On the morning of the 19th Dr. Richardson, accompanied by Augustus, paid another visit to Terregannoeuck to see if he could obtain any additional information respecting the country to the eastward, but he was disappointed at finding that his affrighted family had not yet rejoined him, and the old man could add nothing to his former communication. The Doctor remarked that Terreganoeuck had a great dislike to mentioning the name of the Copper-Mine River, and evaded the question with much dexterity as often as it was put to him, but that he willingly told the name of a river to the eastward and also of his tribe. He attempted to persuade Augustus to remain with him and offered him one of his daughters for a wife. These Esquimaux strike fire with two stones, catching the sparks in the down of the catkins of a willow.
The despatches being finished were delivered this evening to Mr. Wentzel, who parted from us at eight P.M. with Parent, Gagnier, Dumas, and Forcier, Canadians whom I discharged for the purpose of reducing our expenditure of provision as much as possible. The remainder of the party including officers amounted to twenty persons. I made Mr. Wentzel acquainted with the probable course of our future proceedings and mentioned to him that, if we were far distant from this river when the season or other circumstances rendered it necessary to put a stop to our advance, we should in all probability be unable to return to it and should have to travel across the barren grounds towards some established post, in which case I told him that we should certainly go first to Fort Enterprise, expecting that he would cause the Indians to place a supply of dried provision there, as soon as possible after their arrival in its vicinity. My instructions to him were that he should proceed to Point Lake, transport the canoe that was left there to Fort Enterprise, where he was to embark the instruments and books and carry them to Slave Lake, and to forward the box containing the journals, etc., with the present despatches by the next winter packet to England. But before he quitted Fort Enterprise he was to be assured of the intention of the Indians to lay up the provision we required and, if they should be in want of ammunition for that purpose, to procure it if possible from Fort Providence or the other Forts in Slave Lake, and send it immediately to them by the hunters who accompanied him thither. I also requested him to ascertain from Akaitcho and the other leading Indians where their different parties would be hunting in the months of September and October, and to leave this information in a letter at Fort Enterprise for our guidance in finding them, as we should require their assistance. Mr. Wentzel was furnished with a list of the stores that had been promised to Akaitcho and his party as a remuneration for their services, as well as with an official request to the North-West Company that these goods might be paid to them on their next visit to Fort Providence, which they expected to make in the latter part of November. I desired him to mention this circumstance to the Indians as an encouragement to exertion in our behalf and to promise them an additional reward for the supply of provision they should collect at Fort Enterprise.
If Mr. Wentzel met the Hook or any of his party he was instructed to assure them that he was provided with the necessary documents to get them payment for any meat they should put en cache for our use, and to acquaint them that we fully relied on their fulfilling every part of the agreement they had made with us. Whenever the Indians, whom he was to join at the Copper Mountains, killed any animals on their way to Fort Enterprise, he was requested to put en cache whatever meat could be spared, placing conspicuous marks to guide us to them, and I particularly begged he would employ them in hunting in our service immediately after his arrival at the house.
When Mr. Wentzel's party had been supplied with ammunition our remaining stock consisted of one thousand balls and rather more than the requisite proportion of powder. A bag of small shot was missing and we afterwards discovered that the Canadians had secreted and distributed it among themselves in order that when provision should become scarce they might privately procure ducks and geese and avoid the necessity of sharing them with the officers.
The situation of our encampment was ascertained to be latitude 67 degrees 47 minutes 50 seconds North, longitude 115 degrees 36 minutes 49 seconds West, the variation of the compass 46 degrees 25 minutes 52 seconds East, and dip of the needle 88 degrees 5 minutes 07 seconds.
It will be perceived that the position of the mouth of the river given by our observations differs widely from that assigned by Mr. Hearne, but the accuracy of his description, conjoined with Indian information, assured us that we were at the very part he visited. I therefore named the most conspicuous cape we then saw Cape Hearne as a just tribute to the memory of that persevering traveller. I distinguished another cape by the name of Mackenzie in honour of Sir Alexander Mackenzie, the only other European* who had before reached the Northern Ocean. I called the river which falls into the sea to the westward of the Copper-Mine Richardson as a testimony of sincere regard for my friend and companion Dr. Richardson, and named the islands which were in view from our encampment Couper's Isles in honour of a friend of his. The sun set this night at thirty minutes after eleven apparent time.
(*Footnote. Captain Parry's success was at this time unknown to us.)
The travelling distance from Fort Enterprise to the north of the Copper-Mine River is about three hundred and thirty-four miles. The canoes and baggage were dragged over snow and ice for one hundred and seventeen miles of this distance.
NAVIGATION OF THE POLAR SEA, IN TWO CANOES, AS FAR AS CAPE TURNAGAIN, TO THE EASTWARD, A DISTANCE EXCEEDING FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILES. OBSERVATIONS ON THE PROBABILITY OF A NORTH-WEST PASSAGE.
NAVIGATION OF THE POLAR SEA, IN TWO CANOES, AS FAR AS CAPE TURNAGAIN, TO THE EASTWARD, A DISTANCE EXCEEDING FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILES.
July 20, 1821.
We intended to have embarked early this morning and to have launched upon an element more congenial with our habits than the freshwater navigations with their numerous difficulties and impediments which we had hitherto encountered, but which was altogether new to our Canadian voyagers. We were detained however by a strong north-east gale which continued the whole day with constant thundershowers, the more provoking as our nets procured but few fish and we had to draw upon our store of dried meat, which, with other provision for the journey, amounted only to fifteen days' consumption. Indeed we should have preferred going dinnerless to bed rather than encroach on our small stock had we not been desirous of satisfying the appetites and cheering the spirits of our Canadian companions at the commencement of our voyage. These thoughtless people would at any time incur the hazard of absolute starvation at a future period for the present gratification of their appetites, to indulge which they do not hesitate, as we more than once experienced, at helping themselves secretly, it being in their opinion no disgrace to be detected in pilfering food.
Our only luxury now was a little salt which had long been our substitute both for bread and vegetables. Since our departure from Point Lake we had boiled the Indian tea plant Ledum palustre which provided a beverage in smell much resembling rhubarb, notwithstanding which we found it refreshing and were gratified to see this plant flourishing abundantly on the sea shore though of dwarfish growth.
The wind which had blown strong through the night became moderate in the morning, but a dense fog prevented us from embarking until noon when we commenced our voyage on the Hyperborean Sea. Soon afterwards we landed on an island where the Esquimaux had erected a stage of drift timber, and stored up many of their fishing implements and winter sledges, together with a great many dressed seal, musk-ox, and deer skins. Their spears, headed with bone and many small articles of the same material, were worked with extreme neatness, as well as their wooden dishes and cooking utensils of stone, and several articles, very elegantly formed of bone, were evidently intended for some game, but Augustus was unacquainted with their use. We took from this deposit four seal-skins to repair our shoes and left in exchange a copper-kettle, some awls and beads.
We paddled all day along the coast to the eastward on the inside of a crowded range of islands and saw very little ice; the blink of it however was visible to the northward, and one small iceberg was seen at a distance. A tide was distinguishable among the islands by the foam floating on the water but we could not ascertain its direction. In the afternoon St. Germain killed on an island a fat deer which was a great acquisition to us; it was the first we had seen for some months in good condition.
Having encamped on the main shore after a run of thirty-seven miles we set up a pole to ascertain the rise and fall of the water, which was repeated at every halting-place, and Hepburn was ordered to attend to the result. We found the coast well covered with vegetation of moderate height, even in its outline, and easy of approach. The islands are rocky and barren, presenting high cliffs of a columnar structure. I have named the westernmost group of those we passed Berens' Isles in honour of the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, and the easternmost Sir Graham Moore's Islands. At the spot where we landed some mussel-shells and a single piece of seaweed lay on the beach; this was the only spot on the coast where we saw shells. We were rejoiced to find the beach strewed with abundance of small driftwood none of it recent.
It may be remarked that the Copper-Mine River does not bring down any driftwood, nor does any other known stream except Mackenzie's River, hence from its appearance on this part of the coast an easterly current may be inferred. This evening we were all in high glee at the progress we had made; the disappearance of the ice and the continuance of the land in an eastern direction and our future prospects formed an enlivening subject of conversation. The thermometer varied during the day between 43 and 45 degrees. The fishing-nets were set but produced nothing.
On the 22nd we embarked at four A.M. and, having the benefit of a light breeze, continued our voyage along the coast under sail until eleven when we halted to breakfast and to obtain the latitude. The coast up to this point presented the same general appearance as yesterday, namely a gravelly or sandy beach skirted by green plains, but as we proceeded the shore became exceedingly rocky and sterile and at last, projecting considerably to the northward, it formed a high and steep promontory. Some ice had drifted down upon this cape which we feared might check our progress but, as the evening was fine, we ventured upon pushing the canoes through the small channels formed among it. After pursuing this kind of navigation with some danger and more anxiety we landed and encamped on a smooth rocky point whence we perceived with much satisfaction that the ice consisted only of detached pieces which would be removed by the first breeze. We sounded in seventeen fathoms close to the shore this day. The least depth ascertained by the lead since our departure from the river was six fathoms, and any ship might pass safely between the islands and the main. The water is of a light green colour but not very clear and much less salt than that of the Atlantic, judging from our recollection of its taste. In the course of the day we saw geese and ducks with their young and two deer, and experienced very great variations of temperature from the light breezes blowing alternately from the ice and the land. The name of Lawford's Islands was bestowed on a group we passed in the course of the day as a mark of my respect for Vice-Admiral Lawford, under whose auspices I first entered the naval service.
A fresh breeze blowing through the night had driven the ice from the land and opened a channel of a mile in width; we therefore embarked at nine A.M. to pursue our journey along the coast but, at the distance of nine miles were obliged to seek shelter in Port Epworth, the wind having become adverse and too strong to admit of our proceeding. The Tree River of the Esquimaux which discharges its waters into this bay appears to be narrow and much interrupted by rapids. The fishing-nets were set but obtained only one white-fish and a few bull-heads. This part of the coast is the most sterile and inhospitable that can be imagined. One trap-cliff succeeds another with tiresome uniformity and their debris cover the narrow valleys that intervene, to the exclusion of every kind of herbage. From the summit of these cliffs the ice appeared in every direction.
We obtained the following observations during our stay: latitude 67 degrees 42 minutes 15 seconds North, longitude 112 degrees 30 minutes 00 seconds West, variation 47 degrees 37 minutes 42 seconds East.
The wind abating, at eight P.M. we reembarked and soon afterwards discovered on an island a reindeer, which the interpreters fortunately killed. Resuming our voyage we were much impeded by the ice and at length, being unable to force a passage through a close stream that had collected round a cape, we put ashore at four A.M. On the 24th several stone fox-traps and other traces of the Esquimaux were seen near the encampment. The horizontal refraction varied so much this morning that the upper limb of the sun twice appeared at the horizon before it finally rose.
For the last two days the water rose and fell about nine inches. The tides however seemed to be very irregular and we could not determine the direction of the ebb or flood. A current setting to the eastward was running about two miles an hour during our stay. The ice having removed a short distance from the shore by eleven A.M. we embarked, and with some difficulty effected a passage, then, making a traverse across Gray's Bay,* we paddled up under the eastern shore against a strong wind. The interpreters landed here and went in pursuit of a deer but had no success. This part of the coast is indented by deep bays which are separated by peninsulas formed like wedges, sloping many miles into the sea and joined by low land to the main, so that, often mistaking them for islands, we were led by a circuitous route round the bays. Cliffs were numerous on the islands which were all of the trap formation.
(*Footnote. Named after Mr. Gray principal of the Belfast Academy. An island which lies across the mouth of this bay bears the name of our English sailor Hepburn.)
At seven, a thunderstorm coming on, we encamped at the mouth of a river about eighty yards wide and set four nets. This stream, which received the name of Wentzel after our late companion, discharges a considerable body of water. Its banks are sandy and clothed with herbage. The Esquimaux had recently piled up some drift timber here. A few ducks, ravens, and snow-birds were seen today. The distance made was thirty-one miles.
We had constant rain with thunder during the night. The nets furnished only three salmon-trout. We attributed the want of greater success to the entrance of some seals into the mouth of the river. Embarking at six A.M. we paddled against a cold breeze until the spreading of a thick fog caused us to land. The rocks here consisted of a beautiful mixture of red and gray granite, traversed from north to south by veins of red felspar which were crossed in various directions by smaller veins filled with the same substance.
At noon the wind coming from a favourable quarter tempted us to proceed, although the fog was unabated. We kept as close as we could to the main shore but, having to cross some bays, it became a matter of doubt whether we had not left the main and were running along an island. Just as we were endeavouring to double a bold cape the fog partially cleared away and allowed us an imperfect view of a chain of islands on the outside, and of much heavy ice which was pressing down upon us. The coast near us was so steep and rugged that no landing of the cargoes could be effected and we were preserved only by some men jumping on the rocks and thrusting the ice off with poles. There was no alternative but to continue along this dreary shore seeking a channel between the different masses of ice which had accumulated at the various points. In this operation both the canoes were in imminent danger of being crushed by the ice which was now tossed about by the waves that the gale had excited. We effected a passage however and, keeping close to the shore, landed at the entrance of Detention Harbour at nine P.M., having come twenty-eight miles. An old Esquimaux encampment was traced on this spot, and an ice chisel, a copper knife, and a small iron knife were found under the turf. I named this cape after Mr. Barrow of the Admiralty to whose exertions are mainly owing the discoveries recently made in Arctic geography. An opening on its eastern side received the appellation of Inman Harbour after my friend the Professor at the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth, and to a group of islands to seaward of it we gave the name of Jameson in honour of the distinguished Professor of Mineralogy at Edinburgh.
We had much wind and rain during the night and by the morning of the 26th a great deal of ice had drifted into the inlet. We embarked at four and attempted to force a passage, when the first canoe got enclosed and remained for some time in a very perilous situation: the pieces of ice, crowded together by the action of the current and wind, pressing strongly against its feeble sides. A partial opening however occurring we landed without having sustained any serious injury. Two men were then sent round the bay and it was ascertained that, instead of having entered a narrow passage between an island and the main, we were at the mouth of a harbour having an island at its entrance, and that it was necessary to return by the way we came and get round a point to the northward. This was however impracticable, the channel being blocked up by drift ice, and we had no prospect of release except by a change of wind. This detention was extremely vexatious as we were losing a fair wind and expending our provision. In the afternoon the weather cleared up and several men went hunting but were unsuccessful. During the day the ice floated backwards and forwards in the harbour, moved by currents not regular enough to deserve the name of tide, and which appeared to be governed by the wind. We perceived great diminution by melting in the pieces near us. That none of this ice survives the summer is evident from the rapidity of its decay and because no ice of last year's formation was hanging on the rocks. Whether any body of it exists at a distance from the shore we could not determine.
The land around Cape Barrow and to Detention Harbour consists of steep craggy mountains of granite rising so abruptly from the water's edge as to admit few landing-places even for a canoe. The higher parts attain an elevation of fourteen or fifteen hundred feet and the whole is entirely destitute of vegetation.
On the morning of the 27th, the ice remaining stationary at the entrance, we went to the bottom of the harbour and carried the canoes and cargoes about a mile and a half across the point of land that forms the east side of it, but the ice was not more favourable there for our advancement than at the place we had left. It consisted of small pieces closely packed together by the wind extending along the shore but leaving a clear passage beyond the chain of islands with which the whole of this coast is girt. Indeed when we left the harbour we had little hope of finding a passage, and the principal object in moving was to employ the men in order to prevent their reflecting upon and discussing the dangers of our situation which we knew they were too apt to do when leisure permitted. Our observations place the entrance of Detention Harbour in latitude 67 degrees 53 minutes 45 seconds, longitude 110 degrees 41 minutes 20 seconds West, variation 40 degrees 49 minutes 34 seconds East. It is a secure anchorage being sheltered from the wind in every direction; the bottom is sandy.
