[Grand River] The river party was made up of Austin Cary in charge, and W.R. Smith, '90, occupying one boat, and Dennis Cole and E.B. Young, '92, with the other, all strong, rugged fellows, more or less acquainted with boating in rapid water, and well equipped for all emergencies. Their outfit included provisions for five weeks, flour, meal, buckwheat flour, rice, coffee, tea, sugar, beef extract, tins of pea soup, beef tongue, and preserves. They were provided with revolvers, a shot gun and a rifle, and sufficient ammunition, intending to eke out the stores with whatever game came in their way, although the amount of time given them would not allow much hunting. All the supplies, including the surveying, measuring and meteorological instruments, were either in tins or in water-tight wrappings, while the bedding and clothing were protected by rubber blankets. The boats, made by Rushton, the Adirondack boat-builder, were of cedar, fifteen feet long, five feet wide, double-ended, and weighed eighty pounds apiece. A short deck at each end of the boats covered copper air-tanks, which made life-boats of them and added much to their safety. Each boat was equipped with a pair of oars, a paddle and about one hundred feet of small line for tracking purposes. Proceeding about three miles the first camp was made on the south shore of Goose Bay, amid an abundance of mosquitoes. The next day twenty-five miles were made through shoals that nearly close the river's mouth, leaving but one good channel through which the water flows very swiftly, by the house of Joe Michelin, the trapper, at which six weeks later two very gaunt and much used up men were most hospitably received. Here another night was spent almost without sleep, owing to the mosquitoes.
Tuesday a large Indian camp was passed, the big "pool," at the foot of the first falls and some three miles long, rowed across, and at noon the carry was begun. It was necessary to make seventeen trips and four and one half hours were used in the task. When the last load had been deposited at the upper end of the carry, the men threw themselves down on the bank utterly weary, and owing to the loss of sleep the two previous nights, were soon all sound asleep. In consequence camp was made here, and the first comfortable night of the trip passed. Including the carry eight miles was the day's advance.
The twenty-five miles of the next day were made rowing and tracking up the Porcupine rapids through a series of small lakes, one with a little island in the centre deceiving our boys for awhile into thinking they had reached Gull Island Lake, and then up another short rapid at the head of which the party encamped.
Sixteen miles were made next day by alternate rowing and tracking, the foot of Gull Island Lake was reached, and after dinner it was crossed in one and a half hours. Then the heaviest work of the trip thus far was struck and camp was made, about half way up Gull Lake rapid. Supper was made off a goose shot the previous day. It was necessary to double the crews in getting up the latter part of Gull Island rapids, and finally a short carry was made just at noon to get clear of them. From the fact that the light, beautifully modelled boats required four men to take them up the rapids we may get some idea of the swiftness of the river as well as the difficulties attending the mode of travelling. As the river in its swiftest parts is never less than half a mile wide, and averages a mile, it can readily be seen that it is a grand waterway, well deserving its name.
Nine miles were made this day and camp was reached at the beginning of rough water on the Horse Shoe Rapid. Here the first evidence of shoes giving out was seen. Constant use over rough rocks while wet proved too much for even the strongest shoes, and when Cary and Cole returned there was not leather enough between them to make one decent shoe. Rain made the night uncomfortable, as the light shelter tent let the water through very easily and was then of little use. At other times the tents were very comfortable. Upon arriving at the spot selected two men would at once set about preparing the brush for beds, pitching the tent, etc., while the other provided wood for the camp and for the cook, in which capacity Cary officiated. I cannot do better than use Cary's own words in reference to his "humble but essential ministrations." "Camp cooking at best is rather a wearing process, but the agonies of a man whose hands are tangled up in dough and whom the flies becloud, competing for standing room on every exposed portion of his body, can be imagined only by the experienced."
The party believed that a good night's rest was indispensible where the day was filled with the hardest kind of labor, and spared no pains to secure them. Even on the return Cary and Cole, when half starved, stuck to their practice of making comfortable camps, and it is probable that the wonderful way they held out under their privations was largely due to this. While many in their predicament would have thrown away their blankets, they kept them, and on every cold and stormy night congratulated themselves that they had done so.
[Loss of boat] On Saturday, Aug. 1st, the first accident happened. Tracking on the Horse Shoe Rapids was extremely difficult and dangerous. Shortly after dinner a carry was made, taking three and a half hours to track out a path up and along a terrace about fifty feet high. Shortly after this the boat used by Cary and Smith capsized, emptying its load into the river. The party were "tracking" at the time, Cole being nearly the length of the tow line ahead, tugging on it, while Cary was doing his best to keep the boat off the rocks. At the margin of the swift unbroken current there were strong eddies, and in hauling the boat around a bend her bow was pushed into one, her slight keel momentarily preventing her from heading up stream again, and the rush of the water bore her under. At the same time Cary was carried from his footing and just managed to grasp the line as he came up and escape being borne down the stream. When things were collected and an inventory taken of the loss, it was found to include about one-fourth of the provisions, the barometer and chronometer rendered useless and practically lost, measuring chain, cooking utensils, rifles with much of the ammunition, axe and small stores, such as salt, sugar, coffee, etc. The loss was a severe one, and arose from failure to fasten the stores into the boats before starting, as had been ordered. The time given the party for the trip was so short, the distance so uncertain, and the things they desired to have an opportunity to do on the return that would require comparative leisure were so many, that they begrudged the few minutes necessary to properly lash the loads into the boats, each time they broke camp; and delay and disaster were the results. As the day was nearly spent, camp was made but about a mile from the last, and time used in repairing damages. A very ingenious baker for bread was contrived by Cole from an empty flour tin, a new paddle made to replace the one lost, and a redistribution of the baggage remaining effected.
