Log #55a Leaving Toronto to Winnipeg

August 26, 2012 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 55, The Logs



Skagway, Alaska, U.S.A.

Aug. 26, 2012

Hi Folks,

We are here, actually back in Alaska as there is no road access to Skagway, except through B.C. We have completed most of our travels across Canada, to the Arctic (Inuvik) over to Dawson City and then Alaska, and back into the Yukon to Whitehorse, then down here to Skagway. We were frustrated today as we wanted to catch a whale-watching excursion to Juneau, but it was filled for the next three days, so we will return to Whitehorse tomorrow to get some repairs done.

Oh yes, we had major problems with an accident getting off the ferry at the Mackenzie River crossing in the North West Territory and scraping the back of the trailer on the steel ramp, tearing off our stabilizing jacks, bending the bumper, and bending the frame of the trailer as well as putting the double axles out of line. As a result, we can no longer close our rear compartment (without jacking it up with a two ton hydraulic jack) (see attached picture), the door step is falling off (we now use a plastic folding step), the pullout does not close properly (we have to secure it with two pieces of 2×4), and we have destroyed and replaced three tires on the trailer.

3_Bent_rear_bumper    1_Crushed_left_rear_angle_bracket  4_two_rear_support_arm_twister_off_the_worm_gear

We thought we could have it fixed in Whitehorse, but the mechanic said the trailer would probably be a write-off as the expense to repair it would be too great; if we chose to repair it the process would probably take a month or so. So, we will see what our insurance company does for us. We will return to Whitehorse tomorrow and hope to have at least the axles realigned so we can travel down to Vancouver, where we can get a final assessment and possibly buy another trailer with the write-off settlement if that is the insurance decision. Lots of fun!

This will be the last log I send out to my present mailing list. After this I will send the logs only to those who have responded they wish to be kept on the mailing list. I will send out a notice to the others when I have updated my website for you to access it on the web.

All the best,


Log #55a Leaving Toronto to Winnipeg

Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon Territory

July 31, 2012

This is the first of a new log series #55 about our trip by trailer across Canada. It will not follow the same format as my sailing logs, but will be a compilation of our travels out west, up to the Yukon and North West Territories, and back down to the lower B.C. mainland, and our land travels for 2012 in our trailer. As you can see from the date I started this and the location, we are well on our way, and have enjoyed the last two months since leaving Toronto May 31st.

Tetlin National Wildlife Reserve, Alaska

Aug. 20/12

This is the first time I have taken to update this log as we have been very busy travelling over 3300 Km of gravel roads in the Yukon, North West Territories and Alaska. More about this in later logs.


After two months in the parking lot of the Mission to Seafarers, we were finally ready to leave. From there we enjoyed the view of the Toronto skyline and a family of racoons that burrowed beneath a wooden patio.
We had all our medical and dental check-ups completed, with good bills of health, prescriptions renewed for a 12 month period as we don’t expect to be back until May or June next year, and taxes done. We purchased a small red Kevlar canoe we call Tanager, mounted on our roof racks and electric motor and deep cycle battery stored in the garage, a large compartment in the back of the trailer. We bought a couple of life jackets, anchor, emergency kit and two wooden paddles which I sanded down and gave six coats of varnish (Judy painted a flower on hers before the varnishing). We made a few presentations of our cruising lifestyle and of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Mayan sites to several groups, and visited with many family and friends.

For the trailer we purchased a heavy duty battery charger, a 12 volt tire air pump, a two ton hydraulic jack, a 1000 watt Honda generator, extra long battery jumper cables, a Coleman propane camping heater, a five gallon jerry can, and a tire repair kit. See the back of the trailer with our “garage door” open and the generator charging the batteries.

We wanted to be prepared for all emergencies, whether they be flat tires, dead batteries, or no propane. (In retrospect, I wish we had purchased a 2000 watt generator so we could use electrical appliances such as the micro wave or electric tea kettle rather than just using it to charge our batteries.)

After a pleasant farewell party at the trailer (see attached picture), we were ready to go.



We left Toronto May 31 to visit my sister in North Bay, and my foster son in Sudbury. We were in local RV parks for both visits. We had an unfortunate accident in the one in North Bay. It was a full hookup, which means there are water electricity and sewer connections, and in some locations TV and internet as well. Happiness is internet access from the trailer. Anyways, the accident was with our sewer hookup. The line disconnected at the trailer and sewage from our holding tank (the two months in Toronto) spilled all over the grass behind the trailer. I hosed it down but there was still quite a smell. Thankfully the light breeze blew away from the trailer.

The visits were good, as I only see them about once a year, and my granddaughter Amanda will be graduating from High School and off to Laurentian University in the fall in a French immersion teacher training degree program. All the best Amanda!

We stopped off in Espanola to see the old town where we met over 32 years ago, and continued on to spend a couple of days with Peter and Anne Harris, old friends of ours, in their lovely lakeside chalet near the small Lake Huron north shore town of Spanish. Peter is a very enterprising individual who built the home (a stone mansion) himself. It is heated with a wood burning boiler system plus a couple of airtight wood burning stoves. See the pictures below of his  lovely situation looking at his home from the lake and looking out at the lake from his home.

Log_55a_Peters_home_from_the_water          Log_55a_View_from_Peters_chalet

One of his friends took us for an afternoon motor around a few of the adjoining lakes in a comfortable catamaran pontoon boat (see attached picture below).

I love the northern country.

Log_55a_reflecting_water_in_Northern_Ontario                                  Log_55a_Precambrian_shield_rock_in_Northern_Ontario

Onwards we went through Sault St. Marie and across the north shore of Lake Superior, admiring from land the shoreline we sailed in 1998, the year we left in Veleda for our prolonged voyages.


