Transcriber's Note: The character = preceeding a vowel is used to indicate that the vowel is to be pronounced long. The character ~ preceeding a vowel is used to indicate that the vowel is to be pronounced short. These characters do not occur otherwise.
THREE VOYAGES FOR THE DISCOVERY OF A NORTHWEST PASSAGE FROM THE ATLANTIC TO THE PACIFIC, AND NARRATIVE OF AN ATTEMPT TO REACH THE NORTH POLE, VOLUME II
SIR W. E. PARRY, CAPT. R.N., F.R.S.
In Two Volumes.
New-York: Harper & Brothers, 82 Cliff-Street.
THE SECOND VOLUME.
Departure from Winter Island.—Meet with some Esquimaux travelling to the Northward.—Obstruction and Danger from the Ice and Tides.—Discovery of the Barrow River, and its Fall.—Favourable Passage to the Northward.—Arrival off the Strait of the Fury and Hecla.—Progress opposed by a fixed barrier of Ice.—Communicate with the Natives of Igloolik.—Unsuccessful Attempt to get between the Ice and the Land.—Land upon the Calthorpe Islands.—The Fury drifted by the Ice between two Islands.—Account of a Journey performed in Sledges up an Inlet to the Westward.
A Whale killed.—Other Charts drawn by the Esquimaux.—Account of a Journey to the Narrows of the Strait.—Discovery of the Sea to the Westward.—Total Disruption of the Ice at the Eastern Entrance of the Strait.—Instance of local Attraction on the Compasses.—Sail through the Narrows, and again stopped by fixed Ice.—Account of several Land Journeys and Boat Excursions.—Observations on the Tides.—Continued Obstacles from fixed Ice.
A Journey performed along the South Shore of Cockburn Island.—Confirmation of an Outlet to the Polar Sea.—Partial Disruption of the Old Ice, and formation of New.—Return through the Narrows to the Eastward.—Proceed to examine the Coast to the Northeastward.—Fury's Anchor broken.—Stand over to Igloolik to look for Winter-quarters.—Excursion to the Head of Quilliam Creek.—Ships forced to the Westward by Gales of Wind.—A Canal sawed through the Ice, and the Ships secured in their Winter Station.—Continued Visits of the Esquimaux, and Arrival of some of the Winter Island Tribe.—Proposed Plan of Operations in the ensuing Spring.
Preparations for the Winter.—Various Meteorological Phenomena to the close of the year 1822.—Sickness among the Esquimaux.—Meteorological Phenomena to the end of March.
Various Journeys to the Esquimaux Stations.—Preparations for the Hecla's Return to England.—Remarkable Halos, &c.—Shooting Parties stationed at Arlagnuk.—Journeys to Quilliam Creek.—Arrival of Esquimaux from the Northward.—Account of a Journey to the Westward for the purpose of reaching the Polar Sea.—The Esquimaux report two Fishing-ships having been Wrecked.—A Journey performed to Cockburn Island.—Discovery of Murray Maxwell Inlet
Extraordinary Disruption of Ice in Quilliam Creek.—Some Appearance of Scurvy among the Seamen and Marines—Discovery of Gifford River.—Commence cutting the Ice outside the Ships to release them from their Winter-quarters.—Considerations respecting the Return of the Expedition to England.—Unfavourable State of the Ice at the Eastern Entrance of the Strait.—Proceed to the Southward.—Ships beset and drifted up Lyon Inlet.—Decease of Mr. George Fife.—Final Release from the Ice, and Arrival in England.—Remarks upon the practicability of a Northwest Passage.
Passage to the Whale-fish Islands, and Removal of Stores from the Transport.—Enter the Ice in Baffin's Bay.—Difficulties of Penetrating to the Westward.—Quit the Ice in Baffin's Bay.—Remarks on the Obstructions encountered by the Ships, and on the Severity of the Season.
Enter Sir James Lancaster's Sound.—Land at Cape Warrender.—Meet with young Ice.—Ships beset and carried near the Shore.—Driven back to Navy-board Inlet.—Run to the Westward, and enter Prince Regent's Inlet.—Arrival at Port Bowen.
Winter Arrangements.—Improvements in Warming and Ventilating the Ships.—Masquerades adopted as an Amusement to the Men.—Establishment of Schools.—Astronomical Observations.—Meteorological Phenomena
Re-equipment of the Ships.—Several Journeys undertaken.—Open Water in the Offing.—Commence sawing a Canal to liberate the Ships.—Disruption of the Ice.—Departure from Port Bowen.
Sail over towards the Western Coast of Prince Regent's Inlet.—Stopped by the Ice.—Reach the Shore about Cape Seppings.—Favourable Progress along the Land.—Fresh and repeated Obstructions from Ice.—Both Ships driven on Shore.—Fury seriously damaged.—Unsuccessful Search for a Harbour for heaving her down to repair.
Formation of a Basin for heaving the Fury down.—Landing of the Fury's Stores, and other Preparations.—The Ships secured within the Basin.—Impediments from the Pressure of the Ice.—Fury, hove down.—Securities of the Basin destroyed by a Gale of Wind.—Preparations to tow the Fury out.—Hecla Re-equipped, and obliged to put to Sea.—Fury again driven on Shore.—Rejoin the Fury; and find it necessary finally to abandon her.
Some Remarks upon the Loss of the Fury—And on the Natural History, &c, of the Coast of North Somerset.—Arrive at Neill's Harbour.—Death of John Page.—Leave Neill's Harbour.—Recross the Ice in Baffin's Bay.—Heavy Gales.—Temperature of the Sea.—Arrival in England.
ACCOUNT OF THE ESQUIMAUX
NARRATIVE OF AN ATTEMPT TO REACH THE NORTH POLE IN BOATS
FOR THE DISCOVERY OF A
Departure from Winter Island.—Meet with some Esquimaux travelling to the Northward.—Obstruction and Danger from the Ice and Tides.—Discovery of the Barrow River, and its Fall.—Favourable Passage to the Northward.—Arrival off the Strait of the Fury and Hecla.—Progress opposed by a fixed barrier of Ice.—Communicate with the Natives of Igloolik.—Unsuccessful Attempt to get between the Ice and the Land—Land upon the Calthorpe Islands.—The Fury drifted by the Ice between two Islands.—Account of a Journey performed in Sledges up an Inlet to the westward.
The gale, which had for some time been blowing from the northward, veered to the N.W.b.W., and increased in strength on the 1st of July, which soon began to produce the effect of drifting the ice off the land. At six o'clock on the 2d, the report from the hill being favourable, and the wind and weather now also sufficiently so, we moved out of our winter's dock, which was, indeed, in part broken to pieces by the swell that had lately set into the bay. At seven we made sail, with a fresh breeze from W.N.W., and having cleared the rocks at the entrance of the bay, ran quickly to the northward and eastward. The ice in the offing was of the "hummocky" kind, and drifting rapidly about with the tides, leaving us a navigable channel varying in width from two miles to three or four hundred yards.
The closeness of the ice again obliging us to make fast on the 3d, we soon after perceived a party of people with a sledge upon the land-floe. I therefore sent Mr. Bushnan, with some of our men, to meet them and to bring them on board, being desirous of ascertaining whereabout, according to their geography, we now were. We found the party to consist, as we expected, of those who had taken leave of us forty days before on their departure to the northward, and who now readily accompanied our people to the ships; leaving only Togolat's idiot-boy by the sledge, tying him to a dog and the dog to the ice. As soon as they came under the bows, they halted in a line, and, according to their former promise, gave three cheers, which salutation a few of us on the forecastle did not fail to return. As soon as they got on board they expressed extreme joy at seeing us again, repeated each of our names with great earnestness, and were, indeed, much gratified by this unexpected encounter. Ewerat being now mounted on the plank which goes across the gunwales of our ships for conning them conveniently among the ice, explained, in a very clear and pilot-like manner, that the island which we observed to lie off Cape Wilson was that marked by Iligliuk in one of her charts, and there called Awlikteewik, pronounced by Ewerat Ow-l=itt~ee-week. On asking how many days' journey it was still to Amitioke, they all agreed in saying ten; and back to Winter Island oon=o=oktoot (a great many), so that we had good reason to hope we were not far from the former place. I may at once remark, however, that great caution is requisite in judging of the information these people give of the distances from one place to another, as expressed by the number of se=eniks (sleeps) or days' journeys, to which, in other countries, a definite value is affixed. No two Esquimaux will give the same account in this respect, though each is equally desirous of furnishing correct information; for, besides their deficiency as arithmeticians, which renders the enumeration of ten a labour, and of fifteen almost an impossibility to many of them, each individual forms his idea of the distance according to the season of the year, and, consequently, the mode of travelling in which his own journey has been performed. Instances of this kind will be observed in the charts of the Esquimaux, in which they not only differ from each other in this respect, but the same individual differs from himself at different times. It is only, therefore, by a careful comparison of the various accounts, and by making allowances for the different circumstances under which the journeys have been made, that these apparent inconsistencies can be reconciled, and an approximation to the truth obtained.
