We found no inhabitants on our arrival, but on the 13th, a whole company of people from Killinek joined us.
Our transactions in the bay of Kangertlualuksoak, from the 7th, are here noticed more in detail.
August 8th. We landed, and went in search of our people, who had spent the night in tents on shore. Okkiksuk accompanied us to the top of a hill, overlooking the bay Ittimnekoktok, where we had anchored the day before. We saw it quite dry, and full of large fragments of rock. Turning towards the land, we discovered some wood at a distance. The weather being calm and warm, the musquitoes were excessively troublesome. The vallies here are overgrown with verdure, and the hills pretty well clothed with moss, and berry-bearing plants; but we could not continue our walk, on account of the musquitoes, which persecuted us unmercifully, and drove us back to our tents. All our men were out, two on that side on which we had landed, and the others having crossed the bay in their kayaks, were employed in hunting reindeer. Jonathan only remained at home. In the afternoon he accompanied us in the small boat, to a hill, situated to the South of our station, at about two miles distant, where we landed, and went up the country, but found nothing much worth notice. We observed, that round the headland near us, the water was very rough, with eddies and whirlpools, occasioned by the rising of the high tides. On returning to our little boat, we found it aground. We therefore gathered some drift-wood, of which there was plenty, and made a good fire, at which we sat down and regaled ourselves with some biscuit and beer. Having pushed the boat into the water, we set out, but owing to the violence of the current had hard work to get to the great boat, and did not arrive till dark. Jonas saluted us from on board, by firing off his piece in token of success, and we found that he had got two, and his companion three reindeer, and a small black bear. The carcases were left at the tents, where part was cooked, and a mess brought to us on board, which proved an agreeable repast after our fatigue. Jonas and his family spent the night on board, the rest of the Esquimaux in their tents on shore.
9th. Jonas having found a good harbour on the other side of the bay, and the current being here very strong, we sailed across and anchored there. The strand was even, and full of smooth rocks, above high water mark. The bottom of the bay is mud, and a slimy substance, covering all the stones and pebbles, left by the tide, makes walking very troublesome.
The land is not high, but pleasant, covered with moss, with many small ponds, and marks of being frequented by reindeer.
10th. We went farther up the bay in the skin-boat, with Jonathan, Uttakiyok, Thukkekina, Paul, David, and Okkiksuk. At a short distance from the place where we had landed yesterday, we came to a fine green terrace, overgrown with low shrubs and bushes, which delighted us much. From hence, a woody valley, extending to the left, seemed to invite us to take that course into the country, but we would not waste our time by examining it. On sailing farther up the bay, and turning round the abovementioned terrace, we came to a small inlet, dry at low water, on the left shore. Its banks were pleasantly covered with low bushes, interspersed with higher trees, and the place seemed to us very suitable for a settlement. From hence we perceived, at a short distance, on the opposite coast, a cape or headland, over which the tops of trees made their appearance. We sailed towards it, and found behind it a tract covered with low wood, chiefly larch and pine: on landing we saw the tracks of rein-deer, which had just left the spot. Jonathan, in an instant, ran like a young man for his gun, and with it into the wood. We followed him for two or three miles, but saw nothing but the track of the deer. The country inland seems in general level, with some low hills, and many ponds; without wood, but overgrown with rein-deer moss. No success attended our huntsman, and in the evening we met again in the boat. Brother Kmoch had kept up with Jonathan, and saw, among the bushes, the same kind of large partridge, or American wild pheasant, which is found about Okkak, but seems only to live in woods. It was a hen, with a covey of young birds, one of which which he caught, examined, and let go again, nor would he take or shoot the hen, out of compassion to the young brood.
Brother Kohlmeister had meanwhile gone farther up the bay, and thought he had discovered the entrance of the river, but no fresh water appearing, we must still have been a great way off its influx into the bay.
We now lighted a fire, boiled coffee, and cooked a dish of reindeer venison. The weather was warm, and the night fine and clear, but frosty. Having brought our travelling-beds with us on shore, (see page 34), we crept into them, and spent the night at the fire-side, the Esquimaux lying down anywhere about us. In the morning, the whole country was covered with hoar-frost, and the straw we had lain upon was frozen fast to the ground.
Further transactions in Kangertlualuksoak Bay. The Esquimaux women frightened by reports of Indians. Ceremony of taking possession of this new-explored country, as belonging to the King of England, and of naming the river George river. Leave the bay and proceed to Arvarvik. Whales caught by the Esquimaux in the shallows. Storm at Kernertut.
August 11th.—We rose by break of day, and after breakfast, sailed across the bay, and landed at the second small inlet, with an intention of penetrating into the country, but the returning warmth of the weather by day, and the myriads of musquitoes we had to contend with, rendered us unable to execute our purpose.
The Missionaries and Jonathan ascended a hill, from which a great tract of country might be overlooked. It was full of wood, as far as the eye could reach. Near the inlet some places seemed boggy, or covered with grass. From hence a valley stretched into the country, with a small lake in it, about two or three miles distant. Berries were every where in abundance. The summits of the hills had no wood upon them, but much reindeer-moss.
On our return, being about a mile from our landing-place, we saw our skin-boat in the middle of the bay, and fired a gun as a signal for it to come to us. The Esquimaux had five rein-deer in the boat, which Uttakiyok had perceived on the opposite bank. He had followed them in his kayak, driven them into the water, and killed them there. When hard pressed, reindeer soon take to the water, and swim so well, that a four-oared boat can scarcely come up with them, but an Esquimaux, in his kayak will overtake them. They therefore, if possible, drive them into the water, being then sure of their game.
