Be Prepared for the 21st Century

Canadian Canoe trek 1953 (from a newspaper article):

"Pioneering in an area of northwest Canada said to have not been explored by Boy Scouts before, five members of St. John the Evangelist troop, Rochester, set out with knapsacks on Wednesday on a 162 mile canoe trip. Louis A. Langie, Jr., their scoutmaster, is going along with the boys. He with seven other men toured the camping area three years ago. The Canadian government surveyed the area of the plan trip in 1938.

"Each of the boys is 16 years old. All are Eagle Scouts with the exception of Michael Wade, who holds a Life Scout rating. Other members of the group will be Carl Tallmadge, Dave Doyle, Donald Corbett, and Walter Huurman. Assistant Scout leaders Donald Robb and Thomas Hartzell will accompany the boys.

"The group will drive to Duluth, Minnesota, and then north to Sioux Lookout, Manitoba -- approximately 945 miles west of Toronto. They will go by canoe and foot through the wooded areas, carrying provisions for three weeks. The area is said to be uninhabited, except for a few Indian trappers, and abounds in wildlife. The canoe routes reportedly are marked with rapids."

Scout's description of the astonishing 1953 Canadian trek: (Walter Huurman, 16 years old, wrote a description of the August-September 1953 Canadian canoe trek later that Fall for the "Troop 37 Spirit", the troop newspaper at the time):

"The result of two years of planning became a reality August 18,1953. On that clear Wednesday morning, eight excited scouts, ranging in age from 15 to 25, set out on a 1,688 mile journey. Of this distance, 163 miles were to be traveled by canoe. Thus began for these adventuresome eight, a trip which wi11 go down in the annals of scouting as one of the most dangerous and exciting every executed.

"The party which included Louis Langie, Donald Robb, Thomas Hartzell, David Doyle, Donald Corbett, Carl Tallmadge, Michael Wade and Walter Huurman, made the 1500 mile road trip in a 1951 Buick and a 1953 Ford stake truck. Upon arriving at the destination, a northern Canadian town known as Souix Lookout, the northernmost point of the Canadian R. R., canoes were procured. The actual canoe trip began on August 2lst and was scheduled to be completed on September 2nd.

"Everything went according to plan the first six days. Aside from becoming lost once everything proceeded fine. Great numbers of fish were caught on the plug which was nearest at hand, the largest of which was a pair measuring 39 inches and tipping the scales at 23 pounds. These two were caught simultanaously at the same rapid by Dave Doyle and Walter Huurman (lucky guys). Dave’s monster took five 22 shells and an hour and ten minutes to land.

"The turning point on the 7th day when the group met at a series of five portages (carries) highlighted by three quarters of a mile through swamp. Here the canoes had to be pulled through the slime in which one would first sink to the hips and next to the neck or over the head (in which case one would have to be rescued by another). Following this came days of toil in which 35 portages were made, most of which had to be cut at the time of crossing.

"The ninth day out and the third from last (we thought), we encountered a most unusual experience. One of the party bagged a 250 pound bear. The hunter was Don Corbett who used the party's protection weapon, a Savage 300 to do the job. After the bear was shot, the party became separated and three canoes became lost and fell behind Don Robb and Walt who had taken the correct route and portaged around four of a series of five portages. The two spent the night alone without food. During the night, the two were visited by a fishing bear who spent two hours practicing his favorite pastime within 20 feet of their tent. Need1ess to say, our two brave scouts got little sleep since the little table knife which they had was their biggest weapon.

"Louis and Dave also came face to face with death earlier in the trip when they looked down the throat of a bull moose protecting his partner while she fed in the middle of the stream in which they paddled. Don Corbett and Tom also brushed by fate when they managed to tilt over while shooting a rapid. Their canoe became smashed completely in half by a combination of the current and a huge boulder.

"Doubled up due to the accident and already half a day late, the crew set out on the last lap (once again, they thought). However, "The Souix" was not through with the eight weary men. They ate their last meal and set out for the town shown on their inaccurate map as Ghost River, 35 miles away. However, they found that, after paddling nine hours, that they had covered only eleven miles against a growing headwind. Coming upon an abandoned Indian cabin, they laid over for the night without food. The following day brought a minor typhoon and they were forced to remain again hungry and growing weaker for lack of food. The fourth day in the cabin brought quieter winds to the region and the party made their way to Ghost River, a town of two people and accessible only by R. R. The train came through at 2 AM and stopped only on flagging. Thus the little group began their trip home and to food at 2 AM five days late.

"Anyone care to join the Chamber of Commerce, Sioux Lookout, Canada?

Walter Huurman"