Many of our officers and men cordially greeted these poor people as old acquaintances they were glad to see again, and they were loaded, as usual, with numerous presents, of which the only danger to be apprehended was lest they should go mad on account of them. The women screamed in a convulsive manner at everything they received, and cried for five minutes together with the excess of their joy; and to the honour of "John Bull" be it recorded, he sent by one of the men as he left the ship a piece of sealskin, as a present to Parree, being the first offering of real gratitude, and without any expectation of return, that I had ever received from any of them. I never saw them express more surprise than on being assured that we had left Winter Island only a single day; a circumstance which might well excite their wonder, considering that they had themselves been above forty in reaching our present station. They had obtained one reindeer, and had now a large seal on their sledge, to which we added a quantity of bread-dust, that seemed acceptable enough to them. As our way lay in the same direction as theirs, I would gladly have taken their whole establishment on board the ships to convey them to Amitioke, but for the uncertain nature of this navigation, which might eventually have put it out of my power to land them at the precise place of their destination. The ice again opening, we were now obliged to dismiss them, after half an hour's visit, when, having run to the Hecla's bows to see Captain Lyon and his people, they returned to their sledge as fast as their loads of presents would allow them.
We continued our progress northward, contending with the flood-tide and the drifting masses of ice; and the difficulties of such a navigation may be conceived from the following description of what happened to us on the 9th.
At half past eight on the morning of the 9th, a considerable space of open water being left to the northward of us by the ice that had broken off the preceding night, I left the Fury in a boat for the purpose of sounding along the shore in that direction, in readiness for moving whenever the Hecla should be enabled to rejoin us. I found the soundings regular in almost every part, and had just landed to obtain a view from an eminence, when I was recalled by a signal from the Fury, appointed to inform me of the approach of any ice. On my return, I found the external body once more in rapid motion to the southward with the flood-tide, and assuming its usual threatening appearance. For an hour or two the Fury was continually grazed, and sometimes heeled over by a degree of pressure which, under any other circumstances, would not have been considered a moderate one, but which the last two or three days' navigation had taught us to disregard, when compared with what we had reason almost every moment to expect. A little before noon a heavy floe, some miles in length, being probably a part of that lately detached from the shore, came driving down fast towards us, giving us serious reason to apprehend some more fatal catastrophe than any we had yet encountered. In a few minutes it came in contact, at the rate of a mile and a half an hour, with a point of the land-ice left the preceding night by its own separation, breaking it up with a tremendous crash, and forcing numberless immense masses, perhaps many tons in weight, to the height of fifty or sixty feet, from whence they again rolled down on the inner or land side, and were quickly succeeded by a fresh supply. While we were obliged to be quiet spectators of this grand but terrific sight, being within five or six hundred yards of the point, the danger to ourselves was twofold; first, lest the floe should now swing in, and serve us much in the same manner; and, secondly, lest its pressure should detach the land-ice to which we were secured, and thus set us adrift and at the mercy of the tides. Happily, however, neither of these occurred, the floe remaining stationary for the rest of the tide, and setting off with the ebb which made soon after. In the mean while the Hecla had been enabled to get under sail, and was making considerable progress towards us, which determined me to move the Fury as soon as possible from her present situation into the bight I had sounded in the morning, where we made fast in five and a half fathoms alongside some very heavy grounded ice, one third of a mile from a point of land lying next to the northward of Cape Wilson, and which is low for a short distance next the sea. At nine o'clock a large mass of ice fell off the land-floe and struck our stern; and a "calf" lying under it, having lost its superincumbent weight, rose to the surface with considerable force, lifting our rudder violently in its passage, but doing no material injury.
On the 12th, observing an opening in the land like a river, I left the ship in a boat to examine the soundings of the coast. On approaching the opening, we found so strong a current setting out of it as to induce me to taste the water, which proved scarcely brackish; and a little closer in, perfectly fresh, though the depth was from fourteen to fifteen fathoms. As this stream was a sufficient security against any ice coming in, I determined to anchor the ships somewhere in its neighbourhood; and, having laid down a buoy in twelve fathoms, off the north point of the entrance, returned on board, when I found all the boats ahead endeavouring to tow the ships in-shore. This could be effected, however, only by getting them across the stream of the inlet to the northern shore; and here, finding some land-ice, the ships were secured late at night, after several hours of extreme labour to the people in the boats.
On the morning of the 13th, the ice being still close in with the land just to the northward of us, I determined on examining the supposed river in the boats, and, at the same time, to try our luck with the seines, as the place appeared a likely one for salmon. Immediately on opening the inlet we encountered a rapid current setting outward, and, after rowing a mile and a half to the N.W.b.W., the breadth of the stream varying from one third of a mile to four or five hundred yards, came to some shoal water extending quite across. Landing on the south shore and hauling the boats up above high-water mark, we rambled up the banks of the stream, which are low next the water, but rise almost immediately to the height of about two hundred feet. As we proceeded we gradually heard the noise of a fall of water; and being presently obliged to strike more inland, as the bank became more precipitous, soon obtained a fresh view of the stream running on a much higher level than before, and dashing with great impetuosity down two small cataracts. Just below this, however, where the river turns almost at a right angle, we perceived a much greater spray, as well as a louder sound; and, having walked a short distance down the bank, suddenly came upon the principal fall, of whose magnificence I am at a loss to give any adequate description. At the head of the fall, or where it commences its principal descent, the river is contracted to about one hundred and fifty feet in breadth, the channel being hollowed out through a solid rock of gneiss.
After falling about fifteen feet at angle of 30 deg. with a vertical line, the width of the stream is still narrowed to about forty yards, and then, as if mustering its whole force previous to its final descent, is precipitated, in one vast, continuous sheet of water, almost perpendicular for ninety feet more. The dashing of the water from such a height produced the usual accompaniment of a cloud of spray broad columns of which were constantly forced up like the successive rushes of smoke from a vast furnace, and on this, near the top, a vivid iris or rainbow was occasionally formed by the bright rays of an unclouded sun. The basin that receives the water at the foot of the fall is nearly of a circular form, and about four hundred yards in diameter, being rather wider than the river immediately below it.
After remaining nearly an hour, fixed, as it were, to the spot by the novelty and magnificence of the scene before us, we continued our walk upward along the banks; and after passing the two smaller cataracts, found the river again increased in width to above two hundred yards, winding in the most romantic manner imaginable among the hills, and preserving, a smooth and unruffled surface for a distance of three or four miles that we traced it to the southwest above the fall. What added extremely to the beauty of this picturesque river, which Captain Lyon and myself named after our friend Mr. BARROW, Secretary to the Admiralty, was the richness of the vegetation on its banks, the enlivening brilliancy of a cloudless sky, and the animation given to the scene by several reindeer that were grazing beside the stream. Our sportsmen were fortunate in obtaining four of these animals; but we had no success with the seines, the ground proving altogether too rocky to use them with advantage or safety. We returned on board at thirty minutes past two P.M., after the most gratifying visit we had ever paid to the shore in these regions.
We found on our return that a fresh, southerly breeze, which had been blowing for several hours, had driven the ice to some distance from the land; so that at four P.M., as soon as the flood-tide had slackened, we cast off and made all possible sail to the northward, steering for a headland, remarkable for having a patch of land towards the sea, that appeared insular in sailing along shore. As we approached this headland, which I named after my friend Mr. PENRHYN, the prospect became more and more enlivening; for the sea was found to be navigable in a degree very seldom experienced in these regions, and, the land trending two or three points to the westward of north, gave us reason to hope we should now be enabled to take a decided and final turn in that anxiously desired direction. As we rounded Cape Penrhyn at seven P.M., we began gradually to lose sight of the external body of ice, sailing close along that which was still attached in very heavy floes to this part of the coast. Both wind and tide being favourable, our progress was rapid, and unobstructed, and nothing could exceed the interest and delight with which so unusual an event was hailed by us. Before midnight the wind came more off the land, and then became light and variable, after which it settled in the northwest, with thick weather for several hours.
In the course of this day the walruses became more and more numerous every hour, lying in large herds upon the loose pieces of drift-ice; and it having fallen calm at one P.M., we despatched our boats to kill some for the sake of the oil which they afford. On approaching the ice, our people found them huddled close to, and even lying upon, one another, in separate droves of from twelve to thirty, the whole number near the boats being perhaps about two hundred..Most of them waited quietly to be fired at: and even after one or two discharges did not seem to be greatly disturbed, but allowed the people to land on the ice near them, and, when approached, showed an evident disposition to give battle. After they had got into the water, three were struck with harpoons and killed from the boats. When first wounded they became quite furious, and one, which had been struck from Captain Lyon's boat, made a resolute attack upon her and injured several of the planks with its enormous tusks. A number of the others came round them, also repeatedly striking the wounded animals with their tusks, with the intention either of getting them away, or else of joining in the attack upon them. Many of these animals had young ones, which, when assaulted, they either took between their fore-flippers to carry off, or bore away on their backs. Both of those killed by the Fury's boats were females, and the weight of the largest was fifteen hundred and two quarters nearly; but it was by no means remarkable for the largeness of its dimensions. The peculiar barking noise made by the walrus when irritated, may be heard, on a calm day, with great distinctness at the distance of two miles at least. We found musket-balls the most certain and expeditious way of despatching them after they had been once struck with the harpoon, the thickness of their skin being such that whale-lances generally bend without penetrating it. One of these creatures being accidentally touched by one of the oars in Lieutenant Nias's boat, took hold of it between its flippers, and, forcibly twisting it out of the man's hand, snapped it in two. They produced us very little oil, the blubber being thin and poor at this season, but were welcomed in a way that had not been anticipated; for some quarters of this "marine beef," as Captain Cook has called it, being hung up for steaks, the meat was not only eaten, but eagerly sought after on this and every other occasion throughout the voyage, by all those among us who could overcome the prejudice arising chiefly from the dark colour of the flesh. In no other respect that I could ever discover, is the meat of the walrus, when fresh-killed, in the slightest degree unpalatable. The heart and liver are indeed excellent.
After an unobstructed night's run, during which we met with no ice except in some loose "streams," the water became so much shoaler as to make it necessary to proceed with greater caution. About this time, also, a great deal of high land came in sight to the northward and eastward, which, on the first inspection of the Esquimaux charts, we took to be the large portion of land called Ke=iyuk-tar-ruoke, between which and the continent the promised strait lay that was to lead us to the westward. So far all was satisfactory; but, after sailing a few miles farther, it is impossible to describe our disappointment and mortification in perceiving an unbroken sheet of ice extending completely across the supposed passage from one land to the other. This consisted of a floe so level and continuous, that a single glance was sufficient to assure us of the disagreeable fact, that it was the ice formed in its present situation during the winter, and still firmly attached to the land on every side. It was certain, from its continuous appearance for some miles that we ran along its edge, that it had suffered no disruption this season, which circumstance involved the necessity of our awaiting that operation, which nature seemed scarcely yet to have commenced in this neighbourhood, before we could hope to sail round the northeastern point of the American continent.
At thirty minutes past nine A.M. we observed several tents on the low shore immediately abreast of us, and presently afterward five canoes made their appearance at the edge of the land-ice intervening between us and the beach. We soon found, by the cautious manner in which the canoes approached us, that our Winter Island friends had not yet reached this neighbourhood. In a few minutes after we had joined them, however, a few presents served to dissipate all their apprehensions, if, indeed, people could be said to entertain any who thus fearlessly met us half way; and we immediately persuaded them to turn back with us to the shore. Being under sail in the boat, with a fresh breeze, we took two of the canoes in tow, and dragged them along at a great rate, much to the satisfaction of the Esquimaux, who were very assiduous in piloting us to the best landing-place upon the ice, where we were met by several of their companions and conducted to the tents. Before we had reached the shore, however, we had obtained one very interesting piece of information, namely, that it was Igloolik on which we were now about to land, and that we must therefore have made a very near approach to the strait which, as we hoped, was to conduct us once more into the Polar Sea.
We found here two divisions of tents, there being eleven where we landed, and five more about half a mile to the northward. By the time we reached the tents we were surrounded by a crowd of men, women, and children, all carrying some trifling article, which they offered in barter, a business they seemed to understand as well, and to need much more than their countrymen to the southward. We were, of course, not backward in promoting a good understanding by means of such presents as we had brought with us, but they seemed to have no idea of our giving them anything gratis, always offering some trifle in exchange, and expressing hesitation and surprise when we declined accepting it. This was not to be wondered at among people who scarcely know what a free gift is among themselves; but they were not long in getting rid of all delicacy or hesitation on this score.
The tents, which varied in size according to the number of occupants, consisted of several seal and walrus skins, the former dressed without the hair, and the latter with the thick outer coat taken off, and the rest shaved thin, so as to allow of the transmission of light through it. These were put together in a clumsy and irregular patchwork, forming a sort of bag of a shape rather oval than round, and supported near the middle by a rude tent-pole composed of several deer's horns or the bones of other animals lashed together. At the upper end of this is attached another short piece of bone at right angles, for the purpose of extending the skins a little at the top, which is generally from six to seven feet from the ground. The lower part of the tent-pole rests on a large stone, to keep it from sinking into the ground, and, being no way secured, is frequently knocked down by persons accidentally coming against it, and again replaced upon the stone. The lower borders of the skins are held down by stones laid on them outside; and, to keep the whole fabric in an erect position, a line of thong is extended from the top, on the side where the door is, to a larger stone placed at some distance. The door consists merely of two flaps, contrived so as to overlap one another, and to be secured by a stone laid upon them at the bottom. This entrance faces the south or southeast; and as the wind was now blowing fresh from that quarter, and thick snow beginning to fall, these habitations did not impress us at first sight with a very favourable idea of the comfort and accommodation afforded by them. The interior of the tents may be described in few words. On one side of the end next the door is the usual stone lamp, resting on rough stones, with the ootkooseek, or cooking pot, suspended over it; and round this are huddled together, in great confusion, the rest of the women's utensils, together with great lumps of raw seahorse flesh and blubber, which at this season they enjoyed in most disgusting abundance. At the inner end of the tent, which is also the broadest, and occupying about one third of the whole apartment, their skins are laid as a bed, having under them some of the andromeda tetragona when the ground is hard, but in this case placed on the bare dry shingle. Comfortless as these simple habitations appeared to us in a snowstorm, they are, in general, not deficient in warmth as summer residences; and, being easily removed from place to place, they are certainly well suited to the wants and habits of this wandering people. When a larger habitation than usual is required, they contrive, by putting two of these together, to form a sort of double tent somewhat resembling a marquee, and supported by two poles. The difference between these tents and the one I had seen in Lyon Inlet the preceding autumn, struck me as remarkable, these having no wall of stones around them, as is usual in many that we have before met with, nor do I know their reason for adopting this different mode of construction.
Even if it were not the natural and happy disposition of these people to be pleased, and to place implicit confidence wherever kind treatment is experienced, that confidence would soon have been ensured by our knowledge of their friends and relations to the southward, and the information which we were enabled to give respecting their late and intended movements. This, while it excited in them extreme surprise, served also at once to remove all distrust or apprehension, so that we soon found ourselves on the best terms imaginable. In return for all this interesting information, they gave us the names of the different portions of land in sight, many of which being recognised in their countrymen's charts, we no longer entertained a doubt of our being near the entrance of the strait to which all our hopes were directed. We now found also that a point of land in sight, a few miles to the southward of the tents, was near that marked Ping-=it-k~a-l~ik on Ewerat's chart, and that, therefore, the low shore along which we had been constantly sailing the preceding night was certainly a part of the continent.
By the time we had distributed most of our presents, and told some long stories about Winter Island, to all which they listened with eager delight and interest, we found the weather becoming so inclement as to determine us to make the best of our way on board, and to take a more favourable opportunity of renewing our visit to the Esquimaux. After pulling out for an hour and a half, Captain Lyon, who had a boat's crew composed of officers, and had, unfortunately, broken one of his oars, was under the necessity of returning to the shore. My anxiety lest the ships should be ventured too near the shore, from a desire to pick up the boats, induced me to persevere an hour longer, when the wind having increased to a gale, which prevented our hearing any of the guns, I reluctantly bore up for our former landing-place. Captain Lyon and his party having quartered themselves at the southern tents, we took up our lodgings at the others, to which we were welcomed in the kindest and most hospitable manner. That we might incommode the Esquimaux as little as possible, we divided into parties of two in each tent, though they would willingly have accommodated twice that number. Immediately on our arrival they offered us dry boots, and it was not long before we were entirely "rigged out" in their dresses, which, thoroughly drenched as we were by the sea, proved no small comfort to us. With these, and a sealskin or two as a blanket, we kept ourselves tolerably warm during a most inclement night; and the tents, which but a few hours before we had looked upon as the most comfortless habitations imaginable, now afforded us a sufficient and most acceptable shelter.
The evening was passed in dealing out our information from the southward, and never did any arrival excite more anxious inquiries than those we were now obliged to answer. So intimate was the knowledge we possessed respecting many of their relationships, that, by the help of a memorandum-book in which these had been inserted, I believe we almost at times excited a degree of superstitious alarm in their minds. This sort of gossip, and incessant chattering and laughing, continued till near midnight, when the numerous visitors in our tents began to retire to their own and to leave us to our repose. Awaking at four A.M. on the 17th, I found that the weather had moderated and cleared up, and the ships soon after appearing in sight, we called our boat's crew up, and sent one of the Esquimaux round to the other tents to inform Captain Lyon of our setting out. Several of the natives accompanied us to our boat, which they cheerfully helped us to launch, and then went round to another part of the beach for their own canoes. A thick fog had come on before this time, notwithstanding which, however, we managed to find the ships, and got on board by seven o'clock. Five canoes arrived soon after, and the wind being now light and variable, we lay-to for an hour to repay our kind friends for the hospitable reception they had given us. After supplying them abundantly with tin canisters, knives, and pieces of iron hoop, we hauled to the northeastward to continue our examination of the state of the ice, in hopes of finding that the late gale had in this respect done us some service.
Finding that a farther examination of the eastern lands could not at present be carried on, without incurring the risk of hampering the ships at a time when, for aught that we knew, the ice might be breaking up at the entrance of the strait, we stood back to the westward, and, having fetched near the middle of Igloolik, were gratified in observing that a large "patch" of the fixed ice had broken off and drifted out of sight during our absence. At nine A.M. we saw eleven canoes coming off from the shore, our distance from the tents being about four miles. We now hoisted two of them on board, their owners K=a-k~ee and N~u-y=ak-k~a being very well pleased with the expedient, to avoid damaging them alongside. Above an hour was occupied in endeavouring to gain additional information respecting the land to the westward, and the time when we might expect the ice to break up in the strait, after which we dismissed them with various useful presents, the atmosphere becoming extremely thick with snow, and threatening a repetition of the same inclement weather as we had lately experienced.
On the 23d we went on shore to pay another visit to the Esquimaux, who came down on the ice in great numbers to receive us, repeatedly stroking down the front of their jackets with the palm of the hand as they advanced, a custom not before mentioned, as we had some doubt about it at Winter Island, and which they soon discontinued here. They also frequently called out tima, a word which, according to Hearne, signifies in the Esquimaux language, "What cheer!" and which Captain Franklin heard frequently used on first accosting the natives at the mouth of the Coppermine River. It seems to be among these people a salutation equivalent to that understood by these travellers, or at least some equally civil and friendly one, for nothing could exceed the attention which they paid us on landing. Some individual always attached himself to each of us immediately on our leaving the boat, pointing out the best road, and taking us by the hand or arm to help us over the streams of water or fissures in the ice, and attending us wherever we went during our stay on shore. The day proving extremely fine and pleasant, everything assumed a different appearance from that at our former visit, and we passed some hours on shore very agreeably. About half a mile inland of the tents, and situated upon the rising ground beyond the swamps and ponds before mentioned, we found the ruins of several winter habitations, which, upon land so low as Igloolik, formed very conspicuous objects at the distance of several miles to seaward. These were of the same circular and dome-like form as the snow-huts, but built with much more durable materials, the lower part or foundation being of stones, and the rest of the various bones of the whale and walrus, gradually inclining inward and meeting at the top. The crevices, as well as the whole of the outside, were then covered with turf, which, with the additional coating of snow in the winter, serves to exclude the cold air very effectually. The entrance is towards the south, and consists of a passage ten feet long, and not more than two in height and breadth, built of flat slabs of stone, having the same external covering as that of the huts. The beds are raised by stones two feet from the ground, and occupy about one third of the apartment at the inner end; and the windows and a part of the roofs had been taken away for the convenience of removing their furniture in the spring. It was a natural inference, from the nature of these habitations, that these people, or at least a portion of them, were constant residents on this spot, which, indeed, seemed admirably calculated to afford in luxurious profusion all that constitutes Esquimaux felicity. This, however, did not afterward prove to be absolutely the case; for though Igloolik (as perhaps the name may imply) is certainly one of their principal and favourite rendezvous, yet we subsequently found the inland entirely deserted by them at the same season.
In every direction around the huts were lying innumerable bones of walruses and seals, together with sculls of dogs, bears, and foxes, on many of which a part of the putrid flesh still remaining sent forth the most offensive effluvia. We were not a little surprised to find also a number of human sculls lying about among the rest, within a few yards of the huts; and were somewhat inclined to be out of humour on this account with our new friends, who not only treated the matter with the utmost indifference, but, on observing that we were inclined to add some of them to our collections, went eagerly about to look for them, and tumbled, perhaps, the craniums of some of their own relations into our bag, without delicacy or remorse. In various other parts of the island we soon after met with similar relics no better disposed of; but we had yet to learn how little pains these people take to place their dead out of the reach of hungry bears or anatomical collectors.
The account we gave of our visit to the shore naturally exciting the curiosity and interest of those who had not yet landed, and the ice remaining unchanged on the 24th, a couple of boats were despatched from each ship, with a large party of the officers and men, while the ships stood off and on. On the return of the boats in the evening, I found from Lieutenant Reid that a new family of the natives had arrived to-day from the main land, bringing with them a quantity of fine salmon and venison, of which some very acceptable samples were procured for both ships. Being desirous of following up so agreeable a kind of barter, I went on shore the next morning for that purpose, but could only procure a very small quantity of fish from the tent of the new-comer, a middle-aged, noisy, but remarkably intelligent and energetic man named T=o=ol~em~ak. After some conversation, we found from this man that, in order to obtain a fresh supply of fish, three days would be required; this prevented my putting in execution a plan of going out to the place where the fish were caught, which we at first understood to be near at hand. We therefore employed all our eloquence in endeavouring to procure a supply of this kind by means of the Esquimaux themselves, in which we at length so far succeeded, that Toolemak promised, for certain valuable considerations of wood and iron, to set out on this errand the following day.
Shortly, after I returned on board Captain Lyon made the signal "to communicate with me," for the purpose of offering his services to accompany our fisherman on his proposed journey, attended by one of the Hecla's men; to which, in the present unfavourable state of the ice, I gladly consented, as the most likely means of procuring information of interest during this our unavoidable detention. Being equipped with a small tent, blankets, and four days' provision, Captain Lyon left us at ten P.M., when I made sail to re-examine the margin of the ice.
It blew fresh from the eastward during the night of the 28th, with continued rain, all which we considered favourable for dissolving and dislodging the ice, though very comfortless for Captain Lyon on his excursion. The weather at length clearing up in the afternoon, I determined on beating to the eastward, to see if any more of the land in that direction could be made out than the unfavourable position of the ice would permit at our last visit. The Fury then made sail and stood to the eastward, encountering the usual strength of tide off the southwest point of Tangle Island, and soon after a great quantity of heavy drift-ice, apparently not long detached from some land.
I determined to avoid, if possible, the entanglement of the Fury among the ice, which now surrounded her on every side, and to stand back to Igloolik, to hear what information Captain Lyon's journey might have procured for us.
At the distance of one third of a mile from Tangle Island, where we immediately gained the open sea beyond, we observed the Hecla standing towards us, and rejoined her at a quarter before eleven, when Captain Lyon came on board to communicate the result of his late journey, of which he furnished me with the following account, accompanied by a sketch of the lands he had seen, as far as the extremely unfavourable state of the weather would permit.
"Accompanied by George Dunn, I found Toolemak on landing, who welcomed us to his tent, in which for two hours it was scarcely possible to move, in consequence of the crowd who came to gaze at us. A new deerskin was spread for me, and Dunn having found a corner for himself, we all lay down to sleep, not, however, until our host, his wife, their little son, and a dog, had turned in beside me, under cover of a fine warm skin, all naked except the lady, who, with the decorum natural to her sex, kept on a part of her clothes. At ten A.M. we started, and found the sledge on a beach near the southern ice. Four men were to accompany us on this vehicle, and the good-natured fellows volunteered to carry our luggage. A second sledge was under the charge of three boys who had eight dogs, while our team consisted of eleven. The weather was so thick that at times we could not see a quarter of a mile before us, but yet went rapidly forward to the W.N.W., when, after about six hours, we came to a high, bold land, and a great number of islands of reddish granite, wild and barren in the extreme. We here found the ice in a very decayed state, and in many places the holes and fissures were difficult if not dangerous to pass. At the expiration of eight hours, our impediments in this respect had increased to such a degree as to stop our farther progress. Dunn, the old man, and myself therefore walked over a small island, beyond which we saw a sheet of water, which precluded any farther advance otherwise than by boats.
"In the hope that the morning would prove more favourable for our seeing the land, the only advantage now to be derived from our visit, since the fishing place was not attainable, it was decided to pass the night on one of the rocky islands. The Esquimaux having brought no provisions with them, I distributed our four days' allowance of meat in equal proportions to the whole party, who afterward lay down to sleep on the rocks, having merely a piece of skin to keep the rain from their faces. In this comfortless state they remained very quietly for eight hours. Our little hunting-tent just held Dunn and myself, although not in a very convenient manner; but it answered the purpose of keeping us dry, except from a stream of water that ran under us all night.
"The morning of the 27th was rather fine for a short time, and we saw above thirty islands, which I named COXE'S GROUP, varying in size from one hundred yards to a mile or more in length. Two deer were observed on the northern land, which was called Khead-Laghioo by the Esquimaux, and Toolemak accompanied Dunn in chase of them. On crossing to bring over our game, we found the old Esquimaux had skinned and broken up the deer after his own manner, and my companions being without food, I divided it into shares.
"Arriving on the ice, a skin was taken from the sledge as a seat, and we all squatted down to a repast which was quite new to me. In ten minutes the natives had picked the deer's bones so clean that even the hungry dogs disdained to gnaw them a second time. Dunn and myself made our breakfast on a choice slice cut from the spine, and found it so good, the windpipe in particular, that at dinner-time we preferred the same food to our share of the preserved meat which we had saved from the preceding night.
"As we sat I observed the moschetoes to be very numerous, but they were lying in a half torpid state on the ice, and incapable of molesting us. Soon after noon we set forward on our return, and, without seeing any object but the flat and decaying ice, passed from land to land with our former celerity, dashing through large pools of water much oftener than was altogether agreeable to men who had not been dry for above thirty hours, or warm for a still longer period. Our eleven dogs were large, fine-looking animals, and an old one of peculiar sagacity was placed at their head by having a longer trace, so as to lead them over the safest and driest places, for these animals have a great dread of water. The leader was instant in obeying the voice of the driver, who did not beat, but repeatedly talked and called it by name. It was beautiful to observe the sledges racing to the same object, the dogs and men in full cry, and the vehicles splashing through the water with the velocity of rival stage-coaches.