As the ice continued in the same state several of the men were sent out to hunt, and one of them fired no less than four times at deer but unfortunately without success. It was satisfactory however to ascertain that the country was not destitute of animals. We had the mortification to discover that two of the bags of pemmican which was our principal reliance had become mouldy by wet. Our beef too had been so badly cured as to be scarcely eatable through our having been compelled from haste to dry it by fire instead of the sun. It was not however the quality of our provision that gave us uneasiness but its diminution and the utter incapacity to obtain any addition. Seals were the only animals that met our view at this place and these we could never approach.
Dr. Richardson discovered near the beach a small vein of galena traversing gneiss rocks, and the people collected a quantity of it in the hope of adding to our stock of balls, but their endeavours to smelt it were as may be supposed ineffectual. The drift timber on this part of the coast consists of pine and taccamahac (Populus balsamifera) most probably from Mackenzie's or some other river to the westward of the Copper-Mine. It all appears to have lain long in the water, the bark being completely worn off and the ends of the pieces rubbed perfectly smooth. There had been a sharp frost in the night which formed a pretty thick crust of ice in a kettle of water that stood in the tents, and for several nights thin films of ice had appeared on the salt water amongst the cakes of stream ice.* Notwithstanding this state of temperature we were tormented by swarms of mosquitoes; we had persuaded ourselves that these pests could not sustain the cold in the vicinity of the sea but it appears they haunt every part of this country in defiance of climate. Mr. Back made an excursion to a hill at seven or eight miles distance and from its summit he perceived the ice close to the shore as far as his view extended.
(Footnote. This is termed bay-ice by the Greenland men.)
On the morning of the 29th the party attended divine service. About noon, the ice appearing less compact, we embarked to change our situation, having consumed all the fuel within our reach. The wind came off the land just as the canoes had started and we determined on attempting to force a passage along the shore, in which we happily succeeded after seven hours' labour and much hazard to our frail vessels. The ice lay so close that the crews disembarked on it and effected a passage by bearing against the pieces with their poles, but in conducting the canoes through the narrow channels thus formed the greatest care was requisite to prevent the sharp projecting points from breaking the bark. They fortunately received no material injury though they were split in two places.
At the distance of three miles we came to the entrance of a deep bay whose bottom was filled by a body of ice so compact as to preclude the idea of a passage through it, whilst at the same time the traverse across its mouth was attended with much danger from the approach of a large field of ice which was driving down before the wind. The dread of further detention however prevented us from hesitating, and we had the satisfaction of landing in an hour and a half on the opposite shore, where we halted to repair the canoes and to dine. I have named this bay after my friend Mr. Daniel Moore of Lincoln's Inn, to whose zeal for science the Expedition was indebted for the use of a most valuable chronometer. Its shores are picturesque, sloping hills receding from the beach and closed with verdure bound its bottom and western side, and lofty cliffs of slate clay with their intervening grassy valleys skirt its eastern border. Embarking at midnight we pursued our voyage without interruption, passing between the Stockport and Marcet Islands and the main, until six A.M. on July 30th when, having rounded Point Kater, we entered Arctic Sound and were again involved in a stream of ice, but after considerable delay extricated ourselves and proceeded towards the bottom of the inlet in search of the mouth of a river which we supposed it to receive, from the change in the colour of the water.
About ten A.M. we landed to breakfast on a small deer which St. Germain had killed, and sent men in pursuit of some others in sight but with which they did not come up. Reembarking we passed the river without perceiving it and entered a deep arm of the sound which I have named Baillie's Cove in honour of a relative of the lamented Mr. Hood. As it was too late to return we encamped and, by walking across the country, discovered the river whose mouth, being barred by low sandy islands and banks, was not perceived when we passed it. Course and distance from Galena Point to this encampment were South-East 3/4 South forty miles.
From the accounts of Black-Meat and Boileau at Fort Chipewyan we considered this river to be the Anatessy, and Cape Barrow to be the projection which they supposed to be the North-East termination of America. The outline of the coast indeed bears some resemblance to the chart they sketched, and the distance of this river from the Copper-Mine nearly coincides with what we estimated the Anatessy to be from their statements. In our subsequent journey however across the barren grounds we ascertained that this conjecture was wrong, and that the Anatessy, which is known to come from Rum Lake, must fall into the sea to the eastward of this place.
Our stock of provision being now reduced to eight days' consumption it had become a matter of the first importance to obtain a supply and, as we had learned from Terregannoeuck that the Esquimaux frequent the rivers at this season, I determined on seeking a communication with them here, in the hope of obtaining relief for our present wants or even shelter for the winter if the season should prevent us from returning either to the Hook's party or Fort Enterprise, and I was the more induced to take this step at this time as several deer had been seen today and the river appeared good for fishing, which led me to hope we might support the party during our stay if not add to our stock by our own exertions in hunting and fishing. Augustus, Junius, and Hepburn were therefore furnished with the necessary presents and desired to go along the bank of the river as far as they could on the following day in search of the natives to obtain provision and leather as well as information respecting the coast.
They started at four A.M. and at the same time our hunters were sent off in search of deer, and the rest of the party proceeded in the canoes to the first cascade in the river, at the foot of which we encamped and set four nets. This cascade, produced by a ridge of rocks crossing the stream, is about three or four feet in height and about two hundred and fifty yards wide. Its position by our observations in latitude 67 degrees 19 minutes 23 seconds North, longitude 109 degrees 44 minutes 30 seconds West, variation 41 degrees 43 minutes 22 seconds, dip 88 degrees 58 minutes 48 seconds. I have named this river Hood as a small tribute to the memory of our lamented friend and companion. It is from three to four hundred yards wide below the cascade but in many places very shallow. The banks, bottom, and adjacent hills are formed of a mixture of sand and clay. The ground was overspread with small willows and the dwarf birch, both too diminutive for fuel, and the stream brought down no driftwood. We were mortified to find the nets only procured one salmon and five white-fish, and that we had to make another inroad upon our dried meat.
At two this morning the hunters returned with two small deer and a brown bear. Augustus and Junius arrived at the same time, having traced the river twelve miles farther up without discovering any vestige of inhabitants. We had now an opportunity of gratifying our curiosity respecting the bear so much dreaded by the Indians, and of whose strength and ferocity we had heard such terrible accounts. It proved to be a lean male of a yellowish brown colour and not longer than a common black bear. It made a feeble attempt to defend itself and was easily despatched. The flesh was brought to the tent but, our fastidious voyagers supposing, from its leanness, that the animal had been sickly, declined eating it; the officers however being less scrupulous boiled the paws and found them excellent.
We embarked at ten A.M. and, proceeding down the river, took on board another deer that had been killed by Credit that evening. We then ran along the eastern shore of Arctic Sound, distinguished by the name of Banks' Peninsula in honour of the late Right Honourable Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society and, rounding Point Wollaston at its eastern extremity, opened another extensive sheet of water, and the remainder of the afternoon was spent in endeavouring to ascertain from the tops of the hills whether it was another bay or merely a passage enclosed by a chain of islands. Appearances rather favouring the latter opinion we determined on proceeding through it to the southward. During the delay four more deer were killed, all young and lean. It appeared that the coast is pretty well frequented by reindeer at this season, but it was rather singular that hitherto we had killed none (excepting the first) but young ones of last season which were all too lean to have been eaten by any but persons who had no choice.
