Canadian Rangers React Fast and Save Trapper

Canadian Rangers

BEARSKIN LAKE – The Canadian Rangers in Bearskin Lake reacted quickly when the community learned one of its trappers was overdue.

The trapper, Henry McKay, had left  to check his trap line near Black Bear Lake, about 50 kilometres north east of Bearskin Lake. He was equipped for the cold weather but he had made no preparations to spend the night on the land if he had to. He told people he would be back in Bearskin the same day he left to check his traps.

When he was reported to be 24 hours overdue the Ontario Provincial Police asked the Canadian Army for help and the Bearskin Rangers were tasked with organizing a quick search for Mr. McKay. If the Rangers could not find him the OPP said a police plane would join the search the following morning.

Master Corporal Linda Kamenawatamin set up a command post and two Rangers  – Sergeant Randy Fiddler and Master Corporal Scott Nothing – left by snowmobile to look for Mr. McKay at 8.30 p.m. “It was cold. It was like -30C,” Sergeant Fiddler said.

The Rangers checked the area around the trap line but found no trace of the trapper until, shortly before midnight, they checked a cabin owned by Mr. McKay and found him inside. He told the Rangers his snowmobile had gone through river ice into about two-and-a-half feet of water and he could not recover it.

“His leg and hip were sort of sore from when he was thrown when his snowmobile went through the ice,” Sergeant Fiddler said. “It took him about two hours to walk two kilometres to get to his cabin, where he had food and he got a fire going and waited for help.”

Shortly before the Rangers found him Mr. McKay used a ladder to get onto the roof of his cabin and managed to use his cell phone to send a text message to the Nishbawbe Aski Police in Bearskin telling them where he was. The Rangers found Mr. McKay before the message could be relayed to them from the command post by satellite phone.

“When we found he was all right so we told him we’d go back to Bearskin and come back the next day to help him,” Sergeant Fiddler said. “When we got back next day he’d already freed his snowmobile but it was all frozen. We had to tow it back to Bearskin on a toboggan and we brought him back as well.

“He was pretty pleased with what we did for him. We were glad to help.”


(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces  Base Borden.)

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Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group. Canadian Rangers are army reservists who provide a military presence in Canada's remote and isolated regions, including Northern Ontario. They provide skilled assistance in emergencies such as searches, plane crashes, forest fires, and floods. They also operate the Junior Canadian Rangers, a youth programme for boys and girls aged 12 to 18.