Archive for the ‘Outdoor recreation’ Category

Park elk

Monday, August 17th, 2009

A wildlife biologist once told me that far more people are injured by elk than by bears in Canada’s national parks.  Of course when this big guy came strolling through the campground at Waskesiu yesterday I walked out in front of him like a fool and snapped some pictures.  The elk of Waskesiu have little fear of humans.  I hate to think of the damage he could do if he decided I was in his way.  Worse, my girls were with me.  Anyway I got some pictures, and here’s the best one.

Bull elk at Waskesiu trailer campground 2009-08-16

I’m surprised that his antlers have lost most of their velvet.  It seems early, but I am more familiar with whitetail deer than with elk.

By the way, the word Waskesiu is a shortened version of the Cree word for elk, a.k.a. wapiti.

(Janet and the girls have been at the park for the last week, staying in a very comfortable cabin trailer loaned to us by Ken & Sharon … it sure beats our old tent trailer)

Ice fishing

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

After our recent cold weather, it was great to get a warm weekend. Fiona, Michel, and I took advantage of it by heading up to Little Shell Lake yesterday for a few hours of ice-fishing with Marv. The fish weren’t very cooperative (we only caught four small pike), but just being out of the city was good for the soul.

I’ve uploaded a few pictures to a gallery … to view them, click on the pic below.

Ice fishing

Charlotte on the Churchill River

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Charlotte and her classmates from “Outdoor School” departed yesterday for their 8-day canoe trip on the Churchill River. She’ll be back a week from tonight.

She has her polypropylene underwear, fleece jacket, and rain gear, but September can be a cold time to be playing on the water in northern Saskatchewan. If you are a person of faith, please pray for clear weather and that her canoe won’t tip/swamp/get wrapped around a rock.

Flattened fauna

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

Today while out walking I saw two dead muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus), victims of P.A.’s vehicular traffic. That makes four of the water-loving rodents that I’ve seen on city streets this this summer. In 19 years of living in Prince Albert, I don’t recall seeing a muskrat within city limits until this year. What would make the muskrats leave their natural habitat to go wandering the mean streets? From my rudimentary knowledge of the species, I would expect them to be on the move when their sloughs dry up. However we’ve had an unusually wet year locally, and the sloughs are at or above normal levelsl, so I doubt that’s the reason. Maybe the population is just unusually high this year and some members are being driven out of their communities? I suspect the fact that trapping is out of favour (and fur prices are low), combined with lack of natural predators, may have something to do with it. On the other hand, maybe there have been as many in previous years and I just haven’t noticed.

So many questions, and of such importance.

The above is a sample of the thoughts meandering through my mind on today’s walk. And what a glorious day for a walk it was, after all those cold, wet weeks..

It’s just unfortunate that I didn’t see any living wildlife.

Combatting NDD

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

Seeking a cure for Nature Deficit Disorder along the Rotary Trail in Prince Albert.

Prince Albert's Rotary Trail 2007-08-26

Nature Deficit Disorder

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

I spent the first 14 years of my life on a small farm in Saskatchewan’s Boreal Transition Ecoregion. Our nearest neighbours lived more than a mile away, and we didn’t have a TV.  What we did have a lot of was nature, since more than half of our farm had never been cleared for agriculture.  A lot of my childhood was spent with my nose in a book, but I also spent a lot of time out in the “bush”.

It concerns me that my children haven’t had the same oppotunities to connect with Creation that I did as a child.

Given that concern, this news article caught my eye…

Kids face ‘nature deficit disorder’ given trend toward staying indoors: experts


TORONTO (CP) – The “vague and powerful fears” parents harbour about giving their children free reign to frolic outdoors means a whole generation of young ones are facing a “nature deficit disorder,” say experts and observers.

“The whole notion of free, unorganized play is going by the wayside,” said Joe Doiron, senior policy analyst with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s healthy living unit.

