Exploring Nature in a Canoe, with Albert Karvonen

Exploring Nature in a Canoe, with Albert Karvonen


– On the last edition
of ATW Weekend, we joined Edmonton presenter
Alex Smyth as he explored the boreal forest with
Albert Karvonen. – That’s right. Albert is a naturalist and a
wildlife filmmaker who happens to be the father of our
Edmonton producer, Eva. – Oh, I didn’t know that. – Yeah. – That is great. Well, today we join Alex and
Albert again in northern Alberta. This time they’re exploring
by canoe on Amisk Lake. Do you enjoy being
on the water, Jim? – Yeah, especially when it’s
mixed with scotch in a tumbler. But seriously, I don’t think
there’s really a need for me to ask you that question, Victoria,
given your background as a medal-winning Canadian
paralympic rower. – For sure. Of course, I love
being on the water. And especially for
people with vision loss, I think it’s really liberating. – Well, all I know is canoeing
on a remote lake on a beautiful evening sounds like the
perfect night to me. – I definitely agree, and having
a local expert like Albert there is a huge bonus. ALBERT KARVONEN: That’s
why I like canoeing. It’s so peaceful, so
quiet, unobtrusive. Oh, fish just popped
the head here. ALEX SMYTH: Oh. So Albert, can you tell me,
how did the lake get its name? ALBERT KARVONEN: Well,
I guess the Cree, they gave it the name beaver. They trapped a lot
of beavers here. Northwest Cotton Fur Trade
company operated in a lot of these areas. In fact, they had a place in
Athabasca, not far from here, where they used to bring in
the furs, the fur traders, the coureur des bois. But fur, beaver fur, was an
important item of trade in those years. So this is a typical northern
lake with pike, perch, walleye, burbot, and now
that’s a sparrow. – Can you tell me what types of
trees these that are surrounding the water? ALBERT KARVONEN: What we’re
seeing around here is this wall of Aspen, and in front of it
is a lot of shrubs of smaller growth. And the reason for that is that
the beavers have eaten the trees from the water’s edge to the
taller poplars over there. – And where would we–
might find the beavers? – We’re coming up to the
beaver’s lodge around the point there. ALEX SMYTH: Albert, there’s
a beaver over there. ALBERT KARVONEN: The beaver
plays a very important role in terms of creating habitats, wetlands. There’s a tern flying
there, a black tern. We have a yellow pond lily
here, an interesting plant. – I notice that they’re kind
of fairly large, circular, green leaves. – A lot of birds sometimes
walk on those leaves. Each year they’re in the
same place more or less. The leaves are almost the
size of a dinner plate, and the yellow flower attracts a
lot of the insects here on the lake. ALEX SMYTH: Well, yeah, the
leaves or lily pads create almost a floating island
for the birds and insects. So Albert, what’s that in
front of us over there? ALBERT KARVONEN: It’s a pelican. ALEX SMYTH: The
pelican is quite big. I’d say larger than
a swan or goose. It’s big, orange beak sure
stands out against its white body. OK, why don’t we go and see if
we can try to get a closer look there. ALBERT KARVONEN: Sure. The Pelicans come to the
lake to feed on the fish. ALEX SMYTH: And so how many
are there on this lake? ALBERT KARVONEN: Oh, we’ve had
sometimes hundreds of them. ALEX SMYTH: Oh, really? ALBERT KARVONEN: When you have
a good supply of fish, then, of course, more pelicans come. They’re flying long
distances to get here. The real large colonies
are much further north. ALEX SMYTH: Oh, the
pelican’s flying away. ALBERT KARVONEN: There. Oh, that very graceful take
off, strong wing beats. ALEX SMYTH: They just kind
of soar through the air. So what was that, Albert? ALBERT KARVONEN: A loon. The eerie cry of the loon,
symbol of the northern forest and lakesides. ALEX SMYTH: So Albert, I’ve got
to say this is really beautiful being on this lake here. It’s so quiet, so pristine. I can definitely see why
you love it out here, and I kind of remember why I
loved canoeing and paddling so much. This is truly, truly gorgeous. I’m so happy I’m out here again. I love being on the water. – Wow, that was fascinating. – If you’ve ever seen a beaver
hut in the wild with the beavers beavering about,
it’s spellbinding. It really is. – Well, I guess that’s
understandable then why the lake was named after the
Cree word for beaver. – What a gorgeous
lake to live on. And if you caught the story
we did with Albert guiding us through the boreal
forest by foot, then you might remember that he
and his wife actually live in a log house and have dedicated 145
acres of land to conservation. – I think it’s safe to say that
Alex got quite the education about the boreal
forest on this trip. – Absolutely. I’d love to make
a trip out there. Oh, it’d be so
much fun, so great. Maybe Labor Day weekend. – That’s a great idea. Just remember the bug
spray and sunscreen. – Smart thinking.

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