Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ripples From an Inherited Canoe Paddle

I recently read about Misao Dean, a Professor of English at the University of Victoria, who claims the canoe is a symbol of colonialism, imperialism and genocide due to history.

In an interview for CBC Radio, she said, “we have a whole set of narratives that make the canoe into a kind of morally untouchable symbol, something that seems natural, that seems ordinary, and seems to promote values that we ascribe to.”

Then she added “But I think if you look a little further that narrative obscures or erases another narrative—and that narrative is about, to be blunt, it’s about theft and genocide.”

Dean explained, in her opinion, the majority of wilderness canoers are people who have a very privileged place in society. They're frequently highly educated people. They're almost completely white.

She concluded her interview suggesting every time we dip a paddle in the water we should be thinking about European colonialism, and the role the canoe played in displacing and harming indigenous people.

To hear the full interview, click the link below

My Canadian Canoeing Idol is still Bill Mason

I guarantee I'm NOT going to buy a copy of her book: Inheriting a Canoe Paddle: The Canoe in Discourses of English-Canadian Nationalism, just so I can put it on the book shelf next to those written by my Canadian canoeing idol Bill Mason.

I'm tired of politically correct, wacky, liberals who attempt to rewrite history for fun and profit

I for one will not be thinking about "theft and genocide" next time I paddle to those silent places that can only be reached by a canoe.


And, I will not be thinking about "white men of privilege" as I continue researching my French-Canadian Voyageur ancestors and the role they played in the fur trade and history of North American.


Yours truly, Jerry England in the Boundary Waters (1986)

So, Ms Dean if you happen to find my blog while goggling your name… 

I want you to know this 74 year-old man thinks your opinions are just that -- your opinions -- and they won't put a dent in the fascinating history of canoes and canoeing in North America.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Gaelic Love on Cape Cod: David, the Irishman, and Jane, the Welsh Maid

Edited from the Dennis Historical (Massachusetts) Society Newsletter, Feb/March 2008, by Burt Derick.

David O'Killia (O'Kelly) and Jane Powell’s (my 11th great-grandparent's) story is one of loneliness and love. In the 1650s, New England Separatists realized they needed to bring in willing (sometimes unwilling) workers, which was easy given the strife in Great Britain from wars, ravages of plague and religious persecution. Nearly all were young and unmarried, at the bottom of the social class.

David and Jane were poor bondservants (sometimes called White Slaves) charged with fornication.  They were in their teens, and forced to endure great hardship. Jane was likely originally from Wales. The distance between the homes of the owners of their indentures (Wm. Swift and Edw. Sturgis') is 24 miles, quite a distance in those days. Perhaps they met on the same ship from England to America.

David and Jane were poor, lonely, scared, moving to an uncertain future and they were Gaelic, sharing a common language others on the ship may not have had. They would have been immediately separated and endured a hard life, as Jane's plea in court shows. Many of the colonists were religious fanatics, ruling with an iron hand, punishing people for minor infractions. Somehow, in a time when roads were less than cartways and transportation was slow, David found Jane. Perhaps he had an errand to do for his master, attending the only gristmill in the area to get the corn ground to flour. It is unlikely it was a chance encounter--not a single encounter in the woods of Sagamore, but one of many. There was certainly a background relationship between these people that resulted in the encounter for which they were charged. The fornication charge likely means she was pregnant, rather than caught in the act.

Despite Jane's guilt, the magistrates could not bring themselves to levy the typical punishment of public whipping and they sent her home. They also didn't charge David with seducing the girl. They leave the two to work out the problem. It's also remarkable the Clerk took time to record so many details of Jane's predicament

After securing freedom for both of them, David did the honorable thing and married Jane and they moved to a 100 acre farm that was eventually named Kelley's Point, at the head of Bass River on the banks of what is today called Kelley’s Bay. The area is now called Mayfair in current day South Dennis, Massachusetts.

David's family lived in South Dennis, Massachusetts over 40 years, raising a family of five boys and two girls: Sarah b. ca 1660, Joseph b. ca 1662, +Jeremiah b. ca 1664, John b. ca 1667, David was b. ca 1670, Elizabeth b ca 1672, Benjamin b. ca 1675. All were mentioned in David’s will.

