Trapper’s 1929 journey now unfolding on Twitter

Derryl Murphy is posting his grandfather's journal of his 1929 trapping travels in the Northwest Territories on Twitter.

'He mentions one day when they see approximately 100,000 caribou between Great Slave Lake and Artillery Lake.'

'From 1936, this is Dick Butler's boat on the Vermilion Chutes. Grandpa had told me horses were used to bring boats and barges down the rapids. You can see the ropes leading to shore, holding it in place.' (Courtesy Derryl Murphy)

Bud Murphy wrote his first journal entry late in the summer of 1929: Friday. Left Peace River Aug 30 1929 ran on sand bar, had to stay all night, rained to beat heck.

That same entry was the first on a new Twitter account, @TrapperBud, launched by Bud’s grandson, Derryl Murphy, earlier this month. Derryl, a writer based in Saskatoon, says he’s enjoying the slow reveal, and the chance to share the story.

“It creates an adventure for me,” Derryl says. “When I read his diary entries, I get to hear it in his voice. He died in 2004 and it’s a delightful thing to be able to have that again.”

“Trapper Bud” was born in Victoria, but spent part of his childhood in Prince George, B.C., and later moved to Peace River, Alta. He was 18 when he left Peace River to join his father, Matt Murphy, on a trapline in the Northwest Territories.

'This is the cover for Grandpa's 1929 diary. He used whatever was to hand back then.' (Courtesy Derryl Murphy)

Along the way, he found time for journal entries nearly every single day, sometimes in adverse circumstances.

“One of the things that I’ve learned that really shouldn’t have been a surprise is just how tough he was. He was going North with his father, who had been trapping up there for a little while before at least, but this was his first time.

“Believe me,” Derryl says, “Crossing Great Slave Lake in late September, early October, wasn’t always an easy time. They had a lot of difficulties up there.”

The most remarkable thing about the diary, Derryl says, is just how literate it shows his grandfather was.

He mentions one day when they see approximately 100,000 caribou between Great Slave Lake and Artillery Lake.- Derryl Murphy

Like his followers on Twitter, Derryl is making a point of not reading ahead in the diary, so he too can enjoy the slow reveal. But he says there are some upcoming entries that are astonishing.

“He mentions one day when they see approximately 100,000 caribou between Great Slave Lake and Artillery Lake, just a shade northeast. They’re having to do a grand portage and it was just an astonishing number to read.”

Derryl says he decided to post the journal entries on Twitter partly because of their length — most are just a few lines long — but also because he wanted to find a way to share the entries. It’s already put him in touch with people from around the world, including a professor of history in Maine who pointed out that “there are likely lots of families sitting on diaries like these and have not ever found a place to put them, a way to get them out there.”

Trapper Bud spent about a decade on the trapline. Ten years later, he moved to Edmonton where he built a ramshackle house and raised four children. He remained a hunter most of his life. He was also a welder.

“He loved his grandkids, he loved his family and he loved the outdoors. There’s nothing he loved more than the outdoors.”


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