Paddling the Dubawnt and the Kazan - 2004 Canoe Expedition

Day 35 - Wednesday August 11, 2004


A shorter than normal e-mail tonight. We had a great, if tiring, day. We got up at 6:00 - Lynda thought it was 7:00 as I am moving her watch ahead an hour at a time trying to get away before the wind gets horrendous- and it was freezing cold. The NW wind was still in low gear when we finished the tiny portage from the hill we were on to the lake. The sky held promise for a good day but it turned out like Cretien's promise to get rid of the GST. By noon - 1:00 pm Lynda time - it was gusting 25 mph plus and we had to paddle the widest parts - near lakes - grinding away stroke after miserable stroke.


We stopped where the river gets serious as we came off the last "lakelet" and had a great long lunch. Out of the wind under the tarp and with Bear Creek Tortilla soup - the best. you BC people - warming us from the inside while we reveled in the heat from the Zip Stove. My God, are these stoves the only way to go. A handful of twigs and you can raise the temperature of the tarp by 10 degrees in a heartbeat. If you are serious about being outdoors, you have to have one of these. I mean how else can you have a fire under a tarp, safe from all the black flies and mosquitoes and sheltered from the wind? Phone Jeannie at 800-594-9046 to get a catalogue. Their email is I have done mods to mine to make it more stable on the uneven tundra but, that being said, the stove is simply fantastic. Trust me on this one.

After lunch we flew along at up to 9 mph - ending the day at 46 miles. yes really .... 46 miles! The lower river is gorgeous. High sand hills and lots of layered brilliant red sandstone. Two sets of gigantic rapids with easy cheat lines kept the day exciting. Many smaller rapids as well and the last 3 miles were a steady race of white tipped waves.

The hills in the background are better described as mountains. In fact one named Sugarloaf Mountain rises near 500 feet above Baker Lake.

We saw another two herds of musk ox - one of 15 and one of 11. That brings our total count to 98. More than we have seen by two-fold on all our other trips combined. Lady Luck is smiling on us for sure.

We are now on the shores of Baker Lake with only 16 odd miles to go. The wind has gone "dead calm" - touch wood. I just phoned Baker Lake Lodge - the best place to stay in Baker by a long mile - and talked to Liz. They have room for us for two nights if we get there as expected. So I guess this year's trip is drawing to a close. I am ready for it to end. Not anxious or uncomfortable or tired of being out here. It's just time now.

Cross your fingers for us for "dead calm" tomorrow will you all please.

PS - Don't dare tell Lynda about the watch thing. Ok? Promise now?

Day 36 - Thursday August 12, 2004

We got up at 4:30 my time - 6:00 Lynda time - and hit the water by 6:30. A huge south wind made the paddling very hard. We were in waves all day and they were so big I near got seasick. By 10:30 we had gone about 12 miles and, according to the map, had a million left to go. Somehow I totally screwed up when I did the mileage on the map back in '98. It turned out to be closer to 28 miles - as opposed to the 16 I thought - by the time we finally got into Baker at 6:30.

As serendipity would have it, right before the community, we "bumped" into Laval Tremblay and his partner Nikola.


We are now showered and fed and I really have to go to bed. I'll post an update tomorrow with some pictures of Baker, and Boris' new Turbo Otter, the Lodge, and more.

Samuel Hearne talked about being "foot foundered" on his overland trek. That's what I am. My feet are so screwed up I can hardly walk anymore. They know they can rest now and don't have to go into water all day and they have just decided it is time to teach me a lesson.
My good God, do they hurt and itch and ....

Bed beckons ... and I don't have to get up at 4:30 ever again as long as I live.


August 13

The promised pictures of Baker will have to wait until tomorrow. My feet are so screwed up I can't walk. I finally got down to the clinic and the nurse took one look and said "Oh that must hurt a bit " When I said my feet had been like this for about two weeks she said "Long two weeks then I bet?" Anyway I should be on the mend fast - a few days at most she said. When I left I told the Inuit lady at the reception desk that if my feet could talk they would say thank you. She laughed like crazy and said, "Tell them we were happy to help."

