of heavy but short rapids, only the second of which I looked over. Not very smart of me. I probably should have been more careful. [SI article, middle of the left column on p 80]
One sees that the fragment only the second of which I looked over. Not very smart of me. I probably should have been more careful is a fabrication of the editor.
3. On his page 133, Grinnell quoted verbatim the above passage from the SI article. I have no quarrel with that action.
But, in his introduction to that passage, Grinnell remarked …after the gorge, Art did get careless. I assume that Grinnell was deceived by the fabrication of the editor, with whom he had corresponded.
4. I caution that Grinnell’s Art did get careless refers only to the rapids of 20 August. In particular, it does not refer to the fatal rapids of 14 September.
Conclusion.
The passage Today we shot…more careful. is a fabrication on the part of the editor, yet another reason to believe nothing in the Sports Illustrated article unless it has independent confirmation.
That matter aside, the passage was written with reference to the rapids of 20 August, only.

Candidate 2. The Dubawnt River between Dubawnt Lake and Grant Lake.

Introduction.
The Moffatt party exited Dubawnt Lake on 30 August [Pessl, p 111] and entered Grant Lake on 6 September [Pessl, p 122]. Between the two lakes lies a gorge impassable by tripping parties.
I provide first the evidence of J B Tyrrell for the entire reach between the two lakes.
I provide then the evidence of the participants
for the reach above the gorge, followed by that
for the gorge itself, and finally that
for the reach below the gorge.

The evidence of J B Tyrrell for the reach between Dubawnt Lake and Grant Lake.
The river, where it leaves the lake, is about 200 yards wide. It almost immediately flows down two slight rapids, after which it has a current of four miles an hour… The channel rapidly deepens…and the stream rushes along in long swift rapids which required all the dexterity of our good canoemen to run. …
Seven miles below Doobaunt Lake, the river flows…and then suddenly contracts, and for two miles rushes as a foaming torrent down a narrow gorge about twenty-five yards wide, descending in the distance one hundred feet…
Past this heavy rapid, which is the most serious obstruction on the whole river, a portage two miles and a half was made on the south bank. …
At the foot of this heavy rapid the river discharges into Grant Lake. …
[p 63 F]

The evidence of Pessl and Franck for the reach between Dubawnt Lake and the gorge.
I provide the day-by-day evidence of both Pessl and Franck, as reported in Pessl’s book.
30 August. Pessl.
After lunch, skies cleared and we enjoyed one more rare “shirts off” day as we paddled the remaining 15 miles across the bay [Outlet Bay] to the, …as we approached the narrowing we gradually became conscious of the increasing current while in the distance the almost forgotten river sounds of rushing water and rumbling rapids gradually became audible.
We are back on the river now, floating on a current strengthened by the entire drainage of the huge lake and driving toward the long treacherous 2½-mile outlet rapid flowing through a steep canyon and finally settling in Grant Lake.
[Pessl, p 111]
31 August. Pessl.
Beautiful morning of sun and successful rapid shooting gave us high hopes that we would be camped this evening at the beginning of the long portage to Grant Lake.
Two long rapids before lunch and a long difficult one after were negotiated with little trouble and we then pulled up in a bay to scout the approach to the gorge.
I spent about 3 hours walking along the river, sketching routes through the remaining rapids and finally reached a high bluff where the portage follows the rim of the gorge. …Over my right shoulder the turquoise water of Grant Lake stretches as an enticing reward for the coming strenuous portage. …
The first rapid was run under very difficult conditions due to the wind and its effect on the waves and we were forced to make camp…
[Pessl, pp 112&113].
31 August. Franck
provides a more complete description of the approach to the gorge.
Still warm and sunny today. We got going down the river fairly early. I looked over the first rapid and then went ahead. …I just got through the first rapid… Then I stopped to look over one that went around a bend to the right. It looked easy to shoot on the right side, so I kept on going through the next two. Then I stopped to look one over that went around a bend to the right. It looked easy to shoot on the right side, so I walked down to look at the next. I didn’t really take a careful look, but what I did see looked easy, so I walked back to where I had left the canoe. By this time, Art and Skip had caught up. They got out to look at the first one, but took my word that the next one was easy, so I jumped in the canoe and shot down first. [Franck, in Pessl, pp 113 &114]
From this point (the top of p 114) to the middle of p 115, Franck recounts the group’s adventures in running rapids above the gorge.
1, 2 and 3 September.
The party was weatherbound for the entirety of the three days. [Pessl, pp 115-119].
4 September. Pessl.
After breakfast, we loaded in the snow, shot one rapid in the midst of a heavy flurry and then unloaded for the long portage. [Pessl, p 119]
4 September. Franck.
… we pulled over to the other side and stopped to look over the last rapid before the portage started. We ran it close to the right side, but by the time that we got through and over to the head of the portage, it was…time for lunch. … The most beautiful portage I have ever made and the most beautiful spot on the river so far. … [Pessl, pp 119&120]
5 September. Pessl.
We spent the better part of the day completing the portage and the late afternoon killing and butchering what will probably be our last caribou. [Pessl, p 121]
Comment. It was indeed the last.
5 September. Franck.
After lunch, it started to cloud over from the north but it was still quite calm. Still, Art was taking so long that we decided not to travel, but to camp here at the end of the portage and kill a caribou; … [Pessl, p 122]
Summary of the evidence regarding the reach above the gorge.
All rapids were scouted thoroughly before being run.
All serious rapids were portaged.
There were no dumps in the entire reach.
No member of the party took chances with regard to these rapids.
No member of the party shot down churning chutes of white water.
Conclusion.
The Sports Illustrated editor’s
Increasingly, the men were taking chances. They now shot down churning chutes of white water, which, a month earlier, they would have scrutinized with a doubtful eye
has no basis in any evidence known to me with respect to the rapids between Dubawnt Lake and the gorge.

