Main text

Renovations continue. Thanks for your patience.

In Defence of Arthur Moffatt.

Introductory comments.

If everyone agrees what the story was, then it is certainly not true.
[Kenn Harper, Wilderness and Canoeing Symposium (Toronto, February 2018); paraphrased]. https://www.wcsymposium.com/sites/default/files/2018_wcs_program_v10.pdf
As s/he reads the accusations made of Arthur Moffatt, the reader may wish to keep in mind that he was unable to reply to anything written of him.

Summary.

In 1955, Moffatt set out to retrace the central portion of the Tyrrell (Joseph Burr and James Williams) expedition of 1893. To guide him, he had consulted both their books; as well, he had obtained JBT’s maps and journal, and he had corresponded with JBT. Reference. Ancillary 3. Tyrrell evidence and the fatal rapids.
The evidence of Moffatt’s journal, and that of participants Franck, Lanouette, LeFavour and Pessl, reveals every accusation made of him to be false, save the seven documented below. Of these, I assess six to be trivial; the sole accusation of substance (that regarding the rapids where Moffatt died) is addressed immediately below.
The efforts of Moffatt’s defamers were outstandingly successful, for they led the entire paddling community (including senior and highly respected members of it), plus the general public, to believe for 55 years that Moffatt died due to general incompetence on his part. I refer the reader to the corresponding two parts, the primary and secondary accusatory literature, of the Bibliography.
The methods used by Moffatt’s defamers were redactions of exculpatory evidence, alternative facts, fabrications and deceits.
And I suggest it to be far from beside the point that a dead person is an easy target for bullies.

The cause of Moffatt’s death.

Because of the overriding importance of the matter, I provide now some evidence regarding the rapids where he died. The full evidence, plus discussion of the related assertions of Moffatt’s defamers, is documented in the following.
Appendix 8. Rapids in general.
Appendix 9. The fatal rapids.

Evidence 1. The Dubawnt river above the fatal rapids.
Although reaches of that river are highly dangerous, the Moffatt party had experienced not one dump, not one pin and but one swamp in the eleven weeks prior to Moffatt’s death on 14 September 1955.
Opinion. This success was due to both of two factors.
1. The skill and the caution of the Moffatt party.
2. The rapids advice provided to Moffatt by J B Tyrrell.

Evidence 2. That of J B Tyrrell’s map.
https://barrenlands.library.utoronto.ca/content/zone-6-1893
List of important features.
Wharton Lake, two rapids (with descents of 15 and 6 feet), a small lake, a rapid with a portage of 18 chains (400 yards), a left turn to the north, followed by a featureless reach terminating at what is now called Marjorie Lake.

Evidence 3. That of J B Tyrrell’s book.
Aside. J W Tyrrell’s book (possessed by Moffatt) makes no mention of the rapids where he died.
The relevant passage from J B Tyrrell’s book (possessed by Moffatt):
Below Wharton Lake the river flows at first eastward, and then southward, for four miles to a small lake, in which distance it rushes down two rapids with descents respectively of 15 and 6 feet. …Five miles below the small lake is a rapid with a descent of twenty feet, past the lower part of which a portage 400 yards long was made over a hill of boulders… At the foot of this rapid the river turns at right angles and flows northward for seven miles as a wide shallow rapid stream, through low country…
Lady Marjorie Lake…was entered at the south end…
.
Reference. Ancillary 3. Tyrrell evidence and the fatal rapids.
The key items in the passage.
The two rapids with descents…of 15 and 6 feet were run without incident on 13 September.
The portage 400 yards long was begun on 13 September and completed in the morning of 14 September.
Moffatt died in the seven-mile, featureless reach described by Tyrrell as a wide shallow rapid stream.

Evidence 4. That of Moffatt’s journal for 10 September.
I note that the SI editor possessed Moffatt’s journal in its entirety. The key item provided in the entry for 10 September is the passage can’t risk an upset now. But that passage was omitted from the Sports Illustrated condensation (p 82) of Moffatt’s journal for that day.
Comment. Perhaps that passage reflects unfavourably on the SI editor’s assertion that the rapids where Moffatt died had been run in desperate haste.

Evidence 5. The events of 13 September
The party ran without incident the two rapids with descents respectively of 15 and 6 feet, traversed the small lake, then began the portage 400 yards long.
All features (the two rapids and the portage, which was completed in the morning of 14 September) were found to be as described by J B Tyrrell, in Evidences 2 and 3.

Intermediate summary.
J B Tyrrell’s advice had proved reliable from the very beginning of the trip even to lunchtime on the day that Moffatt died. In particular, none of the evidence available to Moffatt suggested that the rapids where he died (the last two rapids before Marjorie Lake [Lanouette, evidence 6]) merited caution.
Comment.
Moffatt’s defamers appear to expect us to believe that he changed his mind only a few hours later that very day, and decided, in desperate haste, to ignore J B Tyrrell’s advice and so to risk the life of every member of the party.

