Boundary Rock Expedition 2009

April 11 – 15, 2009

Paul “Tetris” Maybee

Cody “Eddie” Whynot

Rob “Scout” Whynot

Ryan “Rhynot” Whynot

The now five-day trip in search of Boundary Rock starts in Liverpool at the Whynots’ residence -well… on the way to Liverpool that is.  We drove from Halifax to Liverpool in the afternoon of Friday, April 10th – Good Friday.  We got as far as Blockhouse when I realized that I had forgotten the dehydrated broth to my chicken stew.  This may seem like a small setback, but I had spent days on my broth, and it was pretty important for me to get it back.  One solution would have been stopping somewhere and picking up some chicken bouillon, except that it was Good Friday and everything was closed, not to mention it wouldn’t have tasted anything like the broth I had worked so hard on.

Packing

Packing

So I called my wife Mikey to see if she could get the broth to a bus station.  The website was useless and the office was closed, but still she managed to find a bus heading down and got the broth on board.  My hero!  The bus came in just after 8 and once again, all seemed to be going according to plan…

Parcel for me!

Parcel for me!

Broth

Broth

We finished up packing and played a few rounds of pool and went to bed.

Pool game

Pool game

Bed

Bed

Goodnight Moon

Goodnight Moon

An excerpt from my journal, April 10th, 2009

“The 8 day trip is now 5 days and goes down the Roseway instead of back up to Keji, but I’m feeling prepared and I think it should be a beautiful trip.  There will be some wild water, but we’re not taking any chances.  Here’s to Finding (or at least searching for) Boundary Rock”.

Day 1

Saturday, April 11th, 2009:  Liverpool, NS

Load up in the rain

Load up in the rain

We start day 1 in Liverpool, and in true Nova Scotia fashion, it is raining.  So we gear up and pack the truck.  The next thing we realize is that we’re short on paddles.  It seems at this point that we’ll never be on the water.  We go to every hardware store around looking for paddles and eventually find enough to head out.  We load up and hit the road.  FINALLY!  But we’re only 45 minutes behind schedule, which isn’t too bad, I guess.

The Intrepid Explorers

The Intrepid Explorers

We couldn’t get to George’s Lake because of a gate, so we set out from Merrymekedge Beach.  Here’s the last photo of us before we set out across Keji Lake. Read the rest of this entry »

Day 2

Sunday, April 12th, 2009: Peskawa Lake

Good Morning Peskawa

Good Morning Peskawa

Windy Lakes

Windy Lakes

High Water

High Water

The Decision

The Decision

An excerpt from my journal: April 12, 2009

“Today was a real turning point for the trip. I woke up at 6:30 and stoked the fire while outside, the wind howled through the bare trees. The news outside was not promising for this trip. There were white caps and a strong wind blasting us from the North West. We took our time with breakfast in the Warden’s cabin and savored the luxury of being warm, dry and safe from the storm outside.” Read the rest of this entry »

Day 3

Monday April 13th, 2009: Sisketch Lake


Allow me to just show again what the campsite looked like when we arrived, just to make very clear the contrast to what we saw when we awoke the next day.

Sisketch Camp at arrival

Sisketch Camp at arrival

Sisketch Camp an hour later

Sisketch Camp an hour later

Sisketch Camp the next day

Sisketch Camp this morning

So that’s what I saw when I woke up the next day. A far cry from the starry night we saw last night. I eventually won the long battle with the wetness and got a fire going (as I was the first one up again) and looked around at the snow covered world that awaited us. What would this mean for our search for the rock? What about canoeing? I’ve never been canoeing anytime other than the summer. At one point the clouds were thinning and I did get a glimpse of the sun trying to beat it’s way through the clouds. Read the rest of this entry »

Day 4

Tuesday April 14th, 2009: Junction Lake

This morning we wake up to what would appear to be- though I’m hesistant to say so this time- a very nice day.  Since I am the only one who enjoys the early morning I get the fire going again and make some coffee and cardamom buckwheat pancakes with real maple syrop.  We got a text from Mr. Whynot saying he would pick us up at Upset Falls instead of Indian Fields, which buys us some more time, and so the plan this morning is to take a few hours to look for the rock before setting out for the bottom half of our trip.  That’s right, we got a text.  Rob’s phone was able to send and receive text messages even from Junction Lake, the middle of the Nova Scotian wilderness.  That’s good to know for future reference, but not something anyone should count on.  The good news is, we’ve got a little more time and it’s all downstream from here.