After dining on part of the venison, we returned to the great boat. On the passage, we thought we perceived at a considerable distance a black bear, and Uttakiyok, elated with his recent success, hoped to gain new laurels. He entered his kayak and proceeded as cautiously as possible along the shore, towards the spot, landed, climbed the hill, so as not to be observed, but when he had got just within gun-shot, perceived, that his bear was a black stone. This adventure furnished the company with merriment for the remainder of the voyage to the boat, which we reached about six P.M.
When we got on board the boat, we found that all the women had taken refuge in it, thinking that they had seen Indians onshore. The men therefore immediately landed, to take care of the forsaken tents. This was no doubt a false alarm, for we never discovered any traces of them during our stay. To the south of Hopedale the Indians and Esquimaux sometimes meet, but as the Hopedale Esquimaux seek to cultivate their friendship, quarrels and bloodshed seldom occur. In Ungava, however, though they often exchange tokens of friendship, they are apt to give way to their national jealousies; and provocations being aggravated, their meetings now and then terminate in murder. The Esquimaux are much afraid of the Indians, who are a more nimble and active race.
12th. Having finished reconnoitring the neighbourhood, and gathered all the information concerning it, which our means would permit, and likewise fixed upon the green slope or terrace above described, as the most suitable place for a settlement, on account of the abundance of wood in its neighbourhood, we made preparations to proceed. Uttakiyok, who had spent more than one winter in the Ungava country, assured us, that there was here an ample supply of provisions, both in summer and winter, which Jonathan also credited, from his own observation. The former likewise expressed himself convinced, that if we would form a settlement here, many Esquimaux would come to us from all parts. We ourselves were satisfied that Europeans might find the means of existence in this place, as it was accessible for ships, and had wood and water in plenty. As for Esquimaux, there appeared no want of those things upon which they live, the sea abounding with whitefish, seals, sea fowl, &c. and the land with reindeer, hares, bears, and other animals. The people from Killinek declared their intention of removing hither, if we would come and dwell among them, and are even now in the habit of visiting this place every summer. Our own company even expressed a wish to spend the winter here.
This being the day before our departure, we erected, on two opposite hills, at the entrance of the bay, high marks of stones, and on the declivity of a hill to the right, a board, into which we had cut an inscription, thus—
We raised and fixed this tablet with some solemnity, in presence of Uttakiyok and his family, as representatives of the people of Ungava, and of our own company, and hoisted the British flag alongside of it, while another was displayed at the same time in the boat. We explained the cause of this ceremony to all present, to the following effect—
"That we, on this day, raised this sign, in the name of our king, George III. the great monarch of all these territories, in testimony of our having explored it, and made choice of it, in case we or our Brethren should think proper to settle here. To which we called upon all present to bear witness." We then proclaimed the name of the Kangertlualuksoak to be henceforth George River, upon which every man fired his piece three times, the vollies being answered from the boat.
The texts of scripture appointed for this day were then read, and we remarked how encouraging they were, as relating to the purpose, for which we visited these unknown regions:
From the rising of the sun, even to the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of Hosts! Mal. 11, 1.
At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and every tongue shall confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father! Philippians, 2, 10, 11.
After the ceremony was over, we distributed some pease, bread, and beer among the Esquimaux, which enabled them to make a splendid feast, and the day was spent in the most agreeable manner.
13th. We set sail, about six A.M. with a gentle breeze, which however soon fell away entirely, and obliged us to take to our oars. Near the mouth of the bay, we met several kayaks, coming towards us. They were Esquimaux from Killinek, who expressed regret at not having sooner heard of our being here; some came on board, and traded with our people. We presented them with a little tobacco, for which they were very thankful.
In order to get well out of the bay, we first steered North, and then passed to the S.W. between a peninsula Nauyat, lying to the left of the entrance, and seven small islands and rocks on the right, towards the island of Arvarvik, about six or seven miles distant, where we were obliged to cast anchor in an exposed situation, the wind having become contrary. There was a strong swell during the night, which violently agitated our boat.
Arvarvik is about five miles in circumference. It is covered with the bones of whales, which the Esquimaux catch here in their kayaks. The coast is surrounded by a great number of small low islands, with deep pools between them. Into these the whales stray at high water, and at the ebbing of the tide, are prevented finding their way back again. The Esquimaux then pursue and kill them with harpoons. In the island are ponds of fresh water, and some low hills, overgrown with moss. A great number of sea-fowl, and also reindeer, are found upon it.
On the shore we found great quantities of a red jasper, or iron-stone, the same which occurs throughout the coast, from Killinek to South river, not as a stratum, but in lumps, and generally below high water mark.
The Esquimaux who landed on the continent reported, that about two miles inland, there was much low wood.
14th. We left our unpleasant anchorage, and returned to a place where the skin-boat had lain during the night, as it was sheltered from the South wind, which had risen considerably.
15th. Our people went out to hunt reindeer, and returned in the evening with two. The wind shifted to the west, and blew with violence. We spent again an uneasy night.
16th. Brother Kmoch went on shore and returned with a parcel of stones for examination. We now began to feel some anxiety on account of the great loss of time we were suffering here by contrary winds.
17th. About eight o'clock we set sail, the wind having come round to the S.E. with a cloudy sky. We passed several nameless islands, at the distance of about a mile from the shore. In the afternoon, it began to rain hard, and after having sailed about twelve miles, we cast anchor near a long point of land, called Kernertut, by which we were sheltered from the wind, which had again turned to the South-west. The sky however was clear, and the beginning of the night pleasant, with beautiful appearances of the Aurora Borealis. Most of our people, and with them Uttakiyok, had gone in the skin-boat higher up the bay, but it was too shallow to admit of our following them. Only Jonas and his children, and the two boys Okkiksuk and Mammak, were left with us on board.