"We were joyfully welcomed to the dwelling of Ooyarra, whose guest I was now to become, and the place of honour, the deerskin seat, was cleared for my reception. His two wives, K~ai-m=o=o-khi~ak and Aw~a-r=un-n~i occupied one end, for it was a double tent; while at the opposite extremity the parents of the senior wife were established. The old mother N=ow-k~it-y~oo assisted the young woman in pulling off our wet clothes and boots, which latter being of native manufacture, she new-soled and mended without any request on our side, considering us as a part of the family. Dunn slept in the little tent to watch our goods, and I had a small portion of Ooyarra's screened off for me by a seal's skin. My host and his wives having retired to another tent, and my visitors taking compassion on me, I went comfortably to sleep; but at midnight was awakened by a feeling of great warmth, and, to my surprise, found myself covered by a large deerskin, under which lay my friend, his two wives, and their favourite puppy, all fast asleep and stark naked. Supposing this was all according to rule, I left them to repose in peace, and resigned myself to sleep.
"On rising, Dunn and I washed with soap in a pond, which caused great speculations among the by-standers, on some of whom we afterward performed miracles in the cleansing way. A large assemblage being collected to hear me talk of Ney-uning-Eitua, or Winter Island, and to see us eat, the women volunteered to cook for us; and, as we preferred a fire in the open air to their lamps, the good-natured creatures sat an hour in the rain to stew some venison which we had saved from our shares of the deer. The fires in summer, when in the open air, are generally made of bones previously well rubbed with blubber, and the female who attends the cooking chews a large piece, from which, as she extracts the oil, she spirts it on the flame.
"After noon, as I lay half asleep, a man came, and, taking me by the hand, desired Dunn to follow. He led to a tent, which, from the stillness within, I conjectured was untenanted. Several men stood near the door, and, on entering, I found eighteen women assembled and seated in regular order, with the seniors in front. In the centre, near the tent-pole, stood two men, who, when I was seated on a large stone, walked slowly round, and one began dancing in the usual manner, to the favourite tune of 'Amna aya.' The second person, as I soon found, was the dancer's assistant; and, when the principal had pretty well exhausted himself, he walked gravely up to him, and, taking his head between his hands, performed a ceremony called K=o=on~ik, which is rubbing noses, to the great amusement and amid the plaudits of the whole company. After this, as if much refreshed, he resumed his performance, occasionally, however, taking a koonik to enliven himself and the spectators. The rub-bee, if I may be excused the expression, was at length brought forward and put in the place of the first dancer, who rushed out of the tent to cool himself. In this manner five or six couples exhibited alternately, obtaining more or less applause, according to the oddity of their grimaces. At length a witty fellow, in consequence of some whispering and tittering among the ladies, advanced and gave me the koonik, which challenge I Was obliged to answer by standing up to dance, and my nose was in its turn most severely rubbed, to the great delight of all present.
"Having been as patient as could be wished for above an hour, and being quite overpowered by the heat of the crowded tent, I made a hasty retreat, after having distributed needles to all the females, and exacting kooniks from all the prettiest in return. A general outcry was now made for Dunn, a most quiet North countryman, to exhibit also; but he, having seen the liberties which had been taken with my nose, very prudently made his retreat, anticipating what would be his fate if he remained.
"During a short, interval of fine weather, we hung out our clothes to dry, and the contents of our knapsacks, instruments, knives, and beads were strewed on the ground, while we went inland to shoot a few ducks. We cautioned no one against thieving, and were so much at their mercy that everything might have been taken without a possibility of detection; yet not a single article was found to have been removed from its place at our return. At night I was attended by the same bedfellows as before; the young puppy, however, being now better acquainted, took up his quarters in my blanket-bag, as from thence he could the more easily reach a quantity of walrus-flesh which lay near my head; and I was awakened more than once by finding him gnawing a lump by my side.
"On the morning of the 29th I was really glad to find that the ships were not yet in sight, as I should be enabled to pass another day among the hospitable natives. While making my rounds I met several others, who were also visiting, and who each invited me to call at his tent in its turn. Wherever I entered, the master rose and resigned his seat next his wife or wives, and stood before me or squatted on a stone near the door. I was then told to 'speak!' or, in fact, to give a history of all I knew of the distant tribe, which, from constant repetition, I could now manage pretty well. In one tent I found a man mending his paddle, which was ingeniously made of various little scraps of wood, ivory, and bone, lashed together. He put it into my hands to repair, taking it for granted that a Kabloona would succeed much better than himself. An hour afterward the poor fellow came and took me by the hand to his tent, where I found a large pot of walrus-flesh evidently cooked for me. His wife licked a piece and offered it, but, on his saying something to her, took out another, and, having pared off the outside, gave me the clean part, which, had it been carrion, I would not have hurt these poor creatures by refusing. The men showed me some curious puzzles with knots on their fingers, and I did what I could in return. The little girls were very expert in a singular but dirty amusement, which consisted in drawing a piece of sinew up their nostrils and producing the end out of their mouths. The elder people were, for the most part, in chase of the tormentors, which swarmed in their head and clothes; and I saw, for the first time, an ingenious contrivance for detaching them from the back, or such parts of the body as the hands could not reach. This was the rib of a seal, having a bunch of the whitest of a deer's hair attached to one end of it, and on this rubbing the places which require it, the little animals stick to it; from their colour they are easily detected, and, of course, consigned to the mouths of the hunters.
"The weather clearing in the afternoon, one ship was seen in the distance, which diffused a general joy among the people, who ran about screaming and dancing with delight. While lounging along the beach, and waiting the arrival of the ship, I proposed a game at 'leap frog,' which was quite new to the natives, and in learning which some terrible falls were made. Even the women with the children at their backs would not be outdone by the men, and they formed a grotesque party of opposition jumpers. Tired with a long exhibition, I retreated to the tent, but was allowed a very short repose, as I was soon informed that the people from the farthest tents were come to see my performance, and, on going out, I found five men stationed at proper distances with their heads down for me to go over them, which I did amid loud cries of koyenna (thanks).
"As the ship drew near in the evening, I perceived her to be the Hecla, but, not expecting a boat so late, lay down to sleep. I soon found my mistake, for a large party came drumming on the side of the tent, and crying out that a 'little ship' was coming, and, in fact, I found the boat nearly on shore. Ooyarra's senior wife now anxiously begged to tattoo a little figure on my arm, which she had no sooner done than the youngest insisted on making the same mark; and while all around were running about and screaming in the greatest confusion, these two poor creatures sat quietly down to embellish me. When the boat landed, a general rush was made for the privilege of carrying our things down to it. Awarunni, who owned the little dog which slept with me, ran and threw him as a present into the boat; when, after a general koonik, we pushed off, fully sensible of the kind hospitality we had received. Toolemak and Ooyarra came on board in my boat, in order to pass the night and receive presents, and we left the beach under three hearty cheers."
A Whale killed.—Other Charts drawn by the Esquimaux.—Account of a Journey to the Narrows of the Strait.—Discovery of the Sea to the Westward.—Total Disruption of the Ice at the Eastern Entrance of the Strait.—Instance of local Attraction on the Compasses.—Sail through the Narrows, and again stopped by fixed Ice.—Account of several Land Journeys and Boat Excursions.—Observations on the Tides.—Continued Obstacles from fixed Ice.
Aug. 1.—The information obtained by Captain Lyon on his late journey with the Esquimaux served very strongly to confirm all that had before been understood from those people respecting the existence of the desired passage to the westward in this neighbourhood, though the impossibility of Captain Lyon's proceeding farther in that direction, combined with our imperfect knowledge of the language, still left us in some doubt as to the exact position of the strait in question. While, therefore, Captain Lyon was acquainting me with his late proceedings, we shaped a course for Igloolik, in order to continue our look-out upon the ice, and made the tents very accurately by the compass, after a run of five leagues.
The present state of the ice, which was thin and "rotten,", served no less to excite our surprise than to keep alive our hopes and expectations. The spaces occupied respectively by ice and holes were about equal; and so extensive and dangerous were the latter, that the men could with extreme difficulty walk twenty or thirty yards from the ship to place the anchors, and that at no small risk of falling through. We were astonished, therefore, to find with what tenacity a field of ice, whose parts appeared thus loosely joined, still continued to hang together, notwithstanding the action of the swell that almost constantly set upon its margin.
We had for several days past occasionally seen black whales about the ships, and our boats were kept in constant readiness to strike one, for the sake of the oil, in which endeavour they at length succeeded this morning. The usual signal being exhibited, all the boats were sent to their assistance, and in less than an hour and a half had killed and secured the fish, which proved a moderate-sized one of above "nine feet bone," exactly suiting our purpose. The operation of "flinching" this animal, which was thirty-nine feet and a half in length, occupied most of the afternoon, each ship taking half the blubber and hauling it on the ice, "to make off" or put into casks.
