Ye Old Menogyn Guides
Menogyn Stories by Paul Norton,  Guide 1962-63
(1)  "The Rose Lake Raid", 1963

The Rose Lake Raid Guide discussions had been brewing at base camp about frequent sightings of power boats on Rose Lake. We were ready to take some action. This was in 1963 and during one of my infrequent stays in camp. The details are now a little vague about who went, but I think we had a contingent of three canoes, nine paddlers, axes, and saws. The camp had settled down for the night when we left the boat dock and headed to the Duncan portage.

The plan was to fell trees to block the channel between Rose and Arrow Lakes where the boats were entering Rose. We paddled silently across West Bearskin, portaged to Duncan, paddled to the Stairway portage, and carried down to the landing at Rose. The night was clear and it was only a little difficult to see the portage trails, and the lakes were bright under the stars.
As we entered the Rose-Arrow channel it became apparent that the passage was too wide to block with trees. Alternative plans were quickly discussed—an underwater cable to snag the propellers was the alternative I recall. After a short time we set out for the Rose-to-Daniels portage, not wanting to climb the stairs in the dark. We got back to camp late and went to sleep tired but unsatisfied.

The next day was a camp chore day. I managed to get firewood duty and slept most of the time in the sauna, barely conscious of the jealous grumbling from a few coconspirators. It seems that I remember going back another night to try again, but I’m sure we didn’t have any other equipment to try another approach.

Later, I or maybe a few of us were over at Clearwater Lodge and discussed the situation with lodge-owner John Eliasen. He suggested that the best approach might be to blow the outlet of Arrow Lake, dropping the level of that lake and cutting off the passage by making it too shallow. We wondered about a source of dynamite, how long a fuse we should have to get back into the States before the blast went off, etc. Luckily we were able to get back out on the trail before we got in real trouble.

Arm didn’t know about these Rose Lake raids—see “The surreptitious trip to Rose Lake” by the Camp Director. Some one in the group may have laid a cover story

(2)  "Camper  Questions", 1962-63

How deep is it right here?
How deep is the deepest part of the lake?
How many fish in this lake?
How big is the biggest fish in this Lake?
Where will we camp tonight?
What is for lunch?
What is for dinner?

These were curious campers and it was good to always have a very precise answer to any question.

68 feet, 7 inches.

119 feet, 3 inches.

983 over half a pound—we don’t count the minnows.

The last time we checked it was 13.5 pounds—a northern.

On the shore of a lake.

Same as yesterday.

I’ll look in the dinner sack when we get to the camp.

So confidence was established with a group and worries were placated. No one ever questioned the answer.

I never carried a flashlight, cutting knife, mosquito lotion, sunscreen, or chap stick. Every camper had these items and I relied on them daily—the cutting knife would spread jam and peanut butter for lunch, or cut salami and cheese. The other items were seldom needed, but I knew most kids had them so that lightened my pack.

On two trips I found a nice rock that I wanted. One trip it was a pretty big piece, maybe ten pounds of Ogishke Muncie conglomerate— a white rock with black pebbles about the size of golf balls embedded in it. Another time it was a more moderate, five pound jasper from Moose Lake where we stayed overnight at an old fur-trading encampment. On both of these occasions we were on the way home and the food pack was the ideal location for such objects. I did make a point of thanking the camper when we got back, or at the end of the Grand Portage in the latter case. I don’t remember them being grateful for the opportunity to help though.

(3)  "Paddle to Winchell Lodge", 1962-63

In 1963 a large group came to camp—a Methodist confirmation class as I recall. There were about 18 campers in the group and for this trip I was given an assistant guide, Steve Goggin. We packed the food and set out to the southwest the following day. I don't recall the route exactly, but we did get to Davis Lake via the Kiskadina portage. The campsite there was large and somehow another Menogyn group also happened to be there that night too.

The campers had begun expressing their concerns about depleted candy bar supplies, leading Steve and Ito hatch a plan for the following day. I think that even as campers in 1957 and 1958 there were "rumors" of the existence of Winchell Lodge, but of course we knew that it was only a legend, not a fact. Still, here was an opportunity to test the faith of our entrustees.