During the night the wind veered round to the N.E. and blew a gale, which increased in violence till day-break.
18th. The sea now rose to a tremendous height, such as we had never before experienced, and by the change of wind, we were exposed to the whole of its fury. The rain fell in torrents. We lay at three anchors, and the boat was tossed about terribly, the sea frequently breaking quite over her, insomuch that we expected every moment to be swallowed up in the abyss. With much difficulty we succeeded in lowering our after-mast. Jonathan and the rest of our company on shore, were obliged to be passive spectators of the dreadful scene, waiting the event in silent anguish. They quitted their tents, and came forward to some eminences near the beach, where, by lifting up their hands, and other gestures, they expressed terror, bordering on despair. Frequently the boat was hid from their view by the waves, which ran mountains high. They expected every moment that we should break loose from our anchors, and the boat be driven on the rocks. The length of our cables was here of the greatest advantage to us. About noon, the rope by which the small boat was fastened, broke. She was immediately carried up the bay, and thrown, by the violence of the surf, on the top of a rock, where she stuck fast, keel upwards. It was impossible to render us any assistance, till the tide turned, when the raging of the sea, and the wind, began to abate. As soon as it was practicable, Jonathan and the other men came to us in the skin-boat. He seemed quite overcome with joy, and, not able to utter a word, held out his hand, and shed tears of gratitude that he met us again alive, for he had given us up for lost.
We now endeavoured to bring the great boat closer to the shore, landed, pitched our tent, and gave thanks to God for the merciful deliverance we had just experienced. Indeed all our people most fervently joined in praise to Him for the preservation of our lives. A warm dinner was soon prepared, by which we were much refreshed.
As soon as the tide had ebbed sufficiently for it, our people went to the rock, on which the small boat lay, and got her into the water. To our great surprize we found, that she had received no material injury.
Doubts expressed by Jonathan and the other Esquimaux on the expediency of continuing the voyage. Consultations. Resolve to proceed. Thunder-storm at Pitsiolak. Account of Indians. Esquimaux cookery and hunting feasts. Arrival in the river Koksoak.
Jonathan and Jonas now became more and more anxious about our situation. They represented to us, that, if we attempted to proceed farther, we might probably be compelled to remain here the whole winter, as the stormy season was fast approaching. They added, that to them, it would be of little consequence, but that they were concerned on our account.
Though we had not said any thing as yet that might tend to shake the confidence of our party, yet we felt no small degree of perplexity concerning present appearances. During the six days since we left George's River, we had made little more than fourteen or fifteen miles, and were at least, as far as we could judge, seventy or eighty from the river Koksoak, which we had fixed upon as the final object of the voyage, being the outermost western boundary of the Ungava country. Insurmountable difficulties seemed now to present themselves, owing partly to contrary winds and cold weather, and partly to loss of time, for we had been already two months on the voyage, and had not yet obtained our aim: so that our return might be unseasonably late, if we proceeded. We could not possibly make up our minds to spend the winter here, as we had not a sufficient supply of provisions, and knew what distress it would occasion to our Brethren at Okkak.
We felt quite at a loss what to do in this dilemma, and our path seemed enveloped in obscurity. We remembered, that "to the upright there ariseth a light in the darkness," (Ps. 112, 4): that is, to them who fear and trust in the Lord, and sincerely desire to know and do His will, He will reveal it. In His name we had entered upon this voyage, the only ultimate object of which was, the conversion of a benighted, neglected nation, in one of the remotest corners of the earth. We were, therefore, sure that He would not forsake us, nor leave us in uncertainty as to His will concerning us, but that He, "whose eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards Him," (2 Chron. 16, 9.) was, even in this desolate region, present with us, and would hear and answer our prayers. Many comfortable texts of scripture occurred to our minds on this occasion, filling us with an extraordinary degree of faith and confidence in Him, particularly such as, "He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when He shall hear it, He will answer thee," Isa. 30, 19. Also, Dan. 10, 19; Jer. 16, 21; Isa. 43, 2, &c. The mercies, also, which we had already experienced, excited within us a sense of the deepest gratitude and most firm trust; and we therefore told our people, that we indeed participated in their concern, would take the subject into serious consideration, and acquaint them with our determination on the morrow.
19th. In the morning we met in our tent, where we were safe from the intrusion of the Esquimaux, to confer together upon this most important subject. We weighed all the circumstances connected with it, maturely and impartially, as in the presence of God, and, not being able to come to any decision, where reasons for and against the question seemed to hold such an even balance, we determined to commit our case to Him, who has promised, that "if two of His people shall agree on earth, as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them," (Matth. 18, 19.) and, kneeling down, entreated Him to hear our prayers and supplications in this our distressed and embarrassing situation, and to make known to us His will concerning our future proceedings, whether we should persevere in fulfilling the whole aim of our voyage, or, prevented by circumstances, give up a part, and return home from this place.
The peace of God which filled our hearts on this memorable occasion, and the strong conviction wrought in us both, that we should persevere, in His name, to fulfil the whole of our commission, relying without fear on His help and preservation, no words can describe; but those who believe in the fulfilment of the gracious promises of Jesus, given to His poor followers and disciples, will understand us, when we declare, that we were assured, that it was the will of God our Saviour, that we should not now return and leave our work unfinished, but proceed to the end of our proposed voyage. Each of us communicated to his brother the conviction of his heart, all fears and doubts vanished, and we were filled anew with courage and willingness to act in obedience to it, in the strength of the Lord. O that all men knew the comfort and happiness of a mind devoted unto, and firmly trusting in God in all things!
