Sunday, 21 July 2013

A SUMMER VACATION - the conclusion - Nepigon


Nipigon Historical Museum Archives

C. P. R. Bridge crossing the Nepigon River, 1918

Three hours later we were anchored in Nepigon Harbor, one of the safest on Lake Superior.  It is protected by two peninsulas with three large islands at the entrance forming a breakwater and checking the force of the storms from the south. The east and west is effectually sheltered by high mountains, making this a land-locked harbor.

One of the large islands referred to in the bay is Isle Vert. The Isle Vert stone is well known to the builders of Fort William and Port Arthur and large quantities of this beautiful red sand-stone have been used in both cities. At the mouth of the Nepigon River stands the sacred red rock, sacred to the Manitou. From this rock has been made from time immemorial the Indian Calumet.

The Virgin Falls on the Nepigon River was my destination.

Virgin Falls, Nepigon River, 1918

Hiring two guides in Nepigon with canoe and tents, and purchasing provisions, two days later I was comfortably settled in my "Hotel Virgin."  My Indians gave me splendid service. Here I met many of the disciples of Izaak Walton and they all agreed that the Nepigon is the first and last word in things piscatorial.  A dear old gentleman from New York spent the most of a night with me. He was a student of nature. For the early part of the night the sky was illuminated with the northern lights.  Later heavy clouds passed over the sky and from clear spaces the stars burned soft and close and friendly. The gentleman from New York, in his conversation, said that if Nepigon Lake and River was in some remote part of Europe thousands of our American tourists would spend a vast amount of money to see this land of the Otchipaways.  The same American tourists would return to the United States and boast for the balance of their lives of the fact that they had visited the Nepigon.

The Nepigon River is famed the world over for its speckled trout and magnificent scenery. It is the largest and clearest river  flowing into Lake Superior. It is 42 miles long with numerous lake-like expansions and surging rapids, and is the only outlet from Lake Nepigon. It has an average width of 300 feet, the purest and coldest of water. There are nine portages on it and near those portages the best fishing is to be had. As you canoe the river you get view after view that looks like the climax of wonder, yet another more inspiring one appears.

Lake Nepigon, with its Franco-Indian name, is situated between the parallels of the 49th and 51st degrees of latitude, and the 88th and 89th degrees of longitude; measures nearly 70 miles in length by about 39 miles in width, and in consequence of its numerous and deeply indented bays has a shore line of nearly 600 miles. It is the world's greatest breeding ground of the king of fish, the speckled trout. This beautiful sheet of pure water with its numerous islands was until the exploratory surveys of Canada's great transcontinental railway, the Canadian Pacific, little known to the outside world. It is very deep and has an elevation of 852 feet above sea level. The climate of Lake Nepigon and the North Shore of Lake Superior in summer is much the same as the Florida winter. There are nearly 700 Indians in the Nepigon District. In summer many of them are employed as tourists' guides, while the majority depend almost entirely on fishing and hunting. The government pays them an annual bounty of four dollars per head. It is much to be regretted that in this, their own land, the Indians are actually dying of starvation.

Having fished, explored, and photographed the Nepigon Lake and River, I could now count the remaining days of my vacation on the fingers of one hand. The sun had baked me to a healthy brown , and I could find no excuse to prolong my holiday. With a feeling of regret I packed up and started on my homeward trip. It was evening when we left Lake Helen. The last rays of the setting sun were shining on the Canadian Pacific Railway Company's bridge crossing the Nepigon River as we swept under it into the quiet waters of Nepigon Harbor.

But of all the picturesque routes on the Great Lakes, the inner channel from Nepigon to Thunder Bay is unsurpassed for island scenery. In the early part of the morning the lake gleamed like a mirror, every tree and rock being reproduced in the water.

Passing the Great Thunder Eagle, the lights of Port Arthur and Fort William shone out, making me feel that civilization would soon have me in its grip again.

The Great Thunder Eagle of Thunder Cape
Sacred to the Manitou
The above is an exact reproduction of Thunder Cape, Lake Superior,
 as shown on U.S. and Canadian Govt. Marine Charts - William S. Piper
Copyright 1917 by W.S.P.


The spelling of Nipigon with an 'e' is of historic interest. - nhm

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