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Bush pilot rescued after 58 days in NWT wilderness

The Story

He talked to the wolves and watched helplessly at night as planes flew high overhead. Without trees to build a fire, there wasn't much else bush pilot Bob Gauchie could do as he awaited help near a remote lake in the Northwest Territories. His salvation finally came when a fellow pilot spotted him. The day after his rescue, Gauchie tells a CBC reporter about the weather he endured for 58 days: "It was just cold. Sam McGee knew what he was talking about." 

Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Morning Magazine
Broadcast Date: April 2, 1967
Guest(s): Robert Gauchie, Linda Gauchie, Ron Sheardown
Duration: 5:24

Did You know?

• Bush pilot Bob Gauchie was forced to land his plane on a frozen lake en route to Yellowknife on Feb. 2, 1967. Both emergency locator transmitters on the plane failed. Gauchie survived by eating his cargo of frozen Arctic char, a salmon-like fish, although he lost 70 pounds in the eight-week ordeal. At times the temperature dipped as low as -50 C. On April 1, 1967, Gauchie was rescued by fellow pilots.

• Sam McGee is a character created by poet Robert W. Service in 1907. Lured north to the Yukon by the gold rush, McGee feels the cold keenly and begs the narrator to cremate him should he die. After the narrator obliges he finds McGee reanimated, saying: "It's fine in here, but I greatly fear, you'll let in the cold and storm/Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm."

• The CBC's Northern Messenger radio service, which began in 1933, was a valuable link to the North in the years before reliable satellite communication. It was the only way to reach workers such as RCMP officers, missionaries and scientific researchers in remote places. Relatives and friends seeking to relay a message would send it to the service. These messages and news items were compiled and broadcast each weekend all over the North until the service ended in the 1970s.


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