In the following five days sixty-six miles were made with a few short carries, some rowing and a good deal of hard tracking. Having passed the Mininipi river and rapids, the latter being the worst on the river, the bank furnishing almost no foothold for tracking the Mauni rapids were reached and finally at 5 P.M., Aug. 6th, the party emerged into Lake Waminikapo. As Cary's journal puts it, here the party "first indulged in hilarity." The hardest part of the work was over and had been done in much less time than had been expected. According to all accounts the falls should be found only thirty miles beyond the head of the lake, which is forty miles long and good rowing water, and about three weeks time yet remained before they were due at Rigolette. Added to this a perfect summer afternoon, comparatively smooth water, running around the base of a magnificent cliff and opening out through a gorge with precipitous sides, showing a beautiful vista of lake and mountain, with the knowledge of rapids behind and the object of the trip but a short way ahead and easy travelling most of that way, and we may readily understand why these tired and travel worn voyagers felt hilarious. Cary says of the scene: "As we gradually worked out of the swift water the terraces of sand and stones were seen to give way and the ridges beyond to approach one another and to erect themselves, until at the lake's mouth we entered a grand portal between cliffs on either hand towering for hundreds of feet straight into the air. And looking beyond and between the reaches of the lake was seen a ribbon of water lying between steep sided ridges, over the face of which, as we pulled along, mountain streams came pouring."
One day was used in making the length of the lake, and at the camp at its head Young and Smith turned back. A very badly swelled hand and arm caused by jamming his thumb had prevented Young from getting any sleep and threatened speedily to become worse. This in connection with the loss of provisions in the upset made it expedient to send the two men back. The returning party was given the best boat, the best of the outfit and provisions for six days, in which time they could easily reach the mouth of the river. Meantime Cary and Cole pushed on into what was to prove the most eventful part of their journey.
The lake is simply the river valley with the terraces cleaned out, and was probably made when the river was much higher, at a time not far removed from the glacial period. The head of the lake is full of sand bars and shoals, much resembling the mouth of the river as it opens out into Goose bay. On both sides of the lake mountains rise steeply for one thousand or twelve hundred feet. Its average width is from two to three miles and it has three long bends or curves. Only one deep valley breaks the precipitous sides, but many streams flow in over the ridge, making beautiful waterfalls.
The river as it enters the lake is about half a mile wide, but soon increases to a mile. Twenty miles were made by the advance the day the parties separated, and at night, almost at the place where the falls were reported, nothing but smooth water could be seen for a long stretch ahead. Sunday, the 9th, twenty-five miles were made the good rowing continuing, by burnt lands, and banks over which many cascades tumbled. Monday, the last day's advance in the boats was made, the water becoming too swift to be stemmed, This day Cary got the second ducking of the trip—a very good record in view of the roughness of the work and the smallness of the boats. During this and the day previous an otter, a crow and a robin were seen. As a rule the river was almost entirely deserted by animal life.
[Mount Hyde] The next day the boat and the provisions, excepting a six days supply carried in the packs, were carefully cached, and at 10:45 camp was left and the memorable tramp begun. Each man carried about twenty-five pounds. The stream was followed a short distance, then the abrupt ascent to the plateau climbed, old river beaches being found all the way up. Ascending a birch knoll, the river was in view for quite a long distance and a large branch seen making in from the west. To the north the highest mountain, in fact the only peak in the vicinity, was seen towering up above the level plateau. Towards this peak, christened Mt. Hyde, the party tramped, and arriving at the top saw the country around spread out like a map. Way off towards the northwest a large lake was seen from which Grand River probably flows, and nearer was a chain of small, shallow and rocky ponds. The country is rocky, covered with deep moss and fairly well wooded, with little underbrush. The wood is all spruce save in the river valleys where considerable birch is mixed in. The black flies were present in clouds, even in the strong wind blowing at the top of Mt. Hyde, and made halt for rest or any stop whatever intolerable. Leaving the mountain, after taking bearings of all the points to be seen, the party struck for the river and camped on the bank between the two branches coming in from the westward, several miles apart. The following day, with faces much swollen from fly bites of the day before, the line of march was along the banks till 2 P.M. when the upper fork was reached.
The course of the river is southeast. This branch course is from the northwest. The main stream turns off sharply to the northeast and after a few miles passes into a deep canon, christened "Bowdoin Canon," between precipitous walls of archeac rock from six hundred to eight hundred feet high. This canon was afterward found to be about twenty-five miles long and winding in its course. In but few places is the slope such as to permit a descent to the river bank proper, and the canon is so narrow, and the walls of such perpendicular character, as to make the river invisible from a short distance. It might truly be said that the discovery of this canon, infinitely grander on account of its age than any other known to geology, and surpassed by few in size, is the most important result of the expedition. Several photographs of it were made, which were not injured by the exposure to wet and rough usage that the camera had to receive during the return journey, and alone convey an adequate idea of this most wonderful of nature's wonders.
At night the first camp away from the river was made, on the plateau. The two men felt that the next day must be their last of advance, so weakened were they by the terrible tramping over deep moss and the persistent bleeding by black flies. The stock of provisions, too, was running low, and with their diminishing strength was a warning to turn back that could not be neglected. A half dozen grouse, three Canada and three rough, had been added to their supplies, but even with full meals they could not long stand the double drain upon their strength.
In the morning a high hill was seen, for which they started, drawing slightly away from the river. Soon a roar from the direction of the river was noticed, which differed from the ordinary roar of the rapids. Altering their course it was found the roar "kept away," indicating an unusually heavy sound. Pushing forward, thinking it must be the desired falls, they soon came out upon the river bank, with the water at their level. This proved the falls to be below them, and looking down they could be seen "smoking" about a mile distant. A distinct pounding had also been felt for some time previous, which further assured them that the falls were at hand. The roar that had attracted their attention was of the river running at the plateau level. At the point they came out upon it, it was nearly two hundred yards wide, a heavy boiling rapid. Walking down the great blocks of rock which form the shore, the river appeared to narrow and at 11.45 A.M., the Grand Falls were first seen.
