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The Canoe Story: Summary

Because we got access to the true story from the canoeists with these files (below), we have the rare opportunity to compare a Lynn story to a real story.

The Canoe Trip
http://images.ourontario.ca/Partners/WCA/WCA0123361_001.pdf
http://images.ourontario.ca/Partners/WCA/WCA0123361_002.pdf
http://images.ourontario.ca/Partners/WCA/WCA0123361_003.pdf
The Accident
http://images.ourontario.ca/Partners/WCA/WCA0123361_004.pdf
http://images.ourontario.ca/Partners/WCA/WCA0123361_005.pdf

Lynn's 4 podcasts John's Canoe Trip
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nE83-Zjg6-0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5khyyEnl8o8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFfF6_RREbY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgWziMmMSQ8

I talk about it more after the cut.


Category One: Details, Details, Details!
There are a number of spots where Lynn just gets the numbers wrong, for example:

Thursday June 25, 2015 Lynn’s Notes:

My husband, Rod, and I had purchased an aircraft: a Cessna 185 on floats with retractable wheels. Four of his friends had gone on an arctic canoe trip, and he had agreed to pick them up when they were done. Maps were spread out on the kitchen table of the remote location where they were to be found. Rod was confident he could find them and return them safely to Lynn Lake.

It was not four friends, it was three. It was not the arctic, it was the subarctic. As the story goes on, she counts the SAR parachutists as 3 when there were 2. The time Rod was gone was 3 days, but Lynn seems to be unable to account for whether those were 3 days from the time Rod left, to 3 days from the time the search and rescue people started looking for him. In the Suddenly Silver collection, she said the accident happened in 1984, when it actually happened in 1981. She says the accident was in late August, when it was really August 11. The rescue plane did not drop a note saying to stay there another plane was coming, but to indicate if they needed medical aid or shelter. Lynn does not care about accurate details, but I don’t think this is to intentionally obscure the story. She had the same problem doing her comic strip, so my guess is this is just her usual laziness when it comes to researching details.

Category Two: Things Lynn Got Right

Quite a bit of the story is accurately portrayed by Lynn. The plane does overturn. The men do sit on the pontoons after it overturns. One of them does swim for their canoe and lets it float itself back to the plane and then the men do float in the canoe until it runs into land. The search and rescue people do come out of Edmonton and they do use a Hercules aircraft to spot the men. They do find them because they saw the pontoons of the plane sticking out of the lake. They do parachute out and set up the camp for Rod and the canoeists. There is enough truth there so that you would think it would be petty or picky-faced to quibble over the details of Category One. However, that leads us to Category Three.

Category Three: Things Lynn Got Completely Wrong

There are crucial parts of the story that Lynn missed. The reason the men were cold was because they were wearing only rubber boots, jackets, and shorts when they were loading the plane in order to keep their clothes from getting wet. The canoe writer lists their clothing when they get to shore as 2 pairs of pants, 2 pairs of longjohns, 4 jackets, one pair of boots. If that's all you have and it is soaking wet from the cold water, then the subarctic during the night is going to be cold. Another reason they were so cold is the plane did not (as Lynn claimed) immediately get stuck on the bottom of the lake. It was too far away from shore to swim. The men rode the pontoons in their limited clothing with cold waves washing over them for 1.5 hours before the plane drifted and got stuck about 1 kilometer from shore, viewed to be close enough to swim. Lynn was very determined to talk about the cold conditions but failed completely to describe why the men were cold and instead focused on the bitter cold of the weather as the sole source. From the outset, I did not understand why it would be so bitterly cold in August one of the warmest months of the year, so it’s no surprise to me to find that this wasn’t the reason. It was like Lynn didn’t really know why they were cold, but she knew that they were cold, so she had to make up the reason. This is a worse mistake that leaving out a tiny detail, because this part of the story is the crux of the survival element of the story. It is an intentional lie and what’s worse is there is no reason for it. She was with Rod for years and there was plenty of opportunity for her to get the correct version from someone who was there. For a person who makes a living as a story-teller, this is very poor story-telling. The actual story of how the men survived is a lot more compelling than Lynn’s obvious lie about the weather.

Category Four: Lynn has an Agenda

This is the most difficult part of the story to get and understand. For some reason, Lynn felt the need to tell the story as if she was completely against Rod’s trip from the very beginning and threw in many moments of gloom and doom as if Rod was flying off into some terrible storm against all odds. When the search and rescue part of the story goes into play, the search and rescue planes seem to have no difficulty at all getting to and from Yathkyed Lake from Lynn Lake, and in fact the canoeists indicated in their story that Rod found them in the right place and at the right time with no difficulty. Nevertheless, we got stories like this:

Wednesday July 15, 2015 Lynn’s Notes:

The guys Rod had offered to pick up had been on a canoe trip with an outdoor adventure company, which had already arranged their return transportation, but my husband wanted the challenge of finding them and ferrying them back to Lynn Lake, Manitoba — where we were living. I was against the idea from the start, but Rod’s dad, having been a prospector in his day, thought it would all be fine. The two men went over the maps, worked out the exact location the canoeists would be found, and prepared for the departure. The flight was on.

