Coming Next: A River with Two Names

Thanks to all who played “Which expedition is next?” a few weeks back. I realized that I never confirmed what river we are paddling in mid August…so here goes. Our next expedition is called The River with Two Names and it begins on August 15 when we fly into Harp Lake. After a few days paddling along the lake we will exit via the Harp River onto the the Adlatok River…or is it the Ogjoktok River? It turns out that the river has two names. Depending on the map you look at (especially how old the map is), depending on which trip report you uncover, and depending on which website you look at, the river has and had two names. Currently on the provincial road map, the upper part of the river is called the Adlatok River and then the branch of the river that leads to Ogjoktok Bay is called the Ogjoktok River. On Canadian topographical maps, the the upper part of the river is called the Ogjoktok River and then the branch of the river that leads to Adlatok Bay is called the Adlatok River.

We plan to take the northern branch to Adlatok Bay and hope sea conditions will allow us to paddle out to Hopedale to catch the coastal boat. Some may remember that a few years back, we paddled the Kanairiktok River and had hoped to paddled to Hopedale then. Both the Adlatok and the Ogjoktok ultimately join Kanairiktok Bay. So our fingers are crossed that we get to complete both of this trips by paddling to Hopedale.

Not wanting to take sides and needing to much more research and learning about the river, its names, its place, and the folks who have lived by it and travelled it, we will call by both it’s names for now. I enjoyed looking through some archival documents yesterday and noticed several different spellings of the river’s names as well. Here is a picture of one of the falls we will likely have to portage around. It is from the MUN Online Library Archive. It is identified as “Paget River Falls in Allatok” and indexed as Adlatok.

I also enjoyed reading this entry in the Encyclopedia of Labrador entitled: A is for Adlatok written by Jamie Jackman, Program Director at the Labrador Institute. In his article, Jamie mentions what the word Adlatok comes from: “The Adlatok River flows eastward from the Quebec-Labrador boarder and empties into both Adlatok Bay and Ujutok Bay. In the past, Innu hunters and their families used parts of the 258 kilometre-long waterway as a travel route from the country’s interior to the trading post at Hopedale. The name comes from the Inuit word Allaktok, meaning “where there are Innu.”” Jamie has a family connection to the river and community of Adlatok. He mentions that those who visit “quickly fall in love with Adlatok Bay, evident in the way many earlier pioneers and leaders discuss its natural beauty in Labradorian literature.” In the next weeks, I’ll be looking for some of that literature and I’ll continue to share what I find. If my experience in other parts of Labrador are any indication, I’m sure the Adlatok/Ogjoktok River will take up residence in my heart.

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