[The marked Bowdoin Spruce] After making pictures of the Falls a feeling of reaction manifested itself in Cary's physical condition, and he remarked, "I do not wish to go farther, I need sleep." Cole, as assistant, had avoided the wear and anxiety of leadership. His athletic work at Bowdoin, in throwing the shot and hammer and running on the Topsham track, had given him stored energy of arm and leg. This reserve strength prompted him to press forward and see more of a region new to human eyes. Leaving his hatchet with Cary, now rolled up in his blanket, with the hope and expectation that on waking he would use the same in preparing fuel and cooking supper, Cole pressed forward into the strange and unknown country three or four miles, and then, for a final view of the location, climbed the highest tree he could find and from its top surveyed the waste of land and river. He stood thus exalted near the center of the vast peninsula of Labrador. Four hundred and fifty miles to the east lay the wide expanse of Hamilton Inlet. Four hundred and fifty miles to the north lay Cape Chudleigh, towards which he could imagine the Julia A. Decker, vainly as it proved, pointing her figure head through fog and ice. Only six hundred miles due south the granite chapel of Bowdoin College points heavenward both its uplifted hands. Four hundred and fifty miles to the west rolled the waves of that great inland ocean, Hudson's Bay, into whose depths, Henry Hudson, after his penetrations to northern waters above Spitzbergen, after his pushing along the eastern coast of Greenland, after his magnificent and successful exploration of the American coast from Maine to Virginia, penetrating Delaware bay and river and sailing up that river crowned by the Palisades and the hights of the Catskills, honored with his name and whose waters bear the largest portion of the commercial wealth of our own country; still fascinated by the vision of a northwest passage that intrepid explorer penetrated into the waters of the unknown sea whose waves unseen dash along the coasts of Labrador from its westward to its northern shores and Cape Chudleigh. All these explorations he accomplished in a sailing vessel about the size of the Julia A. Decker, the ship "Discoverie" of seventy tons. He had wintered at the southern extremity of Hudson's Bay surrounded by a mutinous crew. In the hardships and suffering of the next season, after he had divided his last bread with his men, in the summer of 1611, while near the western coast of Labrador, half way back to the Straits, by an ungrateful crew he was thrust into a sail boat with his son John and five sailors sick and blind with scurvy, and was left to perish in the great waste of waters, which, bearing his name, is "his tomb and his monument." Cole, with his mind and imagination filled with these facts, involuntarily took his knife and carved his name and the expedition on the upper part of the tree which formed his outlook. It might be his monument as the Inland Sea was that of Hudson. Then to have the tree marked and observable to other eyes, in case other eyes should see that country, he commenced to cut the branches from near the top of the tall spruce. He regretted much the leaving of the hatchet with Cary as he was obliged to do the work with his knife. It was a slow and laborious job. His imagination, as it roamed over the wide land, and his interest in his present efforts, had consumed time faster than he knew, and the slanting rays of the western sun started him with thoughts of Cary and supper. It was dark when he reached Cary and he was still asleep. The hatchet was idle, and he wished more than ever that his efforts on the branches of the marked Bowdoin Spruce had been rendered less laborious and more expeditious by the aid of this, to be hereafter his constant companion and source of safety along with another and more diminutive friend, a pocket pistol.
[Grand Falls] The falls proper are three hundred and sixteen feet high, and just above the river narrows from two hundred and fifty to fifty yards, the water shooting over a somewhat gradual downward course and then plunging straight down with terrific force the distance mentioned, and with an immense volume. The river is much higher at times and the fall must be even grander, for while the party was there the ground quaked with the shock of the descending stream, and the river was nearly at its lowest point. At the bottom is a large pool made by the change of direction of the river from south at and above the falls to nearly east below. The canon begins at the pool and extends as has been described, with many turns and windings, for twenty-five miles through archaic rock. Above the falls in the wide rapids, the bed was of the same rock, which seems to underlie the whole plateau. In 1839, the falls were first seen by a white man, John McLean, an officer of the Hudson Day Co., while on an exploring expedition in that "great and terrible wilderness" known as Labrador. His description is very general, but he was greatly impressed with the stupendous height of the falls, and terms it one of the grandest spectacles of the world. Twenty years later, one Kennedy, also an employe of the Hudson Bay Co., persuaded an Iroquois Indian, who did not share the superstitious dread of them common among the Labrador Indians, to guide him to the thundering fall and misty chasm. He left no account of his visit, however, and in fact, though one other man reached them, and Mr. Holmes, an Englishman, made the attempt and failed, no full account of the falls has been given to the world, until Cary and Cole made their report. Above the falls as far as could be seen, all was white water, indicating a fall of about one hundred foot per mile. In the course of twenty-five or thirty miles there is a descent of twelve hundred feet, nearly equal to the altitude of the "Height of Land," as the interior plateau of Labrador is called, which has probably been previously overestimated. The next forenoon was spent in surveying and making what measurements could be made in the absence of the instruments lost in the upset. At noon, after having spent just twenty-four hours at Grand Falls, the party turned back. The very fact of having succeeded, made distance shorter and fatigue more easily borne, so they travelled along at a rattling pace, surveying at times and little thinking of the disaster that had befallen them. Camp was made on the river bank, beneath one of the terraces which lined both sides.
Saturday Aug. 15th, the march back to the boat cache was resumed. Towards night, as they approached the place, smoke was seen rising from the ground, and fearing evil, the men broke into a run during the last two miles. As Cary's journal puts it: "We arrived at our camp to find boat and stores burnt and the fire still smoking and spreading. Cole arrives first, and as I come thrashing through the bushes he sits on a rock munching some burnt flour. He announces with an unsteady voice: 'Well, she's gone.' We say not much, nothing that indicates poor courage, but go about to find what we can in the wreck, and pack up for a tramp down river. In an hour we have picked out everything useful, including my money, nails, thread and damaged provisions, and are on the way down river hoping to pass the rapids before dark, starting at 5."
Their position was certainly disheartening. They were one hundred and fifty miles from their nearest cache, and nearly three hundred from the nearest settlement, already greatly used up, needing rest and plenty of food; in a country that forbade any extended tramping inland to cut off corners, on a river in most places either too rough for a raft or with too sluggish a current to make rafting pay; and above all, left with a stock of food comprising one quart of good rice, brought back with them, three quarts of mixed meal, burnt flour and burnt rice, a little tea, one can of badly dried tongue, and one can of baked beans that were really improved by the fire. Add to this some three dozen matches and twenty-five cartridges, blankets and what things they had on the tramp to the falls, and the list of their outfit, with which to cover the three hundred miles, is complete. There was no time to be wasted, and that same night six miles were made before camping. The next day the battle for life began. It was decided that any game or other supplies found on the way should be used liberally, while those with which they started were husbanded. This day several trout were caught, line and hooks being part of each man's outfit, and two square meals enjoyed, which proved the last for a week. A raft was made that would not float the men and baggage, and being somewhat discouraged on the subject of rafting by the failure, another was not then attempted, and the men continued tramping. Following the river, they found its general course between the rapids and Lake Wanimikapo, S.S.E. During part of that day and all the next, they followed in the track of a large panther, but did not get in sight of him. Acting on the principle that they should save their strength as much as possible, camps were gone into fairly early and were well made; and this night, in spite of the desperate straits they were in, both men enjoyed a most delightful sleep.
