June 28, 1999 – July 3, 1999


Monday, June 28, 1999


We planned to leave at 3:00 pm for our canoe trip down the Old Man River. As things go, we didn’t get off until about 5:30. It took longer also when we tangled with rush-hour traffic.

We took 9 boys: Matthew, Jeremy, Jesse, David M., Paul, David R., Steven, Brock, and Donny. In addition to myself (John), Myron and Jerry came as leaders.

When we eventually arrived at the Old Man River where we will put in (Fort MacLeod), we discovered that we were short 5 lifejackets. There is a campground next to the river that generously let us stay the night at no charge. We unloaded the canoes and gear. Then Jerry and Myron drove the trailer and vans to Taber. Myron’s brother-in-law drove them back with some extra lifejackets. They didn’t arrive until about Midnight.

While they were gone, Donny discovered that his retainer had broken. Several attempts to repair it with duct tape failed and made him desperate to go home. He reluctantly stayed, but mostly because there is no easy way home.

We roasted a smoky each for a dinner snack and had juice boxes.

Myron stopped at Coaldale and Taber to phone relatives and managed to get the 5 extra lifejackets. The pickup went like clockwork. The biggest delay was the lifejackets.


Tuesday, June 29, 1999


Section F 1


Section F 2


Someone dropped off medicine for Donny while most of us were still sleeping (him included). That was probably a good thing. We need two per canoe.

We had pancakes for breakfast. They were good, but it made for more to clean.

We put in the water at just after 10:00 am. The route was twisty and made it a little more fun. At one section there was an overhanging tree, called a sweeper. I was in the canoe with Brock. He missed it and I went through it, but we were alright. Jesse and Jeremy and Matthew and David M. both were tipped. We scrambled to gather as much gear as we could. Brock and I recovered a paddle, a shoe, a coat, a hat, and some granola bars. Another hat was lost, along with the other shoe.

We tried paddling back upstream, but almost tipped. Instead, we made it to shore and walked a paddle and a spare that we had, back upstream to where they were.

After they packed the canoes, we kept going until Myron tipped in a narrow section. He was with Steven. We lost a dishpan. The two events lost us about an hour or more of time.

We stopped for lunch and had Pita bread sandwiches. They were great. We also had smoked oysters.

We made it through the tough section where at the end was a rapid. Myron and Jerry emptied a canoe and took a couple of runs at the rapids. They swamped the canoe both times.

We stopped eventually at our camp area. We had to do some scouting to find shelter from the wind.

After setting up camp, we had potatoes, chicken, and salad for dinner.


Wednesday, June 30, 1999



Section G1


Section G 2

We were up around 7:30. We had bagels, cream cheese, and tomatoes for breakfast. Some of us had oatmeal too. It had rained overnight and continued to rain intermittently through the day.

We were packed and in the water at about 10:00 am. The days travels were expected to be easy, but we encountered some pretty big rapids. Big to us anyway. Fortunately, there were no tips today, though we had some close calls. A lot of us hit rocks. Jeremy and Matthew badly damaged their canoe.

At lunch, we repaired the crack with duct tape. Jesse and David M. had some damage too, but it was only leaking slowly. Paul and I hit some rocks that left me bailing fairly regularly.

Myron and Donny, and Jerry and Steven didn’t seem to have any problems. David R. took the stern this time with Brock. They did a lot better. They and Paul and I spent most of the time in the rear.

We had sandwiches for lunch. Once the repairs were done, we hit the water. At 4:30, we were all exhausted. We had made good time, but wanted to reach Lethbridge today. We kept going and reached the golf course after an hour and a half.

We put up camp just past the golf course on the right side of the river. After we set up camp, we had hamburger helper for dinner. It was delicious.


Thursday, July 01, 1999


I was up at 6:00 am. I was worried about the canoes, so I got up again, after I was in bed, to move a couple of canoes further in. The water level dropped the night before, so I wanted to be sure we were safe if it rose.


Section H

We had English muffins with scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese, and tomatoes.

We didn’t get to the river until 11:00 am. I was with Donny. His box didn’t fit well, so I had it high. He’s a little wiggly, so we were too unstable. I stopped twice to adjust it and just put it between my legs.

About a mile downstream, we got to the Weir. By the time Donny and I had caught up, there were only two canoes left to portage. We unloaded all of our gear and walked it to the other side of the Weir. Everyone had carried their canoes, but Jerry and I took a heavy load on my canoe over the Weir, or at least a small section by the inlet.

It was easier than 90% of the rapids we had done. After reloading the canoes, we were off again, immediately encountering tougher rapids than what we just walked around. We were going to have a tough day.

Not long after, we got to the Fort Whoop-up picnic area. The boys were all excited about using indoor plumbing. We also had lunch there. We ate bagels and English muffins. We put jam and cheese on it. It was surprisingly good.

Half the day was gone and we’d barely done any distance. We got going and traveled until about 3:30. A cold front hit us and we all got off the river and unloaded to prepare for a storm.

The storm missed us, but we did get a lot of rain. When the rain passed, we continued. We loaded our gear and took off. I did a second repair on my canoe first and also patched Jesse’s again. Mine held better this time.

We spend a long time on the river. Donny and I were last. We didn’t see anyone for hours. We finally caught up when they stopped for the night. It was about 7:45 pm. I could barely stand from all the paddling.

We had smokies and hot dogs wrapped in bannock, with beans on the side. I had mistakenly left all of our propane fuel back at the place we stopped for the storm. Fortunately, Jerry brought a single burner stove and camp fuel.


Friday, July 02, 1999


We all slept well during the night. I got up just after 7:00 am. We had oatmeal for breakfast. We were packed and ready to go before 10:00 am.

We put in and stared paddling. The river was slow, so we had to work hard. We didn’t stop for lunch until 2:00 pm. That was four hours of canoeing without a break. We had some leftovers for lunch and kept going.

After 2½ more hours, we stopped again to re-group. We started with 35 miles left to go and, according to Jerry, we were still 10 miles short. At about 6:00 pm, we all stopped quickly and learned that the bridge we just reached was the Taber Bridge. Myron went to confirm it and we were all thrilled to finally reach our destination.

I couldn’t sit for the whole evening. Jerry and Myron went to get the trailer and vans while we made Beefaroni and Chili-Mac for dinner. We all stuffed ourselves.

We stayed the night at the provincial campground. The also generously let us stay at no cost.

After we set up and started to relax, we were asked by a native group if we wanted to play soccer. Jesse, Jeremy, Steven, Donny, and I all played for and hour or more. We stopped when it got too dark to see. They were pretty good, but Jesse and Steven were a lot better. I was on the opposite team and we only scored two goals. They scored at least three for every one of ours.


Saturday, July 03, 1999


We all slept in. Jerry and I made pancakes, eggs, and hash browns for breakfast. We were packed and ready to go just around noon. We took a group picture of the “Dirty Dozen” around the canoes and left for Calgary.

Our first destination was Peter’s Drive-In for a hamburger and shake. Then we went to the church and home from there.

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