Evidence 6. That of Lanouette.
Background.
Ancillary 2. Lanouette evidence and the fatal rapids provides the full journal of Lanouette (Moffatt’s bowperson) for the day of Moffatt’s death. The Sports Illustrated article provided what I assess to be a faithful condensation of his journal for that day. The relevant part of the condensation follows.
After a fine lunch of fish chowder, we shoved off again at around 2:30. The weather was still dismal, although the wind had dropped. 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 before Marjorie Lake. Actually, what we had gone down were only riffles, and what lay ahead was the real beginning of the first rapids. At the top, the rapids looked as though they would be easy going, a few small waves, rocks—nothing serious. We didn’t even haul to shore to have a look, as we usually did. The river was straight and we could see both the top and foot of the rough water quite clearly, or we thought we could… I was looking a few feet in front of the canoe…when suddenly Art shouted “Paddle”.
… I was surprised to see two lines of white. I looked at them in helpless fascination. It was too late to pull for shore.
[SI article, p 85 (1959)].
Opinion. The key passage (provided both in Lanouette’s journal and in the SI condensation) is the three sentences
This surprised us. Art had figured we had already shot the last two rapids before Marjorie Lake. Actually, what we had gone down were only riffles, and what lay ahead was the real beginning of the first rapids.
Aside. Moffatt died in the first rapids and those that followed.
Interpretation. Moffatt knew there to be two rapids below the portage, but Lanouette’s surprised comment evinces that he had been incorrectly advised (by J B Tyrrell) regarding their severity. Only when it was too late to bail out and escape to shore did Moffatt realise that J B Tyrrell’s advice (which had proved worthy of his trust for the previous 11 weeks of the trip) had failed him in the afternoon of 14 September 1955. He could only tough it out.
Conclusion. The three-sentence passage This surprised us…real beginning of the first rapids is the key to understanding the cause of Moffatt’s death, for it evinces that Moffatt had been misled by J B Tyrrell’s advice.
Unfortunately for Moffatt’s reputation, over the entire 55 years of the accusatory literature not one accuser (many of whom are known to have possessed the SI article) mentioned that Lanouette passage and so the exculpatory evidence that it provides. Worthy of explicit mention in this respect is the SI editor her/himself. And so I am perhaps justified in asking whether the editor had read her/his own article.
Grinnell’s version of the SI condensation.
At the top of page 202 of his book, one finds the passage:
In a few minutes we heard and saw rapids on the horizon… At the top, the rapids looked as though they would be easy going…
On comparing this with the SI condensation, one that Grinnell redacted the three sentences
This surprised us. Art had figured we had already shot the last two rapids before Marjorie Lake. Actually, what we had gone down were only riffles, and what lay ahead was the real beginning of the first rapids
and replaced them with an ellipsis.
I comment below regarding the interpretation of the passage and Grinnell’s motivation for redacting it.

Evidence 7. General evidence of participant LeFavour for 13 and 14 September.
The river between Wharton and Marjorie Lakes…had been traveled by Tyrrell in his trip 60 years before and was described in his journal: there were five rapids, the first two rough but shootable, the third long and heavy requiring a portage of a mile and the last two apparently easy for they were mentioned only as “rapids”. Because this route was described we took it, being careful to look over the first two which were indeed rough. Hurrying as we were, no foolish chances were taken. [The Evening Recorder, Amsterdam NY. Part 3, page 8, 29 December (1955)].
Asides.
LeFavour refers to J B Tyrrell’s journal (contents unknown) as the source. And so the source was not JBT’s response (contents unknown) to Moffatt’s letter of 18 December 1954.
As I documented above, JBT’s book (possessed by Moffatt) makes no mention of the rapids where Moffatt died.
Comments.
On 13 September, the Moffatt party ran without incident the first two rough but shootable rapids. These are the rapids with descents of 15 and 6 feet mentioned in JBT’s book and shown on his map. That same day, the Moffatt party began the portage around the long and heavy rapids.
The portage was completed in the morning of 14 September. That afternoon, Moffatt died in the last two apparently easy rapids that followed.
A request.
I ask that the reader consider the relevance of the LeFavour passage no foolish chances were taken to the assertion of Sports Illustrated editor that the rapids where Moffatt died had been run in desperate haste.
Summary.
LeFavour’s remarks regarding these first three features (the rapids with descents of 15 and 6 feet and the portage) agree completely with those of J B Tyrrell (both in his book and on his map), except for the length of the portage.
Foretaste.
As I now document, the key difference between the evidence of J B Tyrrell on the one hand and that of LeFavour on the other lies in features downstream from the portage; it was in this reach that Moffatt died. In short, LeFavour provides key evidence not mentioned by J B Tyrrell.

Evidence 8. That of LeFavour for 14 September.
At 3 p.m. we were again on the river…we hoped to get a good way up Marjorie Lake in the calm before dark. A mile downriver the roar of the next rapid reached our ears… As we coasted into the top of it all appeared to be well. You could see the bottom, the water, though white, was apparently shootable. Tyrrell had indicated by his neglect that the rapid was an easy one, and it seemed to be just that. [The Evening Recorder, Amsterdam NY. Part 3, page 8, 29 December (1955)].
Opinion. The key passage is Tyrrell had indicated by his neglect that the rapid was an easy one.
Comment. It was in this rapid (and the one that followed) that Moffatt died.

Evidence 9. That of Pessl.
We were following Tyrrell’s journal description of the river conditions approaching Marjorie Lake. Tyrrell’s river descriptions had proven dependable previously and indicated benign conditions entering Marjorie Lake following the last portage. [private correspondence]
Note. The last portage is the one completed in the morning of 14 September.

Evidence 10. That of George Luste.
Art Moffatt, following Tyrrell’s notes, was not expecting the rapid in which he swamped and then died. [Grinnell book, p 284].
Unfortunately, this evidence of Luste was ignored by every Moffatt accuser. Deserving of explicit mention are Grinnell himself (in his own book) and Murphy (in what he alleged to be a review of Grinnell’s book).
A regret. I did not ask Luste about his source for the above while still he could reply.

Aside regarding blind probes.
I expect that many paddlers have run rapids without scouting them. My limited understanding of such matters has it that the act is so common as to have acquired a title, namely making a blind probe. For sure, countless parties have made blind probes and gotten through successfully, but others have dumped. Indeed, two primary defamers (Murphy and Thum) had the courage and the integrity to state that they had dumped because they had not scouted rapids.
Reference 1. Murphy, James. Moffatt, Myth and Mysticism [Che-Mun, Canoelit section. Outfit? Spring 1996, pp 5 & 11]
Reference 2. Thum, Bob. In Down a Dead Man’s River. [Charlie Mahler. Che-Mun. Outfit 122, Autumn 2005, starting on page 4].
http://www.ottertooth.com/che-mun/122/chemun122.pdf
I should welcome correction, but I assume that both these dumps resulted from making a blind probe.
But Moffatt did not make a blind probe. His dump resulted solely from incorrect advice provided by a source that he had learned to trust over the previous eleven weeks. To repeat, J B Tyrrell had advised Moffatt that there were no significant rapids in the reach remaining above Marjorie Lake, and so he led the way down them, without a scout, to his death.

