In 1955, when he was 36, Art Moffatt, a Vermont naturalist and adventurer, led a remarkable expedition into a bleak, little-known corner of northern Canada—and he kept a remarkable diary (see above). Moffatt believed that man's battle against the wilderness, with the aid of helicopter and outboard motor, had become today a lopsided affair. He proposed to meet nature on the simplest of human terms. For the first of two installments detailing the beauty—and terror—of the struggle of six courageous men in a hostile land, here published for the first time, please turn the page
On Sept. 24, 1955, the following dispatch appeared in " The New York Times":
"Prince Albert, Sask. Planes flew over the tundra of the Arctic region today looking for a trace of a six-man expedition. The group was a week overdue on a 900-mile canoe trip.
"Led by a veteran woodsman, Arthur Moffatt, 36, of Norwich, Vt., the explorers had provisions for 80 days. They have been gone 85 days, but officials said there were deer and elk in the area that the men could shoot for food.
"The group left Stony Rapids, Sask., en route to Baker Lake, 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle."
ART MOFFATTS PROSPECTUS
Although brought up in a suburb of New York, Art Moffatt was already an accomplished adventurer when other boys were still tying their first Boy Scout knots. At 17, he embarked on a major expedition, 700 miles down the Albany River from Sioux Lookout in western Ontario to the lower part of Hudson Bay. Incredibly, he made the trip alone. After graduation from Dartmouth in 1941, he was variously an ambulance driver, university instructor, lecturer, and in 1951 became managing editor of Ski Magazine. From 1950 to 1954 he led yearly trips down the Albany, studying the region's geology and wild life as he went. In the course of these journeys he became fascinated with the forbidding wilderness still further north and determined one day to go there after reading Report on the Dubawnt, Kazan and Ferguson Rivers, written in 1896 by a Canadian geological surveyor, Dr. J. B. Tyrrell, the only white man before Moffatt ever to lead an expedition across the bleak expanse of the Great Barren Grounds. In 1955 Moffatt organized a six-man exploration party and prepared this prospectus.
The canoe route from Lake Athabaska over the Great Barren Grounds to Chesterfield Inlet on Hudson's Bay was first explored by Dr. J. B. Tyrrell of the Canadian Geological Survey in 1893. With his brother and six Indian canoemen, Dr. Tyrrell left on July 2. Almost two and a half months later, after running scores of dangerous rapids, the party reached the coast.
Since Dr. Tyrrell's exploration of the route, no other party has made the trip. We will be the first all-white party ever to make the trip. In our journey north we will pass into the hunting and trapping grounds of the Chipewyan Indians and out onto the Barren Grounds, beyond the northern limit of trees. This is the summer range of the vast herds of caribou. The lakes and streams are reported to be full of trout up to 25 pounds in weight.
After crossing country recently inhabited by the Inland Eskimos, we will reach the junction of the Dubawnt and Thelon rivers and the country of coastal Eskimos. At Baker Lake, almost 900 miles from Athabaska, we shall reach a trading post, our first contact with the outside world.