Major renovations were completed in early November 2017 but I expect that warts remain.
Thanks for your patience. Allan
Ancillary 2. Lanouette excerpt.
Lanouette’s journal entry for 14 September.
1. Lanouette kindly and generously provided copies of pages 114 through 127 inclusive of his handwritten journal. As well, he helped with the transcription of his journal, which is partly illegible from having been immersed; indeed, it is remarkable that the journal survived at all in some form.
2. The transcribed material that follows starts in the morning of 14 September (the lower third of page 118) and continues to the afternoon of 15 September (the upper half of page 127).
3. What follows has not been edited in any way in the process of transcription from the journal.
4. Readers should judge for themselves, but I view the Sports Illustrated condensation as faithfully reflecting the content of Lanouette’s journal.
Given the redaction of the phrase Following Tyrrell’s route, I do not say the same of the SI condensation of Moffatt’s journal.
5. I am struck by Lanouette’s ability to document such events, given that he almost died from hypothermia. I refrain from further comment except to express my gratitude, indeed my admiration, for his courage in making such highly personal information available to the paddling community, and so enabling us better to understand this tragic event; in this, I hope that I speak for the community as a whole.
Wed., Sept. 14 – Camp #51 (2 miles S. Lady Marjorie L).
Today has been the most harrowing and frightening day I can ever recall having spent! Today, one member of our party, Arthur Roy Moffatt met his end at the hand of nature – Today I too came within a hair of not writing this entry, or any others.
This Day, Wednesday, September 14, 1955 started like many others we have been having recently. Complete and dismal cloud coverage when we arose around 7:30 AM for our much looked forward to dish of boiled prunes, oats and tea. It was below freezing this morning and the sand was dry and crunchy and hard from its layer of frost and ice. We broke camp soon after breakfast and made the short portage to the sandy, shallow bay where we could float our canoes.
As we were getting ready to leave, I noticed 2 white wolves on a ridge about half a mile away and made the remark that “It’s a good thing the sun isn’t out, or Art’d be scrambling all over the hills trying to get them to pose for him”.
After loading, we shoved out into the bay, and were pleasantly surprised to have no trouble in reaching the river (we thought the water might be too shallow to navigate in a couple of spots).
Once on the river, the pleasant sandy esker country dropped rapidly behind and we were again on a river with very poorly defined banks and a rather indolent drainage system. Here and there we passed low islands of gray rock –in some places the river was fairly swift and its broad, gray surface was wrinkled with currents and cross-currents as it swerved and wallowed down into Lady Marjorie Lake.
A wind, which had again shifted back to the NW, was blowing and the low gently rolling banks afforded us little real protection in most spots.
We paddled along, no one saying much of anything (none of us are conversational giants once we get into the canoe) – finally, just as I was toying with the idea of fainting from hunger, we washed around a bend in the river and pulled into a gravelly bay for lunch. As is our present policy, George, Bruce, and I scurried around looking for wood scraps, Art started heating a kettle with wood gleaned the day before to make chicken noodle soup, and Skip and Pete began fishing from the shore. Almost immediately, Pete latched onto a “monster of the deep.” A beautiful 17 ½ lb, orange-fleshed lake trout (no roe) and wrestled with him for over 20 minutes – Skip caught 2 smaller fish which he cleaned and put into the warming water – we found no wood to speak of and I wound up cleaning the big fish.