Our lineage is:

David Okille (about 1636 - 1697) -- 11th great-grandfather

Jeremiah OKilley (OKelley) (1664 - 1728) -- son of David Okille

Sarah OKilley (1689 - 1736) -- daughter of Jeremiah OKilley (OKelley)

Solomon Carpenter (1677 - 1750) -- son of Sarah OKilley

Elizabeth Carpenter (1703 - 1740) -- daughter of Solomon Carpenter

Soloman Braman (1723 - 1790) -- son of Elizabeth Carpenter

William Braman (1753 - 1804) -- son of Soloman Braman

Waterman F Brayman (1786 - 1865) -- son of William Braman

Elvira W. Brayman (Pierce) (Corey) (1822 - 1909) -- daughter of Waterman F Brayman

Marcus M Pierce (1842 - 1882) -- son of Elvira W. Brayman (Pierce) (Corey)

Lillian Amanda Pierce (1867 - 1957) -- daughter of Marcus M Pierce

Frank Jackson Bailey (1886 - 1968) -- son of Lillian Amanda Pierce -- our grandfather

Monday, October 3, 2016

Canoeing Advice for Old Folks -- (Elderly + 70 Years-Old)

I just came back from a little canoeing adventure in Oregon, and I've been thinking about a bad experience where I capsized my canoe.
I'm 74 years-old, so my lost of critical functions -- lack of strength and balance -- are a concern.  As we age we lose a lot of muscle and our balance gets poorer, it's a fact of life.  
I try to do balance and strength exercises to be fit leading up to a canoe trip, but they don't help much anymore.
I've also tried swamping my canoe in our backyard pool to practice a self rescue.  My 12' Old Town Pack Canoe fills with water, but doesn't sink until I try to get into it.  Then it sinks to the bottom of my feet.  
That's not a completely bad thing because coupled with my personal floatation device (PFD) I have a relatively safe platform to cling to.

That is unless it's severely windy, freezing cold, or nobody is within shouting distance.
In the last few years all of my canoe trips have been solo, so I've learned to take some precautions to return home safe.
Here are my suggestions for staying alive:

1. Always wear your PFD.

2. Always carry a whistle, compass and map of the area (in a waterproof case).

3. Always carry a -- easy to reach -- knife with a serrated edge.  All of my gear (fishing rod, tackle box, landing net and paddle) is on a leash, so it would be relatively easy to get entangled and possibly trapped under my canoe.
4. Always carry a spare change of clothes in a dry bag.  Rain pants, a paddle jacket and a wool or poly sweater will suffice.
5. Always carry a first aid kit, space blanket, headlamp, canteen of water, a Sierra cup (to boil water) and a means of starting a fire.
6. Don't go canoeing alone in windy conditions, and if it gets windy while you are on the water get to shore to wait it out.
7. Don't go canoeing alone in cold conditions.  If the water is below 50° you have just a few minutes to get out before hypothermia sets in.
8. Don't canoe beyond your safe swimming distance.  For me that's about 150' from shore with waterlogged clothes.

9. Be especially careful when entering and exiting your canoe.  Most canoe capsizes occur within 5' of shore.

10. AVOID DOCKS IF POSSIBLE.  I learned this just a few days ago.  Most older folks don't have the upper body strength to pull ourselves up onto a dock, and without immediate help you could be hypothermic before you can make your way around a long dock and back to shore.

I usually try to launch and exit my canoe at a beach, so if I do fall it's usually in a few inches of water, not several feet as found at a dock.

Canoeing is a passion that I've enjoyed 60 years.  
Nearly all of my canoe trips these days are solo, and I believe I'll be just fine as long as I adhere to my few simple rules.
One Last Thought
If you plan to canoe in alone in wilderness areas here's one more item you might consider carrying for protection from predators.

SEE: Backcountry Travel -- Packin' Iron

"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment." - Will Rogers

Happy paddling

Update August 2018:

I just came across a pretty neat video of an old gentleman getting in and out of a canoe at a dock.  SEE...

I tested his instructions... I put my pack canoe in our swimming pool, the water is about about 14" below the concrete deck, and experimented with this gentleman's method.  It was easy and worked perfectly smooth.  Thank you Hornbeck Canoes.

I'm going to Voyageurs Park next month and have been worried about having to get in a canoe from the Rainy Lake Visitor Center dock.  I feel much better now.  75 year-old canoeists should still avoid docks whenever possible.

Happy Paddling

Update Monday, May 3, 2021 

I’m now in my 79th year on planet earth and solo canoeing is one of my few passions left.

Last year was horrible in every way possible. I didn’t get enough exercise, I lost even more strength, and my balance is not at all good.

However, I did manage -- last week -- to go canoeing two days in a row, albeit only a couple of hours each day.

I admit that getting in and out of a canoe is a challenge, but in shallow water it is safe and doable.

My biggest struggle is standing up when exiting. That can be improved with exercise, so I’ve added squats to my daily regimen.