When we made known our determination to Jonathan and his son Jonas, and told them, that we had maturely considered the subject committed by them to us, and that, in answer to our prayers, the Lord had convinced us, that, not having obtained the aim of our voyage, we should proceed, Jonas, at first, seemed not quite satisfied, but our excellent captain, Jonathan, without hesitation replied: "Yes, that is also my conviction! We will go whither Jesus directs us. He will bring us safe to our journey's end, and safe home again." We were, indeed, glad and thankful that the Lord had inclined the heart of this man, who but yesterday seemed to be quite dispirited, to take this resolution, for much depended upon him, and the rest followed him without difficulty. Indeed they all submitted to our determination with a willing mind, and their expressions of resignation affected us much.
During the day, the men had been out a-hunting, when Uttakiyok killed three reindeer, which occasioned great rejoicing, and helped to make our people forget the frightful scenes of yesterday. The country is full of black looking rocks, between which reindeer-moss and berries grow in plenty. The shore exhibited still many marks of the violence of the storm.
20th. We proceeded with a favourable wind at N.E. Our course lay S.W. across a broad bay, then, after doubling a point, across another bay of about the same breadth, to an island Allukpaluk, which we passed on the right, and on the left, another island, Nipkotok. At a considerable distance a-head lay the islands Pitsiolak, opposite a headland of the continent called Tuktutok.
The sky had been from the morning cloudy, the wind became unfavourable and violent, and about noon heavy rain came on. Not being well able to proceed, on account of the violence of the wind, we cast anchor on the west side of Pitsiolak, about 2 P.M. but perceiving a thunderstorm rising from the western horizon, with very black clouds, threatening to drive us on shore if we remained at this anchorage, we weighed as quickly as possible, and endeavoured to get to the other side of the island.
Meanwhile a most tremendous storm of thunder, lightning, and rain overtook us. The claps of thunder followed the flashes without interval, and the lightning seemed to strike into the water close to our boat, while the wind carried the spray into the air like smoke. Providentially we had doubled the northern point before the worst came on, and got to an anchor under shelter of the land. The storm passed by swiftly, it grew calm, the sun broke out, and the weather became uncommonly fine with us, though at a distance we saw the black clouds, and heard the hollow murmuring of the thunder for a long time.
We now expected to have a comfortable night's rest, but it grew intensely cold, and again began to blow violently from the west. The strong current and heavy swell brought us into some danger, and the poor people, who were obliged to remain on deck all night, suffered much from cold and wet. When the tide was full, about midnight, the island we had seen to the west nearly vanished, the greater part being covered with water.
21st. In the morning we again saw the skin-boat lying upon a pretty high rock, and a tent pitched close to it. The weather was calm, but the wind contrary. Our Esquimaux made good use of this respite to refresh themselves after the fatigues of the night with a hearty meal and a sound nap.
In the afternoon we landed. The island Pitsiolak, which forms two at high water, is low and flat, overgrown with Empetrum and Rubus Chamoemorus, (Akpik-berries). Quantities of driftwood float about the shores. The jasper occurred here again. This island may be about four or five miles long, and, at low water, is connected with other islands to the north. By the help of our glasses we could perceive woods on the continent, and the Esquimaux thought they discovered the smoke of Indian fires. They are much afraid of meeting these people. Bloody encounters occasionally occur between them. The Indians come from the interior, and from Hudson's Bay, and are frequently seen near the two principal rivers, George river and South river, towards which we were going; but we met with none. Brother Kohlmeister rather wished for it, as some of them are said to understand English, and he was desirous of endeavouring to bring them to a more peaceable disposition towards the Esquimaux, by friendly conversation.
22d. We found the skin-boat a great hindrance to us. Without being obliged to take that in tow, we might have kept at a greater distance from the shore, which would have enabled us to get on more rapidly, and with greater safety. On shore we found a great quantity of cubical pyrites in a grey matrix. The Esquimaux are attentive to this mineral, and have before now brought it to Okkak.
23d. We proceeded at 6 A.M. and steered for the island of Saeglorsoak. The islands called Nocharutsit lay on our left. They are a group of numerous small islands, many of which are overflowed at high water, extending W. and E. towards the entrance of South river. Between these islands and Akpatok, the sea is said to be clear of rocks, and the water of sufficient depth for any ship entering from Hudson's Straits, and bound to the Koksoak, or South river; but no ship durst, in our opinion, venture to approach the coast of Ungava within twenty or thirty miles.
In the afternoon, the tide turning against us, and the wind unfavourable, we were obliged to come to an anchor among the islands. We had left the skin-boat behind, with Thukkekina, Uttakiyok's brother Annoray, and one of his wives, to whom he had given his baggage in charge. The Esquimaux wives are very punctilious, the first always maintains the highest dignity, regulates the housekeeping, distributes the provisions, and directs everything, as mistress of the family.
Jonas went out in his kayak, and shot a seal. We saw many, and fired at them, but got none. Whitefish were likewise seen at a distance. Uttakiyok and David were out in their kayaks, and joined us in the evening loaded with geese.
On the turn of the tide we proceeded, and at ten P.M. cast anchor among the Nocharutsits, under a pretty high island, about three or four miles in circumference. All our people remained on board during the night, which was calm and pleasant.
24th. David roused us about five o'clock, by firing at a seal, which he killed. The women went on shore to cook it with some geese. When they returned, we all breakfasted on the contents of their pot.