We paddled along the western shore with the intention of encamping but were prevented by the want of driftwood on the beach. This induced us to make a traverse to an island where we put up at midnight, having found a small bay whose shores furnished us with a little firewood. A heavy gale came on from the westward attended with constant rain, and one of the squalls overthrew our tents. The course and distance made this day were north-east sixteen miles and a half. I may here mention that Arctic Sound appeared the most convenient and perhaps the best place for ships to anchor that we had seen along the coast, at this season especially, when they might increase their stock of provision, if provided with good marksmen. Deer are numerous in its vicinity, musk-oxen also may be found up Hood's River, and the fine sandy bottom of the bays promises favourably for fishing with the seine. The hills on the western side are even in their outline and slope gradually to the water's edge. The rocks give place to an alluvial sandy soil towards the bottom of the Sound, but on Banks' Peninsula rocky eminences again prevail which are rugged and uneven but intersected by valleys, at this time green; along their base is a fine sandy beach. From Point Wollaston to our encampment the coast is skirted with trap cliffs which have often a columnar form and are very difficult of access. These cliffs lie in ranges parallel to the shore and the deer that we killed were feeding in small marshy grassy plats that lie in the valleys between them.
Being detained by the continuance of the gale on the 2nd of August some men were sent out to hunt and the officers visited the tops of the highest hills to ascertain the best channels to be pursued. The wind abating at ten P.M. we embarked and paddled round the southern end of the island and continued our course to the south-east. Much doubt at this time prevailed as to the land on the right being the main shore or merely a chain of islands. The latter opinion was strengthened by the broken appearance of the land and the extensive view we had up Brown's Channel (named after my friend Mr. Robert Brown) the mouth of which we passed and were in some apprehension of being led away from the main shore and, perhaps after passing through a group of islands, of coming to a traverse greater than we durst venture upon in canoes: on the other hand the continuous appearance of the land on the north side of the channel and its tending to the southward excited the fear that we were entering a deep inlet.
In this state of doubt we landed often and endeavoured, from the summits of the highest hills adjoining the shore, to ascertain the true nature of the coast but in vain, and we continued paddling through the channel all night against a fresh breeze, which at half-past four increased to a violent gale and compelled us to land. The gale diminished a short time after noon on the 3rd and permitted us to reembark and continue our voyage until four P.M., when it returned with its former violence and finally obliged us to encamp, having come twenty-four miles on a south-east three-quarter south course.
From the want of driftwood to make a fire we had fasted all day and were under the necessity in the evening of serving out pemmican, which was done with much reluctance, especially as we had some fresh deers' meat remaining. The inlet when viewed from a high hill adjoining to our encampment exhibited so many arms that the course we ought to pursue was more uncertain than ever. It was absolutely necessary however to see the end of it before we could determine that it was not a strait. Starting at three A.M. on the 4th we paddled the whole day through channels from two to five or six miles wide, all tending to the southward. In the course of the day's voyage we ascertained that the land which we had seen on our right since yesterday morning consisted of several large islands which have been distinguished by the names of Goulburn, Elliott, and Young, but the land on our left preserved its unbroken appearance and when we encamped we were still uncertain whether it was the eastern side of a deep sound or merely a large island. It differed remarkably from the main shore, being very rugged, rocky, and sterile, whereas the outline of the main on the opposite side was even and its hills covered with a comparatively good sward of grass exhibiting little naked rock. There was no drift timber but the shores near the encampment were strewed with small pieces of willow which indicated our vicinity to the mouth of a river. This fuel enabled us to make a hearty supper from a small deer killed this evening.
The shallows we passed this day were covered with shoals of capelin, the angmaggoeuk of the Esquimaux. It was known to Augustus who informed us that it frequents the coast of Hudson's Bay and is delicate eating. The course and distance made was south by east-half-east, thirty-three miles.
After paddling twelve miles in the morning of the 5th we had the mortification to find the inlet terminated by a river, the size of which we could not ascertain as the entrance was blocked by shoals. Its mouth lies in latitude 66 degrees 30 minutes North, longitude 107 degrees 53 minutes West. I have named this stream Back as a mark of my friendship for my associate.* We were somewhat consoled for the loss of time in exploring this inlet by the success of Junius in killing a musk-ox, the first we had seen on the coast; and afterwards by the acquisition of the flesh of a bear that was shot as we were returning up the eastern side in the evening. The latter proved to be a female in very excellent condition; and our Canadian voyagers whose appetite for fat meat is insatiable were delighted.
(*Footnote. From subsequent conversation with the Copper Indians we were inclined to suppose this may be the Thlueetessy described by Black Meat mentioned in a former part of the narrative.)
We encamped on the shores of a sandy bay and set the nets and, finding a quantity of dried willows on the beach, we were enabled to cook the bear's flesh which was superior to any meat we tasted on the coast. The water fell two feet at this place during the night. Our nets produced a great variety of fish, namely a salmon trout, some round-fish, tittameg, bleak, star-fish, several herrings and a flat fish resembling plaice, but covered on the back with horny excrescences.
On the 6th we were detained in the encampment by stormy weather until five P.M. when we embarked and paddled along the northern shore of the inlet, the weather still continuing foggy but the wind moderate. Observing on the beach a she-bear with three young ones we landed a party to attack them but, being approached without due caution, they took the alarm and scaled a precipitous rocky hill with a rapidity that baffled all pursuit. At eight o'clock, the fog changing into rain, we encamped. Many seals were seen this day but as they kept in deep water we did not fire at them.
On August 7th the atmosphere was charged with fog and rain all the day, but as the wind was moderate we pursued our journey; our situation however was very unpleasant, being quite wet and without room to stretch a limb, much less to obtain warmth by exercise. We passed a cove which I have named after my friend Mr. W.H. Tinney, and proceeded along the coast until five P.M. when we put up on a rocky point nearly opposite to our encampment on the 3rd, having come twenty-three miles on a north-north-west course.
We were detained on the 8th by a northerly gale which blew violently throughout the day attended by fog and rain. Some of the men went out to hunt but they saw no other animal than a white wolf which could not be approached. The fresh meat being expended a little pemmican was served out this evening.
The gale abated on the morning of the 9th and the sea, which it had raised, having greatly subsided, we embarked at seven A.M. and, after paddling three or four miles, opened Sir J.A. Gordon's Bay into which we penetrated thirteen miles and then discovered from the summit of a hill that it would be in vain to proceed in this direction in search of a passage out of the inlet.
Our breakfast diminished our provision to two bags of pemmican and a single meal of dried meat. The men began to apprehend absolute want of food and we had to listen to their gloomy forebodings of the deer entirely quitting the coast in a few days. As we were embarking however a large bear was discovered on the opposite shore which we had the good fortune to kill, and the sight of this fat meat relieved their fears for the present. Dr. Richardson found in the stomach of this animal the remains of a seal, several marmots (Arctomys richardsonii) a large quantity of the liquorice root of Mackenzie (hedysarum) which is common on these shores, and some berries. There was also intermixed with these substances a small quantity of grass.
We got again into the main inlet and paddled along its eastern shore until forty minutes after eight A.M. when we encamped in a small cove. We found a single log of driftwood; it was pine and sufficiently large to enable us to cook a portion of the bear which had a slight fishy taste but was deemed very palatable.
We followed up the east border of the inlet about twenty-four miles and at length emerged into the opens sea, a body of islands to the westward concealing the channel by which we had entered. Here our progress was arrested by returning bad weather. We killed a bear and its young cub of this year on the beach near our encampment. We heartily congratulated ourselves at having arrived at the eastern entrance of this inlet which had cost us nine invaluable days in exploring. It contains several secure harbours, especially near the mouth of Back's River where there is a sandy bottom in forty fathoms.
On the 3rd and 4th of August we observed a fall of more than two feet in the water during the night. There are various irregular and partial currents in the inlet which may be attributed to the wind. I have distinguished it by the name of Bathurst's Inlet after the noble Secretary of State under whose orders I had the honour to act. It runs about seventy-six miles south-east from Cape Everitt but in coasting its shores we went about one hundred and seventy-four geographical miles. It is remarkable that none of the Indians with whom we had spoken mentioned this inlet, and we subsequently learned that in their journeys they strike across from the mouth of one river to the mouth of another without tracing the intermediate line of coast.
Embarking at five A.M. we rounded Point Everitt and then encountered a strong breeze and heavy swell which, by causing the canoes to pitch very much, greatly impeded our progress. Some deer being seen grazing in a valley near the beach we landed and sent St. Germain and Adam in pursuit of them who soon killed three which were very small and lean. Their appearance however quite revived the spirits of our men who had suspected that the deer had retired to the woods. It would appear from our not having seen any in passing along the shores of Bathurst's Inlet that at this season they confine themselves to the sea-coast and the islands. The magpie-berries (Arbutus alpina) were found quite ripe at this place, and very abundant on the acclivities of the hills. We also ascended the highest hill and gained a view of a distant chain of islands extending as far as the eye could reach, and perceived a few patches of ice still lingering round to some of them, but in every other part the sea was quite open. Resuming our voyage after noon we proceeded along the coast which is fringed by islands, and at five P.M. entered another bay where we were for some time involved in our late difficulties by the intricacy of the passages, but we cleared them in the afternoon and encamped near the northern entrance of the bay at a spot which had recently been visited by a small party of Esquimaux, as the remains of some eggs containing young were lying beside some half-burnt firewood. There were also several piles of stones put up by them. I have named this bay after my friend Captain David Buchan of the Royal Navy. It appears to be a safe anchorage, well sheltered from the wind and sea by islands; the bottom is sandy, the shores high and composed of red sandstone. Two deer were seen on its beach but could not be approached. The distance we made today was eighteen miles and three-quarters.
Embarking at four on the morning of the 12th we proceeded against a fresh piercing north-east wind which raised the waves to a height that quite terrified our people, accustomed only to the navigation of rivers and lakes. We were obliged however to persevere in our advance, feeling as we did that the short season for our operations was hastening away, but after rounding Cape Croker the wind became so strong that we could proceed no farther. The distance we had made was only six miles on a north-east by east course. The shore on which we encamped is formed of the debris of red sandstone and is destitute of vegetation. The beach furnished no driftwood and we dispensed with our usual meal rather than expend our pemmican. Several deer were seen but the hunters could not approach them; they killed two swans. We observed the latitude 68 degrees 1 minute 20 seconds where we had halted to breakfast this morning.
Though the wind was not much diminished we were urged by the want of firewood to venture upon proceeding. We paddled close to the shore for some miles and then ran before the breeze with reefed sails scarcely two feet in depth. Both the canoes received much water and one of them struck twice on sunken rocks. At the end of eighteen miles we halted to breakfast in a bay which I have named after Vice-Admiral Sir William Johnstone Hope, one of the Lords of the Admiralty.
We found here a considerable quantity of small willows such as are brought down by the rivers we had hitherto seen, and hence we judged that a river discharges itself into the bottom of this bay. A paddle was also found which Augustus on examination declared to be made after the fashion of the White Goose Esquimaux, a tribe with whom his countrymen had had some trading communication as has been mentioned in a former part of the narrative.
This morning we passed the embouchure of a pretty large stream and saw the vestiges of an Esquimaux encampment not above a month old. Having obtained the latitude 68 degrees 6 minutes 40 seconds North we recommenced our voyage under sail, taking the precaution to embark all the pieces of willow we could collect, as we had found the driftwood become more scarce as we advanced. Our course was directed to a distant point which we supposed to be a cape, and the land stretching to the westward of it to be islands, but we soon found ourselves in an extensive bay from which no outlet could be perceived but the one by which we had entered. On examination however from the top of a hill we perceived a winding shallow passage running to the north-west which we followed for a short time and then encamped, having come twenty-three miles north by east half east.
Some articles left by the Esquimaux attracted our attention; we found a winter sledge raised upon four stones, with some snow-shovels and a small piece of whalebone. An ice-chisel, a knife and some beads were left at this pile. The shores of this bay, which I have named after Sir George Warrender, are low and clayey and the country for many miles is level and much intersected with water, but we had not leisure to ascertain whether they were branches of the bay or freshwater lakes. Some white geese were seen this evening and some young gray ones were caught on the beach being unable to fly. We fired at two reindeer but without success.
On August 14th we paddled the whole day along the northern shores of the sound, returning towards its mouth. The land we were now tracing is generally so flat that it could not be descried from the canoes at the distance of four miles and is invisible from the opposite side of the sound, otherwise a short traverse might have saved us some days. The few eminences that are on this side were mistaken for islands when seen from the opposite shore; they are for the most part cliffs of basalt and are not above one hundred feet high; the subjacent strata are of white sandstone. The rocks are mostly confined to the capes and shores, the soil inland being flat, clayey, and barren. Most of the headlands showed traces of visits from the Esquimaux but none of them recent. Many ducks were seen, belonging to a species termed by the voyagers from their cry caccawees. We also saw some gray geese and swans. The only seal we procured during our voyage was killed this day; it happened to be blind and our men imagining it to be in bad health would not taste the flesh; we however were less nice.
We encamped at the end of twenty-four miles' march on the north-west side of the bay to which I have given the name of my friend Captain Parry, now employed in the interesting research for a North-West Passage. Driftwood had become very scarce and we found none near the encampment; a fire however was not required as we served out pemmican for supper and the evening was unusually warm.
On the following morning the breeze was fresh and the waves rather high. In paddling along the west side of Parry's Bay we saw several deer but, owing to the openness of the country, the hunters could not approach them. They killed however two swans that were moulting, several cranes and many gray geese. We procured also some caccawees which were then moulting and assembled in immense flocks. In the evening, having rounded Point Beechy and passed Hurd's Islands, we were exposed to much inconvenience and danger from a heavy rolling sea, the canoes receiving many severe blows and shipping a good deal of water, which induced us to encamp at five P.M. opposite to Cape Croker which we had passed on the morning of the 12th; the channel which lay between our situation and it being about seven miles wide. We had now reached the northern point of entrance into this sound which I have named in honour of Lord Viscount Melville, the first Lord of the Admiralty. It is thirty miles wide from east to west and twenty from north to south, and in coasting it we had sailed eighty-seven and a quarter geographical miles. Shortly after the tents were pitched Mr. Back reported from the steersman that both canoes had sustained material injury during this day's voyage. I found on examination that fifteen timbers of the first canoe were broken, some of them in two places, and that the second canoe was so loose in the frame that its timbers could not be bound in the usual secure manner, and consequently there was danger of its bark separating from the gunwales if exposed to a heavy sea. Distressing as were these circumstances they gave me less pain than the discovery that our people, who had hitherto displayed in following us through dangers and difficulties no less novel than appalling to them a courage beyond our expectation, now felt serious apprehensions for their safety which so possessed their minds that they were not restrained even by the presence of their officers from expressing them. Their fears we imagined had been principally excited by the interpreters, St. Germain and Adam, who from the outset had foreboded every calamity; and we now strongly suspected that their recent want of success in hunting had proceeded from an intentional relaxation in their efforts to kill deer in order that the want of provision might compel us to put a period to our voyage.
I must now mention that many concurrent circumstances had caused me during the few last days to meditate on the approach of this painful necessity. The strong breezes we had encountered for some days led me to fear that the season was breaking up and severe weather would soon ensue which we could not sustain in a country destitute of fuel. Our stock of provision was now reduced to a quantity of pemmican only sufficient for three days' consumption and the prospect of increasing it was not encouraging for, though reindeer were seen, they could not be easily approached on the level shores we were now coasting, besides it was to be apprehended they would soon migrate to the south. It was evident that the time spent in exploring the Arctic and Melville Sounds and Bathurst's Inlet had precluded the hope of reaching Repulse Bay, which at the outset of the voyage we had fondly cherished, and it was equally obvious that, as our distance from any of the trading establishments would increase as we proceeded, the hazardous traverse across the barren grounds which we should have to make if compelled to abandon the canoes upon any part of the coast would become greater.
I this evening communicated to the officers my sentiments on these points as well as respecting our return and was happy to find that their opinions coincided with my own. We were all convinced of the necessity of putting a speedy termination to our advance as our hope of meeting the Esquimaux and procuring provision from them could now scarcely be retained, but yet we were desirous of proceeding until the land should be seen trending again to the eastward, that we might be satisfied of its separation from what we had conceived, in passing from Cape Barrow to Bathurst's Inlet, to be a great chain of islands. As it was needful however at all events to set a limit to our voyage I announced my determination of returning after four days' examination, unless indeed we should previously meet the Esquimaux and be enabled to make some arrangement for passing the winter with them. This communication was joyfully received by the men and we hoped that the industry of our hunters being once more excited we should be able to add to our stock of provision.
It may here be remarked that we observed the first regular return of the tides in Warrender's and Parry's Bays, but their set could not be ascertained. The rise of water did not amount to more than two feet. Course today south one quarter east-nine miles and a quarter.
Some rain fell in the night but the morning was unusually fine. We set forward at five A.M. and the men paddled cheerfully along the coast for ten miles when a dense fog caused us to land on Slate-clay Point. Here we found more traces of the Esquimaux and the skull of a man placed between two rocks. The fog dispersed at noon and we discerned a group of islands to the northward which I have named after Vice-Admiral Sir George Cockburn, one of the Lords of the Admiralty. Reembarking we rounded the point and entered Walker's Bay (so-called after my friend Admiral Walker) where as in other instances the low beach which lay between several high trap cliffs could not be distinguished until we had coasted down the east side nearly to the bottom of the bay. When the continuity of the land was perceived we crossed to the western shore and on landing discovered a channel leading through a group of islands. Having passed through this channel we ran under sail by the Porden Islands, across Riley's Bay and, rounding a cape which now bears the name of my lamented friend Captain Flinders, had the pleasure to find the coast trending north-north-east, with the sea in the offing unusually clear of islands, a circumstance which afforded matter of wonder to our Canadians who had not previously had an uninterrupted view of the ocean.
Our course was continued along the coast until eight P.M. when a change in the wind and a threatening thunder-squall induced us to encamp, but the water was so shallow that we found some difficulty in approaching the shore. Large pieces of driftwood gave us assurance that we had finally escaped from the bays. Our tents were scarcely pitched before we were assailed by a heavy squall and rain, which was succeeded by a violent gale from west-north-west which thrice overset the tents during the night. The wind blew with equal violence on the following day and the sea rolled furiously upon the beach. The Canadians had now an opportunity of witnessing the effect of a storm upon the sea and the sight increased their desire of quitting it.
Our hunters were sent out and saw many deer but the flatness of the country defeated their attempts to approach them; they brought however a few unfledged geese. As there was no appearance of increasing our stock of provision the allowance was limited to a handful of pemmican and a small portion of portable soup to each man per day. The thermometer this afternoon stood to 41 degrees. The following observations were obtained: latitude 68 degrees 18 minutes 50 seconds North, longitude 110 degrees 5 minutes 15 seconds West, but 109 degrees 25 minutes 00 seconds West was used in the construction of the chart as the chronometers were found, on our return to Hood's River, to have altered their rates; variation 44 degrees 15 minutes 46 seconds East and dip of the needle 89 degrees 31 minutes 12 seconds.
On August 18th, the stormy weather and sea continuing, there was no prospect of our being able to embark. Dr. Richardson, Mr. Back, and I therefore set out on foot to discover whether the land within a day's march inclined more to the east. We went from ten to twelve miles along the coast, which continued flat, and kept the same direction as the encampment. The most distant land we saw had the same bearing north-north-east, and appeared like two islands which we estimated to be six or seven miles off; the shore on their side seemingly tended more to the east so that it is probable Point Turnagain, for so this spot was named, forms the pitch of a low flat cape.
Augustus killed a deer in the afternoon but the men were not able to find it. The hunters found the burrows of a number of white foxes and Hepburn killed one of these animals, which proved excellent eating, equal to the young geese with which it was boiled and far superior to the lean deer we had upon the coast. Large flocks of geese passed over the tents flying to the southward. The lowest temperature today was 38 degrees.
Though it will appear from the chart that the position of Point Turnagain is only six degrees and a half to the east of the mouth of the Copper-Mine River, we sailed, in tracing the deeply-indented coast, five hundred and fifty-five geographical miles, which is little less than the direct distance between the Copper-Mine River and Repulse Bay, supposing the latter to be in the longitude assigned to it by Middleton.
When the many perplexing incidents which occurred during the survey of the coast are considered in connection with the shortness of the period during which operations of the kind can be carried on, and the distance we had to travel before we could gain a place of shelter for the winter, I trust it will be judged that we prosecuted the enterprise as far as was prudent and abandoned it only under a well-founded conviction that a farther advance would endanger the lives of the whole party and prevent the knowledge of what had been done from reaching England. The active assistance I received from the officers in contending with the fears of the men demands my warmest gratitude.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE PROBABILITY OF A NORTH-WEST PASSAGE.
Our researches, as far as they have gone, favour the opinion of those who contend for the practicability of a North-West Passage. The general line of coast probably runs east and west, nearly in the latitude assigned to Mackenzie's River, the Sound into which Kotzebue entered, and Repulse Bay, and I think there is little doubt of a continued sea in or about that line of direction. The existence of whales too on this part of the coast, evidenced by the whalebone we found in Esquimaux Cove, may be considered as an argument for an open sea; and a connection with Hudson's Bay is rendered more probable from the same kind of fish abounding on the coasts we visited, and on those to the north of Churchill River. I allude more particularly to the Capelin or Salmo arcticus which we found in large shoals in Bathurst's Inlet and which not only abounds, as Augustus told us, in the bays in his country, but swarms in the Greenland firths.* The portion of the sea over which we passed is navigable for vessels of any size; the ice we met, particularly after quitting Detention Harbour, would not have arrested a strong boat. The chain of islands affords shelter from all heavy seas and there are good harbours at convenient distances. I entertain indeed sanguine hopes that the skill and exertions of my friend Captain Parry will soon render this question no longer problematical. His task is doubtless an arduous one and if ultimately successful may occupy two and perhaps three seasons but, confiding as I do from personal knowledge in his perseverance and talent for surmounting difficulties, the strength of his ships, and the abundance of provisions with which they are stored, I have very little apprehension of his safety. As I understand his object was to keep the coast of America close on board he will find in the spring of the year, before the breaking up of the ice can permit him to pursue his voyage, herds of deer flocking in abundance to all parts of the coast, which may be procured without difficulty, and even later in the season additions to his stock of provision may be obtained on many parts of the coast, should circumstances give him leisure to send out hunting parties. With the trawl or seine nets also he may almost everywhere get abundance of fish even without retarding his progress. Under these circumstances I do not conceive that he runs any hazard of wanting provisions should his voyage be prolonged even beyond the latest period of time which is calculated upon. Drift timber may be gathered at many places in considerable quantities and there is a fair prospect of his opening a communication with the Esquimaux who come down to the coast to kill seals in the spring previous to the ice breaking up, and from whom, if he succeeds in conciliating their goodwill, he may obtain provision and much useful assistance.
(*Footnote. Arctic Zoology volume 2 page 394.)
If he makes for Copper-Mine River, as he probably will do, he will not find it in the longitude as laid down on the charts, but he will probably find what would be more interesting to him, a post which we erected on the 26th August at the mouth of Hood's River which is nearly, as will appear hereafter, in that longitude, with a flag upon it and a letter at the foot of it, which may convey to him some useful information. It is possible however that he may keep outside of the range of islands which skirt this part of the coast.
JOURNEY ACROSS THE BARREN GROUNDS. DIFFICULTY AND DELAY IN CROSSING COPPER-MINE RIVER. MELANCHOLY AND FATAL RESULTS THEREOF. EXTREME MISERY OF THE WHOLE PARTY. MURDER OF MR. HOOD. DEATH OF SEVERAL OF THE CANADIANS. DESOLATE STATE OF FORT ENTERPRISE. DISTRESS SUFFERED AT THAT PLACE. DR. RICHARDSON'S NARRATIVE. MR. BACK'S NARRATIVE. CONCLUSION.
