Mercyhurst College

Department of Geology


The Windy/Tha-anne Trip

Why this trip?

It's hard to say. I have a life list of places I want to see while I am still able, and Nueltin Lake was high on that list. Nueltin Lake was first known to the world via Samuel Hearne's trek to the Coppermine; we had crossed Hearne's tracks earlier on the Kazan (Samuel Hearne's expedition is one of the most incredible in the annals of exploration). Nueltin was of central importance to Bill Magee and Ernst Oberholtz who travelled through Nueltin in 1912 on an amazing trip from The Pas to Hudson Bay via the Thlewiaza (then down to Churchill and back to the Pas!). In 1939, P.G. Downes traveled to Nueltin Lake which led to his canoe classic, Sleeping Island, which is named after Nueltin Lake - a lake which to Downes epitomized the wild north. Finally, Nueltin Lake and the Windy River cabin was visited by Farley Mowat and Francis Harper during the summer of 1947. Mowat made the area famous with his best selling book People of the Deer (1952), which was my first exposure to the barren lands.

We started on Kasmere because we paddled through here on the way to the Kazan River in 2005. We eventually settled on the Kognac/Tha-anne River route to the Bay, in part because the river was highly recommended to me by another paddler. We weren't disappointed. They're both very intimate and beautiful rivers that course through high hills and along sandy eskers for most of their length.

The trip was fantastic, but unfortunately our camera broke a week before the trip's end. As expected, our broken camera brought out the wildlife and scenic panoramas. During the last week of our trip we saw lots of caribou, an arctic wolf, arctic fox, tons of bird, had an ermine in our camp, and camped along magnificent waterfalls.

Trip length: ~450 miles, Time: ~30 days

Google Earth download with trip notes:


Additonal pictures are posted online: (

For more info:

Ernst Oberholtz (

Prentice G. Downes (U. Calgary)

Francis Harper (U. Calgary)

Farley Mowat (wikipedia)

Trip Photos