North

Trapper's life in the bush on display at Fort Smith, N.W.T., museum

One of the North's oldest trappers is being recognized at the Northern Life Museum in Fort Smith, N.W.T., as part of an exhibit showing his life on the land.

Pi Kennedy recounts perilous river crossing, ice cream drop from plane

Pi Kennedy with his dog team. 'When I was out on the land I was happy,' he says. (Submitted)

A trapper who spent much of his 88 years living alone in the bush is being featured at the Northern Life Museum in Fort Smith, N.W.T. 

Pi Kennedy, who started out living in a small cabin with a sod roof outside of the South Slave community, said he spent a lot of time alone but he was never lonely. 

"When I was out on the land I was happy," he said. 

But living alone could be dangerous at times. He remembers trying to cross a river that was partly choked with ice. It was blowing snow and he drifted three kilometres in his canoe before he landed on shore. He later realized he had been foolish. 

"I was alone; if something happened, they probably wouldn't find me," Kennedy said. "I should have waited till all that ice was frozen, then go across."

He has some less harrowing memories, too, like the time he was air-dropped ice cream from a bush plane.

The pilot couldn't land because there was too much overflow, so he dropped the ice cream from the aircraft. Kennedy waded through knee-deep water and snow to get at it. 

"I like ice cream and I still eat ice cream," he said. "Some people are terrified it will kill you, but it hasn't yet." 

Kennedy trapped until 2010, when he had a minor stroke and moved into town.

He said there's not as many trappers these days because Ski-Doos and other items are expensive.

"And some people don't like to go out like me," Kennedy adds. 

The exhibit about Kennedy's life on the land is at the Northern Life Museum and Cultural Centre until May 22.

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