A request.
I ask that reader consider the light shed by these ten evidences on the following assertions regarding Moffatt’s death.
1. …the Moffatt party races against winter on the Barren Grounds …In desperate haste, they take an ultimate chance. [SI article, bottom of right column, p 76; 1955]
2. 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; 1955]
3. …misjudging Tyrrell’s descriptions of the rapids they would encounter before entering Marjorie Lake… [Inglis, 1979]
4. …Moffatt died of exposure after they dumped in a large rapid they did not scout. [Che-Mun, Outfit 99, Winter 2000].
5. The men talked less and took more risks. On September 14th,… all three boats plunged over two sets of waterfalls the paddlers hadn’t bothered to scout…. [Kingsley, Paddle North, top of p 189, 2014]
Conjecture. Assertions 3, 4 and 5 were inspired by those of the SI editor.
References.
Appendix 8. Rapids in general.
Appendix 9. The fatal rapids.

How did it go so badly wrong,

that Arthur Moffatt was falsely accused for 55 years regarding the running of the rapids where he died?
The evidence leads me to conclude that the primary cause was the redactions of exculpatory evidence made by the Sports Illustrated editor and by participant Grinnell. It bears explicit mention
first that their publications form the sole evidentiary basis (that provided in the publications of the participants) of the entire 55 years of the accusatory literature,
second that they had been in contact before the publication of the SI article.

The redaction made by the Sports Illustrated editor.
1. Moffatt’s last journal entry (that for 13 September) is provided in full in Appendix 9. The fatal rapids.
What interpretation of the phrase Following Tyrrell’s route contained there is possible but that Moffatt had possessed route advice from Tyrrell (J B, not J W) and that he was following it the next day, when he died?
2. A version of that last Moffatt entry was published in the Sports Illustrated article (1959), the first publication of the accusatory literature. [lower right column, p 82] On comparing the two versions, one sees that the SI editor redacted the phrase Following Tyrrell’s route.
3. I ask that reader reflect on the light shed by the phrase Following Tyrrell’s route on the following assertions of the SI editor.
…the Moffatt party races against winter on the Barren Grounds …In desperate haste, they take an ultimate chance. [SI article, bottom of right column, p 76]
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]
4. Interpretation.
Given that the redacted phrase Following Tyrrell’s route calls into question the truth of both assertions, I suggest that such was the editor’s motivation for redacting it.
5. Conclusion.
The Sports Illustrated editor expects us to believe that, having followed J B Tyrrell’s advice throughout the trip, in particular on 13 September and in the morning of 14 September, Moffatt chose to ignore that same advice later that same day.
Who is so credulous?

The redaction made by participant Grinnell.
I documented above that the only change made by Grinnell in his version of the SI faithful condensation of Lanouette’s journal was his redaction of the three-sentence passage
This surprised us. Art had figured we had already shot the last two rapids before Marjorie Lake. Actually, what we had gone down were only riffles, and what lay ahead was the real beginning of the first rapids
and his replacement of it by an ellipsis. [Grinnell book, top of p 202]
And so there must be something very special about that passage, that it was afforded such very special treatment.
Well, what interpretation of that passage is possible but that Moffatt had been misled (by J B Tyrrell’s advice) regarding the danger posed by the rapids where he died? That is, Lanouette and Moffatt were surprised because J B Tyrrell had advised Moffatt that there were no significant rapids in the reach between the portage (completed in the morning of 14 September) and Marjorie Lake. I refer the reader to the ten evidences provided above.

The question.
Given the exculpatory nature of that passage (namely that Moffatt had been misled regarding the danger posed by the rapids where he died), what interpretation of Grinnell’s redaction of that passage is credible but that he intended to mislead his readership regarding the cause of Moffatt’s death?

The collaboration of the Sports Illustrated editor and Grinnell.
I must repeat that both the SI editor and Grinnell redacted what I assess to be exculpatory evidence regarding Moffatt’s decision to run without a scout the rapids where he died.
I bring now to the reader’s attention that Grinnell had collaborated in the writing of the SI article, specifically the Epilogue. I refer here to Grinnell’s comments regarding death by hypothermia, the rescues, the revised plan to reach Baker Lake, the crossing of Aberdeen Lake, etc. Given that Grinnell’s first publication (his Canoe article of 1988) appeared 29 years later, he and the SI editor must have corresponded, at the very least. Indeed, I have cause to believe that they had met through intermediaries, perhaps even in person.
In both his article (1988) and his book (1996), Grinnell had the opportunity to object to the falsehoods and the fabrications of the SI editor (1959). Unfortunately, he chose not to do so, and those items polluted the Moffatt literature to at least 2014. But worse was to come, for Grinnell redacted that exculpatory passage from the condensation of Lanouette’s journal; it is perhaps no gross conjecture that he was inspired by the corresponding redaction made by the SI editor. Had Grinnell chosen the path of truth, Moffatt’s reputation might have been saved; had his family not suffered enough already? Rather, Grinnell (with the assistance of Murphy and MacDonald) ignited the accusatory literature (both primary and secondary) that continued to at least 2014.
And so the thought occurred to me that the SI editor and Grinnell had colluded to defame Arthur Moffatt.

Assessment of the evidentiary basis of the accusatory literature.

I define this basis to be the evidence of the participants.

