Tag Archives: Trapline

October Canoe Ride to the Trapline

As a boy living in Hall Lake or La Ronge, my family would pack up to go to the trapline in October. We would gather what we need and usually take a taxi to Pisew Lake. At the time, I would kind of dreaded going because I loved watching TV. I would miss the shows I watched, but I would especially miss wrestling and kung fu movies. I loved those type of shows.

My family would have to make the trip by canoe across the lake at Pisew Lake. It was amazing having to travel by canoe. It would take two canoes or one big canoe to take us and our supplies to make the trip. I remember we were waiting at the landing for a time before we saw my uncles travelling toward us from across the lake.

While we waited, I would look at the wonderous scenery of autumn. The leaves blowing away on the grassy/gravel road toward the landing would sometimes conjure up small dust devils, I would call them “little tornadoes”.

The trees would slowly lose their summertime companions as they would be in different shades of orange and yellow. My sisters and I would run around catching them in our hands.

The rustling of leaves had forever ingrained in my mind, the memories of those few times. Today, I can stand for many moments and listen to the rustling of brightly coloured leaves and stare at them in the vibrant sunlight. The nostalgia of it all fills my mind and heart with good feelings and the yearning to bring back the old days. I am happy I got to enjoy the wonderful experience as a child, at a place where there was very little in the way of crowds, buildings and traffic.

As we travelled on the lake with the canoes, the beautiful sight of the trees at the shores seemed almost magical. At the time, I felt that God had done a great job in creating the earth just for us to enjoy. Such perfection and grace. I would feel totally relaxed and was oblivious to those around me.

 

There was little talking during the trip. I appreciated it because sounds from the trickling water from the canoe gliding over the rippling water was delightful. The wind on the leaves was gentle music to me ears. The sight of the trees from the far shore was mesmerizing because it would seem like the trees nearest you were moving faster than the trees further into the forest.

 

The sun seemed to follow us in the sky and on the lake as it reflected beautifully; following us and taking care of us as it kept us warm during a usually chilly autumn. I did not miss watching TV at those times.

My sister Mary’s photo. I just had to share it.

We did not have a camera back then, but if we did, I would have certainly taken as many pictures as I could. The memories are thankfully vivid and there is not always a need to take pictures. All you need, is to stand there in a similar setting and take it all in. I am thankful for all the memories.

mistik – tree

mistikwak – trees

nīpiy – leaf

nīpiya – leaves

takwākin – fall

sākāhikan – lake

wāsakām – shore

pimiskā – paddle

īpimiskācik – they are paddling on a canoe

cv

Nimosōm and April Fools at the Trapline

When I was a boy staying at the trapline in Pisew Lake, I rarely ever heard about April Fools Day. It was not something nimosōm would talk about so much but when he did, he called it kithāskīwi kīsikāw, literally “lying day” or “day of lying.” Even then, I do not remember any jokes or pranks being played on anyone.

nimosōm – my grandfather Charlie Ross

My memory is very faint on this one, but nimosōm might have asked the family in the cabin if it was April Fool’s Day, “ī- kithāskīwi kīsikāk cī ōma?” I believe one of my uncles answered or it may have been one of my aunties, that it was April Fools Day. I cannot verify if this is how the conversation went, it was so long ago. I wish I could remember who nimosōm was talking about regarding kithāskīwi kīsikāw, it must have been funny because nohkom was laughing at his story. I wish I could go back and hear all the stories again. I missed out on so many stories, at least remembering would be great. I could see nimosōm’s shoulders bounce up and down as he laughed a hardy laugh at his own stories. Great times.

This time of year would be when our family would be waiting for mithoskamin – break-up. I spend many evenings looking out on the lake watching the possible unsafe ice that my parents warned me about. I listened to their warnings for the most part. I could not imagine being able to pull myself out of broken ice and from the freezing cold-water underneath.

break-up

Already things were winding down with our stay, my parents were already talking about going back home. My sisters, Susan and Mary, and I would be missing our cousin Flora-Jean and our auntie Elsie. It may have been that previous winter that Elsie took us sliding for new year’s day, down a very steep hill. Our aunt Alice would take us trapping nearby for martin.

In the cool evenings, nimosōm and I would be sitting around in the cabin. He would tell the most interesting stories that kept me intrigued for many hours over the course of the previous winter. After break-up, it would soon be time to go back to the rez and back to school in La Ronge. Nimosōm would be sad to see me go.

 

kithāskīwi kīsikāw – April Fools Day (literally lying day)

“i- kithāskīwi kīsikāk cī ōma?” – Is it April Fools Day?

mithoskamin– break-up

nimosōm – my grandfather

nohkom – my grandmother

 

 

Cold in the Cabin

It is a cold day today and I am glad I was provided with a teacherage to bring my family together. The girls have their rooms, and my wife does not have to deal young people coming in and out of our oldest daughters house.