As soon as we had completed the stowage of the blubber, and washed the ships and people's clothes, we cast off on the 6th, taking in tow the carcass of the whale (technically called the "crang") for our friends at Igloolik. The wind dying away when the ships were off the northeast end of the island, the boats were despatched to tow the whale on shore, while Captain Lyon and myself went ahead to meet some of the canoes that were paddling towards us. We soon joined eleven of them, and on our informing the Esquimaux of the prize the boats were bringing them, they paddled off with great delight. When they arrived at the spot, and had civilly asked permission to eat some of it, they dropped their canoes astern to the whale's tail, from which they cut off enormous lumps of flesh and ravenously devoured it; after which they followed our boats in-shore, where the carcass was made fast to a mass of grounded ice for their future disposal.
As we made several tacks off the island next to the northward of Igloolik, called by the Esquimaux Neerlo-Nackto, two canoes came off to us, in one of which was Toolemak. He and his companions came on board the Fury, when I employed him for a couple of hours in drawing a chart of the strait. Toolemak, though a sensible and intelligent man, we soon found to be no draughtsman, so that his performance in this way, if taken alone, was not a very intelligible delineation of the coast. By dint, however, of a great deal of talking on his part, and some exercise of patience on ours, we at length obtained a copious verbal illustration of his sketch, which confirmed all our former accounts respecting the existence of a passage to the westward in this immediate neighbourhood, and the large extent of land on the northern side of the strait. Toolemak also agreed with our other Esquimaux informants in stating, that from the coast of Akkoolee no land is visible to the westward; nor was any ever heard of in that direction by the Esquimaux. This fact they uniformly assert with a whine of sorrow, meaning thereby to intimate that their knowledge and resources are there both at an end.
The disruption of the ice continued to proceed slowly till early on the morning of the 14th; the breeze having freshened from the northwest, another floe broke away from the fixed ice, allowing us to gain about half a mile more to the westward; such was the vexatious slowness with which we were permitted to advance towards the object of our most anxious wishes!
On the 14th I left the ship with Mr. Richards and four men, and furnished with provisions for ten days, intending, if possible, to reach the main land at a point where we could overlook the strait. In this we succeeded after a journey of four days, arriving on the morning of the 18th at the extreme northern point of a peninsula, overlooking the narrowest part of the desired strait, which lay immediately below us in about an east and west direction, being two miles in width, apparently very deep, and with a tide or current of at least two knots, setting the loose ice through to the eastward. Beyond us, to the west, the shores again separated to the distance of several leagues; and for more than three points of the compass, in that direction, no land could be seen to the utmost limits of a clear horizon, except one island six or seven miles distant. Over this we could not entertain a doubt of having discovered the Polar Sea; and, loaded as it was with ice, we already felt as if we were on the point of forcing our way through it along the northern shores of America.
After despatching one of our party to the foot of the point for some of the sea-water, which was found extremely salt to the taste, we hailed the interesting event of the morning by three hearty cheers and by a small extra allowance of grog to our people, to drink a safe and speedy passage through the channel just discovered, which I ventured to name, by anticipation, THE STRAIT OF THE FURY AND HECLA. Having built a pile of stones upon the promontory, which, from its situation with respect to the Continent of America, I called CAPE NORTHEAST, we walked back to our tent and baggage, these having, for the sake of greater expedition, been left two miles behind; and, after resting a few hours, set out at three P.M. on our return.
We reached the ships at ten o'clock P.M. on Tuesday the 20th. On almost all the shores both of the main land and islands that we visited, some traces of the Esquimaux were found; but they were less numerous than in any other places on which we had hitherto landed. This circumstance rather seemed to intimate, as we afterward found to be the case, that the shores of the strait and its immediate neighbourhood are not a frequent resort of the natives during the summer months.
We got under way on the 21st, were off Cape Northeast on the 26th, and I gave the name of CAPE OSSORY to the eastern point of the northern land of the Narrows; but on that day, after clearing two dangerous shoals, and again deepening our soundings, we had begun to indulge the most flattering hopes of now making such a rapid progress as would in some degree compensate for all our delays and disappointments, when, at once to crush every expectation of this sort, it was suddenly announced from the crow's nest that another barrier of fixed ice stretched completely across the strait, a little beyond us, in one continuous and impenetrable field, still occupying its winter station. In less than an hour we had reached its margin, when, finding this report but too correct, and that, therefore, all farther progress was at present as impracticable as if no strait existed, we ran the ships under all sail for the floe, which proved so "rotten" and decayed that the ships forced themselves three or four hundred yards through it before they stopped. Keeping all our canvass spread, we then tried to break the thin edges about the numerous holes, by dropping weights over the bows, as well as by various other equally ineffectual expedients; but the ice was "tough" enough to resist every effort of this kind, though its watery state was such as to increase, if possible, our annoyance at being stopped by it. The passage to the northward of the island was not even so clear as this by above two miles of ice, so that in every respect our present route was to be preferred to the other; and thus, after a vexatious delay of six weeks at the eastern entrance of the strait, and at a time when we had every reason to hope that nature, though hitherto tardy in her annual disruption of the ice, had at length made an effort to complete it, did we find our progress once more opposed by a barrier of the same continuous, impenetrable, and hopeless nature as at first!
As soon as the anchors were dropped, my attention was once more turned to the main object of the expedition, from which it had for a moment been diverted by the necessity of exerting every effort for the immediate safety of the ships. This being now provided for, I had leisure to consider in what manner, hampered as the ships were by the present state of the ice, our means and exertions might, during this unavoidable detention, be employed to the greatest advantage, or, at least, with the best prospect of ultimate utility.
Whatever doubts might at a distance have been entertained respecting the identity, or the contrary, of the place visited by Captain Lyon with that subsequently discovered by myself, there could be none on a nearer view; as, independently of the observed latitude, Captain Lyon could not, on approaching the narrows, recognise a single feature of the land; our present channel being evidently a much wider and more extensive one than that pointed out by Toolemak, on the journey. It became, therefore, a matter of interest, now that this point was settled and our progress again stopped by an insuperable obstacle, to ascertain the extent and communication of the southern inlet; and, should it prove a second strait, to watch the breaking up of the ice about its eastern entrance, that no favourable opportunity might be missed of pushing through it to the westward. I therefore determined to despatch three separate parties, to satisfy all doubts in that quarter, as well as to gain every possible information as to the length of the strait, and the extent of the fixed ice now more immediately before us.
With this view, I requested Captain Lyon to take with him Mr. Griffiths and four men, and proceed overland in a S.b.E. direction, till he should determine, by the difference of latitude, which amounted only to sixteen miles, whether there was or was not a strait leading to the westward, about the parallel of 69 deg. 26', being nearly that in which the place called by the Esquimaux Kh=emig had been found by observation to lie. In the mean time, Lieutenant Palmer was directed to proceed in a boat to Igloolik, or Neerlo-Nackto, as might be necessary, to ascertain whether the passage leading towards Kh=emig was yet clear of ice; and, should he find any one of the Esquimaux willing to accompany him to the ships with his canoe, to bring him on board as a pilot. The third party consisted of Mr. Bushnan, with three men, under the command of Lieutenant Reid, who was instructed to proceed along the continental coast to the westward, to gain as much information as possible respecting the termination of our present strait, the time of his return to the ships being limited to four days, at the expiration of which the other two parties might also be expected to reach us.
On the morning of the 29th, the wind being light from the eastward, but the weather much more clear than before, we weighed and stood over to the mainland with the intention of putting our travellers on shore, but found that coast now so lined with the ice which had lately broken adrift that it was not possible for a boat to approach it. Standing off to the westward, to see what service the late disruption had done us, we found that a considerable floe had separated, exactly in a line between the island off which we lay and a second to the westward of it, subsequently named in honour of LORD AMHERST. Tacking at the newly-formed margin of the fixed ice, we observed, not only that it was still firmly attached to the shores, but that it was now almost entirely "hummocky," and heavier than any we had seen since making Igloolik; some of the hummocks, as we afterward found, measuring from eight to ten feet above the surface of the sea.
The different character now assumed by the ice, while it certainly damped our hopes of the passage being cleared this season by the gradual effects of dissolution, confirmed, however, in a very satisfactory manner, the belief of our being in a broad channel communicating with a western sea. As the conclusions we immediately drew from this circumstance may not be so obvious to others, I shall here briefly explain that, from the manner in which the hummocky floes are formed, it is next to impossible that any of these of considerable extent can ever be produced in a mere inlet having a narrow communication with the sea. There is, in fact, no ice to which the denomination of "sea-ice" may be more strictly and exclusively applied than this; and we therefore felt confident that the immense floes which now opposed our progress must have come from the sea on one side or the other; while the current, which we had observed to run in an easterly direction in the narrows, of this strait, precluded the possibility of such ice having found its way in from that quarter. The only remaining conclusion was, that it must have been set into the strait from the westward towards the close of a summer, and cemented in its present situation by the frost of the succeeding winter.
A great deal of snow having fallen in the last two days, scarcely a dark patch was now to be seen on any part of the land, so that the prospect at daylight on the 30th was as comfortless as can well be imagined for the parties who were just about to find their way among the rocks and precipices. Soon after four A.M., however, when we had ascertained that the drift-ice was no longer lying in their way, they were all despatched in their different directions. For each of the land-parties a depot of several days' provision and fuel was, in case of accidents, established on the beach; and Lieutenant Palmer took in his boat a supply for nine days.
