Canoes in the Wilderness

An Indian guide and two young couples relive the pleasures of an oldtime vacation
September 01, 1957

Decades ago, when the 66-year-old Indian guide Bill Adams was just learning his trade, the pleasant way to spend a week or two of summer vacation was canoeing through the wilderness, where the motive power was the muscles of the paddler and mortal man seldom strayed. Today, pontooned planes and motorboats have all but replaced canoes in Adams' lovely hard-green bush country of southwestern Ontario. But the old guide still leads occasional parties such as the one pictured on these pages, which included young Chicago Suburbanites Don and Dot Swanson and Jack and Carol O'Grady. Meeting his charges recently in the border town of Fort Frances, he helped them stow their tents, packsacks and grub aboard a motorboat and took them 25 miles up Rainy Lake (see map) to a heavily wooded island, where they camped for two days and familiarized themselves with their two 17-foot aluminum canoes and a 16-foot prospector's model. Early on the third day they headed out or Rainy and for the next 10 days never saw another soul. They paddled across clear blue lakes, painfully portaged around beaver dams, lost their way up disappearing creeks and got soaked in the rain. They fished, cooked, pushed their canoes through swampy ooze and were surprisingly surfeited by lakes crammed with white water lilies. They emerged from the bush 12 days after they had gone in, happily refreshed by their old-fashioned trip in the wild.

During quiet interlude, couples ease way through water lily patches. Later, pads became thicker and men, led by Swanson (below) were forced to portage

Camping a day or so as a relief from paddling, the canoeists cook Indian-style, hanging each pot from a green poplar stick, and the ladies find the soft lake water ideal for a shampoo

FIVE PHOTOSWALLACE KIRKLAND
MAPWILDERNESS ROUTE leads across Rainy Lake, continues upstream in Ontario bush.
MANITOU STRETCH
ESOX LAKE
THREE ISLAND LAKE
BAT LAKE
ALONGHILL LAKE
RESPITE LAKE
VANE LAKE
STRONG LAKE
RAINY LAKE
FORT FRANCES
TRUCK ROUTE
MOTOR BOAT
LITTLE CANOE CREEK

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)