It is 15 ᴼC, 23 with the windchill. My daughter and I were staying at the cabin while my wife and other daughter stayed at our oldest daughter’s house. Right now, I would be busy keeping the cabin warm for my daughter by making sure the fire was going. Having those thoughts reminds me of the struggles (my struggles) at the cabin we lived in at the trapline when I was a child.

The mornings were always cold, even if nimosōm put a fresh birch log in the stove to slowly burn through the night, it would be cold. There would be the odd time when the weather would be nice, but those days were few and far between. It was better than living in a tent, which we had done before the cabin was built, so it was good. A cabin beats an old canvas-tent anytime.

I was too young to make the fire at the time, but many times the fire would already be going by the time I got up. It was a nice surprise to wake up to. Nimosōm was already getting pretty old at the time but his pride would not stop him from being the man and taking care of what needed to be done. My father was the same way, when we moved into the house in Hall Lake, he made sure we always had firewood.

He would use his skidoo to get wood. Later as I got older, he would set up the wood in the bush and have me make the trips to haul the logs back to the house. Those were fun times because I got to use the snow machine. A few times I had to take my little brother because he was a King or something.

I am not sure what kind of chores my sisters did. I am not even sure if they did anything. I would ask, but I am sure they have some tall tales about how much work they did. Besides, I am sure they did not know what kind of chores I had to do, which included hauling water from the lake and chopping wood. I love my sisters of course, and I am sure they had much work to do, I just did not pay attention.

It is windy outside right now and maybe that is what is reminding me of the past. The crisp-cold air and icy wind would easily freeze the nose and earlobes. We always had plenty of knitted mitts and toques so we would be good and warm as long as we remembered to take them along. It would be easy to forget when it was not so cold and being excited to go sliding. It would not take long to realize we had to run and get the toques we needed and run right back to the hill for more fun sliding.

I remember my earlobes would freeze and later swell twice the thickness they were before and were quite tender. My mom would tell me I should have learned by then that I should remember the toque, at least I always remembered my mitts.

Today is November 11, 2020, Remembrance Day. A day to remember our veterans. Have a great day.

my grandfather – nimosōm

my mother:

nikāwiy

nimāmā (the way we say it here, northern sask)

my father;

nohtāwiy

nipāpā (the way we say it here, northern sask)

My younger sister and my younger brother (one term for both) – nisīmis

nimosōm owāskahikanis – grandfather’s cabin

thōtin – it is windy

tahkāyāw – it is cold

 

IMAGES:

Mitts – Image by Trang Le from Pixabay

Snowmobile image – Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Firewood – Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Living in a Cabin

I am currently staying in a cabin behind my parent’s house. It has a wood stove and an extension cord to provide electricity for light and the computer my daughter uses and for my laptop. It’s not exactly roughing it, but it is quite a change from the big teacherage I was staying in last month.

The nights are getting colder and I need to get the stove going usually in the late evening or early morning. My daughter doesn’t mind staying in the cabin, which is a surprise to me because I expected her to be more, how would I say, more modern? Anyway, I am glad she doesn’t complain even when it is cold or when a drunk comes knocking trying to bum a cigarette. I am proud of her resilience and I keep saying we are going to get an apartment in La Ronge soon.

The nights remind me of when I used to stay in the cabin in the trapline. All wrapped up in the blanket in a cocoon waiting for nimosōm (grandfather) or nipāpā (father) to make the fire and warm up the cabin. I loved the porridge and brown sugar we would have for breakfast. I was allowed sweet tea as a child and I loved that too. The day would start with preparation to go check out rabbit snares. I loved that too and the excitement of getting a rabbit. The times we travelled by canoe, we stayed near the shore and would see beavers and muskrats. Nimosōm would usually shoot whatever he saw, and for good reason, we needed all the food we could get for the coming months.

This fall season brings me back to those days but when I step out, I see the houses here in Hall Lake and realize all the changes that have taken place in our small community. This community was one of our stops when we would be going to or coming back from Pisew Lake.

Speaking of Pisew Lake, I took my father there in early September because he was going to canoe around the lake to do some hunting and to see the area he grew up in.

Unfortunately, I didn’t go with him because I had work and there is no way that little canoe would hold us both on the surface of the lake. It was a beautiful day that day and he must have enjoyed and relished the chance to see his old stomping grounds.

My father had a camera with him, and he managed to take a few pictures before his battery died.

Thank you for visiting the website. With the winter months coming, I hope to get some inspiration for more blogs and stories.