Junction Lake Morning

Junction Lake Morning

Breakfast in the Sunshine

Breakfast in the Sunshine

Overnight, something interesting had happened.  We got a really cold snap because of the clear night and all of the dead branches seemed to be freeze dried in the morning.  They were easy to just snap off or the morning’s fire.  This was the easiest it’s been to keep a fire going yet.  With the first day being rain, and the two days after that having constant snow, this was a real treat. Read the rest of this entry »

Day 5

April 15, 2009: Somewhere above Roseway Lake, on the Roseway River

This morning, there is no excuse for sleeping in, but still I get up early and start the fire.  Then I realize that today, even I need a few more minutes.  I get back in my hammock and close my eyes for another fifteen minutes while the fire gets going.  I get up again and look out at the river, though I still am not quite ready to look at the canoe.

Sunrise

Sunrise

The sun is just coming up, and I’m including this photo because, like the photo of the sun setting last night, this one holds a lot of meaning for me.  After the day we had yesterday, the sun still rises this morning, and since I see no chance of snow this morning, I’m pretty confident in saying that today is turning out to be a beautiful day.

Frozen Clothes

Frozen Clothes

All of my clothes which I had hung on the trees to dry, had frozen solid overnight.  I think they may need a bit more time to dry… Read the rest of this entry »

Abandoned Annapolis

April 3, 2009

With the start date of the Boundary Rock trip drawing nearer, Cody and I took a drive down to the put in site to check out the condition of the roads and the ice.  Along the way, we made a few stops to explore some abandoned houses in some of the more remote rural parts of South Western Nova Scotia.  We ran into some pretty messy roads along the way, and some ice still on the lakes, but we’re not ready to give up yet.  There is still time for the ice to melt and the channels are opening up.  So here is a photo essay of sorts of our adventures on the back roads of South Western Nova Scotia:

Windsor Wear - Paul Maybee

Windsor Wear - Paul Maybee

I spotted this from the highway and decided to pull in to get a closer look.  I loved the look of the old bricks with arched windows.  I thought this was abandoned, but when we got closer, we could see people working inside and it obviously has all new windows.  It’s nice to see something like this being restored for a new purpose.  Such a beautiful old building.  Is it for offices?  loft apartments?  Either way, this one doesn’t technically count, because it’s not abandoned.  It’s just being given a new life.   …and we’re back on the road:

Abandoned - Paul Maybee

Abandoned - Paul Maybee

Abandoned: New Minas - Paul Maybee

Abandoned: New Minas - Paul Maybee

The next thing I saw from the road, was this old farmhouse on top of a hill.  I pulled in to try and get a better look, and we decided to stop in for coffee at the Just Us cafe.  After fueling up on coffee, we continued up the road to try and find Read the rest of this entry »

Ice in the lakes

March 13, 2009

Good Morning!

Nearly all of the comments on this blog have been about ice in the lakes, so I figured I should speak to that.  And frankly, I have become a little more concerned about that recently, even though it has been something we’ve been aware of from the start.  I’m not concerned about the rivers being frozen, but there may still be some ice around the lakes.  We’ve had some pretty warm weather lately, and my hope if just that the water will be really high.  We’ve had several warm spells over the past few months which will mean that the ice that may be there now won’t be as thick as it could be, which will help.

There are some great photographs of the area on Google Earth, when you zoom in, little photo boxes pop up where people have geotagged photos of different places.  Most of the photos in the area are from user AlainMoose96, or Alain Belliveau, whom Cody and I met at the archives one day while researching our trip.  This photo:

Mink Lake in April - Alain Belliveau

Mink Lake in April - Alain Belliveau

Photo used with permission from Alain Belliveau. Click on photo to view his other fantastic photos of the Tobeatic Wilderness Area.

was taken at Mink Lake in early April right after a snow storm.  As you can see, there is no ice on the majority of the lake, other than some snow and ice right around the shoreline.

It will be cold, that’s for sure.  But with my new -12°C sleeping bag I won’t have any problems at night.  The worst case scenario I can see right now is that I’ll have to bring my snowshoes for the carries.  But I’ll leave you with this old saying:

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.

There are many versions of the story of Jim Charles, like any good story that has been told around campfires for many generations.  A great version of the story appears in Mike Parker’s book, “Wood Chips and Beans” and another good version comes from a blog by “the nature writer”, Laurie Lacey.  Basically the story goes like this:

Jim Charles was a man who lived in the Kejimikujik area in the 1800’s.  He was one of the most skilled of the guides in those woods and frequently took sporting fishermen and hunters deep into the woods where the fishing and game hunting were prime.  He and his wife lived on what is now known as Jim Charles Point on the Kejimikujik Lake.  Jim had discovered a gold mine deep in what is now the Tobeatic wilderness and became quite rich.  Now the men in the village became jealous of Jim Charles’ fortune and tried to get information about the location of this gold mine which he kept a secret.  One night a man became quite forceful with Jim at a bar when he refused to give up the location and picked a fight with him.  Jim knocked the man clean off his feet and several hours later, the man was dead.

