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Soph Describes Fatal Canoe Mishap

Canadian Accident


Peter T. Franck '58, back in Cambridge after a Canadian canoe trip which claimed the death of his group's leader, said last night that the accident occurred partly because "we were rushing to get out before winter set in."

On Sept. 14, the six-man expedition, organized by adventurer-lecturer Arthur Moffatt, '36, of Norwich, Vt., and consisting, besides Franck, of three Dartmouth students, Bruce LeFavour, Joseph Lanouette, and Fred Pessl, together with George Grinnell, was paddling down the swift Dubawnt River, about 900 miles north of Winnipeg.

Behind schedule and hurrying to get out before the lakes froze, Moffatt led the way into some rapids, which Franck said did not at first appear "any better or worse than the many others we had shot that morning."

Moffat and Lanouette were suddenly pitched from their canoe, but Grinnell and Franck, second in line, were miraculously able to shoot the rapids, unload their canoe on shore, and head back for the others. By this time Pessl's canoe had also turned over, leaving four men floundering in the freezing water.

Suffering from extreme shock when finally rescued, Moffatt never recovered and died within an hour. The others, all exhausted and practically numb, huddled for the night in the only two-man tent that was still usable. The five arrived at Baker Lake on Sept. 24, ten days after the fatal accident, from where a search plane flew them to Churchill, Manitoba.

Moffatt, who had done extensive travelling in Canada, planned a route from Lake Athabaska down the Dubawnt River to Baker Lake that had last been travelled by James B. Tyrell in 1898, except possibly for unknown trappers and Eskimoes.

The expedition relied on the abundant and delicious, caribou, trout, and ptarmigan, a chicken-like bird, for food.

While having no definite plans, Franck said he would sometime like to take a return trip.

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