Lake Mistassini - Radisson Bay - East Channel Rupert River - Lake Capichinatoune - Woollett Lake - Lac Thereau - Cawachagamite (Clearwater) L - Lac de la Marée - former Neoskweskau post site
Maps (1:250,000 scale)
Lac Baudeau 32-P Lac Mesgouez 32-O Baie Abatagouche 32-I
Fires Change Our Route
We were forced to abandon the Tichegami/Little George route in 1993 due to three fires burning at and around the mouth of the Wabissinane River. I do not think that the fires moved very far to the north and would think that the route is still relatively untouched. As I said in the Tichegami River Route, I believe that a day's travel would put you beyond the reaches of that fire. We ran the upper Rupert River instead that year, bumping north overland from Lac Woollett to Lac de La Marée to meet our re-outfit flight. We did not actually run any of the Eastmain that year, just touching its waters at Neoskweskau.
One can also paddle downstream on the Eastmain from Neoskweskau to Lac Nasacauso, and follow an old Cree portage route southwest to the Lemare River and the Rupert.
had no 1:50,000 maps for this route and it was not all covered by the
1:250,000 maps we had. I was given a flight map in Baie du Poste
[Mistassini] by their bush pilot that we used for a good part of the route
from Woollett Lake to Lac de la Marée.
started from Lac Albanel. The cloud of smoke from the fire towered
over the west shore of Lac Mistassini, appearing as a massive, stationary
thunderhead. There is a sport fishing camp run by the Cree in the
bay between the portage onto Lac Mistassini and Carp’s Snowy Point.
The people there were very friendly. They radioed Baie du Poste (my
maps, pulled from the Keewaydin Map Room are dated, and I believe on more
current maps the village is simply called Mistassini) for us to check on
the fires. This was no small feat as it required two radio links and
so everyone had to be around and listening to their radios to get the
messages through. The Cree were keeping a close eye on the fire
because it was threatening some of their winterized trapping cabins.
The season was a little slow, so we were able to get a ride to Baie du
Poste [Mistassini] from one of the Cree guides, Tommy Voyageur, for the
price of gas and a generous tip. The trip is four hours each way by
The manager of the camp was a young Cree man named Ray who was at Canadore
College in North Bay, and so was familiar with the Temagami region where
Keewaydin Camp is located. During the down time between radio
messages we sat with instant coffee and tea (both are included in one cup
in this Cree specialty) and chatted about Ontario.
The traditional Keewaydin approach to this route was from the rail line to the south on the old Oskelaneo Brigade Route. Then Baie du Poste [aka Mistissini or Mistassini] would have been their first re-outfitting stop. In times past Némescau would serve as the second re-outfitting stop for Rupert trips. I am not sure when Neoskweskau was abandoned. I seem to recall seeing a picture of the old village, but I do not recall what year it was taken, or what the source of that memory is. Perhaps it is a pure confabulation. The history of the village is briefly mentioned on the village of Mistissini’s Web page. There are HBC journals of the post's factors from 1793-1820 and 1929-1939 located at the HBC Archives.
||Esker Portage on
the East Channel of the Rupert, south of Lake Capichinatouane.
Photo: Heb Evans
stayed on the east side of Ile Tchapahipane to avoid the smoke from the
fires. The shoreline is beautiful, and many rocky shore terraces
teased us, but we only found two campsites: the first on the north
side of a “tab-shaped” point at 51° 12’ North; and the second
around the point to the south in a sheltered bay. The point is
formed by a mountain/hill marked at 1350 feet on the 1:50,000 maps.
It rises about 200 feet above the lake. The northern site was well
used, with a spruce-boughed tent ring and stove legs in place (wooden
stakes to set a stove on), but was too small for a group of 10. The
southern site was a large beach, with ample room in the moss among the
spruce in the forest beyond for tents.
We were visited here at dusk by a Cree family I had met in Baie du Poste who were on their way out onto the land for an extended stay. The family was crowded, along with furniture, food, and the kitchen sink, into an open “Cree Yamaha” boat, the fiberglass, sloop-style replacements for the old 24-foot cedar-canvas square-back Nor’westers of the Waskaganish canoe works produced by the Cree of Waskaganish. It is my understanding that these were produced in a partnership with Yamaha for a period in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
paddle down Mistassini to Ile de Passe, which is directly across the west
body of the lake from the mouth of the Rupert, can be made from this site
in a relaxed day. The wind on Lac Mistassini is a force to always be
remembered. It was in our face all day. Any stronger and it
would have impeded our progress. The wind has a long way to travel
on the lake, and the waves it pushes along can get dangerously large.
An extra day or two should always be pencilled in for any travel on the
Lake. We stayed, as is always prudent here, close to shore to avoid
the brunt of the breeze.
is a provincial park campsite on Ile de Passe with a lean-to. It is on the
point at the eastern entrance to the narrows between the two bodies of the
lake. These park campsites are, lest you get the wrong idea, quite
“rustic”. The shelters are small-pole barns constructed of local
spruce (as are the ‘picnic benches”) with tarpapered roofs.
These are not the AMA shelters of New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
The spot seems to be very popular with the Cree. Several parties
stopped by en route to set up summer camps. The bush is thick on the
shores of Mistassini, and I am sure that they had planned an evening at
this site. They did not seem interested to stay for a potlatch
though (in fact, one party of young gentlemen, unaware of Steve’s
proficiency with their language, indicated that our coffee tasted like
“muskrat”, and they were quickly on their way). We spent a
welcome rain day here waiting out the fires.
 The trips would come north from Temagami by train to Oskelaneo and then paddle from there. The routes are available in The Keewaydin Way, which is forthcoming in a new expanded edition, or at the Keewaydin Camp Map Room. In 1967, Keewaydin first used the new road to Lake Mistassini and Lake Albanel.
 Source: Steve Springgate, conversations with the Cree in Waskaganish.
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