East Arm Travelling Traditions – guest blog by Barb Cameron
There is always something very special about being together with friends and family on the land. Trips to the East Arm have been a tradition for me for many years now. Most of our destinations have been chosen for the remote and pristine wilderness camping, exceptional trout fishing and to experience the dramatic scenery. Camping at Quiet Cove, fishing the Waldron River, visiting the Olesen family at the Hoarfrost River homestead and hiking the Lockhart River to Tyrell Falls are among some of my favourite destinations. Some of these places are well over 150 – 200 miles from home and that means extra careful logistics and planning. It’s always been well worth the extra time and preparation, because now I have so many great East Arm memories to cherish and share with others. We sometimes call this place the “Land of the Giants”, because it’s so easy to feel small and humble in the enchanted expanse of land and water that surrounds us.
Large islands, steep, rocky cliffs and cold, deep water combine to create a compelling sense of wonder, beauty and power on the East Arm.
We pass by places named Devil’s Channel, Magic Finger, Emerald Cove, Lost Channel and Shelter Bay, which add to the sense of mystery. Aptly named, Thaidene Nene (“land of our ancestors” in Chipewyan) at the east end of Great Slave Lake offers constant reminders of how people travelled and lived here before us, and how they continue to do so today. Strong spiritual beliefs are connected to the landscape with stories that are best told by the people of the Akaitcho territory. Remnants from the past can be discovered on traditional trails, portages, campsites, abandoned villages, graveyards and historical trading posts.
I’ve been privileged and lucky enough to have experienced travel to this end of Great Slave Lake in varied seasons and styles: by voyageur canoe, dog team and by power boat to many special fishing and camping destinations. Over the years, it’s been increasingly important for me to be able to get to some of these places to learn about the history and culture that surrounds us. More importantly now, is the opportunity to teach my son about some of life’s great lessons that can only be learned on the land. Together, we fish, hike, pick berries and spend time making camp and cooking meals over a fire. As summer approaches, I look forward to new adventures with the gang and especially with my son, Charlie.
— Barb Cameron is a long-time Yellowknifer who loves the land.