JOURNEY ACROSS THE BARREN GROUNDS.
August 17, 1821.
My original intention, whenever the season should compel us to relinquish the survey, had been to return by the Copper-Mine River and, in pursuance of my arrangement with the Hook, to travel to Slave Lake through the line of woods extending thither by the Great Bear and Marten Lakes, but our scanty stock of provision and the length of the voyage rendered it necessary to make for a nearer place. We had already found that the country between Cape Barrow and the Copper-Mine River would not supply our wants, and this it seemed probable would now be still the case, besides at this advanced season we expected the frequent recurrence of gales which would cause great detention if not danger in proceeding along that very rocky part of the coast.
I determined therefore to make at once for Arctic Sound where we had found the animals more numerous than at any other place and, entering Hood's River, to advance up that stream as far as it was navigable and then to construct small canoes out of the materials of the larger ones, which could be carried in crossing the barren grounds to Fort Enterprise.
We were almost beaten out of our comfortless abodes by rain during the night and this morning the gale continued without diminution. The thermometer fell to 33 degrees. Two men were sent with Junius to search for the deer which Augustus had killed. Junius returned in the evening, bringing part of the meat but, owing to the thickness of the weather, his companions parted from him and did not make their appearance. Divine service was read. On the 20th we were presented with the most chilling prospect, the small pools of water being frozen over, the ground covered with snow, and the thermometer at the freezing-point at midday. Flights of geese were passing to the southward. The wind however was more moderate, having changed to the eastward. Considerable anxiety prevailing respecting Belanger and Michel, the two men who strayed from Junius yesterday, the rest were sent out to look for them. The search was successful and they all returned in the evening. The stragglers were much fatigued and had suffered severely from the cold, one of them having his thighs frozen and, what under our present circumstances was most grievous, they had thrown away all the meat. The wind during the night returned to the north-west quarter, blew more violently than ever, and raised a very turbulent sea. The next day did not improve our condition, the snow remained on the ground, and the small pools were frozen. Our hunters were sent out but they returned after a fatiguing day's march without having seen any animals. We made a scanty meal off a handful of pemmican, after which only half a bag remained.
The wind abated after midnight and the surf diminished rapidly, which caused us to be on the alert at a very early hour on the 22nd, but we had to wait until six A.M. for the return of Augustus who had continued out all night on an unsuccessful pursuit of deer. It appears that he had walked a few miles further along the coast than the party had done on the 18th and, from a sketch he drew on the sand, we were confirmed in our former opinion that the shore inclined more to the eastward beyond Point Turnagain. He also drew a river of considerable size that discharges its waters into Walker's Bay, on the banks of which stream he saw a piece of wood such as the Esquimaux use in producing fire, and other marks so fresh that he supposed they had recently visited the spot. We therefore left several iron materials for them and, embarking without delay, prepared to retrace our steps.* Our men, cheered by the prospect of returning, showed the utmost alacrity and, paddling with unusual vigour, carried us across Riley's and Walker's Bays, a distance of twenty miles before noon, when we landed on Slate-clay Point as the wind had freshened too much to permit us to continue the voyage. The whole party went to hunt but returned without success in the evening, drenched with the heavy rain which commenced soon after they had set out. Several deer were seen but could not be approached in this naked country and, as our stock of pemmican did not admit of serving out two meals, we went dinnerless to bed.
(*Footnote. It is a curious coincidence that our Expedition left Point Turnagain on August 22—on the same day that Captain Parry sailed out of Repulse Bay. The parties were then distant from each other 539 miles.)
Soon after our departure this day a sealed tin-case, sufficiently buoyant to float, was thrown overboard, containing a short account of our proceedings and the position of the most conspicuous points. The wind blew off the land, the water was smooth and, as the sea is in this part more free from islands than in any other, there was every probability of its being driven off the shore into the current which, as I have before mentioned, we suppose, from the circumstance of Mackenzie's River being the only known stream that brings down the wood we have found along the shores, to set to the eastward.
A severe frost caused us to pass a comfortless night. At two P.M. we set sail and the men voluntarily launched out to make a traverse of fifteen miles across Melville Sound before a strong wind and heavy sea. The privation of food under which our voyagers were then labouring absorbed every other terror; otherwise the most powerful persuasion could not have induced them to attempt such a traverse. It was with the utmost difficulty that the canoes were kept from turning their broadsides to the waves, though we sometimes steered with all the paddles. One of them narrowly escaped being overset by this accident, which occurred in a mid-channel where the waves were so high that the masthead of our canoe was often hid from the other, though it was sailing within hail.
The traverse however was made; we were then near a high rocky lee shore on which a heavy surf was beating. The wind being on the beam, the canoes drifted fast to leeward and, on rounding a point, the recoil of the sea from the rocks was so great that they were with difficulty kept from foundering. We looked in vain for a sheltered bay to land in but at length, being unable to weather another point, we were obliged to put ashore on the open beach which fortunately was sandy at this spot. The debarkation was effected fortunately without further injury than splitting the head of the second canoe, which was easily repaired.
Our encampment being near the spot where we killed the deer on the 11th, almost the whole party went out to hunt, but returned in the evening without having seen any game. The berries however were ripe and plentiful and with the addition of some country tea furnished a supper. There were some showers in the afternoon and the weather was cold, the thermometer being 42 degrees, but the evening and night were calm and fine. It may be remarked that the mosquitoes disappeared when the late gales commenced.
Embarking at three A.M. we stretched across the eastern entrance of Bathurst's Inlet and arrived at an island which I have named after the Right Honourable Colonel Barry of Newton Barry. Some deer being seen on the beach the hunters went in pursuit of them and succeeded in killing three females which enabled us to save our last remaining meal of pemmican. They saw also some fresh tracks of musk-oxen on the banks of a small stream which flowed into a lake in the centre of the island. These animals must have crossed a channel at least three miles wide to reach the nearest of these islands. Some specimens of variegated pebbles and jasper were found here embedded in the amygdaloidal rock.
Reembarking at two P.M. and continuing through what was supposed to be a channel between two islands we found our passage barred by a gravelly isthmus of only ten yards in width; the canoes and cargoes were carried across it and we passed into Bathurst's Inlet through another similar channel bounded on both sides by steep rocky hills. The wind then changing from South-East to North-West brought heavy rain, and we encamped at seven P.M. having advanced eighteen miles.
Starting this morning with a fresh breeze in our favour we soon reached that part of Barry's Island where the canoes were detained on the 2nd and 3rd of this month and, contrary to what we then experienced, the deer were now plentiful. The hunters killed two and relieved us from all apprehension of immediate want of food. From their assembling at this time in such numbers on the islands nearest to the coast we conjectured that they were about to retire to the main shore. Those we saw were generally females with their young and all of them very lean.
The wind continued in the same direction until we had rounded Point Wollaston and then changed to a quarter which enabled us to steer for Hood's River, which we ascended as high as the first rapid and encamped. Here terminated our voyage on the Arctic Sea during which we had gone over six hundred and fifty geographical miles. Our Canadian voyagers could not restrain their joy at having turned their backs on the sea, and passed the evening in talking over their past adventures with much humour and no little exaggeration. The consideration that the most painful, and certainly the most hazardous, part of the journey was yet to come did not depress their spirits at all. It is due to their character to mention that they displayed much courage in encountering the dangers of the sea, magnified to them by their novelty.
The shores between Cape Barrow and Cape Flinders, including the extensive branches of Arctic and Melville Sounds and Bathurst's Inlet, may be comprehended in one great gulf which I have distinguished by the appellation of George IV's Coronation Gulf in honour of His Most Gracious Majesty, the latter name being added to mark the time of its discovery. The archipelago of islands which fringe the coast from Copper-Mine River to Point Turnagain I have named in honour of His Royal Highness the Duke of York.
It may be deserving of notice that the extremes in temperature of the seawater during our voyage were 53 and 35 degrees, but its general temperature was between 43 and 48 degrees. Throughout our return from Point Turnagain we observed that the sea had risen several feet above marks left at our former encampments. This may perhaps be attributed to the north-west gales.
