North to Cree Lake


Barrenland Caribou. Barrenland Caribou.

In mid-September 1974, Ed Theriau and I drove out of Ile-a-la-Crosse village on a dirt road, looking for the old white man's graveyard which we both knew was located on a point of land across the small bay from the village itself. Neither of us had ever been there, and our first efforts to find the site were unsuccessful. We stopped at the modern fish processing plant that stands nearby and enquired of a young Indian workman if he knew of the cemetery. He took us to a dim trail, just across the road. We waded uphill through waist-high grass and head-high underbrush until we found a rusty metal gate lying on the ground. Then we saw the small plot, enclosed by a dilapidated fence.

The long, coarse grass had turned orange with autumn and the leaves of aspen and birch formed a wall of blended orange and yellow on all sides, in full glory of colour now, but soon to fade with the oncoming winter. Six tombstones, weathered and dark, protruded somberly above the grass. These were the memorials of some of the northerners of days gone by, among them, trappers of the far North.

The roar of an ice-making machine could be heard in the distance where the fish-packing plant stood. Here, in contrast, we stood among the last visible relics of a forgotten era.

I pulled the grass covering away from the face of one of the monuments, and read the inscription. We had found what we had been looking for. Here was the tombstone of Ed's old friend, Arvid.


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"Date Modified: May 11, 2020."

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