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Mattagami. Then there are two miles of low banks with cedar, spruce and balsam before the poplar comes in again, and continues down as far as Speight's first base. Few rock exposures occur here, but occasional stretches of low shallow rapids make wading necessary in low water with canoes at all heavily loaded.
Two and a half miles below the north boundary of Mahaffy, a small tributary enters from the west, and six miles below this the White Caribou Head river also joins the Mattagami from the same side. These streams, although sufficiently large for canoeing, ar* filled with driftwood to such an extent as to be practically impassable. They were both crossed in several places on overland trips, and could no doubt be cleaned out without much trouble.
Overland trips were made along this part of the river north and south of the base lin'»s run by Messrs. Speight, Niven and Patten, east and west of Speight's first meridian, as well as along these lines themselves and into the townships of Aubin and Nesbitt.
Here is the centre of the most promising agricultural land seen during the summer. For the most part the country is flat and covered chiefly with wet spruce woods of a somewhat better quality than farther south, but large areas of dry rolling clay and clay loam, with forests of large birch, poplar, balm of Gilead and an odd white spruce also occur. Although muskegs are more numerous than farther south, still there are very few of great extent. Fewer windfalls and thick tangled swamps, which make travelling so difficult in other parts of the country, were encountered, and practically no rock except an occasional boulder was seen. The section west of the Mattagami is particularly well drained not only by the tributaries mentioned, but by the upper parts of the Muskego and Poplar Rapids, and offers splendid possibilities for future settlement.
Speight's First Base to the Muskego
For a mile below Speight's first base the river is much the same as before the line was reached. At the end of this mile Loon portage—on the west side and 12 chains long—passes a rapid which is the beginning of about three miles of almost continuously bad water, that necessitates in all four portages. The drop in the river here is about 18 feet (aneroid). The beginning of the portage across country to Driftwood creek is on the east side of the river just at the foot of these rapids. This route to the Driftwood is used very little, as there is about seven miles of portaging over a poorly marked trail, which in places is very wet and heavy.
Half a mile of swift water full of boulders must be run before the next portage past Davis rapids is reached. The portage is on the east side, and is 14 chains long. At the foot of these rapids the first Laurentian rocks were found, the country up to this point being in the Huronian belt.
For a quarter of a mile below this, the current is swift, with many boulders. Then follows a mile of good paddling to the Yellow falls. Here the river passes over a ridge of gneiss and diabase in four lateral cascades, followed by a stretch of swift. dangerous water for another mile to Island portage. Island and Yellow falls are very similar in appearance, but in the former, one of the chutes is separated from the other three by a small island, over which the portage leads to the foot of the falls. The portage at the Yellow falls is on the west side and is about 10 chains long, being a little longer than the Island portage. The drop in the river from the head of the chute to the foot of the rapids at the lower end of the portage is 27 feet (aneroid) while the difference of level at the Island falls is 22 feet. although the falls themselves are only about 18 feet and 15 feet respectively. Below Island portage another mile of swift current takes us to quieter water, which continues until the mouth of the Muskego is reached. From the Yellow falls to about Patten's meridian, which is a mile south of where the Muskego enters the Mattagami, low clay banks with small balsam, cedar, spruce and poplar are characteristic, while for the balance of the distance, largfpoplar predominates. Frequent exposures of Laurentian gnifss occur here.
The Muskego River
The Muskego enters the Mattagami from the west, about a mile north of Patten's most northerly base line. It is about a chain and a half wide at its mouth. The river was ascended to about six miles above Speight's first base, a distance of possibly 22 miles, beyond which log jams and shallow rapids prevented further progress. For the first mile and a half from its mouth the course of the river is almost straight west through splendid clay land, heavily timbered with poplar and spruce. Following this for about the same distance the river flows through similar country from the northwest, at the end of which there is a big bend, and from here as far as we ascended it. the general trend of the stream is from the south. The valley of the river is in no place more than seven chains wide, with banks ranging from thirty feet in height, near its mouth, to about fifteen in the upper parts of its course. It is very probable, as its name suggests, that it takes its rise in some of the larger muskegs of the district. About two and a quarter miles from its mouth, a ten chain portage on the south, is necessitated by a small rapid over Laurentian boulders. This portage is evidently not much used. A little over a mile from here is another portage of the same length, just recently cut out, also on the south side. From the upper end of the trail a small chute is seen about ten chains farther up, past which the canoe must be lifted. With the exception of these three, and another short portage, which we cut a few miles farther up, no portaging is necessary. However, a great many shallow rapids which must be waded, besides a great deal of driftwood in places, make progress very slow. A small amount of work would easily clear the river of this driftwood and then, particularly in high water, the stream would be fairly good.
Half a mile south of the chute mentioned above, Patten's last base line, of which Speight's second base is a continuation, crosses the river about Mile 16, 15 chains. Five miles above this a tributary from the west joins the Muskego. This branch is also filled with driftwood and would be of very little use for canoeing.
Overland trips in the region east and west of the Mattagami, between Speight's first and second base, and Patten's two base lines, prove the country to be even more promising, from an agricultural standpoint, than the section south of it. Muskegs cover about the same area as farther south, but fewer wet spruce woods exist. The land here is much drier than any seen so far, for not only have we the Mattagami passing through the heart of the district, but the Muskego with its tributaries on the west, and Driftwood creek on the east, provide splendid natural drainage for the whole area.
Dry rolling clay land with large poplar, white birch, balm and spruce occupies the whole of the country between the Muskego and Mattagami, and is undoubtedly the best land seen during the season. With the exception of a few granite hills on Patten's meridian, east of the Driftwood, and a high clay ridge, a couple of miles south of Mile 7 on Speight's first base, the country back from the river is practically level. Here and there throughout the district low ridges of moranic origin were also seen
The lower part of this river has been described by Dr. Parkes5 and the upper part by A. G. Burrows^. Although we did not take our canoes across, the portage from the Mattagami was traced out, and the river itself was crossed in several places. The route is used very little by the Indians Ir fact some of the Indians living on the Mattagami could not tell us where the portage left the river. Besides the seven miles of portaging mentioned above, no less than ten portages, none of which is very long, occur on the river itself before the Abitibi is reached. In the upper part of its course where crossed north of Patten's most southerly base, it is from (one to one and a half chains wide. When it crosses this base, it consists of two branches, which meet about
r.^Hi Bur. Min. Rep., 1899. 6Exp. and Sur. of Northern Ont., 1908.
three miles to the north. The banks of the stream where seen are somewhat higher than those of the Muskego, and the country through which it passes is made up largely of black spruce forests with only occasional stretches of poplar.
Muskego to Poplar Rapids
The Mattagami, whose waters have been augmented by many small streams from both sides, together with those mentioned above, has attained a width of about seven chains by the time the Muskego is reached. Just below this tributary is a stretch of swift. treacherous water demanding great care in running. Jump Over falls is two and a half miles below this. The river here, confined by two narrow channels, rushes over hard, cystalline gneiss with a fall of 19 feet (aneroid) in a distance of about a chain. The portage, which is called Smooth Rock, is on the east side over the rock close to the shore.
No more portaging is necessary for the next twenty-two or twenty-three miles, although one rapid, too dangerous to run in a loaded canoe, and considerable swift current. are encountered. At the end of this distance, the Poplar rapids or Mehkwanegon, as the Indians designate it, enters the rivor from the southwest, the Mattagami flowing about 10° north of west at this point. About two miles above the junction of the two rivers are three rocky islands in midstream. For the first eight or ten miles from the Muskego the river presents the same general appearance as formerly. From here down to the Poplar Rapids, the banks are lower, and the river timber chiefly small black spruce, cedar and poplar, and at the end of this distance, the river itself is probably ten chains wide. Niven's base of 1900 crosses the Mattagami just where the two streams meet.
Indians are not very numerous along the Mattagami in the summer time, but at this most northerly point we found two families busily engaged in building canoes. Ca-pa-tis, the only one of the lot who could speak a word of English, informed us that they used Poplar Rapids and its lakes as centres for their winter's hunting, but that game was becoming less plentiful every year in this locality. He also said that they went up to the Fort (Mattagami) twice a year, once in the spring with their pelts, and in the fall, to bring back their winter's supplies. He seemed much interested in our expedition, and gave, us some useful information regarding the Poplar Rapids. He spoke of a large lake at the source of the river, which he said was very difficult to reach at that time of the year. This is evidently the lake discovered earlier in the season, more about which will be said later on.
Poplar Rapids River
This tributary of the Mattagami was ascended a distance of about sixteen miles, where we were obliged to turn back. Just where the stream enters the main river, Xiven's base of 1900 crosses the Mattagami. The Poplar Rapids, like many other rivers in the Clay Belt. is wide and shallow, being probably an average of two and a half to three chains wide in the lower part, and only three or four feet deep in most places. The course of the river is almost due north, excepting for the last two and a half miles, when it swings to the northwest. No rapids of any moment were encountered as far up as we went, although in several places the river is so shallow that wading is necessary. In the lower part of its course the banks are low, and the river timber is small spruce and balsam, young poplar and birch, with a few cedar and occasional stretches of young tamarac. These tamarac were practically the only living representatives of these trees noted, although large dead tamarac are common throughout the whole area explored.
Speight's last base crosses the river about Mile 9. From here on, the country is higher and the timber larger. About two miles above this base a small lake occurs just west of the river. It is divided into two parts by a narrow ridge of land. On this ridge is a clump of red pine trees of fair size. A few pines were also found east of the lake. In consideration of this almost unique occurrence, in that part of the country, I have named this body of water Red Pine lake. Just across the river from this lake is a small grassy pond. Two miles above this is a long shallow rapids, unprovided with a portage, and here we turned back.
Throughout its course numerous small tributaries enter the Poplar Rapids from both sides, most of which are undoubtedly connected with small lakes in the interior. Up one of these tributaries, from the west, about a mile below Red Pine lake, a route leads to the Groundhog river, which is about thirteen miles away.
Scattered along the river are several Indian wigwams and camping grounds, which in all probability, mark stages in the travels of the Indian Ca-pa-tis and his family, to and from their hunting grounds on the lakes above.
Red Pine Lake to Lake Clement
Instead of going up the river past Red Pine lake, a short portage must be made from the south end of the lake, into another lake about twenty-five chains long. From the west side of this a twenty-chain portage leads south to a lake about a mile) in extent, and from the southerly end of this latter lake, is a thirty-chain portage running almost due east to the river again. About two miles above this is a lake about the same size ae the last one. then a three-mile stretch of river with four short portages, to another small lake. From here there is a one-chain portage, by a fall 8 feet high, and about a quarter of a mile of paddling to lake Clement.
This is by far the largest lake discovered during the summer and was first seen by Mr. Henderson, in one of our overland trips, several days before, and is crossed by Speight's line. The lake is 15 chains wide where the line cuts it, and is 20 feet deep in the centre. It extends north and south for three miles, the line crossing it about a mile from the south end. Several outcrops of Laurentian rocks occur along the shores.
Overland excursions were made into various parts of the country, east and west of the Mattagami, between the Muskego and Poplar Rapids. Details of these expeditions appear in Mr. Henderson's report.
The general elevation of the country after the first four or five miles is less than above the Muskego. Fewer areas of rolling poplar lands are seen, and wet spruce woods and swamps and muskegs become correspondingly more numerous. A great forest fire, a few years ago, destroyed all the timber of any size in the district north of Speight's last base, east of the Mattagami. Between the Mattagami and the Poplar Rapids the country is drier than on the east, the drainage being considerably better. However towards the far north, the land is very low. Despite the disadvantages of small timber and wet land, the soil is about of the same quality as farther south and in time may prove of value for farming.
Some of the overland expeditions during which the above information was collected were made while going down the river, and others were made on our way back. We pursued this course in order to have as many miles of base and meridian lines as possible, to which to tie our information.
II.—East of Frederick House and Abitibi
About the end of the first week in September we left the Mattagami and crossed to the Frederick House by the Porcupine portages. At this season of the year we found the trails between the various bodies of water to be in rather good shape, but the upper end of the Porcupine river was very low, and in places difficult to navigate.
Upon reaching the Frederick House we went down the river to the end of the three chutes in the township of Mann. Here we left our tents and cached most of our supplies, and with a light outfit went down the river to the north boundary of thii township. From here we travelled by lines, to be designated below, through the townships of St. John, Pyne, Mortimer, Fox and Brower, and back to the Frederick House. The rest of the townships subdivided in this locality this year were worked over by Messrs. McMillan and Henderson in 1904.
From the Frederick House to the southwest corner of St. John the prevailing forest after leaving the river timber is small black spruce growing on good clay loam. From here we travelled east three miles to the line between lots VI and VII, and found spruce swamps with fair sized trees most of the way. However, the west side of lot IX is drier, with larger timber among which are some fine white spruce. Practically all the south end of lot VIII is a muskeg with poor peat. Beyond this the land is drier.
From here we went north two miles. The first twenty chains is dry spruce with fair timber, followed by half a mile of swamp, the balance of the mile being like the first quarter. This continues for the first twenty chains of the next mile, while the rest of this mile is open muskeg with seven feet of good peat at the corner post, which is marked "con. II and III lot VI and VII." From here we proceeded east to the Abitibi river, for the first mile through the same muskeg, followed by a quarter of a mile of spruce swamp; thence to the post between lots II and III was drier country timbered in patches with large white and black spruce, cedar and birch, but for the most part consisting of spruce swamp, which continues for the next half mile and is succeeded by dry river country up to the Abitibi, with the large trees always found near the rivers here. Wherever the soil was sampled through St. John it was always found to be good clay or clay loam, although frequently in the swamps it was under two to four feet of decayed vegetation.
Pyne and Mortimer
Having crossed the Abitibi on a raft we proceeded east through the townships of Pyne and Mortimer. The first mile we found magnificent forests of white and black spruce, white birch, balsam, poplar and balm of Gilead, but with large black spruce predominating towards the end of the mile. Several deep ravines here, running north and south, make travelling rather arduous. The soil is uniformly good clay loam. Practically the same class of soil and timber prevails through lots X, IX, VIII, VII and
VI, when the country becomes lower again with small black spruce predominating as rar west as the beginning of lot I, when we once more have higher country. Lot II is almost all muskeg.
From here we continued east along the line between concessions II and III into Mortimer. After the first ten chains there is a forty-chain muskeg followed for the balance of the mile by dry spruce woods with large timber, among which is a great deal of dead tamarac. This dead tamarac is found almost invariably associated with the spruce throughout the whole area. The spruce woods continue 'for the first, ten chains of lot X, and for the balance of the mile through lot IX the timber is larger and more varied, splendid white spruce, balsam, birch and poplar being associated with the black spruce. Just beyond the post between lots IX and X is a small clear water lake with a portage from the north end leading to another lake, a short distance away. These portages appear to be used a great deal. One of my Indians said it was in all probability a dog trail used in winter for travelling north, besides being used in summer for voyaging.
In going round the north end of this lake we struck the line between lots VIII and IX, and travelled north in some splendid forest through concession III to concession IV, when we again turned east. After ten chains of the same forest we passed into wet spruce woods again with fair timber, which continues up to the end of the mile. We were now in the centre of the township, and went north from here between lots VI and
VII. The last 60 chains of the first mile is an extensive muskeg. This is followed for about fifteen chains by spruce swamp, when again muskeg comes in and continues to