Leaf Rapids to Lynn Lake Oct. 1 - 6/ 2010

1. Reflection at Dusk

This was my first foray into northern Manitoba via Perimeter Air. I would base my operations out of Leaf Rapids and access elders from several surrounding areas, particularly Lynn Lake, where I hoped to meet and photograph the soon to be, 101 year old Rosie Colomb.

Oct.1/Fri.
Departed Winnipeg on De Havilland Dash8-100 and a few hours later landed in Oxford House. A fellow directed me to the home of Sara Harper about 1 mile down the road. I was instructed to be back by 11:30am. After a 15 min. run/jog, I scrambled up a hill and introduced myself to Kaywina Harper, Sara's daughter. I photographed Sara inside her house, bathed in natural light. She is in her late 90's and still very alert.
Arrived in Thompson early afternoon and was dropped off at the Precambrian Art Building. Marcia Carroll, the owner, and I conversed for a hour while trying to contact Elsie Clement by phone, but to no avail.
I traveled to Leaf Rapids that evening with Lianna Anderson and Gary, community councilor. The normally tedious 2 1/2 hour drive passed quickly because of our animated conversation.
We pulled into Keith Anderson's driveway and discovered Kevin Brownlee and his wife, Myra Sichon, were in town. Secured to their roof rack was a magnificent birch bark canoe they helped construct in Minnesota. The kitchen was heavy with conversation and cigarette smoke late into the evening.

2. Rusty River Cabin: Bertha, Myra, Lianna, Kevin, Gerald, Keith (Layne in front)

Oct.2/Sat.
On this warm, sunny morning I decided to 'pound the asphalt' and photograph some of the latest painted boulders in the community.
Early afternoon a group of us were boating across the Churchill River and arrived at Rusty River Cabin 30 minutes later. It stood majestically, illuminated by the sunlight reflecting off the walls. It is strategically located on a spit of land that I thought initially was an island but is in fact, part of the main land.
We spent the afternoon enjoying the light breeze, warm sun and incredible view from his deck. Keith, with Layne’s help, picked several boxes of potatoes he had nurtured through the summer. I took a walk behind the cabin on the lush carpet of deep green mosses. The quiet in the heavy woods was palpable. I made sure I kept the water in my vision at all times.
Later, Keith took Kevin and me on a 7 minute boat ride to where the Anderson fishing camp was located years ago before the flood. He pointed out where the main building, porch and cellar once stood.
Spencer arrived at an opportune time and took a photo of us on the front deck.
We packed incredibly heavy boxes of potatoes, which would haunt me a few days later, along with our gear.
As the sun began its departure so did we. Little Layne grasped the stern, knees tucked under her tiny body as we knifed through the water. The brilliance of the setting sun grew as we neared home, creating swaths of yellows, oranges and reds across the clouds.
It was a fabulous day, enjoying good friends and the pallete of autumn colors in northern Manitoba.

Oct.3/Sun.
Kevin and Myra left for Winnipeg to much fanfare. Myra had been working in the community for three weeks making for a teary eyed departure.
That afternoon I strolled through the trails. I arrived at the ‘Rock Gardens’ then a beautiful pond. I came upon a forest of young pine trees, average height 3 to 4 feet. Obviously a fire had decimated the area several years earlier.
Just before closing Lianna took me to ‘Fields’, the local store, which has just about every knickknack you can imagine. I purchased cigarettes and blankets for the elders I hoped to meet in the coming week.
Dennis and I discussed our plan of attack for our excursion to Lynn Lake the following day.

3. Chief: Andrew Colomb and Rosie 4. Alex Thomas and Gerald 5. Ex-Chief John Colomb

Oct.4/Mon.
Tim Horsley made breakfast for Keith, Dennis and me at his mother’s home. Tim would be taking on Dennis’ responsibilities for the day.
Dennis Anderson and I loaded up the Avalanche and headed to Lynn lake. One hour later we were cruising its quiet main street. The community is a shadow of its former self when nickel and gold were king. Being early we headed down to the boat dock for photos of the deathly still waters which spawned mirror-like reflections in the lake.
We arrived at the home of the Chief of the Marcel Colomb Band (Black Sturgeon), Andrew Colomb. We agreed to meet his mother, Rosie, currently staying at the Lynn Lake Hospital. Three of her sons have been Chiefs. Rosie would be 101 in November.
At the Lynn Lake Hospital I found my portrait of Charlie Learjaw on the wall. Charlie had passed away in this hospital years ago. Then Andrew took me to Rosie’s room and introduced me to her. She is blind but mentally sharp. After some preparation Rosie was wheeled outside where I photographed this delightful woman in sunlight.
Next we found John Colomb. I briefly interviewed him before he left for his cabin.
Lastly Dennis took me to the home of Alex Thomas, from Brochet. After my interview in his kitchen, I photographed him outside. Alex has the piercing gaze of a hunter so it was no surprise his greatest joy is to be on the land hunting and trapping.
We landed back in Leaf Rapids by early evening.

Lynn Lake 6. Mirror-like Lake 7. Quiet Main Street 8. Ore Drop Off to Rail Line

Oct.5/Tues.
Early morning Dennis and I knocked on his uncle Oscar's door. Oscar's considerable reputation preceded him. My 1 hour interview with him was exceptional. Oscar invited me to stay with him and his wife, Carolyn, the next time I came to town.
Later I decided to visit the Exhibition Center and meet with Christine, the curator. I was in pain from what I believed was a mild hernia so halted only 3 streets from home. Remarkably, Christine stopped next to me in her truck so we carried on our business on the street. Afterwards I gingerly made my way home and kept a low profile for much of the day.

Oct.6/Wed.
Dennis convinced me to bring my camera to my interview with Thomas Bird, from Granville Lake. It was fortunate because shortly, the sun did appear. Les Baker dropped by and assisted as he and Thomas hunted, fished and trapped together for many years. I photographed Thomas Bird on the street outside his home.
After packing my gear into the Avalanche, Keith, Dennis and I drove to the Town Complex where I said goodbye to Bertha and Lianna. Talked briefly with Tim’s mother, Pat Horsely (Chief Admin. Officer).
The Anderson brothers drove me to Lynn Lake. Along the way we decided to drop in at John Colomb’s cabin. We parked the truck and strolled down the hill to his cabin. Not finding John, we continued to town.
Soon after arriving we spotted John Colomb working behind a house. I was able to photograph him sporting a fur hat. It was the perfect match for John’s jet black hair.
I was dropped off at the small terminal and departed at 1:30pm.
Had a three hour stopover in Thompson and a brief stop in Oxford House before arriving in Winnipeg at the Perimeter Terminal at 7:30pm.
A big thank you to Perimeter Air for the flight arrangements. It was a very productive trip!

9. My Bro's: Dennis Anderson and Keith Anderson 10. Thomas Bird 11. Painted Boulder - Leaf Rapids

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