- May 2017
Methy Portage, also known as Portage La Loche, is a passageway between the Churchill and Athabasca Rivers (Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan). The portage was the main connection between the Hudson Bay drainage area and the Athabasca-Mackenzie (Marchildon). Many traders and explorers crossed this path. The portage has 19 kilometers of flat level land before travelers reached a vertical 180 meter drop into the Clearwater River (Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan). Because the path was arduous, traders usually only spent about 2 kilometers on the portage. The portage made trading easier in terms of location, but the strenuous path made carrying furs and other goods difficult (Marchildon 112). Men crossing the portage would often have to carry their canoes along the portage. Owners of trading companies had difficulty maintaining a crew to carry goods across the portage. In the 1830s, The Council of the Northern Department banned the hiring of Indians at the portage, which many chose to ignore (Marchildon 114). In 1842, horses were introduced to carry the load, but the horses often died of emaciation. In 1850, oxen were common for moving goods along the portage. In 1870, the cart road was rebuilt. In 1883, the portage was no longer needed because of the invention of steamboats (Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan).
References: Marchildon, Gregory P. The Early Northwest. University of Regina Press, 2008. Accessed April 26, 2017.
Russell, Dale. "Portage la Loche." The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan . Accessed May 03, 2017. http://esask.uregina.ca/entry/portage_la_loche.html.