[Squirrel and Cranberries] After this some time every morning was usually occupied in mending shoes. All sorts of devices were resorted to to get the last bit of wear out of them, even to shifting from right to left, but finally Cole had to make a pair of the nondescripts from the leather lining of his pack, which lasted him to the vessel. Cranberries were found during the day and at intervals during the tramp, and were always drawn upon for a meal. About two quarts were added to the stock of provision, and many a supper was made off a red squirrel and a pint of stewed cranberries.
Wednesday, the 19th, another raft was made, which took the party into the lake. This was more comfortable than tracking, yet they were in the water for several hours while on the raft, which was made by lashing two cross-pieces about four feet long on the ends of five or six logs laid beside each other and from twenty to thirty feet long, all fastened with roots, and having a small pile of brush to keep the baggage dry. The still water of the lake made the raft useless, even in a fresh, fair breeze, and so this one was abandoned two miles down, and the weary tramping again resumed. Fortunately the water was so low that advantage could be taken of the closely overgrown shore by walking on the lake bed, and far better progress was made owing to the firmer footing. Three days were used in getting down the lake, during which time but one fish, a pickerel, was caught, where they had expected to find an abundance.
At the foot of the lake, tracks were seen, which it was thought might be those of hunters. It was learned later that they were more probably tracks of Bryant's and Kenaston's party, who were following them up and probably had been passed on the opposite side of the lake, unnoticed in the heavy rain of the preceeding day. Some bits of meat that had been thrown away were picked up and helped to fill the gap, now becoming quite long, between square meals. Supper on this day is noted in Cary's journal because they "feasted on three squirrels." Having gotten out of the lake into rapid water, trout was once more caught, and as on the following day, Sunday, the 23d, a bear's heart, liver, etc., was found, and later several fish caught. The starvation period was over.
In the afternoon another raft was built and the next day carried them five miles down to the last cache. Though so terribly used up that the odd jobs connected with making and breaking camp dragged fearfully, and each day's advance had to be made by pure force of will, the men felt that the worst was over and their final getting out of the woods was a matter of time merely. At this cache, also, a note from Young and Smith was found announcing their passage to that point all right and in less time than expected, so they had drawn no supplies from the stock there.
Tuesday, the 25th.—The day, by the way, that the Julia Decker and party arrived at Rigolette according to plans, expecting to find the whole Grand River party, and instead found only Young and Smith, who had been waiting there about a week. Rafting was continued in a heavy rain down to the Mininipi Rapids over which the raft was nearly carried against the will of the occupants. At the foot of these rapids a thirty mile tramp was begun, the raft that had carried them so well for forty-five miles being abandoned, which took them past the Horse Shoe and Gull Island Rapids and occupied most of the two following days. The tracking was fair, and as starvation was over pretty good time was made.
Thursday, the 27th.—A raft was made early in the morning that took them by the Porcupine Rapids and landed them safely, though well soaked, at the head of the first falls. Camp was made that night at the first cache below the falls, forty miles having been covered during the day.
[The last pistol shot] Friday, they fully expected to reach Joe Michelin's house and get the relief that was sadly needed, but as the necessity for keeping up became less imperative, their weakness began to tell on them more. Cary's shoes became so bad that going barefoot was preferable, except over the sharpest rocks, and Cole's feet had become so sore that as a last resort his coat sleeves were cut off and served as a cross between stockings and boots. They were doomed to disappointment, however, and compelled to camp at nightfall with four or five miles bad travelling and the wide river between them and the house. Fires were made in hopes of attracting the trapper's attention and inducing him to cross the river in his boat, but as they learned the next day, though they were seen, the dark rainy night prevented his going over to find out what they meant. The last shot cartridge was used that night on a partridge, and the red squirrels went unmolested thereafter. This last shot deserves more than a passing notice. In one sense these shot cartridges for Cole's pistol were their salvation. Just before the expedition started from Rockland it was remarked in conversation that the boat crew under DeLong, in the ill-fated expedition of the "Jeanette", met their death by starvation in the delta of the Lena, with the exception of two, Naros and Nindermann, simply because their hunter, Naros, had only a rifle with ball cartridges, the shot guns having been left on board the "Jeanette;" that on the delta there was quite an abundance of small birds which it was almost impossible to kill by a bullet and even when killed by a lucky shot, little was left of the bird. Cole was impressed by these facts and upon inquiring ascertained that the pistol shot cartridges ordered by the expedition had been overlooked. He energetically set about supplying the lack, and after persistent search, almost at the last hour, succeeded in finding a small stock in the city, which he bought out. To the remnant of this stock which escaped the fire at Burnt Cache camp, as has been said, is the escape of Cary and Cole from starvation largely due.
The value of these cartridges had day by day, on the weary return from Grand Falls, become more and more apparent to the owner. At the discharge of the last one, the partridge fell not to the ground, but flew to another and remote cluster of spruces. To this thicket Cole hastened and stood watching to discover his bird. Cary came up and after waiting a little while, said, "It is no use to delay longer, time is too precious." The value of this last cartridge forced Cole to linger. He was reluctant to admit it was wasted. In a few minutes he heard something fall to the ground, he knew not what it was, but with eager steps pressed towards the place, and when near it a slight flutter and rustling of wings led him to discover the partridge, uninjured except that one leg was broken; that by faintness or inability to hold its perch with one foot it had fallen to the ground. The darkness and rain of that night then closing around them were rendered less dark and disagreeable by the assurance that kind Providence showed its hand when the help of an unseen power was needed to deliver them from the perils of the unknown river. It rained hard all the next forenoon, and as the river was rough, the men stayed in camp, hoping Joe would come across, until noon, when a start was made for the house. A crazy raft took them across the river, the waves at times nearly washing over them, and landing on the other side, they started on the last tramp of the trip, which the rain and thick underbrush, together with their weakened condition, made the worst of the trip. About 3 P.M., they struck a path, and in a few minutes were once more under a roof and their perilous journey was practically done.