The evidence of Moffatt
was available only in the form of edited excerpts from his journal, as provided in the Sports Illustrated article. I remind the reader
first that the SI editor redacted the exculpatory phrase Following Tyrrell’s route from Moffatt’s last journal entry (that for 13 September) and
second that the editor made assertions that are falsified by the contents of Moffatt’s journal.
I conclude that no content of the Sports Illustrated article is to be believed, save what is verified by reliable source/s. Particularly undeserving of the reader’s trust are what are alleged to be passages from Moffatt’s journal.

The evidence of Lanouette,
which I trust completely, was available only in the form of the faithful condensation (provided in the SI article) of his journal for 14 September.
That evidence (which I assess to be exculpatory) was ignored by every accuser (notably by the SI editor) for the entire 55 years of the Moffatt literature, save by Grinnell, who redacted it.

The evidence of Grinnell.
In continuation, I remind the reader that, in his book, Grinnell redacted the exculpatory passage This surprised us. Art had figured we had already shot the last two rapids before 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 of the evidence of Lanouette.
That redaction, alone and in itself, leads me to conclude that no content of either Grinnell’s book (1996), and so of his article (1988), is to be believed unless confirmed by a reliable source.
Aside. I have yet to document fully, even so much as to count, the accusations made by Grinnell, many of which are known to be false in one way or another. That task is on my to-do list; should it be completed, the result will be posted in Ancillary 1. Accusations.

The evidence of LeFavour
is completely worthy of the reader’s trust. But it was unavailable until he provided me with the key third of the four articles and gave permission to publish its contents.

The evidence of Pessl and Franck
is completely worthy of the reader’s trust. But it appeared too late to influence the literature, with the following exception: Kingsley [Paddle North, top of p 202 (2014)] made incidental mention of the Pessl comment People revealed themselves as imperfect [Kesselheim, Canoe & Kayak (2012)].

Summary.
With that exception, the only participant evidence available in the 55 years of the accusatory literature was that provided in three publications: the SI article (1959), Grinnell’s article (1988) and Grinnell’s book (1996). These are what I call the three pillars of the accusatory literature.
But I documented above
that the SI editor redacted the exculpatory passage Following Tyrrell’s route from Moffatt’s last journal entry, and
that Grinnell (in his book) redacted the exculpatory passage This surprised us…real beginning of the first rapids from the SI condensation of Lanouette’s journal for the day of Moffatt’s death.

Conclusion.
Given
that those three publications form the entire evidentiary basis of the Moffatt literature, and
that no content of any of them and can be trusted,
it follows as the night the day that the entire accusatory literature (primary and secondary alike) of those 55 years has no more substance than a house of cards.

The character of the Moffatt literature and the accusations made of him.

In all the many publications made over those 55 years, in not one instance was evidence provided in support of an accusation. That is, the accusatory literature consists of nothing but assertions.
Given that Moffatt was dead and so unable to defend himself, his defamers had free rein. The evidence leads me to conclude that many of them took maximal advantage of that fact.
I documented above the redactions (I suggest them to have been coordinated) made by the SI editor and by Grinnell.
Other means were used to defame Moffatt, namely falsehoods, fabrications and deceits. But there are so many of each that it would destroy the flow to list here only the major items. I refer the reader to the correspondingly entitled paragraph provided in Ancillary 1. Accusations.
It is a far simpler task to document every true accusation.

The true accusations.
In three-plus years of research into Moffatt’s death, I found but seven true accusations to have made in the accusatory literature, which began in 1959 and continued to 2014.

True accusation 1. The three spare paddles had been left behind in Stony Rapids.
Response. They were delivered the very next day.
Request. I ask that the reader reflect on the accusers’ motivation in documenting such material.

True accusation 2. The party did not take a radio.
Response. Moffatt requested, but was refused, permission to carry a radio. It bears explicit mention that possession of one would not have averted his death.
Request. I ask that the reader reflect on the accuser’s motivation in documenting such material.

True accusation 3. The initial supply of provisions had proved to be inadequate.
Item 1.
The Moffatt party was woefully short of provisions and caloric energy sustenance… [Luste, Grinnell book, top of p 288].
Aside. As best I know, Luste had no access to either the Sports Illustrated (1959) or Grinnell’s article (1988)
Comment. At first glance, it is unclear whether Luste referred here to the initial supply, or to the supply available during the trip.
But Grinnell’s book documents the shooting of five caribou in the six weeks before Moffatt’s death, plus the acquisition of much other food from the land, plus the massive resupply of provisions from the cache. And so I conclude that Luste referred solely to the initial supply.
Item 2.
The Moffatt expedition was clearly unprepared in the material sense. Not enough food–neither in quantity nor quality. [Kingsley. Back and Beyond. Lake. Issue 6 (2013); p 14].
I assume this to be a paraphrase of the above Luste assertion.
Given that Kingsley refers to Moffatt’s preparations (and so not to the food supply during the trip), I agree completely.
Assessment. True, but only when applied to the early part of the trip, as I am sure was intended by both Luste and Kingsley.

True accusation 4. There was a dispute regarding the sugar supply.
Grinnell assertion. A week later Pessl announced that we had consumed half our sugar supply while covering less than one-third the distance to Baker Lake. [Grinnell article, p 20, top of right column; undated (1988)]
Pessl confirmation. Had a grumpy outbreak over the sugar situation. We are now 1/2 through the supply and only about 1/3 of the distance to Baker Lake…Hope it works. [Pessl book, 29 July, p 56 (2014].
Assessment. True with respect to the time remaining, uncertain with respect to the distance.
Response. The matter was resolved on 29 July.
Aside. Given Grinnell’s redaction of that passage in the condensation of Lanouette’s journal, I saw no need to record and address his accusations that Moffatt was swiping more than his fair share of the sugar.

True accusation 5. Moffatt had used a bowl larger than the others.
Source. Grinnell’s article (1988) and his book (1996); verified by Pessl (2014).
Response. Beginning on 22 August, Moffatt used a bowl of the same size as the others.