On the 31st the wind blew fresh and cold from the northwest, which caused a quantity of ice to separate from the fixed floe in small pieces during the day, and drift past the ships. Early in the morning, a she-bear and her two cubs were observed floating down on one of these masses, and, coming close to the Hecla, were all killed. The female proved remarkably small, two or three men being able to lift her into a boat.
At half past nine on the morning of the 1st of September, one of our parties was descried at the appointed rendezvous on shore, which, on our sending a boat to bring them on board, proved to be Captain Lyon and his people. From their early arrival we were in hopes that some decisive information had at length been obtained; and our disappointment may therefore be imagined, in finding that, owing to insuperable obstacles, on the road, he had not been able to advance above five or six miles to the southward, and that with excessive danger and fatigue, owing to the depth of the snow, and the numerous lakes and precipices.
At nine A.M. on the 2d, Lieutenant Reid and his party were descried at their landing-place, and a boat being sent for them, arrived on board at half past eleven. He reported that the ice seemed to extend from Amherst Island as far as they could see to the westward, presenting one unbroken surface from the north to the south shore of the strait.
Notwithstanding every exertion on the part of our travellers, their labours had not thrown much light on the geography of this part of the coast, nor added any information that could be of practical use in directing the operations of the ships. The important question respecting a second passage leading to the westward still remained as much a matter of mere conjecture as at first; while the advanced period of the season, and the unpromising appearance of the ice now opposing our progress, rendered it more essential than ever that this point should, if possible, be decided. Under this impression it occurred to me, that the desired object might possibly be accomplished by pursuing the route along the head or western shore of Richards's Bay, part of which I had already traversed on my former journey, and found it much less laborious walking than that experienced by Captain Lyon on the higher and more rugged mountains inland. I determined, therefore, to make this attempt, taking with me Mr. Richards and most of my former companions.
This night proved the coldest we had experienced during the present season, and the thermometer stood at 24 deg. when I left the ships at four A.M. on the 3d, having previously directed Captain Lyon to remain as near their present station as might be consistent with safety, and carefully watch for any alteration that might occur in the western ice.
Being favoured by a strong northwesterly breeze, we reached the narrows at half past six A.M., and immediately encountered a race or ripple, so heavy and dangerous that it was only by carrying a press of canvass on the boat that we succeeded in keeping the seas from constantly breaking into her. This rippling appeared to be occasioned by the sudden obstruction which the current meets at the western mouth of the narrows, aided, in the present instance, by the strong breeze that blew directly upon the corner forming the entrance on the south side.
Having landed at Cape Northeast, I made sail for the isthmus at ten A.M., where we arrived after an hour's run; and hauling the boat up on the rocks, and depositing the greater part of our stores near her, set off at one P.M. along the shore of Richards's Bay, being equipped with only three days' provision, and as small a weight of clothing as possible. The coast, though not bad for travelling, led us so much more to the westward than I expected, in consequence of its numerous indentations, that, after above five hours' hard walking, we had only made good a W.S.W. course, direct distance six miles. We obtained on every eminence a distinct view of the ice the whole way down to Neerlo-nakto, in which space not a drop of clear water was discernible; the whole of Richards's Bay was filled with ice as before.
We moved at six P.M. on the 4th, and soon came to a number of lakes from half a mile to two miles in length occurring in chains of three or four together, round which we had to walk, at the expense of much time and labour. At half past six, on gaining a sight of the sea from the top of a hill, we immediately recognised to the eastward the numerous islands of red granite described by Captain Lyon; and now perceived, what had before been surmised, that the south shore of Richards's Bay formed the northern coast of the inlet, up which his journey with the Esquimaux had been pursued. Our latitude, by account from noon, being now 69 deg. 28', we felt confident that a short walk directly to the south must bring us to any strait communicating with that inlet, and we therefore pushed on in confident expectation of being near our journey's end. At seven P.M., leaving the men to pitch the tent in a sheltered valley, Mr. Richards and myself ascended the hill that rose beyond it, and, on reaching its summit, found ourselves overlooking a long and narrow arm of the sea communicating with the inlet before seen to the eastward, and appearing to extend several miles nearly in an east and west direction, or parallel to the table-land before described, from which it is distant three or four miles. That the creek we now overlooked was a part of the same arm of the sea which Captain Lyon had visited, the latitude, the bearings of Igloolik, which was now plainly visible, and the number and appearance of the Coxe Islands, which were too remarkable to be mistaken, all concurred in assuring us; and it only, therefore, remained for us to determine whether it would furnish a passage for the ships. Having made all the remarks which the lateness of the evening would permit, we descended to the tent at dusk, being directed by a cheerful, blazing fire of the andromeda tetragona, which, in its present dry state, served as excellent fuel for warming our provisions.
Setting forward at five A.M. on the 5th, along some pleasant valleys covered with grass and other vegetation, and the resort of numerous reindeer, we walked six or seven miles in a direction parallel to that of the creek; when, finding the latter considerably narrowed, and the numerous low points of its south shore rendering the water too shoal, to all appearance, even for the navigation of a sloop of ten tons, I determined to waste no more time in the farther examination of so insignificant a place. The farther we went to the westward, the higher the hills became; and the commanding prospect thus afforded enabled us distinctly to perceive with a glass that, though the ice had become entirely dissolved in the creek, and for half a mile below it, the whole sea to the eastward, even as far as Igloolik, was covered with one continuous and unbroken floe.
Having now completely satisfied myself, that, as respected both ice and land, there was no navigable passage for ships about this latitude, no time was lost in setting out on our return.
At half past eight we arrived on board, where I was happy to find that all our parties had returned without accident, except that Lieutenant Palmer had been wounded in his hand and temporarily blinded by a gun accidentally going off, from which, however, he fortunately suffered no eventual injury.
The result of our late endeavours, necessarily cramped as they had been, was to confirm, in the most satisfactory manner, the conviction that we were now in the only passage leading to the westward that existed in this neighbourhood. Notwithstanding, therefore, the present unpromising appearance of the ice, I had no alternative left me but patiently to await its disruption, and instantly to avail myself of any alteration that nature might yet effect in our favour.
A Journey performed along the South Shore of Cockburn Island.—Confirmation of an Outlet to the Polar Sea.—Partial Disruption of the Old Ice, and formation of New.—Return through the Narrows to the Eastward.—Proceed to examine the Coast to the Northeastward.—Fury's Anchor broken.—Stand over to Igloolik to look for Winter-quarters.—Excursion to the Head of Quilliam Creek.—Ships forced to the Westward by Gales of Wind—A Canal sawed through the Ice, and the Ships secured in their Winter Station.—Continued Visits of the Esquimaux, and Arrival of some of the Winter Island Tribe.—Proposed Plan of Operations in the ensuing Spring.
A light air springing up from the eastward on the morning of the 8th, we took advantage of it to run up the margin of the fixed ice, which was now, perhaps, half a mile farther to the westward, in consequence of small pieces being occasionally detached from it, than it had been when we tacked off it ten days before.
The pools on the floes were now so hardly frozen, that skating and sliding were going on upon them the whole day, though but a week before it had been dangerous to venture upon them.
This latter circumstance, together with the fineness of the weather, and the tempting appearance of the shore of Cockburn Island, which seemed better calculated for travelling than any that we had seen, combined to induce me to despatch another party to the westward, with the hope of increasing, by the only means within our reach, our knowledge of the lands and sea in that direction. Lieutenant Reid and Mr. Bushnan were once more selected for that service, to be accompanied by eight men, a large number being preferred, because by this means only is it practicable to accomplish a tolerably long journey, especially on account of the additional weight of warm clothing which the present advanced state of the season rendered indispensable. Lieutenant Reid was furnished with six days' provisions, and directed to land where most practicable on the northern shore, and thence to pursue his journey to the westward as far as his resources would admit, gaining all possible information that might be useful or interesting.
On the 14th, while an easterly breeze continued, the water increased very much in breadth to the westward of the fixed floe to which we were attached; several lanes opening out, and leaving in some places a channel not less than three miles in width. At two P.M., the wind suddenly shifting to the westward, closed up every open space in a few hours, leaving not a drop of water in sight from the masthead in that direction. To this, however, we had no objection; for being now certain that the ice was at liberty to move in the western part of the strait, we felt confident that, if once our present narrow barrier were also detached, the ordinary changes of wind and tide would inevitably afford us opportunities of making progress. The westerly wind was accompanied by fine snow, which continued during the night, rendering the weather extremely thick, and our situation, consequently, very precarious, should the ice give way during the hours of darkness.
At four P.M. on the 15th we discovered our travellers upon the ice. A fresh party being despatched to meet and to relieve them of their knapsacks, Lieutenant Reid arrived safely on board at seven P.M., having, by a quick and most satisfactory journey, ascertained the immediate junction of the Strait of the Fury and Hecla with the Polar Sea.
