Author Archive

Big Kinosoo: Dangerous Waters Run Deep, Chapter 6/6

Written by Harold McNeill on February 6th, 2010. Posted in Adventure


kinosoo beach and campground

Photo (Family Files):  As the sun was setting, we all took a walk along Kinosoo Beach. Those waters may look peaceful on the surface, but in depths lurks a monster that with one look could make that infamous white shark Jaws retreat.   I was desperately worried about the safety of Sampi and his family, but he was a man on a mission and was not about to be deterred.  All I could do was pray they safely returned.

This is the last post in the Kinosoo Series. Perhaps more will be added later
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Link to Last Post:  Sampi gets hooked
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Chapter 6: Dangerous Waters Run Deep

The September long week-end traditionally marks the end of summer in Canada. While September can be one of the most glorious month, the final week-end before school starts brings out thousands of city dwellers and country folk alike as they hit the road for that final week-end at the beach or on the water.

In Cold Lake the campground was booked to capacity and the Marina overflowing with fishing and sailing boats of every make, model and size.  Line ups at the boat launch could stretch for blocks. The bars and night spots opened early and stayed open late. Fishing, sailing, hunting, hiking, biking, water skiing or simply lazing on the beach – the great outdoors around Cold Lake had something for everyone.

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Big Kinosoo – Monster Fresh Water Fish in Canada – Chapter 2 of 6

Written by Harold McNeill on January 20th, 2010. Posted in Adventure


Big Kinosoo

This Big Kinosoo Graphic is copied and modifited from the original on the cover of “Treasured Scales of the Kinosoo” a biographical/pictoral history of pioneer familes who settled in Cold Lake during the last century. The book was edited by Laura Dean Skarsen.

Link to Next Post:   The Rush is on.
Link to Last Post: The Big Kinosoo
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Monster Freshwater Fish of Canada

It was not until I moved from Victoria to Vancouver in 1965 to complete training at the Vancouver Police Academy, that I first realized the Big Kinosoo might not be the only large fish to ply the fresh water lakes and rivers of Canada.

Giant White SturgeonOne day I happened to be reading an article in one of the Vancouver papers about a group of fisherman having caught a giant fish in the Fraser River somewhere near Chilliwack.  The fish, a White Sturgeon, weighed in at close to 1000 lbs (453 kgs) and took several hours to land.

My thoughts raced back to Cold Lake and the big Kinosoo. I also recalled there was a river north of Edmonton, the Sturgeon River, and wondered if it might contain or might have once contained similar giants.

I did no further research at that time as my life was headed in other directions and it was not until long after I retired that my thoughts again returned to the Big Kinosoo. The web provided a wonderful search tool and, sure enough, I was able to come up with number of photos of giant fish that can be found right here in Canada.

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Birch Lake – The Blizzard of ’41 – Chapter 1 of 4

Written by Harold McNeill on January 18th, 2010. Posted in Family 1940 1965


Blizzard of 41

Photo (Farm Life): In the early years of living on the farm in Saskatchewan, winter blizzards could arrive suddenly and last for days. Travelling in such such weather was a dangerous affair.

Link to Next Post: A New Beginning
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Deep Winter, 1941: Northern Saskatchewan

It was just after 10:00 am when the pain struck causing the soon to be mom to double over. She grabbed the kitchen table to keep from falling as the pain slowly eased. Home alone and two miles from the nearest neighbour, ten miles from the the small village of Glaslyn in the far Northwest of Saskatchewan and forty-five miles from the hospital in Edam, she was scared as she had no idea what time her husband might return. Outside the January blizzard continued to build in intensity.

Bone chilling cold accompanied by high winds rolling off the southwest shore of Birch Lake pounded their little log home and although the house was partially sheltered by a thick karaganas hedge and poplars, the wind treated these barriers as minor annoyances. Each time a gust of wind hit, it felt like her little home might be shaken from its very foundation.

To make matters worse, the wind created a forlorn, howling sound as it whipped around the logs. Those sounds seemed to expectant mother, Laura, to be among the most lonesome sounds in the world, right up there with wolves howling in the wilderness or a loon calling across a dead calm lake a dusk. What would she do if the baby could not wait?

While the temperature had remained steady near -20F, Laura noted that over the morning it had started to drop and was now nearing -25. Over the past few winters it was not uncommon to see the temperature drop to -50 or -60F during a cold snap. It was always hard to tell the exact temperature as the mercury would freeze at -40. Add to that the wind chill and exposed skin would freeze within seconds and breathing that super cold air could damage lungs so quickly that, in her condition, walking to a neighbouring farm would be a risky, perhaps deadly proposition. She knew people could easily become disoriented in such storms and quickly freeze to death.  No, her best bet was to sit tight and wait for her husband. If the baby came she would just have to make due.

It was going to be a January blizzard forever etched in Laura’s mind. Years later when telling the story, she still shuddered at the memory:

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Big Kinosoo: The Rush is On – Legend Becomes Reality – Chapter 3 of 6

Written by Harold McNeill on January 10th, 2010. Posted in Adventure


Frank's Marina

Photo: Copy of framed photo in the dining room at the home of my sister Louise and her husband Frank Yochim. This is Franks Cold Lake Marina as it looked in the late 1960s after being moved to the Main Dock. For thirty years my brother-in-law, along with members of the family operated the Marina and following his retirement, his son Lorin Yochim took over for several years before heading out to explore the world.

Link to Next Post:  DHC-3 Fish Attack.
Link to Last Post:  Monster Fish
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Big Kinosoo:   First Half of the 1900s

Photos: Mr. Labatt, left, and Mr. Z.A. Lefebvre, with three monster trout caught in Cold Lake between 1915 and 1918. It is not hard to imagine there were, and still are, fish larger than these in Cold Lake.  Pictures were copied from “Treasured Scales of the Kinosoo”, a compilation of the history of Cold Lake by Laura Dean Skarsen.

Labatt and Lefebvre

The Rush is On

Many who arrived in Cold Lake early in the 20th Century to take up the search for the Big Kinosoo, decided to stay. Many became trappers, loggers, farmers, cattlemen, while others opened businesses in order to raise money to continue their search for the big fish. In their search they caught many other big fish, but never the Big Kinosoo. He was, by all accounts, one very elusive fish. By the middle of the century, many new residents were taking jobs building the new Canadian Forces Air Base west of town. Still later, hundreds of these workers accepted more permanent positions when the base became operational.

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Comments

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold