Henry and Mary Fortin had been living in a log cabin in South Knife Lake for five years when Wilfred was born on the trap line in 1939. Jake began following his parents at a young age. “Mom and dad were always hunting and I would tag along with my .22 and hunt small animals.”

Henry passed away in 1954 and two years later, with fur prices dropping, the Fortin family moved to Churchill. Although Jake remained in the bush trapping, he returned to Churchill after one year. Jake found employment with various construction companies performing contract work for the military. During the fall and winter, however, Jake was back in the bush trapping till the spring. During the next three decades, Jake worked in northern communities as a commercial fisherman, heavy equipment operator, mechanic and airport manager, all while maintaining his trap line.

Jake married Betsy in 1967 in Churchill and the couple had four children. Many years later, after the couple separated, Jake married Joanne in Winnipeg. The Fortins moved to Churchill to work in the port while Joanne worked for the local hospital. In 2005 they landed in Leaf Rapids but five years later had to relocate to Dauphin because better medical facilities were available.

After a life that has taken him over much of northern Manitoba, Jake stated, “I loved everything about the bush. Every day I might catch something.” He added with a laugh, “I never got lost in the bush …. I got turned around a few times, though.”


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Wilfred 'Jake' Fortin
Dene, South Knife Lake
Image size: 11 x 13 inches
Edition size: 275