Water Readers

MackenzieRiver_rounded.jpgThe mighty Mackenzie is no easy read.

In length, flow and drainage area, it's the third largest river in this hemisphere, just behind the Amazon and the Mississippi. But for its quiet, untouched beauty, it is first among all the world's great rivers, with mountains, gorges, wide valleys of virgin forest and thousands of kilometres of clean, pure water. And long before pipelines challenged the Mackenzie River's isolation, people were opening it up.

They did it by canoe, by wind-driven York Boat, by paddle wheeler. They were Metis. First, they learned the river's navigational secrets. Then they passed them down, making themselves essential to all travel on the river.

The Metis still dominate the Mackenzie - these days as captains and pilots of modern diesel tugs. And they remain what they always were: Water Readers.

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