It should be mentioned now that Jim Charles was a Mi’kmaq man and though he was well respected within the community, there was no guarantee of a fair trial with the murder of a white man hanging over his head.  So Jim did the only thing he knew to do and took to the woods.

jimcharlesrock1

Jim Charles Rock

Photo Courtesy of Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management

Reference Number: N-2516/ Album 43, #2

Author’s Note: It is mentioned in other online sources that this is Boundary Rock.  It is not.  This is what I believe is Jim Charles’ Rock.  Boundary Rock is much smaller than this rock as is apparent from the size of the man standing in the bottom right hand corner of the photo.  It is believed that this photo was taken by J.A. Irvine in 1899.

It is said that Jim Charles stayed in those woods for years.  He stayed in there for fear that the men of the village were looking for him.  He hid under a enormous rock, where there was a cave underneath, and from on top of which he could see anyone coming from miles around.  This is what’s now referred to as Jim Charles’ Rock.  It is said that it is near Cofan Camp on the Sand Beach Lake, but like the Boundary Rock, little is know as to its whereabouts.  He also never returned to his gold mine, for fear that the ghost of the man he killed was haunting it.  Also, he had no need for gold unless he could spend it, which would require him returning to town.

Some of the stories about Jim Charles claim that he did in fact return to town and stood trial and was found not guilty for the murder of the man.  Some say he never returned from the wilderness.  Whichever is true, the fact is that the exact location of the mine, and the rock died with Jim Charles.

So we will spend a day on our trip to search for Jim Charles’ Rock.  Here is a draft of our itinerary as it stands now:

trip itinerary - The Search for Boundary Rock

trip itinerary - The Search for Boundary Rock

Trip planning

February 28, 2009

One of the first questions we had to answer in planning a trip to search for the Boundary Rock was “where shold we look?”.  Where do we think this rock might be?  After looking at the photographs at the NS Public Archives I looked at some old maps showing the county lines from the 1800’s to present.  There are many beautiful maps there but the problem I kept running into is that the landmarks would change over time.  Many older maps show a Dunbar’s Lake just Southeast of Sporting Lake, which is nowhere to be found on newer maps.  Dunbar’s Lake seems to have disappeared.  Some maps (like in the back of older versions of Albert Bigelow Payne’s “The Tent Dwellers) show the rock just North of Handsled Lake.  This would put it right around where the junction is today…  at Junction Lake.

Some say that from Junction Lake it’s just 400m or so upstream from a cove on the West bank of the Lake and it’s right there on the left.  There is some clarification needed, I think, as to what we’re calling the Boundary, or Junction Rock.  The one we’re looking for is the one with John McEwan’s name and others carved in the side of the rock.  It’s in a flat bog with easy access from a canoe.  There will be no question when we find this rock…

Although a part of me (and I’m certain I’m not alone) almost wishes that we find something that’s not the Boundary Rock.  I have a feeling that when we do find this rock, that there will be a sense of disappointment that will follow closely on the heels of the celebration of our discovery.

Still, I am going to look for it with every intention of finding it.  And if we find it, I will celebrate.  And if we don’t…  maybe the search itself was the thing we were looking for in the first place.

BR Research

February 26, 2009

Here’s what we know so far:

I spent several days at the Nova Scotia Public Archives looking at photos from the expedition in 1899 which pictures two unidentified fishermen and their guides standing on and around the rock.  Their notes indicate their route, which began on the West Branch of the Bear River, took them through Lake Joli, Fifth Lake, Moosehead Stream, and Moosehide Lake.  From there, chances are they ended up on the Shelburne River.

Looking closely at the photos, as well as looking at the other photos in the series from that trip, we have a good idea of the terrain surrounding the elusive Boundary Rock… or at least what it looked like a hunderd and ten years ago.

Boundary Rock 1899

Boundary Rock 1899

Photo Courtesy of Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management
Reference Number: N-2515/ Album 43, #2

I also read up on the county boundaries, because it is said to lie at the point where these four counties meet (Yarmouth, Shelburne, Queens and Digby).  There is some talk out there about the county lines moving  around 1875.  According to Charles Fergusson, an archivist for the province of Nova Scotia, the last survey of any of these lines was made in 1836 and the lines were confirmed in 1837.   (Source: The Boundaries of Nova Scotia and its Counties by Charles Bruce Fergusson, Provincial Archivist, Public Archives of Nova Scotia, 1966)

This would suggest that it’s still around Junction Lake, where the boundaries meet today, which would make it very easy to access.  So why have so few people found it?  I have spoken to people who have looked and found the survey pin, but no rock with the names of John McEwan and others carved into it’s side.

At the time of the expedition I’ve been researching, although the boundary lines themselves haven’t changed, little was known about the lakes and streams in the area.  The landmarks we have today weren’t known to the cartographers and guides in the late 18oo’s.  The mystery continues.