The gorge itself.
Summary.
The entire reach of the gorge was portaged by every member of the party, beginning on 4 September and finishing on 5 September [Pessl, pp 119-122],
Conclusion.
The Sports Illustrated editor’s assertion Increasingly, the men were taking chances. They now shot down churning chutes of white water, which, a month earlier, they would have scrutinized with a doubtful eye
has no basis in any evidence known to me with respect to with respect to the rapids in the gorge.
Extraneous comments regarding the gorge.
impassable heavy rapids…enormous waves…never experienced such an expression of power and unalterable force…the infinite power of the river… [Pessl, pp 117-118].
…wonderful green and white waves, some ten feet high in the gorge itself. The green, white and cobalt-blue water was a beautiful sight… [Moffatt, Sports Illustrated, right side of p 81].

The Dubawnt River between the gorge and Grant Lake.

The evidence of Moffatt’s journal for 6 September for that reach.
The following excerpt was kindly provided by Pessl in private correspondence.
Breakfast at 8- cloudy, cold and snow flurries- but decided to move, very strong NW wind. Also decided to portage last 100 yds. of rapid, partly to get warm, also to avoid risk of wetting or hurting film & cameras…Also portage took some time…very shallow and swift stretch, but not really bad. …
Skip and Pete both shot it, both hitting rocks…Skip cracking rib, Pete cracking planking. Anyway, got past worst part, shot through last few riffles, turned north across mouth of river where north wind was working up heavy seas as it blew over strong current…

Comment. One sees that Moffatt took extra precautions to protect the film and cameras; that concern continued to his death. In fairness, though, Moffatt portaged in part to get warm.

The evidence of Moffatt’s journal for 6 September, as provided in the Sports Illustrated article.
Breakfast at 8. Cloudy, cold, snow flurries and very strong northwest wind, but decided to move anyway, despite the dangers. We haven’t much time left. Also decided to portage the last 100 yards of rapid, partly to get warm, also to avoid risk of wetting or of hurting film and cameras.
… Also portage took some time. Skip and Pete both shot it, both hitting rocks, Skip cracking a rib, Pete cracking planking.
[SI article, p 82, top of left column].
Comment. I don’t understand why the SI editor omitted the passage …very shallow and swift stretch, but not really bad from Moffatt’s journal for 6 September; that matter aside, the passage evinces that no major rapids existed below the gorge.

