June 29, 1927: Indian Trapper Returns From The Northland

Winter in the north country was not severe, according to Joe Cosley, well-known trapper, who has just returned to the Flathead. Although the ice on the lakes was so thick that on May 18 he had to make a sled to get his canoe across one of them, the snow did not reach a depth of over six inches, he said.

Cosley, who wears gold ear-rings and talks like the old-time "voyageur," came out of his tripping grounds near the Bush River in British Columbia April 1, and decided upon a canoe trip down the Beaver River to look over the land with a view to locating grounds for muskrat farmers, and incidentally to do a bit of spring trapping.

Trapping itself did not prove very profitable, for although Beaver River, he said, has been famous for "muskrats," he found it all trapped out by men ahead of him. Below Green lake he came onto a Cree Indian settlement and knew it was useless to look for rats thereafter. However, he made mental note of marshes adjoining the lakes and along the river which he is confident could be made to flourish through muskrat farming.

The 800-mile canoe trip down the Beaver River, as described by Cosley, sounded ideal. Outfitting at Edmonton, he started from Lake LaBiche and in all his journey encountered no bad weather, only clear sunlight. At night he did not even put up a tent but slept under trees, his only friends being the wild animals and birds.

The trapper saw many rare birds he was not acquainted with. Thousands of geese and ducks were flying northward, as well as sandhill cranes and "whoopers," - white cranes believed by many to be extinct. Hawks, crows, owls, and rabbits he saw by the thousands. Many of the rabbits, he said, were dead along the river banks, a condition presumably explained by the fact that rabbits are believed to die off every seven years. Deer, caribou and moose - all seemed in good condition, Cosley said. He lived on birds' eggs almost entirely.

The trip was a slow one on the whole. The crooked rivers traversing the land made the water route so circuitous that 10 miles as the crow flies frequently meant 35 miles by water and required a whole day's canoeing.

- - - Daily Inter Lake




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