Have a great October!

CV

Isolation in the Trapline

I remember as a boy, we would be isolated for weeks. Living off the land: fish, ducks and various animals would provide what we needed. We needed supplies from town of course like flour, sugar, toiletries and lard. nimosom would get ready to go to La Ronge Robertson’s Trading post to go see Alec to trade his furs.

He used to ask me what I wanted and I would tell him: “bananas and coke.” He would bring me a one litre of Coca-Cola and a bunch of bananas, but I was the oldest of my siblings, I had to share what I had.

For me, going to the trapline in this dire time is no longer an option. I have not been to any trapline since I was a teenager and I am sure I would have trouble getting by without supplies and I have not shot a gun in years. I still remember how to snare rabbits and and how to fish. Hunting would be a difficult because I probably get lost or scare away the game.

Being isolated would be desirable in these times of the virus scare and I would feel assured of a better chance of survival until it blows over. However, if it were to continue on and on, supplies would become scarce and there would be less options for meals.

I have worked as a web developer for many years and I am in a place where I can work from home to make a living. Living in trapline would mean getting cut off from technology unless I invested on solar power and satellite equipment. Fuel and batteries would need to be purchased at a high cost and I would have to sacrifice much of my comforts to do so. I have a family of four to provide for but my wife is awesome with preparing meat. Our teamwork would be essential. My girls would be completely inept but they would have to learn fast.

Anyway, I am rambling to get some thoughts from my head. Please take care and try to stay safe.

 

cv

Call for Stories on Trapline Cabins

Artwork by Molly Ratt – Follow the link to see her Facebook page

This is a call for stories on trapline cabins. I want you to share stories of your time in a trapline cabin. All stories are welcome. It would be great to hear about your time in a trapline cabin. You can write about anything you want from how and when it was built, or maybe just the times your family traveled to the cabin during certain seasons. While I would like to publish all stories, there are a few guidelines I would like to inform you about.

  • I cannot offer remuneration or a prize, but I will publish shared stories as deemed appropriate.
  • I will give full credit and a link to your Facebook profile.
  • It needs to be between 150 to 1000 words. I can be flexible on this, in the case of several short stories, I will combine stories into one page on the website.
  • Appropriate language is encouraged
  • Happy stories are encouraged but sad stories will not be refused
  • Deadline is March 27, 2020, but I will add stories before that date over the weekends.
  • No real need to be formal, but I will make minor edits if needed. This is a story telling website, not an English class.
  • Please inbox me your stories and I will reply during evenings and weekends. I am a full-time teacher and I do not go on Facebook during the day. You can also email me the original document to cv2k@hotmail.com Please write subject as “trapline cabin”

Just a note that this is not a contest, it is more of a chance to share your story with us.

A big thank you to Tom Ballantyne for giving me the idea. I hope you decide to share your story with us at some point.

Making a Cabin in the Trapline – My early memories

As a very young boy, I remember when nimosōm – my grandfather, started getting his cabin built across the lake from the Pisew Lake landing. Before that, we had been staying in canvas tents up until freeze-up. That next spring, nimosōm and okosisa – his sons, started preparing the area where the new cabin would be built.

I pretty much stayed out of the way because I was too small to help with anything. I wanted to get in on the action that was happening, but I just listened and observed from time to time. I remember the bark being peeled off the logs and the ground getting leveled. nipāpā – my father, is a carpenter so he was very busy with everything that needed to be done. nohkomisak – my uncles, Simon and Abel, were also helping with the cabin and I saw much hauling of logs, boards and sand.

The sand was a curious thing for me at the time because I wondered what the heck they would be using that for. I noticed later that they were putting it on the roof to absorb rainfall. Right away, I thought that maybe the sand would be too heavy and fall through, but the logs they used for the roof were strong enough. It was all very fascinating to me at the time. To see this kind of cooperation was great. They had their little conflicts, but they seemed to resolve them adequately, I did cower a bit when their voices were raised but it was all good.

When it was all done, it looked beautiful. It was bigger than the other old cabins that were nearby. In the winter, it had a canvas tent porch, so that the cabin would have a type of insulation from the bitter cold.

I remember one winter, nohkomis – my uncle Abel, told nisikos – my aunt Elsie, to make a pair of boxing gloves out of cloth and foam material. nohkomis Abel, challenged me to a friendly boxing match. I put up mu dukes and we battled it out and had fun. Unfortunately, my uncle got a bit too zealous and started punching me a little too much. His last punch knocked me on my butt and I banged the side of my head on a small stove. There was no fire at the time, but I was bawling my head off. nohkomis and nisikos, quickly got me some snacks they had stashed away, they needed to keep me quiet and not to tell on them. Great times.

My sisters and nitawīmāw, my cousin, Flora, would still walk back and forth from the cabin to the tent site to visit family. nohkomisak stayed in the tents during the fall and we had to walk along the shore to get there. kotak nisikos, my other aunt, Alice, may have noticed we were getting bored because after a while, she told us that we were going to learn how to set traps for a sākwīsiw – a mink.

I had watched traps being set by my uncles and grandfather and I had set rabbit snares, but I had never set a trap before. I remember feeling unsure about myself because I did not want to get my hand trapped on a leg-hold trap. I reluctantly went along as my sister and cousin seemed more enthusiastic, although they might have been faking it because Alice was a disciplinarian, and we did not want to set her off. Of course, now I realize that she has a kind heart and to this day, always does well at the fish derbies we have in our community. By the way, we never did catch the mink because we soon had to go back to La Ronge. I never asked my aunt Alice if she caught the mink.

I asked nipāpā about the cabin last night, and he said it had burned down. There was another cabin built but it had rotted away somehow. A third cabin was built with the help of my old pal Adam Joe and my cousin Richard. My grandfather loved staying at the trapline, and he went until he couldn’t go there anymore.

nimosōm – my grandfather

okosisa – his/her sons

nipāpā – my father

nisikos – my aunt

nohkomis – my uncle

kotak – other, as in “my other” or “the other”

nitawīmāw – my female cousin (father’s brother’s daughter)

sākwīsiw – a mink

 

Blurb about my Storytelling and nimosōm – My Grandfather

nimosōm – my grandfather used to tell me so many stories about people that lived here or near here. He was a great storyteller and may have taken many liberties with the details. I loved to hear those stories and made my imagination very active with thought and wonder. I give credit to those stories to the storytelling I do with this website, passing on a tradition in a modern way. I also used to tell stories to my children off the top of my head, just to entertain them. I have forgotten more stories than I have on this website.

I remember one story about Hall Lake, where he told me that when he arrived on the lake from a portage, he heard a moose splashing around the shore of the lake. He went further and heard another moose going into the lake in another part of the lake. He heard one more near the mouth of one of the rivers, we have two but he didn’t say which one. I could not imagine that happening in this day and age, nor the time he was telling me the story because there were already many houses and people on the reserve. By the way, Hall Lake in Cree, is mōso-sākahikanisīsihk, according to my late grandfather.

Hall Lake – mōso-sākahikanisīsihk

nimosōm  – my grandfather

 

 

 

 

Halloween at the Trapline – cīpay tipiskāw wanihikīskanahk

As a boy, kāmikiskak – freeze-up time, was hit and miss at the trapline because during October we had to stay on land. Sometimes we were grounded for weeks on end. One year, we were actually at the trapline for a Halloween. nimosōm ikwa nōhkom – my grandfather and grandmother, kept bringing up cīpay tipiskāw – Halloween (literal translation is ghost night).

There would be talk of ghosts coming around and how they would move things or make noises in the dark corners of the cabins. It was all very scary for a boy and my imagination ran wild with fear when I thought too much of it. My father had made us a bunkbed and I got the top of this makeshift bunkbed.

That night, I kept thinking of all the little things that I heard that day about ghosts and demons and started imagining these things. Suffices to say, I had a very scary night that night and wanted so bad to sleep so it would be over and done with.

kāmikiskak – freeze-up time

cīpay tipiskāw wanihikīskanahk – Halloween at the Trapline

cīpay tipiskāw – Halloween (literal translation is ghost night)

 

Sources:

SIX SEASONS IN WOODLAND CREE (LA RONGE, SK)

First Fall of Snow – instam kāmispok

Today we had the first major snowfall in Hall Lake. I woke up to the world covered in snow. I almost posted a picture for my FB friends who do not have a window but that is a joke I overused already, and I don’t want to get banned from Facebook.

I took a few pictures that I will show here, on my website because I love showing my pictures on my website as opposed to just uploading them to FB. It gives me more control over my own content. I like my intellectual property to stay mine, but I have given up many pictures to Facebook. I just need to keep my tech skills sharp in case they are needed again to make a living.

I remember as a boy looking out at the landscape at the trapline and watching the first fall of snow, I would always get a lonely feeling from it. It reminded me of the old Hank Williams song that my uncle Abel used to sing, “At the First Fall of Snow.” I can still hear him singing and walking along the trail to nimosōm’s cabin. My uncle is still alive today and he lives just down the road. I still see him walking from time to time, but he doesn’t sing anymore.

This reminds me that I have some stories I wanted to share about my uncle, but I will have to ask him first. Maybe he has some ideas too about what I can write, thank you for visiting.

Ikosi,