There is a “disturbing trend” that shows children are involved in mostly indoor organized activities, Doiron said. 

“What this trend suggests is that we’re ignoring opportunities for our kids to be involved in unorganized, free play,” he said.

Nathan Perkins, an associate professor at the University of Guelph, said the need for structure in people’s lives is making nature an increasingly “programmed experience.”


Read the entire article here.  I think it raises some very important issues about a generation of kids who are out of touch with Creation.

Book Review – Canoeing the Churchill

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

Many years ago I paddled a couple of stretches of the Churchill, and now that the kids are older, I’d like to do some more. Meanwhile reading about it lets me live vicariously.

I originally wrote this book review for the December 2006 edition of Treelines, the newsletter of the Saskatchewan Forestry Association.

Canoeing the Churchill: A Practical Guide to the Historic Voyageur Highway

by Greg Marchildon & Sid Robinson 2002

Reviewed by Phil Loseth

A recent instalment in the Discover Saskatchewan series produced by the Canadian Plains Research Center at the University of Regina, Canoeing the Churchill is clearly a labour of love. As the book’s title indicates, it offers practical advice to paddlers on how to navigate the Churchill River, but it is much more than a technical handbook, being packed with fascinating historical information, descriptions of the communities along the route, and other information. An impressive amount of academic research has been combined with personal observations from the authors’ trips on the Churchill, all presented in a highly readable style.

The route described, referred to as the “voyageur highway” or “guide route” due to its significance to the early exploration of western Canada and to the early fur trade, includes parts of three river systems stretching across northern Saskatchewan from close to the Alberta border almost to Manitoba. Starting where the Cluff Lake Road (Highway 955) crosses Warner Rapids, step-by-step directions guide the reader down the Clearwater River, across a height of land via the gruelling Methy Portage into the Churchill River system, and down the Churchill to Frog Portage, where a much lower height of land is crossed to the Sturgeon-Weir River, ending at Cumberland House.

Although the route covers approximately 1100 km, which the authors paddled in one summer, most paddlers will want to break the trip into smaller segments taking anywhere from a couple of days to more than a week, and the book is organized into chapters accordingly.
An introduction provides general information about the route’s climate, vegetation, and wildlife, in addition to helpful information on canoe trip planning. This is followed by a chapter on the history of the route, from the earliest known archaeological evidence of human habitation, the indigenous Cree, Dene and Métis, and the early fur trade. What could have become a dry academic history is enlivened with anecdotes from the journals of early explorers and traders. The subsequent eleven chapters describe segments of the trip:
• Clearwater River to La Loche
• La Loche to Buffalo Narrows
• Buffalo Narrows to Île-à-la-Crosse
• Île-à-la-Crosse to Patuanak
• Patuanak to Pinehouse Lake
• Pinehouse Lake to Otter Rapids
• Otter Rapids to Stanley Mission
• Stanley Mission to Pelican Narrows
• Pelican Narrows to Denare Beach
• Denare Beach to Sturgeon Landing
• Sturgeon Landing to Cumberland House

Throughout these chapters, the descriptions of the river’s rapids and portages and the recommended routes across lakes are interspersed with descriptions of local communities, historical events and colorful characters, rock paintings, and other interesting tidbits. The non-technical information is formatted in shaded boxes to easily set it apart, a nice feature for canoeists wanting to find information quickly. Advanced canoeists may find the authors overly cautious in their recommendations regarding which rapids can be safely run and which should be portaged (most Class 3 and many Class 2 rapids). However considering the number of voyageurs buried along the
route, most paddlers, especially those at the novice to intermediate level, will appreciate the emphasis on safety.

At 480 pages, this book may be too bulky to fit in the canoeist’s shirt pocket, but an advantage of canoe tripping compared to hiking is that a bit of extra weight isn’t as much of a concern. Canoeing the Churchill should be a welcome addition to anyone considering a trip on Saskatchewan’s historic voyageur highway.