Millbrook Explorers Take the Trip of a Lifetime


Photo Karen Graham
Millbrook Explorers on the train at Moose River. From right to left: Back row- Everett Webster, David Webster, Peter Kennedy, Paul Welch, Joffre Labranche, William Labranche Front row- Brandon McGirl and Wendy McGirl

A journey that began for several young Millbrook boys at age four culminated last month in a northern Ontario adventure with their Millbrook Explorer group.

The small contingent of Millbrook youth headed out on August 6th for an adventure to northern Ontario. The Four Millbrook Traditional Explorers accompanied by four adults headed out to Cochrane in two cars with three canoes in toe, picking up a fourth canoe in Temagami.  From this town north east of Timmins, they caught a train north to Moose River Junction, a town only accessible by train. They were deposited at the side of Moose River – there was no station, just an unceremonious drop.

They found the trail leading to the river where the next leg of their journey would begin,  Here they came across a retired fishing guide with his grandson who provided some invaluable tips before they headed out on their three day paddle to Moosonee.  Located 19 km south of James Bay, this town is also known as the gateway to the Arctic.  Drizzle accompanied their journey on the second day, but on the final leg of their trip the wind picked up and the group faced strong head winds, making their 30 km trip on their last day feel much longer.  The group was buoyed when their destination came into view, but the remaining distance seemed to take forever to cross.

Fortunately on their arrival, they were greeted by blaring music emanating from a Cree Cultural Centre where they received a warm reception.  In addition to examining the informative exhibits explaining the history, arts and culture of the Mushkegowuk Cree people, they were also invited to participate in an authentic, hands-on activity as they participated in butchering a moose.  They saw bears, eagles, and even a seal during their time in Moosonee.

The group made their return trip to Cochrane by train, where they split up, as half of them had commitments back home.  The remaining adventurers drove to Wawa to continue their trip which concluded with a three day hike along the northern edge of Lake Superior.  As they discovered, it’s one thing to hike for a day, but another thing altogether to lug around the tents, food and cooking equipment to sustain you for several days.  It was tough work, but for some it was one of the highlights.  The hikers found the silence very powerful, and were struck by the black sand on the beaches, consisting of sand from volcanic ash

All participants delighted with the trip, which gave them some remarkable experiences seeing a bear, moose, baldheaded eagles, wolf prints, gypsum caves, and even two river otters.   The lack of technology was welcomed by the travellers, who entertained themselves with music, stories and poetry around the campfire, wide open views of night skies with falling starts and Northern lights, and bellies full of instant potatoes and coffee with maple syrup.

The trip was made possible by the commitment and dedication of group leader David Webster, a professional geologist, who planned this trip and ensured the club members were prepared for the adventure with shorter, warm-up trips over the past few years.  During their trip, they Explorers demonstrated a culmination of knowledge, skills and discipline that paid homage to the founder of the original Scouting program, Lord Baden-Powell.  The group is grateful for the financial support to help to purchase train tickets that was provided by the Lions and the OddFellows.  This trip gave the participants an appreciation of this amazing country and recognition of the importance of sustainability moving forward.

After the success of this trip, leader David Webster has begun to plan for next season. The group is ideal for those with a love of the outdoors, allowing them to develop wilderness skills that build confidence and self-sufficiency.    The Millbrook Explorers Club is open to anyone interested.  Meetings begin on the last Tuesday in September at the Millbrook School.  For more information, contact David at . KG

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