But what affects the traveler is the hospitality he meets, the warm and generous welcome everywhere. That is a frontier specialty. Its roots are in our need of it; we need it most where men live far apart. And near the wilderness it grows luxuriant.
~ Rockwell Kent, from the book Salamina
Before I began last month’s journey, I had expectations about the terrain and the scenery I would encounter. What came as a pleasant surprise was the human element of the adventure. Never before have I arrived in a distant community and been so warmly welcomed by those who live there. If you’re a fan of traveling to places where the people are friendly, eager to speak with you and willing to help you in any way that they can, I highly recommend a visit to the Cree Nation of Chisasibi.
(Roadside Poutine: When visiting Chisasibi, be sure to enjoy a generous serving of Chef Clayton’s delicious poutine. Just look for the big red chip wagon.)
My deep thanks go out to all of the residents of Chisasibi who made my stay so memorable.
And I’d like to give special thanks to Clayton and Reggie, who told me a great deal about life in Chisasibi. To Edward, the local Tourism Coordinator, who was very helpful both before and during my visit, providing information about the places I wanted to see and the services I would need. To Louie-Rene and the excellent staff of Auberge Maanitaaukimikw, for a welcoming and comfortable stay. All of my aurora photographs were captured in the Auberge’s back yard, right on the La Grande River. And to Jerry at Long Point Adventures; if you’re interested in a more rustic experience, stay in one of his cabins or pitch your tent right on the cold, hard stone of the Canadian Shield, surrounded by the softly-lapping waters of James Bay.
On my final night in the area, I was staying at the Auberge along with a nice group of visitors whose work centers on welcoming people to the region—business owners and representatives of organizations such as Voyages Eeyou Istchee Baie-James, COTA (Cree Outfitting and Tourism Association), and Tourisme Baie-James. As it happens, some of these folks work alongside the very people who were so helpful to me by telephone and email during the summer, when I began planning this adventure.
We had a great time watching the night sky together and talking about life in northern Quebec. My sincere thanks go out to this group for their hospitality and kindness, for giving me so much useful information about the region, and for being so accommodating with my inability to converse en français.