We had a rather satisfying lunch of chowder and three hardtacks (or ‘tacks) apiece and were ready to shove on again around 2:30 or 3:00. The weather was still dismal, although the wind had dropped (I think) almost to a complete calm. The river flowed on rather swiftly and it was but a few minutes before we heard and saw another rapids on the horizon. (Notes – at this time, Art figured we had shot the last 2 rapids into Lady Marjorie and so we were not anticipating anything more along this line – actually, what we had taken for rapids were only riffles and what lay ahead was the real beginning of the first rapids). At the top, these rapids looked as though they would be very easy going – a few small waves, rocks … nothing serious – so much so that we didn’t even haul over to shore to look it over before proceeding as was customary. The river at this point was straight and we could see both the top and foot of the rapids quite clearly – however, although we didn’t realize it, we couldn’t see the middle, even though we thought we could – at any rate we barrelled happily along. We bounced over a couple of fair-sized waves and took in a couple of splashes but I didn’t mind, as I had made an apron of my poncho and remained dry enough. I, as was my habit, was looking a few feet in front of the canoe, looking for submerged rocks – suddenly, Art shouted “Paddle” – I responded and took up the beat, at the same time looking farther ahead to see what it was we were trying to avoid – to my complete surprise, what I saw were two lines of white, parallel to one another and coming closer with every passing instant – I looked at them in helpless fascination, not altering my stroke any. The lines of white were the crests of two huge waves formed by the water as it crashed over 2, 3 or 4’ ledges or falls). Note: it was too late to pull for shore – all we could was to pick what seemed to be the least turbulent spots and head for them. I remember swearing (mentally) at Art for not having looked over the rapids – the feeling I had was not one of fright, but rather an empty, sinking “its-all-over-now” feeling – we went over the falls and plunged directly into the four-foot wave – the bow sliced right in and a sheet of foaming green engulfed me – the canoe yawed, slowed – the current caught it once again and plunged it onward toward the next falls a few hundred feet away – we were still afloat though had little control over the craft – by some miracle, Art straightened the canoe out a little, but we were still slightly broadside to the second wave as we went over the second falls. This time the bow didn’t even bother to come up again – the quartering wave filled us to the brim, and I could feel the canoe begin to roll over under me. I swore and jumped overboard, being careful to retain a hold on the right gunwale – then I got spun around and the next few seconds became blurred into a vivid recollection of water all around me, foam and clutching currents pulling me along with the canoe which had by this time rolled bottom up – I remember clipping a sunken boulder with my leg – … then … the foaming roar stopped … the current lessened … Art and I were clinging to the canoe – packs, boxes, paddles were all bobbing along in the water with us – the seriousness of our position had not yet fully made itself felt and I swore at Art for being the cause of my having gotten soaked. At first the water didn’t feel too uncomfortable. – My heavy parka was still full of air in between its layers and I was quite buoyant – By now we had drifted several hundred yards downstream and were more or less in a big eddy formed by several small islands – I tried to touch bottom without any luck – Art was half draped over the stern of the canoe and he yelled at me to do the same up at the bow. I did so, but felt foolish and helpless just hanging on, so I began kicking toward what I thought was the nearest shore, although this did no good whatever, actually.
The next thing was aware of was George and Pete in the red canoe as they paddled furiously by us, heading for shore. I watched them as they leaped out, dumped all their packs out, emptied their canoe and headed back toward us.
Then, as the current twisted our canoe around, I was faced back up toward the rapids and saw that Bruce and Skip too had dumped … I remember feeling relieved to know that someone else was “in our boat”.
Packs floating all around – I was surprised that they floated. Even Art’s 86 lb camera box was afloat – he was holding onto the canoe with one arm, and was clutching my personal pack and the camera box with the other hand – our yellow food box was floating nearby, so I swam out, got it, and brought it back toward the canoe … I saw Art’s personal pack floating off in another direction and swam a few yards after it, but by this time my parka was soaked, so I came back to the canoe (eventually, we “caught up” with Art’s pack and I grabbed it). I informed Art in a dry, disinterested voice that we had just pulled a damned fool stunt and that this would most likely be the end of us – he assured me through chattering teeth that this was not the case and that, although it would be hard, we would pull through in good shape – I didn’t believe him and insisted several times that we were all washed up. Then we lapsed into silence for a while and just hung on waiting for George and Pete to pick us up.
Note: Looking back, I am surprised to find that during this entire incident I was not the least bit afraid or panicky – I realized that all our clothes and sleeping bags were soaking – that the temperature was below freezing, and that even if we made it to shore, we might still freeze to death because George & Pete would not have clothes to outfit four soaked people. I remember thinking that death either by drowning or freezing was inevitable yet managed to look upon it quite impersonally and almost dryly). I made one or two attempts to shove the canoe ashore, but getting nowhere I gave up – at one time I toyed with the idea of swimming to shore alone but by this time my limbs were too numb to swim- at no time did I even consider taking off a stitch of clothing, as I knew that without every thread of clothing our chances, if we got ashore, we would eventually freeze.
At one point, George & Pete paddled up and asked if we could hold on – we both replied “yes” and told them to get our personal packs aboard first (they had since drifted quite far away). They left us to get the packs. Then, to our horror, as George was struggling to haul my soaked pack into the canoe, he lost his balance and toppled overboard – with a lunge, he tried to haul himself back aboard – I cheered him on quite merrily – Pete was half crouched, half standing … the red canoe almost turned over but instead took in a good amount of water – George made several more attempts to haul himself out of the water, but each attempt was weaker than the last and finally Pete had to paddle to shore, dragging George along. Once again they dumped the water out and came back – this time they managed to drag Bruce and Skip to a small, rocky island and leave them there. At one point, I thought that maybe if we righted our canoe we could put some of our packs in it and thus keep them from drifting about all over the place. I told Art of my plan and flipped the canoe. To my dismal surprise, it kept on rolling until once again it came to a rest – bottom-side-up. I was about to try again, but Art told me that if I were to perform this maneuver again he would not be able to hang onto the canoe and would drown, so I had to be content with holding onto the bow.
