Living Lightly on the Land: Ontario’s Cree Village Ecolodge

Ontario's Cree village maximizes the use of natural products.
Ontario’s Cree village maximizes the use of natural products. Photo by Katherine McIntyre

I am bundled as I have never been bundled before: down-filled coat, fleece-lined boots, goggles, fur hat and about five layers of almost everything else. I certainly must look like a marshmallow woman. But who cares about fashion, when the trip I am about to take is in a wooden box on runners towed by a powerful, black snowmobile, the lifeline of the north when everything is frozen. Daryl McLeod, a native Cree — padded, helmeted and goggled like me — helps my well-worn bones into the box.

“It’s warm today, only minus 12 [10° F],” Daryl comments.

“What’s cold?” I ask.

“Minus 50 [-58° F]; then we stay inside.”

I plant myself in the box with my back to Daryl, who’s driving the snowmobile, and facing Byron, Daryl’s 15-year-old son. Daryl revs up the machine and we zip off from Cree Village Ecolodge on Moose Factory Island, headed up the frozen Moose River.

A Cree boy feeds bannock crumbs to a gray jay.
A Cree boy feeds bannock crumbs to a gray jay.

Moose Factory Island is situated near the southern end of James Bay, a former fur-trading post that was the first English-speaking settlement in the  Canadian province of Ontario.

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