End Game on the Koroc by Tim Kotcheff
After leaving a canoe behind on the upper Koroc, it was rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub for the rest of the way. Dr. Johnson opted to sit in the disastracanoe (henceforth DC) with John and Peter, in case repairs would be required. David took the safest option – to sit in the OK canoe (never KO’ed) with Craig and Tim.
At the end of the Koroc and in this heavily loaded condition – small waves lapping over the gunnels – we had to paddle 2 miles through dense fog covering Ungava Bay to reach our destination, Kangiqsualujjuaq (George River settlement) at the mouth of the George River.
Along the way we stopped for a breather and I took advantage of the break to cast a line and snagged a beautiful shiny Atlantic salmon which I stowed in our canoe. Meanwhile, eager to get on with it, the Ted Johnson canoe launched quickly while we scrambled to get into our canoe and catch up.
We paddled hard but progress was slow. Dead slow. Shoreline landmarks remained transfixed. We were in fact standing still. A strong tide was moving out and taking our canoes with it. It was impossible to canoe any further. The DC was ahead and almost out of sight when a motorized freight canoe pulled up alongside us. The driver explained the situation and offered to tow us to town – an offer we couldn’t refuse.
When we caught up to the DC, the boatman made the same offer. However, these words from the good senator in slightly cavalier fashion: “thanks, but we prefer to finish the river”. However Peter was only talking about himself and John Godfrey. Ted Johnson decided to abandon ship and hopped into our canoe for a free ride to town.
So, we departed and in short order arrived at our destination noting that most of the small bay in front of the town had been drained, but our host driver knew how to get through this soggy mess. It was certainly not canoeable!
Meanwhile we received a hearty dockside welcome by the town residents (maybe all 800 hundred of them) and one Inuit asked if the canoes were for sale. Yes, said Craig, what do you offer? $350.00 was the reply. Mr. Oliver, and I am using the term loosely, said, I can do better than that – you can have both for $200.00 but – and here was the key proviso – the deal includes towing our friends in the other canoe to town. Now this was an offer the Inuit couldn’t refuse. And that’s how we all arrived at George River.
That night, we dined with the mayor of the town and his wonderful family. Part of the meal included my beautifully prepared Atlantic Salmon. Amen
The reason the OK canoe was considered in “Not good condition” as noted during the sale transaction – it had scraped a few rocks while carrying so much dead weight.
Payment for the canoes was made in ten dollar bills which looked like they were printed in the early 40’s. Guess the Inuit were hanging on to their cash for just such an occasion. In the end it was a good deal for everyone concerned.
As a parting gift, the Inuit gave us a package of frozen caribou meat which we saved and later prepared for our annual canoe re-union.