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.


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.

What’s this blog about?

February 25, 2009

I’m Paul Maybee, and this is my blog.  It’s going to be about several things, from music and photography to my latest adventures and things I’m just excited about.  Right now I’m excited about planning a trip to find Boundary Rock in the Tobeatic.  Click on the “Boundary Rock” tab to read more about it.