This report is based on a satellite phone interview with Ted Green at 9 p.m. on June 12, four days after he, his brother Scott and their travelling companions Chris and Bella Todd left from Stanley Mission for a canoe trip to Denare Beach. Historical information is drawn from "Canoeing the Churchill: A Practical Guide to the Historic Voyageur Highway" by Greg Marchildon and Sid Robinson.
June 12 was a day of pure paddling for Ted and his companions, who clocked their longest one-day distance - approximately 50 km - through the waters of Mirond Lake. Measured from the narrows out of Pelican Lake to Corneille (French for "crow") Rapids in the south, Mirond is one of the larger lakes on the river system, making up 19 km of the old voyageur highway. Its current name comes from the French word "mi-rond" meaning "half-round" or, according to Sir John Richardson, "half-moon".
According to one version of the story, a large band of Cree had camped at Pelican Narrows for a permanent summer residence, and the men of the community had packed up their fears and headed for the east. While the men were gone, strangers came up from the south and massacred the entire band except for two young children. When the men returned, they found bodies floating along the shore. They pursued the killers, and eventually killed them all, saving the leader of the group for special punishment: they cut off his hands and then, seizing him by the hair, severed his head. Mirond has also been referred to as "Stone Lake" or "Stony Lake", perhaps because of the high rocks along its shoreline, and some fur traders also knew it as "Heron Lake".
The foursome camped just before the portage at Birch Rapids, right across the water from one of the reserves belonging to the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation. The only other people they saw all day were a pair from Birch Rapids, who left in a boat and then returned to their cabins while the travellers were relaxing at their campsite. Ted dubbed the spot as "the wondering place", because of some odd things he'd seen - although he didn't choose to go into detail other than to mention a collection of boats which he and the others thought might belong to an outfitter.
The water was calm as Ted and his fellow canoeists paddled through Mirond Lake. He described the quiet as "a gift", because strong wind can create huge, rolling waves on a wide, open lake like Mirond and that can be very dangerous for canoeists. Ted noted that they have been lucky with the wind so far - they haven't had to deal with high winds on any of the large lakes, and they have had good following winds to push them along. "We put in a lot of clicks today," he said.
The travellers were hoping to get to Leaf Rapids near the Hanson Lake road today (June 13). They are ahead of schedule, and may scout ahead to see whether it might be worth running some of the rapids, which they have avoided in favour of flatwater paddling so far.