Seventeen days had been used in making the three hundred miles, all but about seventy-five of which were covered afoot. When they came in, besides the blankets, cooking tins and instruments, nothing remained of the outfit with which they started on the return except three matches and one ball cartridge for the revolver, which, in Cole's hands, had proved their main stay from absolute starvation. The following day, Sunday, after having had a night's rest in dry clothes and two civilized meals, Joe took them to Northwest River, where Mr. McLaren, the factor of the Hudson Bay Company's posts showed them every kindness till a boat was procured to take them to Rigolette. A storm and rain, catching them on a lee shore and giving the already exhausted men one more tussle with fortune to get their small vessel into a position of safety, made a fitting end to their experiences.
[On board the Julia A. Decker] Tuesday at 4 P.M., they reached the schooner and their journey was done. Amid the banging of guns and rifles, yells of delight and echoes of B-O-W-D-O-I-N flying over the hills, they clambered over the rail from the boat that had been sent to meet them and nearly had their arms wrung off in congratulations upon their success, about which the very first questions had been asked as soon as they came within hearing. They were nearly deafened with exclamations that their appearance called out, and by the questions that were showered on them. At last some order was restored, and after pictures had been made of them just as they came aboard, dressed in sealskin tassock, sealskin and deerskin boots and moccasins, with which they had provided themselves at Northwest River, ragged remnants of trousers and shirts, and the barest apologies for hats, they were given an opportunity to make themselves comfortable and eat supper, and then the professor took them into the cabin to give an account of themselves. It was many days before their haggard appearance, with sunken eyes and dark rings beneath them, and their extreme weakness disappeared.
The return trip of Young and Smith from Lake Waminikapo, who reached Rigolette Aug. 18th, was made in five days to Northwest River, and after resting two days, in two more to Rigolette. Their trip was comparatively uneventful. At the foot of Gull Island Lake they met Bryant and Kenaston, who with their party of Indians were proceeding very leisurely and apparently doing very little work themselves. At their rate of progress it seemed to our party very doubtful if they ever reached the falls. They had picked up, in the pool at the foot of the first falls, one of the cans of flour lost in the upset, some fifty or sixty miles up the river, with its contents all right, and strange to say not a dent in it, and returned it to Smith and Young when they met them. That night, with the assistance of the officers and passengers of the mail steamer, which lay alongside of us, a jollification was held. Our return race to Battle Harbor, the last concert of the Glee Club in Labrador waters, the exciting race over the gulf with the little Halifax trader, the tussle with the elements getting into Canso, the sensation of a return to civilization and hearty reception at Halifax, and greeting at Rockland, must remain for another letter.
* * * * *
ON BOARD THE JULIA A. DECKER, ROCKLAND HARBOR, ME., September 23, 1891.
The staunch little schooner has once more picked a safe path through the dangers of fog, rocks and passing vessels, and her party are safely landed at the home port, before quite two weeks of the college term and two weeks of making up had piled up against its members.
The crew that weighed anchor at Rigolette on the morning of September 2nd, when the wind came and the tide had turned, was a happy one, for from Professor to "cookee" we all felt that we were truly homeward bound, and that we had accomplished our undertaking without any cause for lasting regret. The mail steamer, whose passengers had joined in the jollification of the night preceding, being independent of the wind, had started ahead of us. Another race was on with the "Curlew," this time a merely friendly contest, without the former anxiety as to some other party's getting the lead of ours in the trip up the Grand River. But the result was not different this time. A fine breeze kept us going all day and the following night. But the next day the fog came. It was no different from the cold, damp, land-mark obscuring mist of the Maine coast in its facility in hiding from view everything we most wanted to see in order to safely find the harbor that we knew must be near at hand, though we could not tell just where. A headland, looming up to twice its real height in the fog about it, was rounded, and the lead followed in the hope that it would take us to the desired haven. Soon a fishing boat hailed, and a voice, quickly followed by a man, emerged from the fog and shouted that if we went farther on that course we would be among the shoals. We were told we had passed the mouth of the harbor, and so turning back, tried to follow our guide, but he soon disappeared. Just at this moment when it seemed impossible for us to find any opening, the fog lifted and we saw a schooner's sail over one of the small islets that lay about us. Taking our cue from that we poked into the next narrow channel we came to, and getting some sailing directions from a passing boat, and from the signal man stationed on a bluff to give assistance to strangers, we glided into an almost circular basin, hardly large enough for the vessel to swing in, set among steep rising sides, into which many ring bolts were seen to be fastened, and perfectly sheltered from every wind. The use for the ring bolts we found later. The fog kept rolling over, and the little fishing vessels kept shooting in, till it seemed the harbor would not hold another. As all sail had to be hauled down before the vessels came in sight of the interior, the vessels seemed literally to scoot into the basin. A few of the vessels were anchored and kept from swinging by lines to the bolts, and the rest of the fleet made fast to them. In all the number of vessels crowded into the space where we hardly thought we could lie was about twenty. How they would ever get out seemed a puzzle, but the next morning it was accomplished, with a light fair wind, by all at once without accident or delay. Had the wind been ahead, the ring bolts would have aided in warping to a weatherly position.
During the evening the mail steamer caught us, and after putting a little freight ashore, left us behind again. Here were some strange epitaphs painted on the wooden slabs, also people ready to exchange or sell at a far higher rate than we had hitherto paid, anything they possessed for the cash which was all we had left to bargain with, the available old clothes having been already disposed of.
It was hard to disabuse the minds of the people at Square Island Harbor of the idea that we had come to seek gold or other valuable mines, the reason being that several years before a party from the States had spent considerable time prospecting in that vicinity and partly opened one or two worthless mica quarries.