True accusation 6. running scared
Source. Sports Illustrated (1959); repeated by Kingsley (2012).
The source is easily identified to have been Moffatt’s comment we’re all running scared in his journal entry for 10 September. Reference. Ancillary 1. Accusations.
But Moffatt’s journal for that very same day contains also the passage can’t risk an upset now, which went unmentioned in all the accusatory literature.
Summary. Material prejudicial to Moffatt was reported, but not material favourable to him.
Request. I ask that the reader reflect on the accusers’ motivation in documenting such material.

True accusation 7. The rapids where Moffatt died had not been scouted.
I refer the reader to the evidence presented at the top of this text, more completely in the following.
Appendix 8. Rapids in general.
Appendix 9. The fatal rapids.

The character of Arthur Moffatt.
Although a US citizen, he joined the British army shortly after graduation from college, months before December 1941. For four years, he served in the campaigns in Africa and Italy.
But Moffatt was not a combatant, for he was a pacifist. Rather, he was an ambulance driver; he took the wounded and the dying from the very front of the battles to the aid stations in the rear, no job for a coward.
Let the reader compare his character with that of those who knowingly made false accusations of a person unable to respond. The Sports Illustrated editor and Grinnell come immediately to mind.
Let the reader compare his character with that of Thum, who retraced Moffatt’s route solely to show him up.

The mission of the Moffatt party.
In 1955, Moffatt set out to retrace the central portion of the 1893 Tyrrell-Tyrrell (Joseph Burr and James Williams) expedition of the Geological Survey of Canada; this was the reach from Black Lake (on the Fond du Lac River) to Baker Lake (on the Thelon River). To guide him, Moffatt possessed multiple evidences of the Tyrrell brothers.
References. Ancillary 3. Tyrrell items and the fatal rapids, plus other sources.
Moffatt’s was one of first modern trips to paddle the barrenlands; even Eric Morse’s group did not venture there until years later. His was certainly the first party composed entirely of those of European descent to travel any part of the Dubawnt River.
His mission was to document (by film, photos and journal/s) the barrenlands of the Dubawnt/Thelon basin of what is now Nunavut. His was not a recreational trip like that taken by most paddlers, and so I suggest that it not be judged by such standards.
An example. In order to accomplish its mission, the Moffatt party paused as opportunities arose (for example to photograph the caribou and the artefacts left by the native people), and so it could not possibly have had a highly prescriptive schedule. And it had no even one waypoint to be reached by a specified date. But 11 independent sources, including Grinnell (especially in his book), attest that the Moffatt party had what matters, namely a schedule for arrival in Baker Lake. The reader will soon see what Murphy and MacDonald did with that evidence, in what they alleged to be reviews of that book.
Reference. Appendix 7. Schedule.

The evidence of participant Pessl regarding the mission of the Moffatt party.
1. Moffatt had …the grand concept of retracing J. B. Tyrrell’s epic 1893 journey down the Dubawnt River, creating a film documentary about the journey and sharing that experience in print with the wilderness adventure community. [book, p 165]
2. We were filming a canoe journey along a transect that reflected remarkable changes in the wildlife and natural history of the region. It was the journey that mattered and it was the context of that journey that we were committed to record. [book, p 166].
3. In a very different context, Pessl referred to Moffatt’s intention to provide the basis for a coherent, artistic expression of this classic journey… [book, p 167].

The tipping point.

Preliminaries.
1. I documented above the redaction made by the SI editor in her/his article of 1959. One fine day, I’ll compile a list of the falsehoods, the fabrications, etc of the SI editor.
2. I possess no evidence that any accuser knew of the fabrications and deceits of the historian Alex Inglis, made in his book Northern Vagabond. The Life and Career of J B Tyrrell – the Man Who Conquered the Canadian North. McClelland and Stewart. (1978) [pp 52&54]. The book escaped the attention of every Moffatt accuser.
Aside. Inglis’s sole source was the SI article, and he made the first mention of the accusations of the SI editor.
3. I document elsewhere the fabrications and deceits contained in Grinnell’s article (1988); they were mentioned in the literature only after the publication of his book (1996).
4. Elsewhere, I provide Luste’s list of accusations (dates and authors unknown) made prior to the publication of Grinnell’s book (1996 edition, pp 293&294). Given that no accuser provided a source, their effect is not known.
5. A strong candidate for the tipping point is Grinnell’s book of 1996. It contains his redacted version of Lanouette’s journal, and it is replete with falsehoods, fabrications and deceits. It is on my to-do list to document each of these items.
But I question whether the book would have had significant impact had its existence not been made widely known by Murphy and MacDonald. Otherwise, it might well have faded into the obscurity it so richly deserves.
Opinion.
The tipping point of the accusatory literature was the publication of the Murphy-MacDonald articles, which they alleged to be reviews of Grinnell’s book. [Che-Mun, Canoelit section. Moffatt, Myth & Mysticism. Spring 1996, pp 5 & 11].
Certainly those articles broke the dyke; the flood of the accusations (primary and secondary) based on them is known to have continued until 2014.
Bibliography.
And so I document and assess in detail their assertions in what follows.

The assertions of Murphy and MacDonald, preliminaries.

The assertion of Murphy.
Lack of food, proper equipment and most importantly, lack of a planned itinerary, contributed to his [Moffatt’s] demise.
Assertion 1 of MacDonald.
As the summer-length trip wore on, and the progress of their three Chestnut canoes lapsed further and further behind schedule, anxiousness and impending climax accompanies the daily accounts.
Assertion 2 of MacDonald.
One of the implications of a quasi-religious resistance to a pragmatic plan of travel was the death of Arthur Moffat.
Outline.
I provide three paragraphs. The first two address Murphy’s assertions regarding food and equipment, the third the assertions of Murphy and MacDonald regarding the schedule.