The evidence of Pessl’s book regarding that reach.
5 September. The portage around the gorge was completed [Pessl and Franck, in Pessl, pp 120-122], but there lay yet ahead rapids above Grant Lake.
6 September. First off, Bruce and I shot a rocky rapid flowing into the lake [Grant Lake]. We struck a rock just after leaving shore and were able to stop in an eddy to check for damage [none was found at that time]…we started out again, this time making it with no trouble. Art and Pete watched from shore. Art chose to portage. Pete shot the rapid, hit a rock in the shoals below and splintered a plank. …When we unloaded the canoe, I found that the morning rock had splintered the planking and cracked a rib pretty badly… [Pessl, pp 122&123]
6 September. Skip and I decided to shoot down through what is left of the rapid into Grant, while Art made a portage to warm up. Skip went first, but struck a rock at the head of the rapid. …I shoved off and got further out in the middle, but I struck head on and bounced off a rock about half way down. It sounded awful, but when we looked later, we found that there was a little piece of the planking knocked in and the canvas wasn’t cut; no serious damage. The rest of the rapid was all dangerously shoal, but we got though all right. Skip and I waited for Art… [Franck, in Pessl, p 124]
Comment. And so Moffatt chose to portage part of the lower reach; occupants of the other two canoes ran that reach in its entirety.

The evidence of Pessl’s first email message regarding the reach below the gorge.
For the reader’s convenience, I repeat the assertion of the Sports illustrated editor.
Increasingly, the men were taking chances. They now shot down churning chutes of white water, which, a month earlier, they would have scrutinized with a doubtful eye
Pessl responds. This is a rather large editorial leap from the reality of our situation, probably inspired by the fact that Peter and I shot the rapids at the entrance to Grant Lake on Sept. 6. We both hit rocks in that rapids and sustained minor damage to our canoes, while Art portaged the bottom part of the same rapids. But that was a considered strategy; Art choosing to portage “…partly to get warm, also to avoid risk of wetting or of hurting film and cameras.” [p 140 of Moffatt’s journal, reported faithfully in the Sports Illustrated article, top left of p 82].
Both Art and Peter watched from shore as I shot the rapids. Peter followed, then Art near the bottom of the rapids. This was all a pretty normal and shared situation: rapids examined, options discussed and decisions made. Not a risky departure from our standard procedure as suggested by the SI writer.

The evidence of Pessl’s second email message regarding the reach below the gorge.
Comment. The following is lightly edited from Pessl’s email message (of 26 November 2016), kindly and generously supplied, as always.
… I have spent considerable time reviewing the various pertinent journals and following the maps with the journal descriptions …
The rapid entering the southern end of Grant Lake which we encountered on 6 September is described as a “…very shallow and swift stretch, but not really bad.”
[Moffatt journal, pp 140-141].
I described that rapid as “…a rocky rapid flowing into the lake.” [Pessl, p 122].
Peter noted after bouncing off a rock and crunching a plank, “the rest of the rapid was all dangerously shoal with barely enough water for the canoe.” [Pessl, p 124].
My recollection is of a wide, shallow stretch of the river entering Grant with swift flow and many boulders. But nothing of the high energy flows and narrow channels that might be described as “churning chutes”.
Pessl’s summary.
From 6 September (when we entered the upper reaches of Grant Lake) until 11 September (when we entered Wharton Lake), the challenges to our travel were strong winds, snow and freezing temperatures, not difficult fast water, certainly not “churning chutes”.
Well, I hope this clarifies the circumstances of the early-mid Sept. Moffatt journey to the best of my knowledge and reference to the available journals. It was the weather, not the river channel/flow that challenged us while below the Dubawnt Lake outlet gorge into Grant Lake and then on to Wharton Lake.

Summary of the evidence for Candidate 2 (the reach between Dubawnt Lake and Grant Lake).
1. Waters above the gorge were run in their entirety by all members of the party, without difficulty.
2. Only the waters of the gorge are truthfully described as churning chutes of white water. But the entire gorge was portaged by all members of the party.
3. Four members of the party ran all waters below the gorge.
Moffatt (and so his bowperson Lanouette) portaged that reach …partly to get warm, also to avoid risk of wetting or of hurting film and cameras. [p 140 of Moffatt’s journal, reported faithfully in the Sports Illustrated article, top left of p 82].
Conclusions regarding that reach.
The Sports Illustrated editor provided no evidence in support of his/her assertion
Increasingly, the men were taking chances. They now shot down churning chutes of white water, which, a month earlier, they would have scrutinized with a doubtful eye.
The evidence of the participants with respect to the rapids between Dubawnt Lake and Grant Lake begs leave to differ with the assertion of the SI editor.

