Mr. Jimmy Bossum - History of the 1935 years (Mistassini River area)

It was early summer and the families went into the forest.  They camped at Girardville and stayed a month.  There were other families as well; also there were Cree. When we arrived, the Cree who had come were already there.  Before setting out we bought our provisions, such as flour, fat, sugar and all sorts of things. All that was put into a horse drawn cart.  Everyone got on with the canoes as well.  We went down to the river but there was a steep slope; the horse could not get down to the river on its own and the man we called “the taxi”, had to do something to help the descent because it was slippery.  It was the only way that the horse could descend.  Also lower down it was swampy, nearly a mile of swamp and the cart sank into the swamp from time to time because it was too heavily loaded; each time we used wood to lift it up.

When we arrived at the edge of the river, it was not a good place for camping.

So we crossed the river.  There was an island and it was to this place that we transported our baggage.  To start with, we crossed the river with the tents and, that evening, the men went back for the rest of the baggage – by canoe for sure. We stayed there for almost a week.  When we went on, it was again with the baggage going ahead.  We unloaded all of that at the portage called Tehtan kapatakan.  The men again carried the baggage first.  The morning after two days together, we carried the baggage on our backs, but there was already some baggage there.  But as well as making camp we were a whole day there.  The portage was towards the setting sun (west).  I do not remember very well but I think that the portage took one or one and a half-hours.

When we got there, there were already Pekuakamiulnuatsh and Mishtassiniulnuatsh. Once again we transported the baggage to what we called Ka uapissekau.  It was a portage.  There were no rapids but there was a lot of water.  On this side of the river the rock was very high; it was a long time ago but they destroyed it where it was flattened to make a bridge.  There was not a bridge.  It was at this portage (ka Uapissekau) that we unloaded our baggage.  The men left early in the morning and returned late in the evening.  Often it took two trips to transport the baggage just to ka Uapissekau as we call it.  And the following morning we came to this location.  At this place we ate dinner.  Afterwards they went to the portage.  It was not far, about a hundred feet I think. Arriving there we paddled.  There, where the trail is and where the point is, there are sites for camping, Ka tshikassinanuatsh as we call it; it was there that we camped.  After pitching the tents, we killed hare and some fish from time to time but more often hare.  The following morning, they returned for the rest of the baggage by canoe and went right on; sometimes they ate and other times not, because they were not gone long and it was not very far.  When they went straight on they went to Ka Ukataukau shipi as we call it, and a little further; it was there that they unloaded the baggage.  When they returned and were in the middle of their canoe trip, they tended their hare traps, because they had no meat.  And the following morning they all got into canoes and went to visit their traps in passing.  When they killed a hare, they cooked it because they had no other meat.  Arriving at the Shamukua Shipi fork, and just a little before, there was a campsite right on the hill.  It was there that they embarked in canoes.  After going back to find the baggage, it was the men who returned to carry it to the campsite.  They unloaded the baggage at Ka Kashtinuatsh.  Again, it was the same thing; they checked their traps and the following morning when we re-embarked they visited them as usual.  If they killed a hare, or any other animal they saw, be it a partridge or other, it was eaten either for dinner or for supper.

We did not stop often during the trip, always two days and when the weather was bad we stayed a day longer, because one could not paddle due to the weather. It was towards the rising sun that we found Ka Kashtinuatsh.  Again it was the same, always two days and we paddled twice by canoe once for the baggage and once for us.  This time we stopped at Ka Mamikuanapishkau or Uapileu paushtik and just a little before; at this location we disembarked.

There, there was an island and it was large, but it was made smaller because of the water.  There we camped again.  There the hunting started; we were looking for moose.  Already there were moose.  There were moose all over the place.  In this that I am going to tell you, there were still many moose.  When we left two days later, we disembarked at Nataushtin as we call it.  Once again we camped at Ka ishpaukau; it is a little higher not far from Nakushakaneu Shipi.  Again at this location we transported our baggage.  It was there that others were hunting, among them: Little-Wolf Verreault, François Verreault.  We paddled with others up to this location. On occasion there were many canoes paddling together.  At this location the hunt commenced.  We started by killing a moose; they were all over the place.  The place is called Nataushtin.  A little further there is a great place where moose collect.  There are many bends on the river and it is here that we killed the moose.  We were still many people: Pierre Jourdain and all his brothers, Simon, Jean-Baptiste and Benoît, they were all there. There was also William Sylvestre and also an elder called Damien; he was the grandfather of Bastien and Bastien was also there.  We had killed a moose and there was also a Cree called Sandy; he was with his two sons Noé and Abraham and they had also killed one.  When one kills a moose, the tradition is to share the meat.  We smoked the meat for a day and then shared it out.  There was a lake called Ka Ashtuenanut Shakahikan or Osprey Lake in English.  There were trout in this lake.  The reason why we call this lake Ka Ashteulnanuatsh is that, a very long time ago in the time when we still made canoes from birch-bark, it was here that the ancients went to make them.  It was because there were beautiful birch trees at this place I suppose.  I remember having seen when I was small pieces of leftover wood at the location were they made birch bark canoes.  Someone also told me that when people were ascending, that they stopped there to make their canoes.  That is why this area is called Kashtelnanuatsh.  There is an island; it is there the real Ka Ashtelnanu as it is called.  It is at this location that one disembarks and it is also here that one camps; there are all sorts of fish in this lake.  In the Mistassini River there are no trout.  There are still many people at this location.  After Ka Ashtuelnanu one arrives at Passeshtakan.  There is a lake, not very far away which is called Ka Nushemuakushkatsh, this is where one disembarks.  It is not far from Pesseshtakaniss and lower down is Pesseshtakan.  It is from there that the Jourdains ascend.  We camped at the portage.  We were all together and they camped on the other side of the river.  It was the last time we saw them before returning in the spring.  We had always been together before the separation.  That morning, it was still dark when they embarked to leave from their side.  It was again the same, the men made the first voyage with the baggage then it was our turn.  We still had moose meat.  When one kills a moose and one still has meat one does not trap hare, otherwise it is wasted.  Just from time to time one traps a little but not much. We embarked from Pesseshtakan just to Ka Uipishkuakamishitsh as we call it.  It was to this spot that we transported the baggage.  There was a portage towards the setting sun (west).  Lake Travers was there but it was not called that in the past, we called it Ka Ashashkuanuatsh but the Whites changed the name to Swan Lake, that was called Uapisheuakami (Lake of the White Geese).  We camped at Uipishkuakamishitsh sometimes Nitatshutsh (below the portage) and at other times in the short cut.  It depended on the time it would take for the men because they traversed this six-mile long portage with the baggage.  We were all together and I was young and I had already started to work.  Again two days at this place and that always depended on the weather and we always paddled.  There were no motors at this time and we had only paddles.  We were still with the Charles Verreault family and the elders who were there, called Damien and William Sylvestre; we were still together.  There was an island where there was a campsite and it was there that we camped sometimes and at other times on the other bank of the lake.  It was not yet autumn; it was still summer.  It was almost a month that we paddled every two or three days.