Murphy’s assertion regarding lack of food as a cause of Moffatt’s death,
repeated for the reader’s convenience: Lack of food…contributed to his [Moffatt’s] demise.
1. Murphy provided no evidence in support of the above assertion, for the excellent reason that no such evidence exists. Indeed, Grinnell’s book (the very subject of Murphy’s review) documents that food was plentiful, on the whole, in the six weeks before Moffatt’s death.
2. I point out to Murphy but two items contained in Grinnell’s book, the very subject of his review.
Over the ensuing weeks… we killed our third, fourth and fifth caribous… [p 156].
…we saw…a stack of cardboard boxes with cans of dehydrated vegetables inside… We…raided the dump. [7 September, pp 180&181]
3. The evidence of participant LeFavour for 13 September, the day before Moffatt’s death. Up to that point we had shot five caribou and by doing so had saved enough meat to see us through. Now it was not even necessary to spend time hunting. [The Evening Recorder, Amsterdam NY. Part 3 of 4, page 8, 29 December (1955).]
4. Some evidences of Franck and Pessl.
22 August. I was not feeling too well today, probably from eating too much caribou yesterday, … [Franck, in Pessl, p 99].
28 August. We … were so full we could hardly move. [Franck, in Pessl, p 108]
30 August. …I had prepared such a huge breakfast that none of us could have moved much further than the tents anyway. I felt as if I would have crashed right through the bottom of the canoe and sunk like a stone if we would have been loading. [Pessl, p 110]
Conclusion. Murphy’s assertion that Moffatt died in part due to lack of food is a falsehood.
Reference. Appendix 6. Food.

Murphy’s assertion regarding lack of proper equipment as a cause of Moffatt’s death,
repeated for the reader’s convenience: Lack of…proper equipment…contributed to his [Moffatt’s] demise.
1. Murphy provided no evidence in support of his assertion that Moffatt died in part due to lack of…proper equipment, for the excellent reason that no such evidence exists.
2. Inspection reveals Murphy’s unidentified source to have been Luste’s equipment recommendations for paddlers circa 1996.
I point out to Murphy that, to the best of my knowledge, such equipment was not available 41 years earlier. For example, I was unable to find evidence that spray covers had been available in 1955, or that anyone had used such before then. I refer the reader to my post at Canadian Canoe Routes (URL to be provided).
3. I possess no evidence that Moffatt’s equipment was not up-to-date for the times.
Conclusion. Murphy’s assertion that Moffatt died due to lack…of proper equipment is a falsehood.
Reference. Appendix 3. Equipment.

The Murphy-MacDonald assertions regarding lack of schedule as a cause of Moffatt’s death.
Background.
1. The winds in particular forbid any barrenlands party to have a highly prescriptive schedule, the extreme case being a day-by-day one. Even the Tyrrell party of 1893 was forced to stay in camp on occasion.
2. Given the mission of the Moffatt party (to document the barrenlands) it could not have had a highly prescriptive schedule. And it had not even one waypoint to be reached by a specified date. But it had what counts, namely a schedule for arrival in Baker Lake.
3. Clarification. Their editor explained later that by a planned itinerary and a pragmatic plan of travel, Murphy and MacDonald meant what most would call a schedule.

The assertion of Murphy. Lack of…a planned itinerary… contributed to his [Moffatt’s] demise.
Murphy provided no evidence in support of his assertion that Moffatt died in part due to lack of a schedule, for the excellent reason that no such evidence exists.

The assertions of MacDonald.
1. As the summer-length trip wore on, and the progress of their three Chestnut canoes lapsed further and further behind schedule, anxiousness and impending climax accompanies the daily accounts.
2. One of the implications of a quasi-religious resistance to a pragmatic plan of travel was the death of Arthur Moffat.
3. Confession. It is unclear to me whether these assertions support or refute each other.
4. MacDonald provided no evidence in support of his assertion that Moffatt died due to lack of a schedule, for the excellent reason that no such evidence exists.

The evidence of Grinnell’s book, the very subject of the Murphy-MacDonald reviews.
1. Two passages identified in my incomplete search.
(a) we had fallen about a month behind schedule [p 162] and
(b) we were falling behind schedule [p 163].
Suggestion. These passages (and perhaps others in Grinnell’s book) were the source for the Murphy-MacDonald assertions listed above.
What interpretation of these passages is possible but that the Moffatt party had a schedule but was not sticking to it?
Unfortunately, both passages are Grinnell fabrications (this not known to Murphy and MacDonald).
2. On the other hand, Grinnell (in his book) asserted repeatedly, consistently and truthfully that the Moffatt party had a schedule for arrival in Baker Lake.
But neither Murphy nor MacDonald mentioned this evidence, in what they alleged to be reviews of Grinnell’s book.
Aside. Strangely, Grinnell gave the intended arrival date as 2 September, rather than the correct15 September; I interpret this as evidence (confirmed by more such) that he did not keep a journal.
3. Unfortunately for the reputation of Moffatt (who was unable to respond), Murphy and MacDonald made no mention of this evidence provided in Grinnell’s book, in what they alleged to be reviews of that very book. It is perhaps then reasonable to ask whether either Murphy or MacDonald had actually read Grinnell’s book.
4. As well, ten sources other than Grinnell’s book, including The New York Times, confirm that the Moffatt party had a schedule for arrival in Baker Lake. Reference. Appendix 7. Schedule.

Summary.
Murphy’s assertion that Moffatt died due to lack of a schedule is an untruth.
MacDonald’s assertion that Moffatt died due to lack of a schedule is an untruth.

The primary accusatory literature.

