Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Bloodvein River - The Reason Behind the Name

Under these 40 foot cliffs we witnessed one of the
reasons why this river was protected.

Any word or phrase that contains the word 'blood' tends to invoke vivid imaginations or queasy thoughts. It's usually not the kind of word that brings smiles or sets a happy tone. Even Lisa's father questioned her about the sanity of paddling a river designated to be called Bloodvein, - he assumed there was a dark side to the river.

There has been many theories and suggestions as to what the name actually implies, but there is one notable feature that stands out on this river that seems to clearly define this waterway. Of course there is a morbid one too that tells about a "Blood River" from the deaths of many natives killed in battle, but it seems less likely. During our daily paddle, anywhere the rocky shoreline was exposed we frequently saw conspicuous "veins" of red granite coursing throughout it. This seems to be the most plausible reason for its name when it was first referred to as such in a Hudson's Bay Journal in 1818-19 from a Berens River Post.
Here are some examples below:

Some of the "blood veins" were small and uninspiring....

...while others totally stood out and aptly defined the
descriptive nature of the river's name!

Seeing the similarity of the red veins of granite to our vascular system, it is intriguing to imagine a time in the distant past when this red molten lava coursed through solid rock like blood in our veins. It must have been one 'hell' of a place then! Coincidentally, the veins weren't the only red things we saw on this trip. The Bloodvein River has been designated a Canadian Heritage River by both Ontario and Manitoba for its geographical, natural, and historical significance. As this river was a major trade and settlement route, the river is replete with pictographs. So much so that it is the largest collections of pictographs in Canada!

Lisa admiring some of the many unique displays
of pictographs throughout the trip.

Here is an amazing display of pictographs.

We did our best to visit each pictograph site when noted on our maps, however while some were easy to locate, others we simply couldn't find. In any case, it was amazing to see so many pictographs of various forms and figures. If only we knew what those symbols meant I'm sure it would have made the trip much more interesting. Although, we did let our imagination run loose as we even shared a few laughs about our interpretations! In respect I would never discount the notion of these pictographs being of spiritual importance, but at the same time, I've wondered if these were not the first instances of graffiti by some bored adolescent youth? I don't think anyone yet knows for certain as to the true meaning or significance of pictographs, so its still really any one's guess, - intelligent or not. (yes, mine being the latter!)

We discovered an unusual offering of tobacco at this pictograph
site. Good thing neither of us are smokers!

The trip would have been quite interesting alone with just these two notable features, but the Bloodvein has a lot more to offer that we can definitely attest to, - for better or for worse!
Trust me, lots more to come!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Home from the Bloodvein River Expedition

Surprisingly as we entered the Manitoba side of the river there
was a federal plaque honouring the Bloodvein as a
Canadian Heritage River on a campsite!
Was it really necessary?!

After 18 days on the river paddling 320 kms, plus 7 days on the road driving approx 5000 kms we are finally back home safe and sound. Phew! We had a great time on the river and the corresponding road trip but its all over now. (sigh) It's back to reality, - to house chores, bills and work. No wonder its depressing coming back home!

There is lots of stories and experiences to share from our Bloodvein trip including several unforeseen events. (What else would you'd expect from my trips?!) I always hope that my excursions into the 'wild blue yonder' plays out perfectly, but that would just make it plain vanilla. It may unfortunately be at my (our) expense, but at least it makes for some great stories!

Lisa and I are in the midst of cleaning and putting away the mountain of gear, clothes and even food from the trip. (Imagine that! We actually brought back lots of trail mix!!) Once that's done and I'm settled back at home/work, I'll try to post some stories from the trip as soon as possible. Especially since September is around the corner and you know what that means, - I'll be out paddling my favourite month of the year!
Be in touch soon!


Manitou Rapid was my favourite campsite. The rest day was
well worth it. It was all smiles except for one
thing, come later!