We had a puncture in our right front tire efficiently repaired at a GM dealership in Dryden, the first of several flat or blown tires to come on this trip. ( We have had more flat tires on this trip than all the other flat tires both Judy and I have had in our entire lives!)

In Thunder Bay we stayed at our first Walmart of the trip. Walmart has a helpful policy of allowing RV’s to park overnight in their parking lots, free of charge. It is appreciated by the RV’ers, and brings extra business to Walmart as we usually go in the store for groceries or supplies. Provincial parks cost about $28.00 for dry camping (no power or water), and national parks even more as their camping fees are about $35.00 plus a $10.00 park entrance fee for $45.00 for dry camping. Commercial or private RV parks cost from $30.00 to $45.00, but that usually includes power and water and sometimes sewer and TV connections and WiFi. There are few spots where an RV can just pull over for the night. Some truck stops and Husky or Flying J gas stations allow overnight parking as well. However, compared to the price of gas, the fees for camping are minimal. On the road we have a fill up at least once a day for well over $100.00 each time for 100 litres or 25 gallons of gas (at $1.40 per litre or $5.50 per gallon).

On we went across the north shore of Lake Superior, stopping at the dramatic shear walled Ouimet Canyon (see attached picture below).


Three days later, June 8, we were parked for four days in Birds Hill Provincial Park near Selkirk, Manitoba, where we had a couple of nice visits with my granddaughter Tiffany and her family of two boys and a girl, my great grandchildren. We enjoyed an airplane museum one stormy rainy day, and did some bird watching at Oak Hammock Bird Sanctuary another. Here we saw several families of Canada Geese, Swallows and Martins, as well as a bird I had not seen before, the yellow headed blackbird.

Log_55a_Canada_Geese_and_chicks_at_Oak_Hammock                               Log_55a_Purple_Martins_at_Oak_Hammock

However, while walking through a field of tall grass prarie, we were infested with another denizen of the grasses that we had never encountered before, the Eastern Wood Tic. These are blood sucking insects that live on the tall grasses and are attracted to any carbon dioxide, warmth or movement passing by when they then attach themselves to it. In our case it was our pants and socks. When we got out of the field, our pants and legs were spotted with dozens of these critters. They were not only on the outside, especially in the back and crotch areas, but had crawled inside our clothes and onto our skin. The ones on the outside could be brushed off, but the ones adhering to our skin had to be picked off carefully. We took off our pants to pluck them from our legs, and shook the pants out to dislodge any not found. However when we got back to the trailer we still felt some crawling on our skin, and did another body check to pick several of them off. Disposing of  them in the trailer was another problem. They have a very hard shell. They had to be solidly crushed on a hard surface. The first few we thought we had killed crawled away a few minutes later. We had to use the back of a spoon crushing them on a counter top to ensure their permanent demise. That night in bed both Judy and I felt some small hard spots on our skin to realize there were still a few tics we had not found earlier, and proceeded to check out our bodies again. We actually found a couple more over the next day or two when we were itching or thought we were just scratching a pimple. We have encountered them later in a few other places and are very careful about checking our clothes after walking through grasses or fields. See and magnify the picture below of the warning sign posted at Oak Hammock. Fortunately they are not disease carrying critters.


We visited Lower Fort Gary, an important trading fort in the early to mid 1800’s.


Log_55a_Fur_pelts_at_Hudsons_Bay_post_at_Lower_Fort_Garry           Log_55a_Intrigued_by_bellows_and_forge_at_blacksmith_shop

It was interesting to see the history of the trading and settlements established in this area and the use of the river systems that we would be crisscrossing on our way west. This was a trading fort, not a military fort. This preceeded the North West Mounted Police presence in the west. It was never attacked or defended from the Indians. As Pierre Burton once said of our good relations with the Indians, “We don’t shoot our best customers.” The furs collected (see attached picture above) were baled and shipped out on the York boats to Fort Nelson on Hudson’s Bay to be shipped over to England. The fort is well preserved and reconstructed, including the fully operational Blacksmith’s shop which Judy especially enjoyed as she watched the smithy at his forge and bellows.

Being a high school history teacher, I was interested not only in the settlement patterns but the Riel (Métis) rebellion (1870 and 1885), the Cypress Hills massacre, June 1, 1873, and the story behind the Indian migration of Sioux (Lakota) fleeing from the U.S. cavalry after the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and their victory over Custer and his Seventh Cavalry on June 25, 1876. This 20 year period from 1870 to 1890 was fraught with historical events that shaped the destiny not only of the new province of Manitoba, but that of western Canada. The North West Mounted Police were involved in all of these events. The urban myth of a single NWMP officer and two Mounties that took in 5,000 Lakota is not quite accurate. It was actually a troop of 12 to 30 NWMP that met them near the border and gave them refuge in Canada.

More about these historical developments as we toured the areas of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and even down to Montana in my next log.

Up further north half way up the west coast of lake Winnipeg to Hecla where we saw white Pelicans, the first I have seen them since Florida a couple of years ago.

After leaving the Selkirk area we went bird watching to another good site, Delta Marsh

Log_55a_Warbler                               Log_55a_Flight_of_geese_over_Delta_Marsh

This area on the south delta of Lake Winnipeg has a sad history of floods, and several of the houses and cottages have not yet been repaired and some still have the sand bags around the property.

Log_55a_Sand_bagged_house_at_Delta_Marsh             Log_55a_Sand_bagged_house_facing_the_marsh

The distance travelled so far from Toronto to Selkirk Manitoba was 2411 km. (1500 miles) from May 31 to June 8, 2012.