Northwoods Memories Multimedia Productions


We Meet the Nicest People in Canoes!

Saturday, March 20th, 2010
submitted by: Bob Evans

Edwina and I just returned from Canoecopia.   I presented a short program on our three-year project to compile a complete and accurate record of all known pictograph sites in Canoe Country.  As we were driving home from Madison, we talked about how we meet the nicest people in canoes!  While that is not exactly literally what I mean, since we were not in a canoe in Madison, we do mean that canoeing and related activities have introduced us to a group of really great people.

A number of years ago we flew into Atikokan on a float plane and were met by our friends from Canoe Canada Outfitters.  They shuttled us to our hotel room.  It was July 1.  We had planned to spend the rest of the day in Atikokan walking around, visiting, shopping and generally enjoying the small town canoeing atmosphere.  We did not know that July 1 is Canadian Independence Day and businesses would be closed.  We enjoyed being around the town anyway and have gone back a number of times since.  The next day, the folks from Canoe Canada dropped us off at the French Lake entry and we began our trip back to Prairie Portage.  We  looked for the remains of old log cabins, steam boat relics on beaches, and visited the Dore Lake pictograph site.  Nearby was the sunken steam boat in shallow water.   But the best part of the trip happened in Sturgeon Narrows.

On July 3 we reached the Narrows late in the afternoon heading for a favorite campsite only to find it occupied.  We paddled to the next site on the shore and made camp.  When we were breaking camp the next morning, the couple from the campsite we sought the night before came paddling by our campsite.  The woman in the bow was singing “America the Beautiful” and as they paddled by our site she called out “Happy 4th of July if you are Americans.”  We replied that we were and thanked her for the greetings.

We met them again at Chatterton Falls.   They were on the beach, taking pictures of the falls and watching an eagle on a nearby tree.  We visited at length.  We separated again as we went our ways.  We met them again at a portage heading into Kawnipi Lake.  Later in the day when we arrived in Lake Agnes after portaging through the Keewatin Chain,  we saw them setting up camp in one of the sites in North Agnes.   We stopped and visited.  After more conversation, both couples decided that we should camp together as we enjoyed each other’s company so much.  We traveled the remaining three easy days with them.  Their tow was a day earlier than ours, so as they paddled from our site on Sunday Lake on their last day in, we felt sad.  On that last day and night in Sunday Lake before our last day in, we commented to each other how much we enjoyed them and missed them.  Subsequently Russ and Linda have become good friends.   We have visited them in their home.  We have paddled with them on  other trips.  We regard them as dear friends.

We were reminded of them again at Canoecopia, though they were not there.  At Canoecopia we met up with Barry, who contacted us via this website about our pictograph bulletins.  We later met him on the Gunflint Trail as he was leaving from Voyager Outfitters on a trip.  We were glad to see him again at Canoecopia.

We did not meet up withDave and Charlotte but they emailed us to let us know that friends of theirs would be there and would be at my presentation and would look me up.    Nick and his wife did look us up and there was an instant connection.  We loved talking with them both and look forward to seeing them again.  Of note, we met Dave and Charlotte at Williams and Hall Wilderness Outfitters.  When we printed the first four Northwoods Pictograph Bulletins, Blayne Hall, the owner and a long-time friend of ours, did the test run of the bulletins.  Dave was the first paddler to try our bulletins and gave us good feedback via Blayne.  His testimonial, via Blayne, is printed elsewhere on this site.  We were fortunate to meet he and Charlotte the next year.  We have become good friends and keep track of each others dates and times in canoe country.

A year ago, Chris was paddling in Ottertrack Lake and found what he thought was an unreported pictograph site.  He contacted the archaeologists at Superior National Forest who referred him to us.  He told us of the site and sent pictures.   We have scheduled a visit to that site in June 2010.  We met Chris and his wife, Martha at Canoecopia.   They are delightful people, both teachers as Edwina and I were when we met, and there was an instant friendship.  We did not have as much time to spend with them as we would have liked but will meet up with them again.

We also had the opportunity to meet Jon Nelson (, his wife Maire and daughter.  He and his wife were rangers at Beaverhouse, Cache Bay and Prairie Portage.  Jon and I had communicated via email and phone, but never met.  We had arrainged to meet immediately after his presentation, which was an excellent one, by the way.  For me it was a wonderful opportunity, as he and I share a love of Quetico and the history of the Ojibwa people who have lived there for centuries.  We visited for the longest time and that evening, at the reception for presentors, Jon and Marie joined Edwina and I for another long visit.  We have arranged to meet them again in May when we go to Grand Marais and into Atikokan.   They are wonderful people and we had a good time talking with them.  Thank you Jon and Marie for the time with you.

We met others.  After my presentation, a woman came up to ask about the lack of recognition of the Lakota in the early formation of history in Canoe Country.  The Lakota and Ojibwa lived in the area and were at war for lenghty periods of time.  The Lakota ultimately settled more to the west.  I enjoyed listening to her background and information.  I have had my hands full studying the Ojibwa, and with apologies, know little about the Lakota.  Doubtless they have contributed much to the history of the area.  I am sorry I did not get her name and contact information.  (Should you read this, please let me know who you are.)

And I could go on.  It just seems that we meet the nicest people in canoes!  We cannot wait to wet the canoe again in May when we visit our clients on Gunflint Trail: Voyager Outfitters,  Seagull Lake Outfitters, and  Tuscarora Outfitters.  We will be day-tripping to the Granite Lake Pictograph site, a site we have not previously visited.  Hopefully we will meet some more friends in canoes.  If you are going to be in Grand Marais or on the Gunflint third week in May let us know.   We would love to meet you.

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