|As far north as we’re going this time
In deference to our suffering RV we decided to end our push north at 50 degrees - 50.988 minutes north latitude. Besides, we still have a lot of Canada to see in the next seven weeks. We turned south and spent the day in a leisurely drive back to civilization. Civilization defined as a place where the gas stations are less than 230 miles apart.
We passed though Matagami and stopped at the Information Center to de-register. The rest of the trip was easy and much of the way we had the road to ourselves.
This is all Aboriginal land and Canada, which treated their native people almost as badly as the U.S. treated theirs, has made great efforts in recent years to clean up their act. Much of this is the result of recognition by the United Nations, of the aboriginal nations and their right to exist. It’s a shame it took world pressure to bring this about, but it takes what it takes and it’s the same pressure that shamed the United States into ending segregation.
Aboriginal land claims have resulted in formal treaties with the logging and power companies, and First Nation status is today a symbol of pride rather than shame. Ironically Quebec, one of the first places where Europeans and native people met, is one of the last places to formalize native rights through treaties. It is also one of the last places in Canada to end the prejudice which existed and persisted here until well into the ‘90s.
The Cree language has it’s own alphabet symbols and since this is Cree country, these are seen in writing on signs along the highway. Native languages are also evident in place names, which are native here and not French. The French who had the best relationship with the Indians in early years, are playing catch up in the 21st century. But when it comes to race relations catch up, as we learned in America, is better than perpetual ignorance.
We ended the day near Val d’ Or, a town in the heart of Canada’s gold deposits. The lush farmland doesn’t look like what we think of as ‘gold country’ but an enormous open pit in the nearby town of Dubuisson makes it clear that it is. Homes were moved to accommodate the pit which can be partially seen from the road. At a campground named Nid d’ Aigle (Nest of the Eagle) we took a space for the night and planned our return to Anglo–Canada. Next stop - the Capital at Ottawa.