[A Bold Skipper] It was a glorious sight to see the fleet get under way the next morning. Many a close shave and more bumps but no serious collisions were caused by the twenty or more vessels crowding out together through the narrow opening, each eager to get the first puff from the fair breeze outside the lee of the cliffs. The whole fleet was bound up the coast, but before many of the schooners had drifted far enough out to catch the breeze it had failed, and only after an hour or more of annoying experience with puffs from every quarter, did the strong sea breeze set in. Sheets were trimmed flat aft, and all settled down to beating up the coast. The Julia soon left the mass of the fleet and before reaching Battle Harbor, where a long desired mail was awaiting, had nearly overtaken the lucky ones who had drifted far enough off shore to make a leading wind of the afternoon breeze. During the calm a school of whales disported themselves in the midst of the fleet, chasing one another, blowing and churning the water to foam about us, apparently as though it was rare fun.
Late in the afternoon we approached the entrance to Battle Harbor, but with the wind blowing directly out of the narrow, rocky and winding entrance we wondered how we should get in. Our captain was equal to the problem, however, and undeterred by the crowded state of the harbor, within whose narrow limits were two large steamers, one or two barks and several fishermen, performed a feat of seamanship the equal of which, we were told, preserved in the traditions of the port, and only half believed, as having been done once, thirty years before.
Getting about ten knots way on the vessel, and heading her straight for the steamer nearest the mouth, we just brushed by the rocks of the entrance, sheered a bit and shot past the steamer before her astonished officers could utter a word of warning, and were traveling up the harbor at a steamboat pace, the sails meanwhile rattling down, and some of us on board wondering if we should not keep right on out the other entrance to the harbor, while boats scurried out of our way, two men in one fishing boat looking reproachfully at us as we missed them by about two feet just after our fellow on lookout had reported "nothing but a schooner in the way, sir;" and people rushed to their doors and to the decks to see what was exciting such a commotion, just as the anchor was let go with a roar and we quietly swung to and ran our mooring line, as though we had done that thing all our lives.
Here about one hundred letters were brought aboard amid much rejoicing, for many had not heard from home at all during the trip.
By the time we were ready to make what we hoped would prove the last departure from a Labrador harbor, the next morning, the wind, which had changed in the night and was blowing in exactly the opposite direction, had become so strong that the little steam launch of Bayne & Co., which had been tendered us to tow us out of the harbor, was not powerful enough to pull the schooner against it. The other entrance, for like all the rest this Labrador harbor was merely a "tickle" and had its two entrances, was narrow, shoal, and had such short turns that it seemed impossible to run so large a vessel as the Julia through it. However, our impatience would not brook the uncertain delay of waiting for the wind to change, so taking on board the best pilot that town of pilots could afford, we made the attempt. Three times we held our breaths, almost, as we anxiously watched the great green spots in the water, indicating sunken rocks, glide under our counter or along our side, while the steady voice of the weatherbeaten old man at the fore rigging sounded "port," then in quick, sharp, seemingly anxious tones, "now starboard—hard!" and again "port—lively now," and the graceful vessel turned to the right or left, just grazing the rock or ledge, as though she too could see just how near to them it was safe to go and yet pass through without a scrape. It was a decided relief to all, and the silence on board, that had been broken only by the rush of wind and water, the pilot's voice and the creaking of the wheel as it was whirled around by the skillful hands of the captain, suddenly ceased, when the pilot left his place and walked slowly aft, praising the admirable way in which the vessel behaved at the critical points, and apparently unconscious that in the eyes of twenty college boys he had performed an almost impossible feat.
After a hard pull to windward for two of us, to set the pilot ashore, and a wet and rough time getting aboard again, and after our laugh at the expense of the mate, who had cast off our shore warp, as we started out of the harbor, and then had been unable to catch the schooner, which was equally unable to wait for him in the narrow passage, and who had, therefore, to row all the way after us at the top of his speed, and only caught us when we lay to to send off the pilot; we made everything snug and started down the straits, hoping to reach Canso without further delay.
[Last harbor in Labrador] That was not our fortune, however, for soon the wind hauled ahead, and with a strong current against us it was impossible to make any progress, so after jumping in a most lively manner all day, in the chops of Belle Isle, we made a harbor for the night at Chateau Bay, in almost the same spot where we had waited two dreary days two months before. The next day we worked along the coast, but at night again put in to what proved our last, as well as our first harbor on the Labrador—Red Bay. Here we found a mail steamer and were allowed irregularly to open the bag to Battle Harbor and take out that which belonged to us, much to our delight, of course, for it gave us news comparatively fresh, that is, not over a month old, from home.
Here, also, we laid in a supply of the only fruit that Labrador produces, called "bake apple." It is a berry of a beautiful waxen color when ripe, otherwise looking much like a large raspberry, and having a most peculiar flavor, which we learned to like, and grew very fond of, when the berries were served, stewed with sugar. We had been deprived of fresh fruit so long that we should probably have learned to like anything, however odd its flavor, that had its general characteristics.
Here, too, we again fell in with our little Halifax trader, which gave us so hot a race to Halifax in the coming week, both vessels arriving at Halifax within an hour of each other, after starting at the same time from Red Bay and keeping within sight nearly all the time. At length the wind came to the south, and we started, laying our course west, along the Labrador shore, so as to get a windward position and be able to "fetch" Canso when the wind came around to the west, as it is certain to do at that season of the year, compelling us to "tack ship" and stand right out against the stormy Gulf of St. Lawrence. These southwesterly winds had been our dread, for they blow so strongly and in September make the Gulf so rough that getting to windward against them is impossible. Hence our satisfaction can be imagined as we sped along the Labrador coast that day, the wind becoming a trifle easterly, so as to allow us to "start our sheets" and at the same time steadily increase our offing, getting such a weatherly position for Canso that the moment the expected change of direction began we promptly "tacked ship" and at the worst had a leading wind across.
For three days we hobnobbed with the little "Minnie Mac" across the Gulf. The first thing we did in the morning was to hunt her up with the glasses from aloft, if not in sight from the deck, and the last thing in order at night were speculations as to where we should next see her. The difference in the build of the two vessels, the one being shoal and centerboard, the other deep and heavily laden, made the race a zigzag. When the wind favored a little and the sheets could be "eased" then the shoal model would push ahead, but when the wind came more nearly ahead, and we had to plunge squarely into a head sea, then the deeper draught and heavier lading told to advantage.
During this time we were not idle on board. The Grand River men were beginning to feel vigorous again, and their notes and data had to be worked up. The collections, too, though largely packed away securely for the rough voyage, yet gave plenty of occupation to those not otherwise employed, while the few really industriously inclined used their superfluous energy in seeing to it that the lazy were given no opportunity to enjoy their idleness.