At the beginning of this document, I provided the evidence related to the rapids where Moffatt died, and I mentioned the related accusations. And I just addressed the influential accusations of Murphy and MacDonald. But the primary accusatory literature is far larger might be concluded from the above. It consists of the following.
Item 1. The Sports Illustrated article (1959).
Item 2. The book of Inglis (1978); it contains incidental mention of Moffatt’s death.
Item 3. The Canoe article (1988) of participant Grinnell.
Item 4. Assertions quoted by Luste in Grinnell’s book (pp 293&294, 1996 edition)
Item 5. Grinnell’s book (1996 edition).
Item 6. The Murphy-MacDonald reviews of Grinnell’s book (1996).
Item 7. The Mahler-Thum article/s (2005).
Item 8. Kingsley’s articles (2012 and 2013) and book (2014).
In the interest of brevity, I refer the reader to Ancillary 1. Accusations for a full discussion of all these items.

Opinions.

From its inception in 1959 to and including 2014, the accusatory literature consists of nothing but assertions, opinion pieces, and edited versions of previous accusations. In not one case was supporting evidence provided. Not once was a source identified, save the obvious (the reviews of Grinnell’s book). In several instances, the source can have been only the defamer’s imagination.
Accusations were accepted and promulgated, indeed embellished, without thought to whether they were true, even to whether they were credible.
Exculpatory evidence was redacted twice, and ignored on other occasions.
Qualifying evidence was omitted.
Evidence was misrepresented.
Fabrications were represented as evidence.
All too many assertions are conscious untruths.
The little red fruit was picked repeatedly by two defamers.
All this of someone unable to defend himself.

Summary.

At the beginning of this document, I provided all the evidence known to me regarding the cause of Moffatt’s death. To me, the evidence is conclusive that the sole cause was incorrect advice from a source that he had learned to trust over the previous 11 weeks of the trip, indeed in the very morning of the day that he died.
But, over the 55 years of the accusatory literature, many false accusations were made of Moffatt and were widely believed and promulgated. And so I felt it necessary to list some of those accusations, and the conclusions that the evidence led me to reach regarding them.
1.
It is a fabrication that any member of the party lost sense of reality at any time.
It is a falsehood that Grinnell and most of the others had succumbed to a sort of delusion. They felt they were in paradise.
Appendix 1. Reality and Delusion.
2.
It is a falsehood that the party had taken holidays on more than half the days of the trip.
It is a fabrication that an inquest had been held into Moffatt’s death.
Appendix 3. Equipment.
4.
It is a fabrication that the party was inexperienced.
It is a fabrication that the leadership was poor.
Appendix 4. Experience.
5.
It a falsehood that the party raced down the river in order to escape the onset of winter.
Appendix 5. Pace and weather.
6.
It is a falsehood that game grows scarce.
Given that a major resupply of provisions was obtained on 7 September, it is a fabrication that provisions dwindle.
It is a falsehood that Moffatt died due to lack of food.
It is a fabrication that Moffatt said He who controls the food controls the men. It is another the later embellishment He said with a sardonic smile.
It is a deceit that As the summer wore on, the men grew hungry before, during, and after each meal.
It is a fabrication that When Arthur Moffatt set off for the Barrenlands, he envisioned a land of plenty.
Given that a major resupply of provisions was obtained on 7 September, it is a deceit that the party’s provisions were beginning to run low.
It is a deceit that there were only 15 packs of cigarettes left and a half can of roll-your-own.
It is a truth that that the sugar ration had proved to be woefully inadequate.
It is a falsehood that the caribou were long gone.
It is a truth that the Moffatt party shot five caribou, the first on 5 August, the last on 5 September.
It is a truth that, a few hours before Moffatt’s death, the party had so much caribou meat on board that it had no more need to hunt.
Appendix 6. Food.
7.
It is a deceit that the Moffatt party was a week behind Tyrrell’s schedule, another that it was nine days behind schedule.
It is a falsehood that Moffatt died due to lack of a planned itinerary, aka lack of a schedule.
It is a falsehood that he died due to lack of a pragmatic plan of travel, aka lack of a schedule.
It is a truth that the Moffatt party had scheduled arrival in Baker Lake for 15 September, with a grace period of a week.
Appendix 7. Schedule.
8.
It is a misrepresentation of the evidence that the party was running scared.
It is a falsehood that …the Moffatt party races against winter on the Barren Grounds. … In desperate haste, they take an ultimate chance.
It is a falsehood that 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.
It is a truth that the rapids where Moffatt died had not been scouted.
It is a truth that Moffatt died because he had been misled by advice that had proved worthy of his trust for the 11 weeks prior to his death.
It is a truth that Art Moffatt, following Tyrrell’s notes, was not expecting the rapid in which he swamped and then died. [Luste]
It is a truth that hurrying as we were, no foolish chances were taken. [LeFavour]
Appendix 8. Rapids in general.
Appendix 9. The fatal rapids.

Personal reflections.
Moffatt did not paddle the Dubawnt in order to build his self-esteem by proving himself to himself or to anyone else. A pacifist who served for four years at the very front of the battles in Africa and Italy has no need to prove anything to anyone.
Rather, Moffatt set out to document the barrenlands by means of film, photos and journals. Perhaps he went also to experience the barrens, to immerse himself in it, to understand it at least in part, to appreciate it. Perhaps he had hoped to establish himself as a wilderness writer. Perhaps he already had the idea of protecting the barrens. Perhaps he took the trip in part out of respect for the wilderness.
Whatever his motivation, Moffatt was the very antithesis of the conquer-the-wilderness types, the ego-trippers, the self-promoters, the peak-baggers, the river-baggers, in short all those go into the wild with something to prove. He would never have said The real adventure pits man against nature, as alleged in the Sports Illustrated article [top of p 71]. In private correspondence, Pessl confirmed that such a comment is totally out of character for Moffatt; he referred me to the following passage from Grinnell’s book. How ridiculous to “assault a mountain”! How pretentious to plant a flag! How arrogant to stand on top for fifteen minutes and talk of “conquest!” [Grinnell book, p 19]. A similar remark was made in Grinnell’s article [lower left column, p 20]. In both instances, the context was a conversation about the then recent ascent of Everest.
Moffatt was the very antithesis of Bob Thum, who provided the following motivation for his Dubawnt trip of 1966. Moffatt is precisely why we took the trip…I thought experienced trippers could cover Tyrrell’s route safely and skillfully, which we did. [Down a Dead Man’s River, Che-Mun. Outfit 122, Autumn 2005, starting on page 4. http://www.ottertooth.com/che-mun/122/chemun122.pdf
Response 1. And so the sole purpose of the Thum trip was to show up Moffatt. Such courage, such grace, to bully a dead man.
Response 2. It certainly took considerable skill on Thum’s part and that of his companions to get safely through the many dangerous rapids above those where Moffatt died.
But such skill had been exhibited previously by the Moffatt party, whose first and only dumps occurred in the rapids where he died.
With respect to the rapids where Moffatt died, the only skill required of Thum was the ability to read the evidence regarding Moffatt’s death, namely that those rapids were dangerous in the extreme.
Opinions.
Arthur Moffatt deserves our respect.
He and his family certainly did not deserve the falsehoods, fabrications and misrepresentations published over 55 years by so many, especially those made by fellow paddlers.

