Hudson Bay Packers
By Linda C Butler
Told by Charlie Vance
The Cree packers, who paddled their canoes and carried supplies on their back over the portages, were legendary. I was a strong man in my youth but I could not compare with their skill or athletic ability.
I was with Walter Johnson one time about half way on a one-mile portage. We were both trudging along with packs on our back and a tumpline on our forehead, each balancing a load that weighed about one hundred pounds.
We heard voices from behind, turned around to see who was coming, and were passed by four Cree packers running on the trail carrying flour for the Hudson Bay Company. One man was packing four one hundred pound bags, while the other three were each packing two or three one hundred pound bags.
The men had not been in sight on the river when Walter and I started the portage, so their canoe had been some distance behind ours, yet they had caught up and now passed us on the trail.
These men of the bush gave us a friendly greeting as they ran by us. I shook my head and looked at Walter and wondered what we were doing there.