The Esquimaux want no books of cookery to manage their kitchen affairs. The meat is boiled with the blood in it, and the addition of some water. When it is sufficiently done, that is, according the Ungava custom, when half warm, the women take it out of the pot, and serve it up on a piece of stone, if on shore, and on a piece of board, if at sea. Then the person, who has caught the seal or game, proclaims with great vociferation, that the men may come and sit down to eat. Such exertion of voice, however, seems hardly necessary, as the Esquimaux are very acute at hearing, when they are invited to dinner. When the men have done, the women sit down, having taken good care, beforehand, that their share is secured. The Esquimaux customs never permit men and women to sit down together at a meal.
It sometimes happens among the heathen Esquimaux, that several having had good success, one huntsman's feast is hardly over, before another proclaims the invitation to his banquet. This is never suffered to pass unnoticed, while the power of cramming down another morsel remains. Thus they will continue eating, till they are scarcely able to breathe, and then lie down to sleep off the effects of their gluttony. Indeed their excessive voraciousness on such occasions produces, especially after long fasting, all the symptoms of drunkenness. They forget, under its sensual influence, all moderation, and abandon themselves to the most disgusting abominations.
In the afternoon we steered W. by N. (wind N.E.), for the cape of Kernerauyak, at the east side of the entrance of the river Koksoak, (Sand river). Before we arrived at the cape, we left some islands to the South, the largest of which is again called Kikkertarsoak. Saeglorsoak, is a large flat island, about eight or ten miles long, and its neighbourhood very dangerous, on account of many sunken rocks. The continent hereabouts is well wooded, and Indians are said to be frequently seen in the interior. The mouth of the Koksoak is seven or eight English miles broad: its shores steep, but the rocks in general low, and covered with moss. The Esquimaux say, that in the middle there is water enough for any large ship, though the tides prevent any near approach to the land. At sunset we came to an anchor at the mouth of the river.
Sail up the river Koksoak. Transactions in that region. Dangerous eddy. Meet Esquimaux. Address to them. Their joy and eagerness to have Missionaries, resident among them. Find a suitable situation for a settlement. Description of the country.
August 25th.—This was the joyful day on which at last we saw our hopes realized, and the principal aim of our journey obtained. The sun rose beautifully, and announced a delightful day. We were obliged to wait till seven A.M. for the turn of the tide, before we could proceed up the river. The estuary of the Koksoak lies, according to an observation taken, in 58 deg. 36' N. latitude, nearly the same as Okkak. To the west the country is called by the Esquimaux Assokak, the coast turning again W.N.W. This river, therefore, seems to be at the most southern point of the coast, George's river entering the sea at 58 deg. 52', consequently more North.
The Koksoak appeared to us to be about as broad as the Thames at Gravesend, or the Elbe near Hamburg, and the whole river, with its various windings, much resembles the Thames for twenty-four miles upwards. Its depth is sufficient for a ship thus far. Its general direction is from the South. We reckoned it to be about 600 or 700 miles from Okkak, and Killinek or Cape Chudleigh half way.
Having proceeded five or six miles up the river, we came to a small island, which we left on our right.
We saw several sacks of blubber, a sledge, and some other, articles lying on the beach, and Jonathan and Brother Kmoch went in the small boat to discover the proprietors, but found nobody there, to guard the goods.
A little farther on is a point of land running out into nearly the middle of the stream. The current sets very rapidly round it, so as to form a dangerous eddy. Our boat was seized, and twice turned quite round; the small boat was whirled about several times, as she pushed through it. The women on board our boat, on seeing this, set up a loud scream; but Jonathan only laughed at their fears, and we afterwards saw kayaks passing the eddy in perfect safety.
Having doubled the point, we perceived several kayaks approaching. The people in them shouted aloud for joy, exclaiming, Innuit, Innuit! Men, Men! Some guns were also fired in the boat, which were soon answered by some fowling-pieces from the shore.
We now saw three tents pitched on the bank, and hoisted our colours, when we were incessantly hailed by the inhabitants. There was a general cry of Kuve, Kuve, Kablunaet, Kablunaet! Europeans, Europeans! from the men in the kayaks, who, by all manner of gesticulations, expressed their pleasure, brandishing their pautiks, (oars), and shouting continually as they rowed alongside the boat. The women on shore answered with loud acclamations.
About one P.M. we cast anchor close to their habitations. Fourteen families were here, among whom were some from a distant district, called Eivektok. These had pitched their tents farther up the river. Arnauyak was with them, a man, with whom Brother Kohlmeister had become acquainted some years ago, exceedingly regretted, that he had but a few days ago left the place, to hunt reindeer on George's river. The children expressed their joy by running to and fro on the strand, like wild creatures.
At first, the people in the tents appeared rather shy, but after accepting of some trifling presents, they became quite communicative, and gave us some of their toys in exchange; then walking round us, surveyed us narrowly, as if we were a new species of animals. Most of them had never before seen an European. Uttakiyok's brother had joined them, and already informed them of our arrival, without which they would probably have been yet more alarmed at seeing strangers, and hearing the report of fire-arms.
They now invited all our people to dine with them, and having heard that Brother Kohlmeister would like to taste the flesh of a whitefish, a kettle was immediately placed on the fire, and a large piece put in to boil. Brother Kmoch meanwhile cooked a savoury soup of birds, and reindeer-flesh, more fit for an European stomach. While dinner was preparing, Brother Kohlmeister took a walk up the bank of the river, and across some hills. As the families belonging to Eivektok had their summer dwelling in that neighbourhood, the Esquimaux, on perceiving that he had walked in that direction, and fearing that the Eivektok people, seeing him alone, might mistake him for an Indian, and shoot at him, dispatched two men to bring him back. They missed him, and he returned before them. He found our people very pleasantly conversing with the heathen concerning the aim of our journey, and the way of salvation. Even Uttakiyok was thus engaged, explaining, as well as he could, the cause of our living in Labrador: he exclaimed, "let us, my friends, all be converted to Jesus." He was heard with peculiar attention, being considered as a captain among them. In the evening we sang hymns in Jonathan's tent. The people all came and listened with much seriousness.