Reading through the canoeists’ description of their trip, there was no outdoor adventure company offering them return transportation. They said that maybe one group of canoeists a year travelled into the part of the Kazan River in which they were going. They shipped in all their own equipment including the canoe, so this is not a regular outdoor adventure outing arranged through a rental company at all. Lynn is blatantly lying to make the point that the men could have gotten out by some other means and it was only Rod’s bull-headedness that cause him to agree to take the trip. This next one is the most fun:

Monday July 20, 2015 Lynn’s Notes:

Back to the wilderness story.
Rod’s first attempt to fly to Yathkyed Lake ended when he ran into a snow squall and had to put down on a lake halfway to his destination. Not knowing a lake on which you are going to land can sometimes kill you. Rock, debris, and other obstacles are often obscured in bad weather, and even though you are in the air, it’s hard to judge the exact direction of the wind.


This one is a complete fabrication. The canoeists’ story had no indication of Rod being a day late. Their description of the weather was 2 days of rain in the entire 4 weeks they were there. There is no discussion of snow. Lynn is literally trying to paint a picture of Rod flying into some blizzard to get the men. It is obvious over-the-top nonsense. The Yathkyed Lake area has no history of snowfall in the month of August. It barely gets a half inch of rain.

That leaves the question of why? Why did Lynn want to tell this story about bad weather and Rod taking the trip against her wishes? I suspect something went on with Lynn because of this trip that she found embarrassing. The story of a Lynn that is incredibly concerned about Rod’s safety seems like it must contrast a real-life story where Lynn was not concerned about Rod’s safety at all. Lynn did 4 podcasts talking about the canoe trip and in one of them she focusses on being in a calm and collected state of shock where she pondered things like “Who’s going to make funeral arrangements” and “What do I do with the kids?” and “Will I leave this community?” and not things like “I hope Rod isn’t hurt.” If she looked at Rod’s accident and potential death as an opportunity to leave Lynn Lake, the town she hated, and she made the mistake of expressing that to someone, then I expect she would not have gotten a positive reaction from anyone. If that or something like that happened, then Lynn may feel the need to tell the story as if she were the most caring wife ever who wanted to stop her husband from putting his life in danger unnecessarily. She may want to set the stage for a situation that was the opposite of the way she appeared in real life.

However, there is a possibility that it was simply because of the next Category.

Category Five: Rod is an Idiot

At this point in 1981, Rod Johnston has been flying a plane at least since 1974 when he was flying on a Cessna 185 on his first acknowledged date with Lynn after she had separated from first husband Doug. He had been flying for at least 8 years and probably longer in 1981. Naturally Lynn tries to portray him as an incompetent pilot. In the comic strip, John Patterson is an incompetent dentist, a terrible husband and a worse father; so Lynn has been beating the drum of “Rod is an idiot” via her comic strip for years. Claiming he was an idiot in real life is no stretch for her and it is one of her favourite themes.

Wednesday July 22, 2015 Lynn’s Notes:

The three canoeists he was going to pick up were in the exact location they said they would be. Rod brought the float plane up to the shore and the men climbed aboard — carrying as much as they could stuff into the plane. Some things had to be left behind and retrieved later: their supplies, their canoe, and their life jackets. The paddles had been shoved into the small Cessna 185. A strong wind had begun to blow and they knew they’d have to take off as soon as possible. They didn’t know it at the time, but the plane was overloaded and was not about to handle the way it should.

Thursday July 23, 2015 Lynn’s Notes:

Rod turned the plane into the wind as the canoeist passengers fastened their seat belts. In the arctic, there are no trees and nothing to break the wind. Great gusts buffeted the side of the plane. With a heavy load and an inexperienced pilot at the helm, the small plane tipped into the waves. The weight of the water pressed down on one float and the plane rolled helplessly upside down.

Much of this story is accurate. However, Lynn feels the need to throw in that Rod is an inexperienced pilot and the plane is overloaded. The plane is not actually overloaded. The Cessna 185 can hold 6 passengers and the equipment they have to take is the same stuff they have been fitting into a canoe and carrying across portages for 4 weeks. If 3 men can carry it and a canoe for miles to get around obstacles like waterfalls, then it’s not that heavy. Not only that but you are supposed to turn the plane into the wind at takeoff, because it helps lift the plane. So, instead of the plane overturning because of a strong wind, the plane turned over because Rod allowed the men to overload his plane and he was too inexperienced to know how to keep the plane from overturning in a strong wind. In other words, it was all Rod’s fault when it really wasn’t.


I liked this story in comparison to the real life story because it tells us a lot about Lynn and the way she tells a story. We here at the FOOBiverse’s Journal have often speculated that many of her Lynn’s Notes are full of stories that are complete and utter fabrications, but it is good to finally have a clear example with proof of it. The Lynn’s Notes are a regular and consistent source of inaccurate information, and analyzing them to try and figure out the truth is one of the main reasons I continue writing in the FOOBiverse’s Journal. Keep it coming, Lynn.
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