Candidate 3. The falls above Wharton Lake.

These falls (the Uksurlajuaq Rapids at Toporama) are located two unnamed lakes below Grant Lake.
As I now document, they were portaged in their entirety, by all members of the party, on 10 September (given incorrectly as 8 September in Pessl’s book).

The evidence of Pessl’s email message.
Comment. The following is lightly edited from Pessl’s email message (of 26 November 2016) supplied by him kindly and generously, as always.
… I have spent considerable time reviewing the various pertinent journals and following the maps with the journal descriptions …

We portaged around the falls above Wharton Lake on 10 September. On 11 September, we “shot last run of the rapid below falls, rough at first, green waters over boulders, then shallow, wide channel, hard to see in poor light, another rapid and Wharton Lake.” [Moffatt journal, p 150].
Pessl’s summary.
From 6 September (when we entered the upper reaches of Grant Lake) until 11 September (when we entered Wharton Lake), the challenges to our travel were strong winds, snow and freezing temperatures, not difficult fast water, certainly not “churning chutes”.
Well, I hope this clarifies the circumstances of the early-mid Sept. Moffatt journey to the best of my knowledge and reference to the available journals. It was the weather, not the river channel/flow that challenged us while below the Dubawnt Lake outlet gorge into Grant Lake and then on to Wharton Lake.

Summary of the evidence regarding Assertion 1, with respect to Candidate 3 (the falls above Wharton Lake).
In the reach between Grant Lake and Wharton Lake, the only waters that are truthfully described as churning chutes are those of the falls above Wharton Lake.
Every member of the party portaged those falls.

Summary regarding Assertion 1 of the Sports Illustrated editor.
0. Restatement of Assertion 1, provided for the reader’s convenience.
Increasingly, the men were taking chances. They now shot down churning chutes of white water, which, a month earlier, they would have scrutinized with a doubtful eye.
1. Review of the evidence presented above.
(a) Assertion 1 has no basis in any evidence known to me regarding any waters from the downstream end of Nicholson Lake to the downstream end of Wharton Lake.
(b) More importantly, the evidence presented in Appendix 9. The fatal rapids evinces that Assertion 1 has no basis in evidence regarding the rapids between Wharton Lake and Marjorie Lake; it was in these rapids that Moffatt died on 14 September 1955.
I mention in particular that he only dumps of the entire trip occurred in the rapids where Moffatt died.
Summary.
The Sports Illustrated editor provided no evidence, and I found none in all my research, that the Moffatt party took chances
in the reach above Nicholson Lake, or
in the reach between Nicholson Lake and Wharton Lake, and
in particular in the reach where Moffatt died (that between Wharton Lake and Marjorie Lake).
Conclusion.
The party took no chances at any time from the day that it exited Nicholson Lake to the day that it entered Marjorie Lake. In particular, it took no chances including 14 September 1955.
Neither exists there evidence that the party took chances in the reaches upstream from Nicholson Lake and downstream from Marjorie Lake.

Assertion 2 of the Sports Illustrated editor.

The statement of Assertion 2.
Already nine days behind schedule, the Moffatt party races against winter on the Barren Grounds. The days grow colder, provisions dwindle, game grows scarce. In desperate haste, they take an ultimate chance. [bottom right of page 76, appearing between the Moffatt entries for 15 and 16 August].

1. The nine days behind schedule part of Assertion 2.
In late August, the Moffatt party of 1955 was indeed behind the schedule of the Tyrrell party of 1893.
But the Moffatt party was not following the Tyrrell schedule! The Tyrrell party arrived in Baker Lake on 2 September, whereas the Moffatt party had scheduled arrival there on 15 September (with a grace period of seven days)!
The evidence suggests that, in late August, the Moffatt party was on track to reach Baker Lake within the allowed margin of seven days, that is by 22 September. Indeed, despite the tragedy and the unprecedented storm, the party reached Baker Lake on 24 September (two days after the expiry of the grace period).
A request.
I ask the reader to assess the nine days behind schedule part of Assertion 2 in the light of the evidence presented above.
Reference. Appendix 7. Schedule.

2. The …Barren Grounds. The days grow colder… part of Assertion 2.
I acknowledge
that the Moffatt party was indeed travelling in the Barren Grounds, and
that the days were indeed growing colder, on average.

