The Rowley River
The Rowley River has its beginnings in Northeastern Baffin Island. It flows southwest into Steensby Inlet and Foxe Basin.
It’s named after archaeologist Graham Rowley for his investigation and mapping of the Baffin Island coastline in 1937 and for his work with the Inuit and Dorset peoples. Much of his work exploring the eastern Arctic is documented in his excellent book ‘Cold Comfort: My Love Affair with the Arctic’.
In early 1995, Ted Johnson and Peter Stollery met with Graham Rowley and George Falconer in Ottawa to discuss what we believed would be the first ever descent of the Rowley River by canoe.
An analysis of air photographs and maps seemed to indicate the river was canoeable but also revealed serious obstacles which would require difficult lining and lengthy portages. One major obstruction was a three mile section of waterfalls and rapids which would necessitate a difficult portage over a rocky escarpment.
This would be George Falconer’s first trip with the canoe group. George is the former editor of The National Atlas of Canada. Tim Mason was another new recruit joining us on the Rowley expedition. Tim works in the financial business in Calgary and owns a ranch near Cochrane, Alberta.
Ted Johnson, John Gow, and Tim Mason tell their stories about our extraordinary trip down the Rowley River.
The Rowley River by Ted Johnson
One winter evening in the early nineties, Bill Williams and I visited Graham Rowley and his gracious wife Diana at their Rockliffe home. The story Graham told of his adventure inspired us to attempt the first (we believe) canoe descent of the Rowley River. In the spring of 1995, Peter Stollery, George Falconer and I spent a trip-planning day with Graham in the National Air Photo Library. More.
Living History: The Rowley River, by John Gow
In February 1939, Graham Rowley decided to cross an unknown section of Baffin Island, filling in some large blanks on the map as he went. He and his two Innuit companions, Kutjek and Mino, travelled by “komatik” (dog sled), building igloos for shelter and hunting walrus, caribou, ptarmigan and Arctic hares to feed themselves and 30 dogs. More.
Running the Rowley by Tim Mason
It was with some trepidation that I joined the 1995 Rowley River expedition at the invitation of my old friend John Gow as I had never been that close to so many Liberals in my life! However we set politics aside and they turned out to be a delightful bunch. More.