The Wetum Ice Road

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Our journey on the Wetum Road started today at 9:25 AM after an overnight to visit Granny Canuck in Cochrane.  Loaded up with groceries, a full tank of gas, lunch, and Reese our miniature poodle co-pilot, we start our venture to the tip of James Bay in our 4×4 Nissan Titan.

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Truck all loaded up and ready to go North!

Built in 2012 by Mocreebec and contract partners;  the seasonal winter road connects Moose Factory and Moosonee to Highway 634 and then onto Highway 11.  We start the real journey at Smooth Rock Falls and travel along highway 634 to Fraserdale.  After Fraserdale, the road continues to Abitibi Canyon and then on the Wetum road.  Up to this point, the road can be traveled in the summer as it’s used for maintaining the dams.

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KM 0 | 10:35 AM | Town of Smooth Rock Falls

Resetting the odometer to zero at the local Esso gas station for 1.19 a liter, we are now ready to tackle the journey onward to Moosonee.

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Esso gas station in Smooth Rock Falls, last gas station for 300 KM.

KM 49.4 | 11:13 AM | ONR Track Crossing

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Looking North, this is the tracks that take the Polar Bear Express train to Moosonee.

KM 79.8 | 11:45 AM | Abitibi Generating Station Dam Crossing

Providing 349 MW of power to the Ontario Power Generation grid, the dam was put into service in 1933.  If you would like to read more about the generating station, please follow the following link to Ontario Power Generation.

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Getting ready to cross the generating station.
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Looking down the Abitibi Canyon.
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Halfway across the generating station.

KM 126.9 | 12:21 AM | Turning onto the Wetum Road – 170 KM To Go

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KM 238 | 2:10 PM | Crossing The French River

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A little Lightroom touch brings out the beauty in a grey overcast day.

KM 241.6 | 2:18 PM | The Muskeg 

A large portion of the land in the James Bay Lowlands is muskeg or moss bog.  It is very similar to swamp land that is covered in a thick dense moss.  While walking on it, it’s very spongy and you can only travel on it during the winter months.  Want to learn more on muskeg, here’s the link to Wikipedia.

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KM 294.8 | 3:11 PM | Moose Factory

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Moose Factory in the distance as we cross the Moose River.

KM 301.4 | 3:32 PM | Moosonee

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Moosonee just off in the distance and our journey is complete.

From Smooth Rock Falls to Moosonee, our adventure was just over 300KM and around 5 hours.  We had a great time on the road, a few pit stops to let the dog out and stretch the legs, and two ‘hold on’ moments where the dog and 1/2 the cargo went flying.

I wouldn’t recommend traveling the ice roads if you’ve never driven on them before but if you’re in the area, want an adventure, hit me up!

No English Muffins, no problem!

A trip today to the grocery store here in Moosonee to get some English muffins for our breakfast tomorrow morning, resulted in a major disappointment with the shelf bare.

Staying true to living in the north fashion, the next best thing is to make your own!

A few Google and Pinterest searches later, we found “…been making this for 29 years” recipe and with that; how could we go wrong?

English Muffins: LindaPinda – AllRecepies

The Stuff You Need

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1/4 cup melted shortening**
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

** I used lard here as I didn’t have shortening; it worked fine as far as I can tell.

The Stuff You Do

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1/4 of the sugar in warm water and it should get frothy in about 10 minutes and if not, time to get some new yeast!  I add 1/4 of the sugar here because it helps the yeast.
  2.  Heat the milk on medium until bubbles just form, no boiling here.  This is called scalding the milk.  Once it’s off the heat, toss in the 3/4 of the sugar.
  3. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, add yeast goo, warm milk, melted fat, and 3 cups of flour.  Start slow and then turn that mixer up and let it run till it’s smooth, mine was about 5 minutes.
  4. Change out to a dough hook and start adding the rest of the flour.  I was using regular all-purpose flour, so it took about 2 extra cups and the dough was still soft.
  5. Place in a warm area, let rise 30-40 minutes until doubled.
  6. Punch down, roll out 1/2 thick and use a biscuit cutter, glass or something round.
  7. The original recipe says to place on parchment with cornmeal but mine wouldn’t stick so I used a little water on buns and rolled them in cornmeal, worked for me.
  8. Let rise about 20-30 minutes.
  9. Heat a griddle or frying pan in my case, grease with shortening or lard and cook away.  I had my setting on low/medium heat to turned them frequently as not to brown too much.
  10. Set aside to cool and then enjoy!

The Money Shot

Final Thoughts

These are not traditional English muffins that you think of when you get them at the store, but more like a bun texture.  They turned out chewy and a little dense like a biscuit as most reviews suggested on Allrecepies.

I won’t be saving this recipe as my real English muffin search continues…

When Life Won’t Give You Lemons

Make cinnamon swirl loaf!

One of the challenges of working and living in Moosonee is the reduced access to fresh fruit and vegetables, like lemons. There is only a single grocery store in Moosonee and if they don’t have lemons, you have to look for alternatives and forgo that craving for a lemon loaf.

The Cinnamon Loaf – Love Foodies Recipe

The Stuff You Need

  • 2 cups All Purpose / Plain flour
  • 1 1/2 cups regular sugar
  • 1 tsp baking power
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk**
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon powder
** To make homemade buttermilk: take 1 cup or milk and add 1-2 tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar.

The Sweet, Sweet Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tsp milk

The Stuff You Need To Do

1. Crank that oven to 350 °F  and slick up a 9-in loaf pan.

2. Toss the flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, buttermilk, egg, vanilla and oil in a bowl and stir just until moistened.

3. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and remaining sugar.

4. Pour half of the batter into your greased pan; sprinkle with half of the cinnamon-sugar. Dump the rest of the batter and then the rest of the cinnamon-sugar.

5. Now grab a knife and swirl that loaf up!

6. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry and not a sticky-gooey mess. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing to wire rack and let cool, try not resist the urge to dig into it now and burn your fingers and tongue in the process.

7. For the glaze, combine icing sugar and enough milk to reach desired consistency, thin or thick, whatever your inner baker desires.

Now break out the milk, tea, coffee whatever your drinking these days.  Heck, it’s winter have it with a Baliey’s and hot chocolate!

The Money Shot

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Have a SWIRL at the recipe yourself and let me know how it turns out!

It takes 8-12 Hard Inches

Now that I have your attention, I’m talking about ice thickness before a light pickup can travel on it.

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A big part of living and working in the James Bay area of Moosonee, Moose Factory, Fort Albany, Kashechewan and Attawapiskat is the dependency on the winter roads.  The winter roads are vital links to get materials like lumber, fuel and other items that require a community to operate.

Having worked for James Bay General as the only I.T. person for 3 remote communities, the winter road was vital to part of my work.  I would leave Moosonee early in the morning with a coffee, sandwich, few snacks, winter gear, and a lighter, just in case.


I would prefer to drive as I was no longer tied to an airline schedule and could travel between Fort Albany and Attawapiskat as required.

The road between Moosonee and Moose Factory opens a whole new community to access from both sides. Moose Factory does not have a LCBO and Moosonee does not have GG’s a local general store that has just about anything you need.

This is a shot of the glare ice on the Moose River that will accommodate snow machines, vehicles, buses, transport trucks and fuel trucks.


April lends way to break up where the massive force of the Moose River tears the thick ice to shreds, but that’s another story for spring.