The Packsack Baby
By Linda C Butler
Told by the late Norman Leslie
When my mother and grandmother got off the train at Mile 82 to make their way to Herb Lake, they had to walk the twelve-mile portage to the south end of Wekusko Lake. I was a baby then, and George Bartlett, met the train, put me into his packsack, adjusted the straps so that my head was sticking out, and carried me the entire twelve miles of rough trail.
Our family lived on an island close to the Herb Lake settlement and there were many times as a boy that I made the trip across the twelve-mile portage. I have no recollection of traveling by horses, but I probably did when I was very young.
George Bartlett was the first that I knew of to have a stopping place at the South End, or the Portage, as it was called then. Later, I recall staying overnight at the settlement at Folsters, Cote’s and Hales. Sometime when the train arrived early in the morning at Wekusko we stayed overnight at Rainville’s at Mile 81 or with Ducharme’s.
Note: The train originally stopped at Mile 82 but then the stop was moved to Mile 81.