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June 30 2005

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We had a good visit in Hay River and learned more about Great Slave Lake.  It is the second largest lake entirely in Canada at 11031 square miles (28570 square km), also 300 miles (485 km) long, and the deepest lake in North America to 2015‘ (614m) with hundreds of islands. 

Hay River has a population of about 3500 and has a 17 story building which is an anomaly for up here.  Met a lot of interesting people here, including 2 guys that have never worked on land, they have fished and worked on ships, one from Newfoundland and the other from Nova Scotia.  Also, Mike Whittaker, a tug boat captain with many years of experience.  He gave us a tour of his 6000 hp tug boat and passed along a lot of advice and a generous navigational gift.  Ken Zubko is another long time sailor.  Inuvik international airport is named after his father.  The fishing boats here are again different from other areas we have seen.  Generally steel hulls with a work deck on the front half of the boat and a wooden wheelhouse/cabin behind.  Sam owns such a boat named “Sunk Once” that he pulled from the bottom of the Slave River to rebuild and cruise the lake with his wife.  Stephanie at the tourist office was very helpful and believed us even when her mother said there is no way they put wheels on their boat. 

Also met a group of 3 journalists from Calgary that for Alberta’s 75th birthday climbed Mount Columbia (the highest point in the province).  Now for Alberta’s 100th they are going to the lowest point in Alberta and collect some sand from near Fort Smith and take it once again to the tallest point in Alberta, Mount Columbia to deposit it. 

Bea Lepine greeted us soon after we tied to the dock on our arrival  with the “unofficial welcoming committee”.  She was generous and gave us rides into town with her dog Sailor.

We fueled up, watered up, groceried up and did our e-mail.

The trip across the lake to the Mackenzie River was very nice, no wind and a partly cloudy sky.  Once we got into the river it was almost like glass and the higher than normal water level to the trees gave it a beautiful look.  The water is still clear from the lake and we are told it is rocky to Norman Wells and then silt bottom from there on.

After coming up empty on both Lake Athabasca and Great Slave Lake John Laninga returned to his familiar fishing grounds on the Mackenzie River near Fort Providence and his luck changed.  After feeling the pressure as the other members were catching a multitude of fish he finally ended the day with the largest fish.  A seven pound Northern Pike (jackfish).

Our next stop was Fort Providence where we were all excited to see wild buffalo roaming the streets.  Coincidentally as we arrived we were met by the only person John knew in the town.  We didn’t stay long but Corinne, Gladys, and John stayed behind to travel back to Grande Prairie.

Kevin, Ben, and Brad left on the morning of 27th and after a few hours were waved down older Indian man with some freshly caught fish.  We bought a nice walleye but forgot to take his picture.

We reached Fort Simpson at 13:30 on June 28th, 25 years since the last time.  We waited for the arrival of 8 family members.