Comments.
Those wishing to learn more about the trip and the tragedy are suggested to start with Pessl’s book. Barren Grounds. The Story of the Tragic Moffatt Canoe Trip. Dartmouth College Press (2014).
With all primary accusations shown to have no basis in the evidence, the way is clear for a new chapter in the Moffatt literature, namely an extended appreciation of him. Such would be rather late (he died sixty years ago), but perhaps someone will take on the job.
And I suggest that retractions are in order.

A little about Arthur Moffatt, the person.
First and above all, he was not the bungling, incompetent fool that multiple defamers so successfully portrayed him to be for 55 years.
From the little that I know of him, he was a thoughtful, decent, responsible, indeed admirable, person.
1. Arthur Moffatt was born in 1919, the son of a stable worker on a Long Island estate. At 17, he’d paddled the Albany River in Northern Ontario alone, 500 miles from Sioux Lookout to Hudson’s Bay. He attended Dartmouth College—his father’s employer paid his tuition—and immediately after graduating in 1941, he joined the American Field Service, a volunteer ambulance corps attached to the British Eighth Army. A committed pacifist, Moffatt witnessed some of the bloodiest campaigns of World War II, but never carried a weapon. [Pessl, as reported by Kesselheim, Alan. Canoe & Kayak, May 2012, starting on p 46.]
2. He was a quietly principled man who from an early age lived as best he could, consistent with his principles. … He was a pacifist and volunteered for the American Field service as an ambulance driver, serving in Africa and Italy during World War II. [Pessl book, p 165]
Why did he choose the Dubawnt River?
He had …the grand concept of retracing J. B. Tyrrell’s epic 1893 journey down the Dubawnt River, creating a film documentary about the journey and sharing that experience in print with the wilderness adventure community. [Pessl, p 165]

An appreciation of Arthur Moffatt.
Even after these many years, I grieve Art Moffatt’s death. He was more than my mentor; he was perhaps a second father even though he was only fourteen years older than I. His pacifism, his principled lifestyle, and his view of the world, natural and international, opened my mind, challenged my thoughts, and gave me insight and courage to pursue my own dreams.
I wonder what would have been the future had he survived the Dubawnt and fully developed professionally as an outdoor writer and voice for wild spaces, indigenous peoples, habitat protection, and restraint in Arctic resources development. I believe his impact on our awareness and understanding of the Barrens would have been profound. How might we have better valued the vastness and uniqueness of that ecosystem? How different our understanding and vision of the far north might be today had our Dubawnt adventure ended in celebration instead of tragedy?
Certainly, we would be better informed, perhaps more compassionate in causes of peace, and probably more courageous in advocating to protect and conserve our northern heritage.
[Pessl, p 178].

Comments.
The Moffatt family lost a husband and a father.
The survivors lost their leader, their mentor, their companion, their friend.
The false, abusive accusations of the 55 years that followed likely inflicted much pain on both family and survivors, all of whom no doubt already suffered considerably from the loss. And so I express one last time my thanks to Pessl, Lanouette and LeFavour for their assistance.

Opinions.
The Moffatt story is the most shameful chapter in all the outdoor literature known to me. Even John Hornby (Thelon River, 1927) was treated gently in comparison.
Of such caution, charity, compassion, courage, diligence, grace, humanity, integrity, scholarship, thought, and above all commitment to truth, is destroyed the reputations of the defenceless innocent, here a fellow paddler to many accusers.
The opinion of Stewart Coffin.
The Moffatt Expedition stands as the pioneering venture in modern recreational canoe travel through the subarctic tundra of northern Canada. [Appalachia Journal. 15 December, 1996.] Mentioned by Pessl (his page 162); thanks to him for providing a copy.

The last word.
George Luste and I were professional colleagues for forty years. I regarded him as a friend. He got me started with serious tripping and he provided much valuable advice. I helped him with the Wilderness and Canoeing Symposium for several years.
He expressed the following opinion of Moffatt’s defamers prior to 1996. I expect that he would have written even more scathingly of those who wrote later.
Let him have the last word.
It seems as if a liberal amount of imagination has been invoked by these writers to change the facts so they fit their preoccupations and desires for culpability. [Grinnell book, 1996, p 294]

URLs of the items of the blog.

Foreword and Forum.
Main text.
Appendix 1. Reality and Delusion.
Appendix 3. Equipment.
Appendix 4. Experience and Leadership.
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 evidence and the fatal rapids.
Ancillary 3. Tyrrell evidence and the fatal rapids.
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.
Ancillary 10. My sources.
Ancillary 11. Canoe&Kayak manuscript.
Ancillary 12. Acknowledgements.
Ancillary 13. Timeline of the primary Moffatt literature.
Ancillary 14. Opinions.
Ancillary 15. Moffatt’s preparations.
Bibliography.

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

Edition of 14 June 2018.