26th. To-day the Eivektok families came in a skin-boat down the river, to see us. They were full of astonishment, but soon took courage, and handled us, to discover whether we were made of the same materials with themselves. An old man, Netsiak, addressed Brother Kohlmeister: "Are you Benjamin? I have never seen you with my eyes, but at Eivektok have heard your name often mentioned." He seemed to be a sensible man, and a captain among his tribe.
We could not help remarking the difference between these Esquimaux and their countrymen living on the same coasts with our settlements. The former are very poor, and miserably equipped, whereas the latter, by their intercourse with us and other Europeans, have acquired many conveniences, and are, by barter, well provided with what they want.
27th. We proceeded farther up the river, accompanied by most of the men, and some women, in their skin-boat, and arrived at a bay, which, by the winding of the stream, appears like a lake, surrounded on all sides with gently rising grounds, well planted with wood of moderate size, chiefly larch. Behind the wood are some low hills. We named this place Unity's Bay. There is here a very good place for a Missionary settlement. A fine slope extends for about half an English mile, bounded on each extremity by a hill, on each of which we erected high signals. The land is even and dry. Juniper, currants, and other berries, grow here in abundance, and rivulets run out of the wood at a distance of a few hundred paces from each other. The slope faces the S.S.E. and we named it Pilgerruh, (Pilgrim's rest). Brother Kohlmeister made drawings of the situation.
From our first arrival we had improved every opportunity of making the Esquimaux acquainted with the chief aim of our visit to this country, and addressed them both singly and in companies. Nor were Jonathan and Jonas remiss in conversing with them about the concerns of their immortal souls, declaring to them the love of God our Saviour towards them. We once met with Sybilla, Jonathan's wife, seated with a company of women, under the shadow of a skin-boat, set on edge, exhorting them, with great simplicity and fervour, to hear and believe the gospel.
28th. Brother Kmoch landed with Jonathan, and spent some hours in examining the banks of the river. On ascending the first eminence, the view of the interior is in general flat, with a few low hills, and ponds in some places, full of wild geese. The timber in the woods hereabouts is not large: we found none fit for masts. The largest trees were not more than eight inches in diameter, and fifteen or twenty feet high. They are chiefly larch and pines. In some places we found them burnt or withered, and were informed by the Esquimaux, that it was the effect of the Indian's fires. Indeed we saw several places where the Indians had put up huts, and left sufficient vestiges of their abode. Berries grow everywhere, and between the river and the wood, the plain is chiefly covered with willows, high grass growing between them, but these and the various shrubs are so low, that a man can easily look over them. In all directions we saw the tracks of reindeer, and there is every appearance of its being a place much frequented by these animals. Deeper in the wood, we found great quantities of sorrel and other European plants. The woods appeared very thick, and extended as far as the eye could reach, often coming down to the edge of the river. The Esquimaux say, that higher up, large timber is found. On our return to the skin-boat we found ourselves pretty much fatigued, and ready to partake of a supper, cooked by the Esquimaux, consisting of ship's biscuit, dried fish, and raw whitefish blubber. The Esquimaux prevailed upon Brother Kmoch to taste the latter, and he reported, that having once overcome his aversion to it, its taste was sweet, like the kernel of a nut, but heated his stomach like a hot posset.
29th. Changeable and rainy weather prevented us from going out much.
30th. Our people, and with them the strange Esquimaux, met for public worship. Brother Kohlmeister once more explained to them our intention in coming thus far to visit them. He addressed them to the following effect: "That already, many years ago, many excellent people in the country beyond the great ocean, had thought of them with much love, and felt desirous that the inhabitants of the Ungava country also might hear the comfortable word of God, and be instructed in it: for they had heard that the Esquimaux here were heathen, who, through ignorance, served the Torngak, or evil spirit, and were led by him into the commission of all manner of sin, that they might hereafter be lost, and go to the place of eternal darkness and misery. Out of love, therefore," continued the missionary, "they have sent us to you, and out of love we have come to you, to tell you how you may be saved, and become happy, peaceful children of God, being delivered from the fear of death, which is now upon you all, and have the prospect of everlasting joy and peace hereafter, even by receiving the gospel, and turning to Jesus, who is the only Creator and Saviour of all men. He died for your sins, for our sins, and for the sins of all mankind, as our surety, suffering the punishment we deserved, that you, by receiving Him, and believing on Him, might be saved, and not go to the place of eternal darkness and pain, but to the place of bliss and eternal rest. You cannot yet understand these comfortable words of the gospel, but if it is your sincere wish to know the truth of them, Jesus will open your ears and hearts, to hear and understand them. These my companions were as ignorant as you, but they now thank God, that they know Jesus as their Saviour, and are assured that through His death they shall inherit everlasting life."
During this address all were silent and very attentive. Some exclaimed: "O we desire to hear more about it!" Old Netsiak, from Eivektok, said: "I am indeed old, but if you come to live here, I will certainly remove hither also; and live with you and be converted."
When we put the question to them, whether they were willing, that we should come and dwell with them, and instruct them, they all answered with a loud and cheerful voice. "Kaititse tok, Kaititse tok! O do come soon, and live with us, we will all gladly be converted, and live with you." Jonathan and Jonas also bore ample testimony to the truth of what we had spoken, and their words seemed to make a deep impression on all their countrymen. Uttakiyok was above others eager to express his wish that we might soon make a settlement in the Ungava country. Five of the fourteen families who mean to reside here next winter, are from Eivektok.
