Map: Sutton River

Sketches: Jon Berger

Photos: Tom Terry

Clues From the Past 

To find a route from the Washagami watershed, they knew from old reports and interviews that they were also looking for the old Indian route from the Winisk and Ekwan Rivers to the Sutton River. They had found a 1912 Geological Survey of Canada report and a late 1960s Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources' report. They also spoke to Mike Hunter, a Peawanuck Cree who is superintendent of Polar Bear Wilderness Provincial Park. They were also traveling across his family's ancestral territory. It was clear that the Little Ekwan was too small and obstructed to be a route. But the North Washagami River turned out to be a canoe route and there was a cross-over to Sutton near the headwaters of the Little Ekwan. They uncovered three possible routes. 

On an aerial photo they identified a relic beach ridge that could have held a sand trail mentioned in the 1912 report. After 40 years traveling northwestern Ontario exploring routes for their work-in-progress Canoe Atlas of the Little North, Tom and Jon had finely-honed instincts and they decided to try this route.

They left the North Washagami River where they expected the old route to start but were met with open muskeg. They set off looking for the ridge on the aerial photo.

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