The next day we set out for Winchell Lake and arrived in good time, setting up camp at Magoos point. As we had an early dinner, we "revealed" the possibility that campers might be able to get candy bars at Winchell Lodge, located towards the east end of the lake. I've marked it on the map, but it wasn't on the Fisher series we were carrying. Some doubts were expressed as to how the Lodge could be located with no road to bring in provisions. We explained that the Lodge was stocked during the winter with over-the-ice sleds. These days one could allude to "Ice Road Truckers". Anyway the campers were determined to go there in spite of our discouraging advice.

(PICTURE of Group to be Added)

As Steve and I finished dinner I told the campers that if they did go to the Lodge that only three of them were allowed in the store at one time. As I took a scoop of rice, Steve piped in with "And remember, if there are any Indians there, the Indians are first in line. Rice came flying out of my mouth but the campers didn't seem to notice. I said we'll be fishing. We set off for Omega lake to the north and spent a quiet evening catching a few northerns.

Coming back to the portage after dark, I asked Steve to lead holding the front of the canoe. After a few feet he said he couldn't see anything—I never carried a flashlight or a knife since any camper could readily supply one if asked. So Steve held on to the back of the canoe which I held with the front held high, following the opening in the trees and feeling the path with my feet. Paddling back to camp in silence we found the campers on the point with a nice fire going. Not noticing that we had arrived, but while still in our canoe, we listened to their plans of what they would do to us when we returned. Those were bluffs of course

(4)  "Calling the Natives", 1962

My group wanted to go to a good lake for fishing. In 1962 the break-in trip had taken us up to Sag, Northern Lights, Greer, and back to North Lake on a newly built portage. We didn¹t fish much on a break-in trip, but I heard that Greer was pretty good for decent-sized northerns. We headed west along the border trail.

At the west end of Gunflint we faced a strong headwind from the WSW. The three canoes headed for the south shore to get some relief. Separated by the wind, the lagging canoe was picked up by a powerboat and towed to the shore to meet us. Not a kosher move by camp rules, I was losing a little confidence in my guiding prowess.

Reaching the western end of Gunflint, I decided to break another rule and ask Janet Hanson for advice about where to go fishing to the north in Canada. She mentioned flying groups into Melvin, but said she didn¹t know of any way to get in there by canoe. Maps in those days showed a route via two small lakes from Northern Lights, but the story was that those portages were burned out in a 1954 fire.

Going north along the Granite River to the Customs Station on Sag, we checked into Canada and the boys got fishing licences. I talked to Jacque Richardson who ran a small store on that island in the summer with home made root beer and trapped the area in winter. He told me of his winter portages into Melvin, just east of South Island on Northern Lights‹see the map below.
Now the puzzle pieces were falling into place. We headed east, wind at our back, pushing the long paddle to Northern Light Falls and on to a campsite on a small island just west of South Island in Northern Lights Lake‹see the map. We would be headed into Melvin the next day, but now the campers raised an alarm‹fishing lures were running low.

As luck would have it, it just so happens that their guide knew about a small tribe of Indians who spend the summer on nearby South Island fishing. They might have lures you could buy. This line set the hook in their minds. They learned that the tribe is called the Fah-Gaw-Wees, and that they camped on the island interior and didn¹t like unannounced visitors.

³You have to stay about fifty feet from shore and call them until they answer² I told them. You have to yell ³Where the Fah-Gaw-Wee! ³They went off to barter with the natives. No sign of the tribe I was told upon their return. Also no sign yet that they comprehended the hoax. ³Yell it for me²‹²Where the Fah-Gaw-Wee²‹what?‹ ²Where the Fah-Gaw-Wee²‹what‹ ²Where the Fah-Gaw-Wee²! Finally they got it.

There were threats from the hoaxed campers of course, but the fishing was good on Melvin and tempers gave way to fish stories. On the way back to camp a few details were refined and our campfire story told about the Heck-Ouw-Wees!

Footnote, the winter portages of Richardson have been obliterated by blowdowns and a road along the south shore of Northern Lights Lake. The fishing is still good. The Indians no longer fish on South Island. Jacque¹s assistant from those days, Ted Smith, now works at Red Pine Outfitters on Northern Lights Lake.