From the village of Fort Norman on the McKenzie River we are taking the junction at the Bear River on our quest to reach Fort Franklin on Great Bear Lake. It is about 100 miles (it’s the old days) by canoe to Franklin. This little hamlet is part of my father’s jurisdiction as Indian Agent. He has to visit Fort Franklin every few months. We are going to bring the church organ from Fort Franklin back to Fort Norman by canoe as well.
I am a little girl. My feet stick out in front of me on the worn green leather seat. Across from me on a duplicate seat that turns in to face mine, are my three younger brothers. I snuggle deeper into my fake fur coat. It is the most beautiful coat I have ever owned. It is blinding white in colour with a big shawl type collar that hides my nose if…
Two canoes are needed for this trip. In one canoe is the future Chief of Fort Norman, Paul Baton and my three brothers, Joel, John and Kurtis. I am in the second canoe with four 45-gallon drums of fuel, my dad and Francis Baton, Paul’s brother. Two of the 45 gallon drums will be used by the kickers (engines on the boats) to get us to our destination, the empty barrels will be left behind in Franklin; we will need the remaining fuel to get us back to Norman. My father once proposed that the official flag for the NWT should be a white background with a red fuel drum in the forefront. Red fuel drums were stacked along the banks of many rivers and the removal of them was a trying and expensive experience.
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