By now, I was almost completely inactivated by the cold water – my greatest desire was to quit fooling around and get the hell to shore – yet, I could not make a move to do so.
Bruce and Skip (who had not been rescued as yet, began shouting “Hurry up” to George and Pete. Their voices sounded very far off and faint (I never really saw them from the time that we turned over until late that evening). – Art took up the cry, and soon so did I – it seemed the thing to do, so I went at it with gusto – soon all four of us were chanting “hurry up” every few seconds.
From here on in, things became really foggy – the next thing I was aware of was Pete shouting to me to grab ahold of the canoe – this I did … at the same time I was holding both Art’s and my personal packs – also (and this I didn’t realize) the bowline from our canoe was entangled in my legs and George and Pete had to drag both Art and I plus the packs and the gray canoe to shore – we seemed to be getting nowhere, although both George and Pete were paddling like fiends After a while Pete yelled to me to let go of the canoe. I thought he meant his canoe so I told him to go to hell. Once, I lost my grip on Pete’s gunwale and shouted for him to come back or I would drown – he stopped paddling … I grabbed onto the red canoe once again …
The next thing I remember was feeling my feet scraping over the rocks near shore … I took one or two steps, using every single remaining ounce of strength I had, then collapsed unconscious on the rock and moss shore.
While semi conscious, I remember having a nightmare about something overwhelmingly green (it later turned out that I was lying on my face in a patch of moss).
My next recollection, hazy as it is, is one of being in a sleeping bag and of George giving me a brisk rubdown – he kept saying “how are you doing, Joe”, and I kept telling him that I was doing fine and to quit pounding me – I remember that I felt warm and comfortable all over except for my feet, which seemed abnormally cold – I passed out again.
When I came around next, I was surprised to feel that I was completely naked and in a tent – I couldn’t figure out why the hell this should be so. I sat bolt upright – it was dark out – someone thrust a large can under my nose and told me to take 5 swigs – I did so – then Skip came into the tent, undressed, and got into a sleeping bag – Bruce poked his head into the tent, handed Skip the can and said that he and I were both to take 7 handfulls – we did this – I was hungry as hell and really gobbled my share down (It was beets mixed with chicken soup). The mixture tasted very good and I was damned tempted to just sit there and eat the whole works.
Finally, I went out of the tent for a piss call – a bright red streak on the horizon was all that could be seen of the setting sun – the rest was a mass of gray clouds. I came back inside the tent, now fully aware of what had happened and casually asked Skip where Art was – he replied that Art was outside – we lay in silence- finally I asked what the hell would Art be doing outside. Skip replied, “You might as well know, Art is dead.”
I said, “Oh,” and lay back – It suddenly dawned on me that Skip was pulling my leg and accused him of doing so – he assured me that this was no joking matter, and with no greater emotion than if someone had told me that bat-shit was blue, I fell asleep congratulating myself for being still alive and kicking.
One by one the others crowded into the tent, until all 5 of us were crammed and jammed into Art’s and my tent (the other had been lost, along with the green canoe). Somehow we found room – George and I were squeezed into his sleeping bag – Bruce was alone at the left of the tent in Skip’s – Skip and Pete, head toward the door, were in Pete’s bag.
Before finally sacking out, Bruce brought in a cheese which I sliced up 5 ways and passed around. The shock of Art’s death had not yet made itself fully realized and we were all in pretty good spirits once we were crammed into place and passed our share of cheese – my feet were still cold as ice cubes – Bruce, at intervals throughout the night, was wracked by such spasmodic chills that he woke us all up by shivering violently and chattering – I slept soundly, or fairly so this night, although I must admit I got rather cramped from lying in one position for so long. .
Thurs,. Sept 15 – Camp #51 (same).
Since Pete was the only one of the group to have a complete set of dry clothes, it was he who finally left the crowded tent to go and see what he could for some sort of breakfast. It was with great joy that he announced that it looked as though we were going to have a sunny day. This extremely fortunate break in the weather caused great rejoicing in the tent – a sunny day would, most probably, mean above freezing temperatures and a much needed chance to dry out sleeping bags, clothes and parkas. I hate to think of what would have happened to us if we had not had a day like this one!
Comment. The remainder of what I have for 15 September deals with plans for reaching Baker Lake.
1. This evidence of Lanouette (which lay on plain view in the Sports Illustrated article), alone and in itself, refutes every accusation that the fatal rapids were run in desperate haste and the like.
2. Unfortunately, this evidence of Lanouette went unmentioned by every Moffatt defamer, most notably the Sports Illustrated editor her/himself.
Foreword and Forum.
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.
Copyright to Lanouette’s journal belongs to him.
Copyright to other material in the Ancillary belongs to Allan Jacobs.