Farther inland, the river Koksoak widens considerably, but consequently grows more shallow. The country is pleasant, with wood, grassy plains, and gentle hills.
31st. Having finished all our observations here, we dropped down the stream to the place, where we had discovered the first tents.
In descending, as well as ascending the river, we saw a great number of whitefish, and many seals. Reindeer are numerous on both shores, both in summer and winter. All the Esquimaux declared, that this was the best provision-place in the whole country, and they consequently flock to it from all parts every summer, frequently protracting their stay during the winter. The greater number of those we found here, purposed spending next winter in this neighbourhood. The Esquimaux are prevented from making this place their constant residence by their fear of the land-Indians, which cause them to quit it sooner than they otherwise would wish to do.
We spared no pains to collect all the information we possibly could obtain, on every subject relating to this situation, both as to itself, and in reference to the possibility of approaching it with a ship, as likewise respecting the inhabitants of the Ungava country in general. It appeared evident, that the place above described is the most eligible for forming a missionary-settlement.
We found it unnecessary to proceed to the Westward, by the account given us by our worthy conductor Uttakiyok, whose information hitherto we had always found correct, and confidently to be relied on.
He reported: 1. That farther West no wood is to be found on the coast.
2. That besides the two rivers Kangertlualuksoak and Koksoak, they knew of no place where a ship might with safety approach the land.
3. That at this time we should probably find no inhabitants, as they had all gone into the interior to hunt reindeer.
We therefore now considered the business committed to us to be accomplished, and determined to return to Okkak, thankful to God our Saviour for the many proofs of His favour, and protection, experienced in the execution of our commission.
Return to Okkak.
September 1st.—At ten A.M. we fell down the river with the ebb-tide, and about noon anchored near its mouth. The Esquimaux showed great attachment to us, and could hardly resolve to take a final leave. They called after us, "Come soon again, we shall always be wishing for you." Several of them, and among them our friend Uttakiyok, followed us in their kayaks to the mouth of the river.
We erected here, on the promontory Kernerauyak, a board with an inscription similar to that put up at George river, but with the day of our departure inserted, viz. Sept. 1st, instead of the day of our arrival, Aug. 7th. The same solemnities took place as on the former occasion. Our faithful pilot Uttakiyok, who had rendered us such important and essential services, now took leave of us, as he intends to spend the winter in this neighbourhood. He repeated his assurance, that if we settled here, he would be the first to join us, and to turn with his whole heart to God. Not willing to be any longer incumbered with the skin-boat, we added it to other useful articles given to Uttakiyok, as a reward for his faithful attention to us. He was very highly gratified, and thankful for this species of remuneration.
2d. Left the Koksoak, called by us, South river, and steered to the N. of Kernerauyak and Kikkertorsoak. In the evening we cast anchor in an open road, among the Nachorutsit islands, with fine weather.
3d. Set sail at sun-rise, wind and tide in our favour, and proceeded rapidly. About noon, however, a fog came on, which obliged us to come to an anchor at Pitsiolak. When it cleared up, we proceeded, steering between Allukpalak and Nipkotok, and cast anchor in the open sea, near Kernertut, where, on our first arrival, we encountered such a tremendous storm. The night proved quite calm and fair.
4th. A gentle breeze brought us pleasantly as far as the island Nauyet, at the mouth of the Kangertlualuksoak, where we cast anchor, having performed the same voyage in three days, which took us twelve on our former passage. The distance may be about 100 English miles.
5th. Landed, and erected a species of landmark, on the highest point of Nauyet, as a ship entering the river must keep near this island, the shore on the other side being very foul. Contrary winds now obliged us to enter the bay, and cast anchor in the same place where we had lain on the 9th of August.
6th. Storm and rain prevented our proceeding. The Esquimaux went on shore, and pitched their tent. Of late they generally spent the night on board the boat.
7th. Wind at W. but a heavy swell from the sea prevented our sailing. Our men went out to hunt, and Paul returned in the evening with a deer.
8th. Snow had fallen during the night, and the whole country had the appearance of the middle of winter. We dropped down with the ebb-tide, but were obliged to anchor again near the entrance of the bay. When the tide turned we proceeded, and, leaving Kikkertorsoak to the right, made for cape Kattaktok, where we spent the night at anchor among some low islands. The night was clear, and a comet appeared N. by W.
9th. Wind favourable and strong. We set sail at sun-rise, and steered for Uibvaksoak, and so rapidly did our boat make way through the waves, that we arrived there already at four in the afternoon, passing swiftly by the Dragon's dwelling, (Torngets). A thunder-storm was approaching. The wind, which felt quite warm, was in our rear, and violent gusts assailed us now and then, which made us shorten sail; yet the boat seemed to fly from island to island. We were unable to find a safe anchorage till 8 P.M. when it was already dark. We had sailed, in fourteen hours, about 100 English miles, and were all completely wet with the spray of the sea and frequent showers. Our Esquimaux were obliged, in this condition, to lie down either on deck or on shore.
10th. Reached Omanek, about 40 or 50 miles sail.
11th. Wind contrary, with much rain. We were confined to our narrow cabin, and shut in all day, with a lamp burning.
12th. Clear weather: set sail at noon. In the afternoon we were saluted by some shots from Killinek Esquimaux, who were halting not far from the Ikkerasak, or straits, at the entrance of which we cast anchor about 7 P.M.