Previous to our departure this morning an assortment of iron materials, beads, looking-glasses, and other articles were put up in a conspicuous situation for the Esquimaux and the English Union was planted on the loftiest sandhill where it might be seen by any ships passing in the offing. Here also was deposited in a tin box a letter containing an outline of our proceedings, the latitude and longitude of the principal places, and the course we intended to pursue towards Slave Lake.
Embarking at eight A.M. we proceeded up the river which is full of sandy shoals but sufficiently deep for canoes in the channels. It is from one hundred to two hundred yards wide and is bounded by high and steep banks of clay. We encamped at a cascade of eighteen or twenty feet high which is produced by a ridge of rock crossing the river and the nets were set. A mile below this cascade Hood's River is joined by a stream half its own size which I have called James' Branch. Bear and deer tracks had been numerous on the banks of the river when we were here before but not a single recent one was to be seen at this time. Credit however killed a small deer at some distance inland which, with the addition of berries, furnished a delightful repast this evening. The weather was remarkably fine and the temperature so mild that the mosquitoes again made their appearance, but not in any great numbers. Our distance made today was not more than six miles.
The next morning the net furnished us with ten white-fish and trout. Having made a further deposit of ironwork for the Esquimaux we pursued our voyage up the river, but the shoals and rapids in this part were so frequent that we walked along the banks the whole day and the crews laboured hard in carrying the canoes thus lightened over the shoals or dragging them up the rapids, yet our journey in a direct line was only about seven miles. In the evening we encamped at the lower end of a narrow chasm through which the river flows for upwards of a mile. The walls of this chasm are upwards of two hundred feet high, quite perpendicular and in some places only a few yards apart. The river precipitates itself into it over a rock, forming two magnificent and picturesque falls close to each other. The upper fall is about sixty feet high and the lower one at least one hundred but perhaps considerably more, for the narrowness of the chasm into which it fell prevented us from seeing its bottom and we could merely discern the top of the spray far beneath our feet. The lower fall is divided into two by an insulated column of rock which rises about forty feet above it. The whole descent of the river at this place probably exceeds two hundred and fifty feet. The rock is very fine felspathose sandstone. It has a smooth surface and a light red colour. I have named these magnificent cascades Wilberforce Falls as a tribute of my respect for that distinguished philanthropist and Christian. Messrs. Back and Hood took beautiful sketches of this majestic scene.
The river, being surveyed from the summit of a hill above these falls, appeared so rapid and shallow that it seemed useless to attempt proceeding any farther in the large canoes. I therefore determined on constructing out of their materials two smaller ones of sufficient size to contain three persons for the purpose of crossing any river that might obstruct our progress. This operation was accordingly commenced and by the 31st, both the canoes being finished, we prepared for our departure on the following day.
The leather which had been preserved for making shoes was equally divided among the men, two pairs of flannel socks were given to each person, and such articles of warm clothing as remained were issued to those who most required them. They were also furnished with one of the officers' tents. This being done I communicated to the men my intention of proceeding in as direct a course as possible to the part of Point Lake opposite our spring encampment, which was only distant one hundred and forty-nine miles in a straight line. They received the communication cheerfully, considered the journey to be short, and left me in high spirits to arrange their own packages. The stores, books, etc., which were not absolutely necessary to be carried were then put up in boxes to be left en cache here, in order that the men's burdens might be as light as possible.
The next morning was warm and very fine. Everyone was on the alert at an early hour, being anxious to commence the journey. Our luggage consisted of ammunition, nets, hatchets, ice chisels, astronomical instruments, clothing, blankets, three kettles, and the two canoes, which were each carried by one man. The officers carried such a portion of their own things as their strength would permit; the weight carried by each man was about ninety pounds, and with this we advanced at the rate of about a mile an hour including rests. In the evening the hunters killed a lean cow out of a large drove of musk-oxen; but the men were too much laden to carry more than a small portion of its flesh. The alluvial soil which, towards the mouth of the river, spreads into plains covered with grass and willows, was now giving place to a more barren and hilly country, so that we could but just collect sufficient brushwood to cook our suppers. The part of the river we skirted this day was shallow and flowed over a bed of sand, its width about one hundred and twenty yards. About midnight our tent was blown down by a squall and we were completely drenched with rain before it could be repitched.
On the morning of the 1st of September a fall of snow took place; the canoes became a cause of delay from the difficulty of carrying them in a high wind, and they sustained much damage through the falls of those who had charge of them. The face of the country was broken by hills of moderate elevation but the ground was plentifully strewed with small stones which, to men bearing heavy burdens and whose feet were protected only by soft moose-skin shoes, occasioned great pain. At the end of eleven miles we encamped and sent for a musk-ox and a deer which St. Germain and Augustus had killed. The day was extremely cold, the thermometer varying between 34 and 36 degrees. In the afternoon a heavy fall of snow took place on the wind changing from north-west to south-west. We found no wood at the encampment but made a fire of moss to cook the supper and crept under our blankets for warmth. At sunrise the thermometer was at 31 degrees and the wind fresh from north-west, but the weather became mild in the course of the forenoon and the snow disappeared from the gravel. The afternoon was remarkably fine and the thermometer rose to 50 degrees. One of the hunters killed a musk-ox. The hills in this part are lower and more round-backed than those we passed yesterday, exhibiting but little naked rock; they were covered with lichens.
Having ascertained from the summit of the highest hill near the tents that the river continued to preserve a west course and, fearing that by pursuing it farther we might lose much time and unnecessarily walk over a great deal of ground, I determined on quitting its banks the next day and making as directly as we could for Point Lake. We accordingly followed the river on the 3rd only to the place where the musk-ox had been killed last evening and, after the meat was procured, crossed the river in our two canoes lashed together. We now emerged from the valley of the river and entered a level but very barren country, varied only by small lakes and marshes, the ground being covered with small stones. Many old tracks of reindeer were seen in the clayey soil and some more recent traces of the musk-ox. We encamped on the borders of Wright's River which flows to the eastward, the direct distance walked today being ten miles and three-quarters. The next morning was very fine and as the day advanced the weather became quite warm. We set out at six A.M. and, having forded the river, walked over a perfectly level country interspersed with small lakes which communicated with each other by streams running in various directions. No berry-bearing plants were found in this part, the surface of the earth being thinly covered in the moister places with a few grasses, and on the drier spots with lichens.
Having walked twelve miles and a half we encamped at seven P.M. and distributed our last piece of pemmican and a little arrowroot for supper which afforded but a scanty meal. This evening was warm but dark clouds overspread the sky. Our men now began to find their burdens very oppressive and were much fatigued by this day's march but did not complain. One of them was lame from an inflammation in the knee. Heavy rain commenced at midnight and continued without intermission until five in the morning, when it was succeeded by snow on the wind changing to north-west, which soon increased to a violent gale. As we had nothing to eat and were destitute of the means of making a fire, we remained in our beds all the day, but the covering of our blankets was insufficient to prevent us from feeling the severity of the frost and suffering inconvenience from the drifting of the snow into our tents. There was no abatement of the storm next day; our tents were completely frozen and the snow had drifted around them to a depth of three feet, and even in the inside there was a covering of several inches on our blankets. Our suffering from cold in a comfortless canvas tent in such weather with the temperature at 20 degrees and without fire will easily be imagined; it was however less than that which we felt from hunger.
The morning of the 7th cleared up a little but the wind was still strong and the weather extremely cold. From the unusual continuance of the storm we feared the winter had set in with all its rigour and that by longer delay we should only be exposed to an accumulation of difficulties; we therefore prepared for our journey although we were in a very unfit condition for starting, being weak from fasting and our garments stiffened by the frost. We had no means of making a fire to thaw them, the moss, at all times difficult to kindle, being now covered with ice and snow. A considerable time was consumed in packing up the frozen tents and bed clothes, the wind blowing so strong that no one could keep his hands long out of his mittens.