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Northeast of Sioux Lookout, ON  
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Mapping Program

Geolgic map coverage for Ontario was concentrated in the known mineralized belts, mostly 'greenstone' or lava belts that housed past and present base and precious metal mines.  Much of the northwestern part was unmapped, and the geologic knowledge was sketchy.  Ontario Department of Mines (now called the Ontario Geologic Survey) undertook to do reconnaissance mapping to fill in the large gaps.  The mapping was done mostly along shorelines of lakes and rivers, with an occasional traverse inland to check interesting areas, or fill in the geology between lakes.

Summer of 1958

A large, unmapped area existed northeast of Sioux Lookout, east of Las Seul and south of Lake St. Joseph (you can find these lakes on the Ontario road map). Ontario Department of Mines (ODM) assembled a crew of four to do the mapping for the 1958 summer season, my graduation year.  I signed on as a senior assistant to Bill Williamson, a geologist in his 60's at the time.  Two junior assistants - Brian Blasdale and William LaFlair completed the crew.  We had two canoes, one for each pair - the pairs being Bill Williamson and a junior, and I and a junior. A 3HP 'kicker' outboard propelled us along.  We operated out of the same camp, which was moved as required to complete the coverage of the area.  The total area mapped was 1200 square miles, at a scale of 1" = 1 mile.  Mapping was done on aerial photos of the same scale.

A typical day would see us set out between 8 and 9 am into various parts of the lake we happened to be in, mapping the shoreline.  Many of the smaller lakes did not have names, so for reference purposes we gave them one.  ODM provided a list of WW2 war dead from which we chose the names.  Some we named after girl friends... For lunch on most days we built a fire to boil water for tea and/or roast sausages. A swim in the lake often followed.  Water was consumed directly from the lake - for drinking, swimming, washing, etc.  No fear of giardia (beaver fever) - we were not aware that it existed, although it must have.  Giardia cysts are very hardy organisms that survive for long periods in the environment, particularly in cold water.  You can ingest Giardia by:

  • Drinking poorly treated surface water from sources such as streams, rivers, lakes or shallow wells that are contaminated by human or animal feces; or
  • Swallowing contaminated water while swimming in lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, swimming pools and hot tubs; or
  • Eating contaminated food.

No one ever contracted it during any of the field seasons.  Is it more common or more virulent now than then??

The parties returned to camp between 5 - 6 pm.  Supper was whatever was remaining from the last food shipment (by Forestry float planes every 10 days or so).  Fresh meat was gone in the first 4 days; the remainder was canned food such as ham, chicken, spam, smoked sausage, pork and beans, soups, veggies, etc.   Likewise, bread lasted only a week at the most, so pancakes and bannock were prepared.  Cooking was over a coleman stove, rarely over the fire.  We carried a 10 gallon drum of white gas has just for the coleman stove and lamps. 

We worked every day it did not rain.  And sometimes we did not work for 3 days at a stretch because of a slow low pressure cell, cooped up in wet tents. Played lot of cards, poker, using matches for chips, 10 matches worth 1cent.  I preferred working.  Bill Williamson, the party chief, was somewhat of a liability.  He did not know his geology too well, and physically was not up to portaging and traversing that needed to be done.  He paid, out of pocket, to have some of the more difficult work done by us.  He was not capable of writing a coherent final report and asked me to do it.  That is why my name appears on the published report along side of his, as co-party chief.  I think he was hired by ODM for the summer out of retirement, to provide an 'older person' stability to the field party. 

Reference:  Geology of the Wapesi Lake - Tully Lake Area by W.R.M. Williamson and P.P. Hudec, Vol. LXVII, Part 4, 1958, Ontario Department of Mines 67th Annual Report


Summer of 1959

The summer following the work in the Wapesi - Tully lakes area, I was hired by the ODM to continue reconnaissance mapping, this time as a party chief with three assistants:  W.E. Wiley, the senior assistant, and S.M. Higgins and P. F. Hamblin as junior assistants.   The mapping area, some 1,100 square miles large, lies to the east of the 1958 mapping described above.  Highstone and Miniss are the larger lakes within this area after which the project is named.

The area is underlain mostly by Archean granites and gneisses, but also contains some interesting rock units:  banded iron formation, a band of volcanics, and an ultramafic intrusive.  Structurally, one of the more important fault zones, the Miniss River fault zone crosses the area diagonally.  The rocks within the zone are sheared and pulverized (milonitized).  I was the first geologist to recognize this major structure and name it.  It has been subsequently well researched and appears in countless publications.  The zone is essentially a boundary between two small tectonic blocks that were active 2.6 - 3.2 billion years ago.

The work was done, as before, mostly from canoes, mapping the shore lines of lakes and rivers.  Camp was moved every 2 weeks, mostly by aircraft, but sometimes by canoe and portage. Ontario Forestry float planes supplied and moved us as required.  Campsites were chosen from the air by flying low and circling the desired spot to see how flat and dry it was.  Nothing worse than being landed in a swampy, mosquito-infested area.  The sites were either beaches or flat outcrop.  The moves took two flights, since two canoes had to be moved.  The aircraft was usually a Dehavilland Beaver which could take only one canoe at a time, strapped to the pontoon struts on the outside.

The camp setup involved clearing the area of brush, cutting down 7 poles for the tent (two cross bars (4), ridge pole (1), and fly poles (2). Young spruce trees were the source of the poles. We had two tents, so double that amount.  The tents were canvas, 10 x 12 foot, with 4 foot walls. quite roomy.  No floor.  We usually spread a tarp for the floor.  Heavy things, expecially when we had to portage them.  A cooking table was built out spruce saplings to hold the Coleman 2-burner stove, and pots and pans.  Conveniet logs were found to serve as seats for eating.   Next, an antenna for the radio had to strung as high as possible, oriented perpendicular to the direction to Sioux Lookout, the nearest Forestry base.  The radio was a primitive, single frequency box with a speaker and a microphone.   In some campsites, we also built a dock to allow the unloading and loading of the float plane.

A windstom brought down one of the tents by crashing a tree on top of it.  No injuries.  Recreation was swimming, sunning, and an attempt at waterskiing on a plywood board. 

The field season started in April, and ended the 2nd week of September.

Reference:  Highstone Lake - Miniss Lake Area, Geological Report No. 32 by P.P. Hudec, 1965




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