Last Thursday I had lunch with an elderly member of my congregation. Millie is in her 90’s, still lives alone and is able to get around quite well. When I asked her how she first came to Alaska she simply smiled and said “we canoed”.<br />
The story is that in 1939 she and her husband married at her family cabin on an island in the Seattle area. They then loaded their cedar strip 17 foot 34 inch beam canoe and headed north. The canoe was made by the Wilson brothers who according to Millie was the best canoe of the day. <br />
The trip took four months “it was about the adventure not the calendar “ Millie said. They would paddle for a couple weeks then befriend someone at a light house or remote cabin offering to house sit or baby sit while the family went into town for supplies. <br />
I asked about the big open waters like Queen Charlotte Sound. She simply smiled and said they waited a day or so there till the weather was right. They had trouble in one spot and took on a lot of water but survived. <br />
I asked her what was the most difficult part of the trip and her answer was “finding accurate Canadian charts”<br />
I asked if she had ever thought about writing a story about her trip but she is content to just share it with friends.<br />
If you think about it was a remarkable journey, from Seattle to Ketchikan by open canoe. Even with today’s high tech equipment, Kevlar, gore tex, carbon fiber paddles ect. I doubt many of us would be will to under such an adventure in an open boat. Listening to her story I felt quite humbled.<br />

That is impressive. That would be quite a tale. I would wonder what they considered too rough (waves). Thanks for sharing.

Letting nature pick the schedule
Hearing of their journey is humbling, but it was they who were humble, too. That probably helped them befriend people on the way.

Speaking of canoes, we met a guy named Don who spoke of paddling a heavily-laden canoe (including his dog) from Skagway to Kake and spending the winter “living off the land.” He has little or no canoeing experience. We tried to impress upon him how much work it would be to unload the 400 lbs of gear he said he intended to haul and drag it up and down the rocky shores. Not sure he understood about how much effect the tides would have on his progress. By this time, he should have finished his equipment test, which consists of paddling from Skagway to Haines. Maybe you will see him in Petersburg.

next time…
next time you get the chance to talk with Millie take along a small hidden tape recorder and ask her to tell you about her trip again. Oral history like that should not be forgotten, who knows, maybe some museum in the N.W. would help with the project.

The Way
Old School equiptment, Old School attitudes.

Bless her heart!