3. The provisions dwindle part of Assertion 2.
I acknowledge that the provisions on board from the beginning dwindled as they were consumed.
But the SI editor omitted mention here of the discovery and harvesting of the cache on 7 September, as documented on page 82 of her/his own article.
Given that I have learned to trust nothing in the strong>SI article, I note that the liberation of provisions from the cache was documented also by Grinnell [pp 180&181] and Pessl [p 125].
Summary.
Provisions were bountiful from 7 September until most were lost on 14 September.
A request.
I ask the reader to assess the provisions dwindle part of Assertion 2 in the light of the evidence presented above and in Appendix 6.
Reference. Appendix 6. Food.

4. The game grows scarce part of Asssertion 2.
Moffatt’s journal, to which the editor had full access, documents that five caribou were shot in the period from 5 August to 14 September; the dates were 5 August, 11 August, 20 August, 26 August and 5 September. Moffatt’s evidence is confirmed by that of LeFavour’s article, Grinnell’s book and Pessl’s book.
Indeed, at lunchtime on 14 September (the day of the tragedy), the party had on board so much caribou meat that it had no need to hunt again; as well, it caught a 20 lb lake trout over lunch. [LeFavour].
And the party obtained many ptarmigan and fish.
A request.
I ask the reader to assess the game grows scarce part of Assertion 2 in the light of the evidence presented above and in Appendix 6.
Reference. Appendix 6. Food.

5. The races against winter…desperate haste…ultimate chance… part of Asssertion 2.
Analysis.
The editor all but states that Moffatt died because he was in such haste to reach Baker Lake that he could not afford time to scout the rapids where he died; the editor provided no supporting evidence. As I document in Appendix 5. Pace and weather freeze-up was not a possibility at any time until well into October.
Reminder.
As I documented above, the SI editor redacted the phrase Following Tyrrell’s route from Moffatt’s journal entry for 13 September, the day before Moffatt died. Why was that redaction made if to conceal the fact that Moffatt had route advice from J B Tyrrell and was following it?
A request.
I ask that the reader consider the light that this editorial action sheds on the editor’s triple-header assertion races against winter…desperate haste…ultimate chance.
Moffatt died rather because he had been misled by the advice of J B Tyrrell, advice that had proved trustworthy for the previous 11 weeks of the trip.
Reference. Appendix 9. The fatal rapids

Evidence relevant to both Assertions 1 and 2.
Please note
Moffatt’s cautious approach (described in Grinnell’s book) regarding the rapids below Nicholson Rapids,
and his portaging of rapids (run by others) immediately above Grant Lake,
and the party’s portaging of rapids/falls above Wharton Lake, and
and the party’s portaging of a set of rapids above the fatal ones, this on the very day that he died.
Are we to believe that Moffatt, at most a few hours later, panicked and in desperate haste to reach Baker Lake, took the ultimate chance and decided to risk everything, lives included, by running the fatal rapids without a scout?

Summary.
No part of Assertions 1 and 2 of the Sports Illustrated editor has a basis in evidence, save
that the party was travelling in the barrenlands, and
that the days were growing colder, on average.

After the tragedy.
Rather than attempt the dangerous rapids (Tyrrell’s London Rapids) below Marjorie Lake, and almost certainly also to save time, the survivors portaged from the northeast end of Marjorie to the east side of the peninsula in Aberdeen Lake on the Thelon River.
https://barrenlands.library.utoronto.ca/zone.cfm?ID=1893&zone=6
http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtopic.php?f=125&t=46351

Internal URLs.

Foreword and Forum.
Main text.
Appendix 1. Reality.
Appendix 3. Equipment.
Appendix 4. Experience.
Appendix 5. Pace and weather.
Appendix 6. Food.
Appendix 7. Schedule.
Appendix 8. Rapids in general.
Appendix 9. The fatal rapids.
Ancillary 1. Accusations.
Ancillary 2. Lanouette excerpt.
Ancillary 3. Tyrrell excerpt.
Ancillary 4. Distances.
Ancillary 5. Loose ends and the future.
Ancillary 6. Addenda.
Ancillary 7. Moffatt’s Tyrrell sources.
Ancillary 8. Evidence regarding the tragedy.
Bibliography.

Notice.
With the exception of quoted material, copyright to the above belongs to Allan Jacobs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *