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Through the Mackenzie Basin: Fort Chipewyan to Fort McMurray


Ladies at Fort Chipewyan"Several days were spent at the fort taking declarations, but, unlike Vermilion or Dunvegan, there were few large families here, the applicants being mainly young people. The agricultural resources of this region of rocks are certainly meager compared with those of Peace River. Potatoes, where there is any available soil, grow to a good size; barley was nearly ripe when we were there, and wheat ripens, too. But, of course, it is not a farming region, nor are fish plentiful at the west end of the lake, the Athabasca River, which enters there, giving for over twenty miles eastward a muddy hue to the water. The rest of the lake is crystal clear, and whitefish are plentiful, also lake trout, which are caught up to thirty, and even forty, pounds' weight.

The distance from Fort Chipewyan to Fond du Lac is about 185 miles, but the lake extends over 75 miles farther eastward in a narrow arm, giving a total length of about 300 miles, the greatest width being about 50 miles. The whole eastern portion of the lake is a desolate scene of primitive rock and scrub pine, with many quartz exposures, which are probably mineralized, but with no land, not even for a garden."

Reprinted from Through the Mackenzie Basin: An Account of the Signing of Treaty No. 8 and the Scrip Commission, 1899 by Charles Mair.

The Peoples, Their Places