The morning of the fourth day the coasts of Cape Breton were in sight, but the wind came straight out of the Gut of Canso in half a gale, and then our rival, owing to her greater weight, forged ahead, and it seemed that we were to be beaten. However, much to our amusement, when we got a few miles off the mouth of the Gut, we found a calm, into which the "Minnie Mac" had run and where she stayed till we came up. With us also came a breeze, and we forged ahead of her into the anchorage at Port Hawksbury just as we had said we would do when we left Red Bay. Here we spent the rest of the day, laying in a stock of much needed fresh provisions, and sending nine of our college base-ballists, at the invitation of the Port Hawkesbury nine, to give them some points on the game. About the fifth inning the game closed on account of darkness, with score in Bowdoin's favor something about 30-0.
A short run brought us into Little Canso, where we had to turn to the west to go along the Nova Scotia coast to Halifax, but fog shut down so we spent a day inspecting the plant of the Mackay-Bennett cable, which has its terminus at Hazel Hill, about two miles from Canso, finding some very agreeable acquaintances in the persons of Mr. Dickinson, the manager, and Mr. Upham, his first assistant electrical expert, who proved to be a Castine man and was deligted to meet some Yankees from his old cruising grounds, Penobscot Bay, and getting some interesting knowledge concerning ocean telegraphy. It seemed strange, to say the least, to be in communication, as we were, with a ship out in mid-Atlantic, repairing a cable, and to have an answer from Ireland to our message in less than a minute after it was sent.
[Solid shot at Halifax] With one stop on account of fog and threatening storm, we reached Halifax in two more days. The introduction to it, though, was not so pleasant, for as we were running up the harbor solid shot from one of the shore batteries came dropping around us and skipping by us, altogether too near for comfort. However, no damage was done beyond the injury threatened to Her Majesty's property in the proposition for a while considered to call away boarders, land and take the battery. We found later that it was merely target practice and nothing disrespectfully intended towards the flag flying from our peak, so were satisfied that we had not made any hostile response.
Once ashore the hospitable Haligonians began by inviting the Professor and others to a dinner at the Halifax Club. The next day we enjoyed an official reception, and accompanied by Premier Fielding and members of his Cabinet, Consul General Frye and other gentlemen, were taken on an excursion about the beautiful harbor in the steam yacht of one of our entertainers, given a dinner and right royally toasted at one of the public buildings, and were finally taken to the Yacht Club House for a final reception.
At Halifax some of our party fearing more delay in reaching Rockland, left us, so with diminished numbers but plenty of enthusiasm we made ready for the last stage of the voyage. After some rather amusing experiences with our assistant steward or "cookee," who seemed to reason that because he had been so long deprived of the luxuries of modern civilization he should employ the first opportunity he had to enjoy them in making himself incapable of doing so, and who was brought aboard the morning we sailed only after a somewhat prolonged search, we "squared away" for Cape Sable. The fine fair wind ran us nearly down there, but just as we thought to escape the provoking calms that delayed us in this vicinity on the outward trip, we found the wind drawing ahead and failing. A day was spent in slowly working around the cape, drifting back much of the time, and then we struck one of the southerly fog winds that are too well known on the Maine coast. We were in waters on which our captain had been bred, and so we pushed on into the night, looking eagerly or listening intently as the darkness closed over us for some sign of approaching land. At length, just about eleven, when it seemed we could not stand the suspense of knowing that thousands of rocks were just ahead but not just where they were, and yet equally unwilling to stop then, when so near home, we heard the sound of the breakers, and standing cautiously in on finding the water very deep, soon made Mt. Desert rock light. It was a welcome sight, and from there an easy matter to shape our course for home. At day-break we could still see nothing, but towards noon, the wind being light and our progress slow, we passed the desolate house of refuge on the Wooden Ball Island, and soon the lifting fog showed us the mouth of Penobscot's beautiful bay, and shortly after we dropped our anchor in the long wished for Rockland harbor, and the cruise of the Julia Decker and her crew of Bowdoin boys was ended.
[The royal welcome] The account would be incomplete, though, were reference omitted to the royal welcome that awaited us at Rockland. Upon landing we found the church bells ringing, and the city's business for the moment stopped, while the city fathers as well as a goodly number of her sons and daughters greeted us at the wharf. In the evening there was another reception, and there the expedition as such appeared for the last time, and as the most fitting way in which we could express our gratitude at the interest shown in our work and safe return, as well as to contribute our share towards the evening's entertainment, the Bowdoin College Labrador Expedition Glee Club rendered, as its last selection, a popular college song, of which the burden was, as also the title, "The wild man of Borneo has just come to town."
JONATHAN P. CILLEY, JR.
* * * * *
[Missionary in Labrador] Since the Bowdoin College Labrador Expedition much interest has been taken by charitable women in the missionaries who are laboring in that bleak country. As often as possible barrels of clothing and other useful articles have been sent to them. In return the missionaries have sent interesting letters describing their work and acknowledging the gifts. One of these, written to Mrs. James P. Baxter, of Portland, gives a description that will be of general interest:
HOPEDALE, LABRADOR, October 3, 1893.
For your very kind letter and for the very useful articles for our people, accept my best and kindest thanks. We have already made some of the people glad with cloth, and we will but be so glad for them in the winter time.
Happily the codfishery has been much better this year than last, thus we can more confidently look forward to the coming winter time than we could last year; because our people were so poor and we finished the many kind gifts long before the spring came on, when they were able to earn their own bread.
We have had a very cold and dreary summer, the few warm days could easily be counted, and now the winter is at the door.
On last Christmas day we had a nice Christmas celebration with our school children in the chapel. For this purpose we had placed two nice Christmas trees and two illuminated transparents in the chapel. My dear husband translated some lovely Christmas songs into Eskimo, and I taught the children to sing them. Between the hymns they recited songs and texts from the Bible. Sometimes one by one and then again altogether. The children made it very nicely. The choir, which sang some nice pieces, helped to make the whole to sound better. Finally every child got a large biscuit and a cup of tea, which seemed to make greater impression than the whole celebration. The congregation were also invited and they were very much interested in it.