My God how did the Dene and the Inuit survive on the land? I had an abscessed tooth on one long arctic trip and the only thing that kept me going was the thought that Inuit and Dene had lived through such things - and I had antibiotics and ant inflamatory medicines.

We stopped to visit David Ford at his art gallery. He is the son of Henry Ford 2, and the grandson of Henry Ford 1. The Fords are famous in the early history of the HBC in the arctic and David is a very intersting man to speak to. He knows as much if not more about Inuit carving and art than anyone in the north. Some of the pieces he has are fantaastic.
If you are intersted in Inuit carvings he is the man to call. He can send you digital pictues of the work he has for sale and talking to him is well worth the price of the phone call. His number is 867-793-2212

We had our ice cream,. pepsi and Kentucky Fried chicken at lunch. We are booked to fly to Churchill on Sunday morning and on the train Tuesday night - it only runs T, Th., Sat.- so I guess the trip is over.

Nikola asked where we were planning to go next year. I said I was thinking of taking a year off. But then I say that every year and besides it was probably my sore feet talking.

If I can walk tomorrow I will send in some pictures of Baker.


August 14

Well its over folks.

Lynda and I are over at David and Margaret Ford's house for supper - he caught a fresh Arctic Char today and get this .... he's feeding us sushi! You have to like that.

A few pictures tonight. One of David catching the fish and a few of Boris Kotelewetz's Turbo Otter - it's the nicest one of its type I have ever seen and I have seen a few in my mining days.

I hope you enjoyed following the trip 1 % as much as I enjoyed doing it. Lynda and I agree this is the best trip we have EVER done.



If the Out-There folks will put up with me next year we'll be back on the web next summer. Ideas are already filtering into our brains - my small one and Lynda's large one - about next years trip. And if I can find a way to do it we will be ending in Baker Lake again next year. Man do I like this place. Great people here!





Web Casts on

Paddling the Dubawnt and the Kazan - On Going 2004

Vermette Lake, NWT to Stoney Rapids, Saskatchewan - 2003

La Ronge to Arviat on Hudson Bay: 55 Days and 1000 miles - 2002

Paddling the Dubawnt River through the NWT and Nunavut - 2001



Text - Bill Layman
Photos - Bill Layman and Lynda Holland
Live text edited by Joan Eyolfson Cadham, freelance writer/editor, Foam Lake Saskatchewan.
Layout and art work - L. Librehomme
Live Radio Interviews - CBC Saskatchewan & MBC - Archives (Real Audio)


Expedition Sponsors

Globalstar - Satellite Communications

Iowa Thin Film - Portable Solar Power

Mont-Bell - Outdoor Gear and Clothing

North Water - Paddle Sports Equipment

Nova Craft - Canoes

Socket Communications - The Mobile Connection Company

Tilly Endurables - Travel Clothing


Other Rivers

Coppermine River - Northwest Territories

Fond du Lac River - Saskatchewan

Kazan River - Nunavut

Thlewiaza River - Manitoba/Nunavut

Thelon River - Northwest Territories/Nunavut


Other Articles

Canoe Gear For The Subarctic - BIll Layman


Other Features

Kanawa - Canada's Paddling Magazine

Canoe and Kayak - America's Paddling Magazine


Related Links



Bill writes for KANAWA magazine and Canoe & Kayak magazine about their canoe trips. Lynda has published several books about the Dene of northern Saskatchewan. The most recent are the two volumes in the Dene Elders Project and are published by Holland-Dalby Educational Consulting.

  • The Dene Elders Project: Stories and History from the West Side (ISBN # 0-921848-23-4)
  • They Will Have Our Words: The Dene Elders Project, Volume 2 (ISBN #0-921848-25-0)

For copies of either of these books you can contact Lynda directly at or PO Box 327, La Ronge, Saskatchewan, S0J 1L0

Bill has an article featured in the May 2004 issue of Canoe & Kayak covering a portion of his 2002 La Ronge to Arviat canoe trip. - Canoe & Kayak Website You'll also find several other articles on gear and expeditions written by Bill in Kanawa Magazine

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