13th. Though we wished to have some conversation with the Killinek people, as they cannot often come to Okkak, yet we thought it adviseable to lose no time, and, with the ebb-tide, passed through the Ikkerasak in perfect safety. When, about 1 P.M. the tide turned, we ran into a cove on the south side, and at 5 P.M. anchored in the lagoon above described, (See page 43), the entrance to which will only admit a boat.
14th. Reached Oppernavik, where we first met Uttakiyok.
15th. Set sail with a gentle breeze, which permitted us to have our Sunday's service on deck. The wind, however, soon turning against us, we were compelled to return to our former anchorage.
16th and 17th. We were unpleasantly detained by wind and rain, and on the latter day much snow fell.
18th. Reached Kikkertarsoak about 1 P.M. Our men went out in their kayaks, and returned in the evening with three seals. The night was fair, with beautiful appearances of the Aurora Borealis.
19th. The morning was calm: some indications of approaching storm made us anxious to proceed. We set out early; but a fog coming on, we came again to an anchor off a barren island. After staying here two hours, hoping for a favourable change, Jonathan proposed to proceed, and steered S.W. not knowing rightly where we were. On this occasion, we could not help admiring the composure of the Esquimaux. But having last night made a hearty meal of the provisions they had acquired, they seemed to take things easy, and thought it would all be right in the end. So it turned out; for by and by we saw the continent, and kept along shore, till we got to the promontory Kakkeviak, where, on our passage, we had nearly suffered shipwreck. (See page 38). Here we cast anchor in a wide shallow bay, and spent a quiet night.
20th. The fog had dispersed, and the wind was favourable, though shifting from W. to N.W.N. and N.E. At 7 P.M. we reached Kumaktorvik and found good anchorage close to the Esquimaux winter-houses; but we were disappointed by finding them empty, the people being probably out on the reindeer-hunt. There were four houses standing, apparently not old, and the traces of eight others, situated on a low point of land, well covered with grass, and surrounded by high mountains.
21st. Wind N.W. set sail by break of day; reached Nennoktok about noon, and steered across Sangmiyok bay, for the northern promontory in Nachvak bay. Sangmiyok bay is full of breakers, and the sea running pretty high, they appeared very distinctly. The wind dying away in the afternoon, we got no farther than the steep rocks under which we had spent the night of July the 18th, where we came to an anchor. A heavy swell from the sea, and violent gusts of wind assailing us in all directions from the mountains gave us much uneasiness; but, by the protecting care of God, we suffered no harm.
22d. It blew hard from the N.W. and prevented our running into Nachvak bay. Our situation being highly dangerous, and the wind favouring our proceeding, we determined to pass by Nachvak. But having sailed across the bay, our captain found it impossible to proceed, and thought proper to come to an anchor. The truth was, that he had left some articles here in a cove, which he wished to secure. We therefore went on shore, and found many fragments of the bones of whales, whence we inferred that whales are sometimes cast on shore in this place.
23d. A heavy storm came on from the N.W. To-day we caught the first cod-fish, which proved a very acceptable change of diet for us and our people.
24th. The morning was calm. Wind E. left the cove and steered for Nachvak, and came, accidentally, to the very place where Jonathan's goods were deposited. Not perceiving any Esquimaux on shore, Jonathan and Thukkekina went up the bay in their kayaks in search of them. Meanwhile we landed, and on the declivity of a hill found a great quantity of green soapstone. In the evening Jonathan and Thukkekina returned with ten other Equimaux, who rejoiced to see us again.
25th. Brother Kohlmeister was engaged all day with the Esquimaux. Brother Kmoch went up the mountain, and brought some fine specimens of steatite.
26th. Wind strong at N.W. we set sail; but the wind failing, we could not reach Saeglek, as proposed, but spent the night in the open sea. It passed, however, without any unpleasant occurrences.
27th. The want of wind prevented our getting to-day as far as the Saeglek islands. Having passed through a very narrow Ikkerasak, with hardly sufficient depth of water for so large a boat, we cast anchor near our former station at Kikkertarsoak.
28th. Wind cold and changeable, and towards evening stormy.
29th. Set sail about 6 A.M. with a strong wind at W. and in the evening had reached Kangertluksoak islands.
30th. It blew hard, with snow, and we were obliged to spend the day shut up in our small cabin by lamp-light. The land was covered with snow. We were detained here very unpleasantly for three days, by the violence of the wind and weather.
October 3d. We steered for the promontory of Kaumayok; but the wind dying away, and at length turning to the South, we could not gain any safe harbour, and were obliged to tack about all night in the open sea. The weather, however, was mild, and we had the advantage of moon-light.
4th. At 7 A.M. we succeeded in passing the Northern Ikkerasak near cape Mugford with the tide, and the wind becoming fair, soon brought us among the Okkak islands. About noon we doubled cape Uivak, and perceived Esquimaux on shore, who ran up the hills, shouted for joy, and gave us by signs to understand, that the ship (the brig Jemima, sent annually with provisions to the settlements) was still at Okkak.
We cannot describe the inexpressible pleasure and gratitude to God our Saviour which we felt, when we again beheld the neighbourhood of Okkak, after an absence of fifteen weeks. As soon as the captain descried our boat approaching, he hoisted his colours, and fired some guns to give notice of our arrival. As we were obliged to tack, to gain the entrance to the harbour, he came to meet us in the ship's boat, and about one o'clock we landed. The Missionaries and the Esquimaux met us with tears of joy and thankfulness, when we all joined in praise to God, who had so wonderfully kept His protecting hand over us during this perilous voyage, and granted us to return home in safety.
Our voyage lasted from the 24th of June to the 4th of October, and we calculated it to be a distance of from 1200 to 1300 miles.
BENJAMIN GOTTLIEB KOHLMEISTER.