In the midst of February I accompanied my dear husband on his journey around to the settlers belonging to our congregation, which live scattered far away from here towards the South.
We left Hopedale one morning, having 30 degrees Cen. of cold, of course by "kamatik" (dog sledge). I was well wrapped up so that I did not freeze so very much, but the worst is always on such a trip that we cannot eat anything. Before we started I made some meat balls for the purpose to use them during the nine hours driving, but it was impossible to make use of them because they were like stones without fearing to loosen our teeth. Happily I had some biscuits and to become more strengthened I used a little chocolate. We were nearly three weeks away from home and in that time we were nearly every day on the kamatik. Never less than five hours at a time, but generally from seven to nine hours, and twice from eleven to twelve hours. It was indeed sometimes very exhausting especially one time when we came to very poor people where we had for two days nothing to eat and the next day we had to travel for about eleven hours having nothing but dry biscuits. I did not feel so very well that time.
Many of these settlers have only the opportunity once a year to hear the gospel of God preached to them, that is when the missionary is visiting them. Many are too far away from Hopedale to come and visit us, and some are too poor; or at least the dogs' food is too expensive. My dear husband made this journey last winter for the fifth time, that is only towards the south. To the north he has also been different times. In such a journey the Sacraments are spent, marriage performed, and meetings are kept as many as possible. The poor children who grow up without having any school are examined as to how much they have improved since the last year. We felt this year very much again the need of having a station among them. There are children among them from 16 to 17 years of age who cannot read at all. We have now asked our society in London and Berthelsdorf, if possible, to build a station for them that they may have their own minister and teacher. We hope it may be done, then we would not have to travel any longer only in cases of need. Every one who has to travel ruins his health if he has to do it for a long time. The settlers could then easily reach the Mission Station or the missionary could in one day get to the place where he is wanted.
[Hungry children] May I, dear madam, give you some instances? First about a family having ten children of ages ranging from two to eighteen years. We came to that place in the afternoon about 5 o'clock accompanied by four other persons belonging to their relationship who joined when we left their homes. As soon as we opened the door of the house we were in the dwelling room. At the first sight we saw that great poverty governed here, even the children looked consumed and clothed in rags. The house was so bad that the wind made its way through the many gaps. After I had wrapped myself in a large shawl and placed myself beside the big stove I was still freezing. Some windows were broken, the opening filled with rags. My dear husband asked why they had not nailed a board on the place instead of rags; they answered, "We have got none." But my husband said "You could easily have made a nail of wood," which they promised to do. We could only get a very little bread, because they had only one small piece. I gave the tea. My dear husband spent the Sacrament, communion and baptism in the evening in the hope we would be able to go further the next day, for we could not stay any longer here if we would not starve. We had a poor resting place. It was not possible to undress ourselves. The whole time we felt the snow on our faces and the wind through the many gaps. We froze very much although the fire was kept on during the night. Not very far from us Mr. and Mrs. Tacque were resting, and we heard how the one said to the other, "I hope Mr. and Mrs. Hansen can go further to-morrow, for we have nothing to eat." That was indeed a very sad prospect, for we heard too well the snow storm was howling outside and there was no hope for us to go on. And so it was. The next day I gave from our provisions as much as I could, but we had not very much, and I could not give everything away because we might afterwards be caught out in a snowstorm, which often happens, where we then have to live in a snow house until the storm is over. I gave now coffee for 19 persons, bread we had none, for it always freezes so hard that it is useless. The poor woman collected all the bread she had and we took as little as possible. During the day time my dear husband kept different meetings, talked and prayed with them. For dinner I asked for a large pot and put it on the stove. I had happily taken some preserved soups and cooked now for all the people in the house, put all our meat balls and broken biscuits into the same pot, and gave now from this dish a plateful to every person in the house. I had also put some "Liebig" in my box, before I left my home, and was now able to make the best use of it. It was something touching to see the many hungry children, how they devoured their portion. Anything like that they have perhaps never tasted before, and would gladly have taken some more, but it was already gone. In the afternoon my dear husband kept school for the children, told nice stories and instructed them about different things, and the children would have gone on for a long time. The smell in the house was not so very pleasant, 19 persons in one room, beside this the men smoked their pipes nearly the whole time. The children were crying and would not obey their parents and the parents are so very weak in this way.
In the evening I gave once more what I possibly could spare, and for the next morning too. But we really did hunger.
The Lord heard our prayers that we were able to go on the next morning to the next place, but because of the deep snow we could only move on very slowly. First after 11 hour's travelling we came in the evening to our next station. We did hunger more in these three days than we have done in our whole lives. The next place was a nice clean house, where we restored ourselves again.
In one place we visited an Eskimo. When we entered the room, what did we see? A seal living in the midst of their room. The people had heard of our coming and thus put the monster in the room to thaw it up to feed our dogs with. The animal was soon taken away. The house was clean, but small. In this place we had to sleep on the floor, and we used our blankets to make a couch as well as we could. A sailcloth was used as a curtain, so that we had something like a separated place for us. Our two drivers were also in the same room, and they cared for music during the night, for they snored like a saw mill, and when they woke up they smoked their pipes and gave the air in the room such an odor, which I shall not try to describe. Nevertheless, for all that, we were happy together, and I did not repent one minute to have accompanied my dear good husband, in order to be a faithful partner to him. We remembered also it was not a pleasant, but a mission trip we made, where we may expect many things like that. What is that little we can do for our Lord and Saviour? It is like a drop of water in the bottomless sea of his love. If our journey has but been a blessing to some, and if here and there one corn of gospel's seed may grow up we are more than paid for.
[Easter] We had four nice places where the good people did all they could to make it comfortable for us. Everywhere they were very thankful for my coming, and expressed their gratitude in many ways. At Easter time we had more visitors than usual and they seemed to be more happy than else.
Will you kindly excuse this short description, dear madam; it would take me too long to describe the whole journey. I used some of your kind gifts for the people whom we visited, and I hope you will, dear madam, and the kind ladies who contributed to your large and rich sending accept our and the people's warmest and best thanks.
With kindest regards from my dear husband and me, I am, dear madam, believe me,
Your affectionately, ANNIE HANSEN.