Retracing the Hubbard and Wallace Saga

Text and photos by Philip Schubert, Kanata, Ontario, Canada (click here to communicate with the author)

I’ve spent a decade canoeing the lakes and rivers, and hiking the portages in Labrador and northern Quebec travelled over by the participants in the Hubbard-Wallace saga.  For an overview of my adventures, see my articles in Che-Mun (Naskaupi River Journal - 2005, A Wet Brush with History - 2006, and Cutting the George and Philip Down to Size - 2008).

 The Hubbard and Wallace saga is a story of tragedy, adventure, courage, dogged determination and splendid accomplishment in Canada’s north.  The saga began in 1903 and cost the life of Leonidas Hubbard.  The book on the tragedy, The Lure of the Labrador Wild, by Dillon Wallace, one of two survivors of the trip, became an instant best seller and is still in print.  It has inspired generations of paddlers since then to explore Canada's North.  It resulted in further trips in 1905 and 1913 and determined the direction of the remainder of the lives of Leonidas' widow, Mina Hubbard, and Dillon Wallace.  The saga has inspired about 10 books in the past century.   Double click here to go to a website which has pulled a wealth of information together on the saga.  A biography, however, had never been done to date on one of the most interesting participants in the saga, Dillon Wallace.  I have now published one.  See below.

 For those interested in the saga and solo travel in the wilderness, in addition to the link to my biography, below are links to my websites with photos and stories on my adventures and misadventures as I retraced different portions of the saga.  See the overall map below:

 Dillon Wallace's granddaughter, Amy McKendry, and I spent a week in 2008 researching in the archives held at Memorial University in St. John’s and  I spent a further 4 years of hard work in writing the biography.  Amy has written the introduction.  The front cover of the biography is to the left.  Double click on it see it in larger format.  Click on it a 2nd time to see it still larger.  The book is 220 pages in length and has 71 photos in colour.  It is illustrated by a further 46 maps, many of them with further colour photos embedded in them to show exactly what one sees in the different locations.

The biography can be ordered as a book or in all eReader formats.  Double click here for further information and to go to links for ordering the biography.  A number of authors who have published books on the North have reviewed the manuscript.  Double click here to see their comments.


 My solo hike in 2003 to the site at the beginning of the Susan River where Leonidas Hubbard died of exhaustion and starvation in 1903.  Also covered in the website is my solo trip in 2004 over the front-end of the historic Innu Portage.  Dillon Wallace and his team travelled over this portage as part of their 1905 trip.  (double click on the photo to the left to go the website):



My solo canoe trip down the Naskaupi River in 2005 to Seal Lake, which Mina Hubbard and Dillon Wallace and their respective teams travelled up in 1905.  (double click on the photo to the left to go to the website):






My solo canoe trip down the first 140 kilometres of the George River in 2006, which was the last stage for the two trips in 1905 as they made their way to Ungava Bay.  Highlights for me were the identification and exploration of the rapid which nearly cost Wallace and Easton their lives and portaging past the spectacular Three Gorges.  (double click on the photo to the left to go to the website):




In 2007 I further explored the Innu Portage , after exploring its front-end in 2004.  Its trails, streams and lakes, a total of 62 kilometres in length (39 miles), were travelled extensively over the centuries as the Innu bypassed the rapids on the lower Naskaupi River.  I felt that I was living history as I went through it.  I've pulled together complete information here for those interested in revisiting the challenges faced by Wallace and his team in 1905.  (double click on the photo to the left to go to the website):




In 2008 I took on the George River once again solo, this time starting on the Ossokmanuan Reservoir near the town of Churchill Falls and making it all the way to Ungava Bay, a trip covering 800 kilometres.    A highlight was seeing the migration of the George River caribou herd.  (double click on the photo to the left to go to the website):



Since 2008, I have placed a plaque on Mount Hubbard at the edge of Windbound Lake and explored Lakes Hope and Disappointment in canoe trips with Robert Irwin in 2009 to 2012.  I've also explored Goose Creek in 2012, searched in 2013 for the canoe abandoned in 1903 at the edge of the Beaver River, examined in 2013 the route taken by Wallace on his return to Labrador in 1913, explored in 2013 a possible archaeological  site at Ungava Bay and investigated in 2011 and 2012 a possible meteorite impact crater near the Hubbard Rock.  In 2014 I explored the portaging mystery linked to the portage around the Maid Marion Gorge on the upper Naskaupi River that I had laid out in my biography on Dillon Wallace.  (double click on the photo to the left to go to the website on the above):



A number of people have expressed interest in knowing more about a couple of innovations by me as I resolved challenges in taking on the saga solo (fire-shield making it easy to cook with wood, simple rudder which replaced the “missing” canoeist, and an emergency back pack which reduced the risk of going solo).  I also include a photo of my felt soled wading boots which make it much safer to line a canoe over slippery rocks.  (double click on each photo below to see details)




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