Saturday, 25 August 2012

Father Mathieu's dog team 1950's La Loche

Father Bertrand Mathieu and his dog team in 1955 La Loche. The Mission of La Loche included La Loche, Garson Lake, Descharme Lake, Turnor Lake, Bull's House and West La Loche. Visiting these small villages regularly was Father Mathieu's responsibility. (Photos from Canada Archives)
  •  Father Bertrand Mathieu o.m.i. (ordained in 1949) arrived in La Loche in 1950 and served until 1986.  .....History of La Loche

This trip from La Loche to Clear Lake and back is a 200 miles trip over the frozen lakes. Returning via Island Lake (Turnor Lake) would have been a 150 mile trip on a less travelled overland route.

These two pages describe the trip from La Loche to Clear Lake and back.
The route followed by Father Mathieu's dog team began in La Loche, to Dillon, to Buffalo Narrows then to Clear Lake.  On his way to Island Lake (Turnor Lake) he was forced to turn back and return to Buffalo Narrows then went back to La Loche.  Ile a la Crosse where the regional hospital was located is south of Buffalo Narrows..,_Saskatchewan
Another trip by dog team sees Father Mathieu going to West La Loche then having to run behind the team back to La Loche. West La Loche is about 8 miles over the ice from the La Loche Mission (a 16 mile trek not 26 miles as stated).
Dog houses on the mission grounds circa 1950. They were fed on a diet of fish.

Father takes a trip to Black Point in 45 minutes. Black Point is 8 miles from La Loche over the ice.

"Dog team pulling a cutter that I used in town to distribute Communion, or to give a ride to the nurses who needed to go and help a sick person." wrote Father Mathieu. (Reprinted from Catholic Missions In Canada Magazine, Fall 2009.)

 "Father Bertrand Mathieu, O.M.I., is shown in photo leading his dog team in magazine spread titled "Canada's Northland," featuring photo by Rosemary Gilliat. Clipping courtesy of Father Bertrand Mathieu, O.M.I.
"Fox, my faithful companion in my walks and a very good leader of my dog "
wrote Father Mathieu. (
Arctic Journal II: A Time for Change - Page 156 --Bern Will Brown - 1999 - ‎Snippet view
The next day I chartered the Cessna float plane belonging to local bush pilot Milt McDougall to fly us over to Portage La Loche for a visit. Father Bertrand Mathieu, the missionary in charge there, had visited us during the winter with his fine dog team. He certainly took good care of them, as I could see on this visit. He had their chains hooked onto long overhead wires leading from their houses down into the lake so that they could get fresh water or even take a swim any time they wanted. There were a dozen Grey Nuns at this mission and they gave us a tour of their facilities during a perfect afternoon. ...(Bern Will Brown and pilot Milt McDougall were from Fort McMurray))

In 1958 Father Mathieu cuts his beard and takes a motorcycle trip to Buffalo Narrows over the sixty mile ice road on Lac La Loche and Peter Pond Lake. It takes him six hours. A gravel  road was built to La Loche in 1963.

from this blog more ....Dog teams and dogs more about Father Mathieu