Monday, November 15, 2010

Cree Hunters of Mistassini

I came across a link to this film on Murat's Paddle making blog. The film was produced by the National Film Board of Canada and depicts three Cree families and how they survive the winter in the James Bay region of Quebec. There are some fantastic images of the tools used and the men using them while hunting and trapping. Of particular interest to me are the variations of snowshoes that were used as well as the hand carved snow shovels that everyone seemed carried with them, their ice chisels used to open holes for fishing and trapping beaver. Their use of the canoe is also interesting in that they paddle well into the winter season even when there is slush and some ice on the water. As a paddle builder and canoeing instructor I found their paddles and paddling technique interesting. The film also portrays the Cree peoples feelings, beliefs, and rituals regarding the land.

I must warn those with weak stomachs about the graphic nature of some of the images in this film. The film portrays real hunting and trapping practices.


Pawistik said...

Hi Mark,
You asked me the other day about spam comments on my blog. I'd say the previous comment is a pretty good example of someone who is only trying to generate links and hits for their site so that it shows up higher in a search engine.

There are a lot of things I found interesting, like how they keep their axes simply tucked in through their belt behind their back. Also interesting to see them creating the floor of spruce boughs - using only the few inches of the tips, not whole branches like I used. Not only would that be less destructive, but more comfortable too (that's a lot of bough tips though). Also neat to see the very long narrow wood toboggans, the various snowshoes, wooden snow shovels, crooked knives, etc. Interesting to see the ice chisel that they had (too bad they didn't show it closer or in use) - they way they carried it, it does not seem to have a very heavy head. I'd be surprised if it was heavier than 2 pounds in the head. The head is on a pretty stout pole though, so maybe it's more balanced?

Too bad it didn't show the men on the trail more. How did they sleep? What gear did they carry? There would be a lot to learn following those guys on the trail looking for moose for a few days.


Thanks for sharing the some part of film which is the quite winter trekking type. I liked this sharing. cheap wilderness adventures.

Pawistik said...

This is the obituary for Sam Blacksmith, the central figure in the video. He died in '08 at an age of "at least" 97 years.

The obituary itself, written by one of the producers of the film, is quite interesting.


Mick said...

Thanks for posting this very historical film. Viewing it again, brought back many memories of showing this on 16mm during the late 70's and early 80's. I still have a projector. I'll try locating film so we can have a big screen view.

Wildpaddler said...

That would be great, maybe the next time I'm in your neck of the woods.