Here’s a helpful video for Solo Canoeing - Entering and Exiting

Happy Paddling

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Paddling the Upper Klamath Canoe Trail

Located in the Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge is a marked, 9.5 mile canoe trail that meanders through a large freshwater marsh.

The canoe trail has four segments: Recreation Creek, Crystal Creek, Wocus cut and Malone Springs. Each section offers a different look at the Upper Klamath Marsh.

You can launch your canoe or kayak at the Rocky Point boat launch or the Malone Springs boat launch.

I can recommend staying at the Rocky Point Resort which offers both tent and RV camping as well as rental cabins.  Their restaurant is now open 7 days a week and offers a selection of delightful sandwiches and meals at affordable prices. 

Just in case you get skunked at fishing -- as I did -- they have fresh cod and chips.

Rocky Point Resort is located on Pelican Bay and has been in existence since at least 1909 as this old postcard attests too.

Ask about mooring your canoe or kayak at Rocky Point Resort's dock if you plan on staying longer than a day.

For me the canoe trail began at Rocky Point Resort, just north of Pelican Bay, which is aptly named for the American White Pelicans that often inhabit the area. It's great fun to watch pelicans soar with incredible steadiness on a wingspan averaging 9 feet.

Their large heads and huge, heavy bills give them an almost prehistoric look. Gliding on the water surface you'll see them dip their pouched bills to scoop up fish, or tip-up like an oversized dabbling duck. Groups of pelicans can be seen working together to herd fish into the shallows for easy feeding.

A solo White Pelican guided the way as I began my journey up the canoe trail.

There is an abundant variety of waterfowl and other wildlife in the refuge.  I am certainly not an authority on birds, so if you want to know what birds you can expect to see, you'll need to do a little homework.

Mammals along the canoe trail include Mink -- like this one I saw on a boat dock -- muskrats, beaver, occasionally otter, deer, coyotes, and rarely -- a newly located family of gray wolves.

Around every bend in the creek you can expect to see ducks and other waterfowl launch themselves as your canoe comes into view.

On my outward bound journey I passed several summer cabins, on the west, that had been grandfathered in when Recreation Creek became part of the Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.

Once past the cabins the forest to the west comes down to the creek while the rushes to the east creates an entirely different view of the marsh.

Wocus lilies -- which flower in the spring -- can be seen throughout the marsh. Wocus is a Native American word for the Rocky Mountain Pond Lily.

The Klamath Tribes, formerly the Klamath Indian Tribe of Oregon once gathered seeds of the wocus lily as an important food staple.

One of the many Shore Birds I encountered wading and feeding in the shallows along the edge of Recreation Creek.

I'll call them Cattail Rushes -- because I'm no expert on rushes -- are full of songbirds like these Red-winged Blackbirds.

It's unlikely that you'd ever get lost -- but just to keep you from wandering into areas of nesting birds -- the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has installed signs that clearly define the canoe trail.

To aid the nesting of the extraordinary bird life in the area the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has installed many of these birdhouses on posts along the water's edge.

About two miles north of Rocky Point an industrious beaver has built a dam across Recreation Creek.

Many canoeists would be undaunted and simply pull their boat over the top, but for me -- with my poor balance it was swim or turn around.  The decision was easy because I had seen a number of likely fishing holes that needed to be explored.

As I turned around on my homeward bound journey I noticed this beaver had his home in the bank of the creek.

Of the two creeks -- Recreation Creek and Crystal Creek -- for me the prettiest is by far Recreation Creek because of the forest.

I paddled this creek twice -- once in the morning, and once in the evening. The bird life is far more active in the early morning, but the evening shadows from the forest are both cooling and intriguing.

For me one of the real delights was spotting several Kingfisher birds. In the past I'd only seen them in Montana's Glacier National Park.

As you near Rocky Point the creek widens and you are again greeted by pelicans dipping for fish.

Friend Kenny kayaking Pelican Bay

To the south of Rocky Point Pelican Bay widens again, but is very weedy and shallow except for a channel that skirts the west and southern shoreline.

When I got back to the place where I had been mooring my canoe I was welcomed by this Great Blue Heron who grudgingly consented to share his dock with me.

I would definitely return to visit the area again.

My only displeasure was not hooking one of the huge Redband Rainbow Trout that inhabit the area. Given that the water is crystal clear and the creek holds thousands of small bait fish and perch these 2 to 3 foot trout are not easy to catch. 

One fellow fisherman said, "The small fish are so thick you can almost walk across the creek on them."

Call me disappointed.