The weather continuing very thick, with small snow, and there being now every reason to suppose a final disruption of the fixed ice at hand, I determined to provide against the danger to which, at night, this long-wished-for event would expose the ships, by adopting a plan that had often before occurred to me as likely to prove beneficial in an unknown and critical navigation such as this. This was nothing more than the establishment of a temporary lighthouse on shore during the night, which, in case of our getting adrift, would, together with the soundings, afford us that security which the sluggish traversing of the compasses otherwise rendered extremely doubtful. For this purpose, two steady men, provided with a tent and blankets, were landed on the east point of Amherst Island at sunset, to keep up some bright lights during the eight hours of darkness, and to be sent for at daylight in the morning.
On the 17th the wind freshened almost to a gale from the northwest, with thicker and more constant snow than before. The thermometer fell to 16-1/2 deg. at six A.M., rose no higher than 20 deg. in the course of the day, and got down to 12 deg. at night, so that the young ice began now to form about us in great quantities.
Appearances had now become so much against our making any farther progress this season, as to render it a matter of very serious consideration whether we ought to risk being shut up during the winter in the middle of the strait, where, from whatever cause it might proceed, the last year's ice was not yet wholly detached from the shores, and where a fresh formation had already commenced, which there was too much reason to believe would prove a permanent one. Our wintering in the strait involved the certainty of being frozen up for eleven months; a sickening prospect under any circumstances, but in the present instance, probably, fatal to our best hopes and expectations.
The young ice had now formed so thick about the Fury, that it became rather doubtful whether we should get her out without an increase of wind to assist in extricating her, or a decrease of cold. At ten A.M., however, we began to attempt it, but by noon had not moved the ship more than half her own length. As soon as we had reached the outer point of the floe, in a bay of which we had been lying, we had no longer the means of applying a force from without, and, if alone, should therefore have been helpless, at least for a time. The Hecla, however, being fortunately unencumbered, in consequence of having lain in a less sheltered place, sent her boats with a hawser to the margin of the young ice; and ours being carried to meet it, by men walking upon planks, at considerable risk of going through, she at length succeeded in pulling us out; and, getting into clear water, or, rather, into less tough ice, at three P.M. we shaped a course to the eastward.
In our return to Igloolik we encountered a severe gale, but we luckily discovered it at half past ten A.M., though such was the difficulty of distinguishing this from Neerlo-nakto, or either from the mainland, on account of the snow that covered them, that, had it not been for the Esquimaux huts, we should not easily have recognised the place. At noon on the 24th we arrived off the point where the tents had first been pitched, and were immediately greeted by a number of Esquimaux, who came running down to the beach, shouting and jumping with all their might.
As soon as we had anchored I went on shore, accompanied by several of the officers, to pay the Esquimaux a visit, a crowd of them meeting us, as usual, on the beach, and greeting us with every demonstration of joy. They seemed disappointed that we had not reached Akkolee, for they always receive with eagerness any intelligence of their distant country people. Many of them, and Toolemak among the number, frequently repeated the expressions "Owyak Na-o!" (no summer), "Took-too Na-o!" (no reindeer), which we considered at the time as some confirmation of our own surmises respecting the badness of the past summer. When we told them we were come to winter among them, they expressed very great, and, doubtless, very sincere delight, and even a few koyennas (thanks) escaped them on the first communication of this piece of intelligence.
We found these people already established in their winter residences, which consisted principally of the huts before described, but modified in various ways both as to form and materials. The roofs, which were wholly wanting in the summer, were now formed by skins stretched tight across from side to side. This, however, as we soon afterward found, was only a preparation for the final winter covering of snow; and, indeed, many of the huts were subsequently lined in the same way within, the skins being attached to the sides and roof by slender threads of whalebone, disposed in large and regular stitches. Before the passages already described, others were now added, from ten to fifteen feet in length, and from four to five feet high, neatly constructed of large flat slabs of ice, cemented together by snow and water. Some huts also were entirely built of this material, of a rude circular or octangular form, and roofed with skins like the others. The light and transparent effect within these singular habitations gave one the idea of being in a house of ground glass, and their newness made them look clean, comfortable, and wholesome. Not so the more substantial bone huts, which, from their extreme closeness and accumulated filth, emitted an almost insupportable stench, to which an abundant supply of raw and half-putrid walrus' flesh in no small degree contributed. The passages to these are so low as to make it necessary to crawl on the hands and knees to enter them; and the floors of the apartments were in some places so slippery, that we could with difficulty pass and repass, without the risk of continually falling among the filth with which they were covered. These were the dirtiest, because the most durable, of any Esquimaux habitations we had yet seen; and it may be supposed they did not much improve during the winter. Some bitches with young were very carefully and conveniently lodged in small square kennels, made of four upright slabs of ice covered with a fifth, and having a small hole as a door in one of the sides. The canoes were also laid upon two slabs of this kind, like tall tombstones standing erect; and a quantity of spare slabs lying in different places, gave the ground an appearance somewhat resembling that of a statuary's yard. Large stores of walrus' and seals' flesh, principally the former, were deposited under heaps of stones all about the beach, and, as we afterward found, in various other parts of the island, which showed that they had made some provision for the winter, though, with their enormous consumption of food, it proved a very inadequate one.
Leaving the Fury at seven A.M. on the 26th, and being favoured by a fresh easterly breeze, we soon cleared the southwest point of Igloolik; and, having passed the little island of Oogli=aghioo, immediately perceived to the W.N.W. of us a group of islands, so exactly answering the description of Coxe's Group, both in character and situation, as to leave no doubt of our being exactly in Captain Lyon's former track. Being still favoured by the wind and by the total absence of fixed ice, we reached the islands at eleven A.M., and, after sailing a mile or two among them, came at once in sight of two bluffs, forming the passage pointed out by Toolemak, and then supposed to be called Khemig. The land to the north, called by the Esquimaux Khiadlaghioo, was now found to be, as we had before conjectured, the southern shore of Richards's Bay. The land on our left or to the southward proved an island, five miles and a quarter in length, of the same bold and rugged character as the rest of this numerous group, and by far the largest of them all. To prevent the necessity of reverting to this subject, I may at once add, that two or three months after this, on laying before Ewerat our own chart of the whole coast, in order to obtain the Esquimaux names, we discovered that the island just mentioned was called Khemig, by which name Ormond Island was also distinguished; the word expressing, in the Esquimaux language, anything stopping up the mouth of a place or narrowing its entrance, and applied also more familiarly to the cork of a bottle, or a plug of any kind. And thus were reconciled all the apparent inconsistencies respecting this hitherto mysterious and incomprehensible word, which had occasioned us so much perplexity.
At daylight on the 27th we crossed to a small island at the margin of the ice; and leaving the boat there in charge of the coxswain and two of the crew, Mr. Ross and myself, accompanied by the other two, set out across the ice at seven A.M. to gain the main land, with the intention of determining the extent of the inlet by walking up its southern bank. After an hour's good travelling, we landed at eight A.M., and had scarcely done so when we found ourselves at the very entrance, being exactly opposite the place from which Mr. Richards and myself had obtained the first view of the inlet. The patch of ice on which we had been walking, and which was about three miles long, proved the only remains of last year's formation; so forcibly had nature struggled to get rid of this before the commencement of a fresh winter.
Walking quickly to the westward along this shore, which afforded excellent travelling, we soon perceived that our business was at an end, the inlet terminating a very short distance beyond where I had first traced it, the apparent turn to the northward being only that of a shallow bay.
Having thus completed our object, we set out on our return, and reached the boat at three P.M., after a walk of twenty miles. The weather fortunately remaining extremely mild, no young ice was formed to obstruct our way, and we arrived on board at noon the following day, after an examination peculiarly satisfactory, inasmuch as it proved the non-existence of any water communication with the Polar Sea, however small and unfit for the navigation of ships, to the southward of the Strait of the Fury and Hecla.
I found from Captain Lyon on my return, that, in consequence of some ice coming in near the ships, he had shifted them round the point into the berths-where it was my intention to place them during the winter; where they now lay in from eleven to fourteen fathoms, at the distance of three cables' length from the shore.
It was not till the afternoon of the 30th that the whole was completed, and the Fury placed in the best berth for the winter that circumstances would permit. An early release in the spring could here be scarcely expected, nor, indeed, did the nature of the ice about us, independently of situation, allow us to hope for it; but both these unfavourable circumstances had been brought about by a contingency which no human power or judgment could have obviated, and at which, therefore, it would have been unreasonable, as well as useless, to repine. We lay here in rather less than five fathoms, on a muddy bottom, at the distance of one cable's length from the eastern shore of the bay.
The whole length of the canal we had sawed through was four thousand three hundred and forty-three feet; the thickness of the ice, in the level and regular parts, being from twelve to fourteen inches, but in many places, where a separation had occurred, amounting to several feet. I cannot sufficiently do justice to the cheerful alacrity with which the men continued this laborious work during thirteen days, the thermometer being frequently at zero, and once as low as -9 deg. in that interval. It was satisfactory, moreover, to find, that in the performance of this, not a single addition had been made to the sick-list of either ship, except by the accident of one man's falling into the canal, who returned to his duty a day or two afterward.
While our people were thus employed, the Esquimaux had continued to make daily visits to the ships, driving down on sledges with their wives and children, and thronging on board in great numbers, as well to gratify their curiosity, of which they do not, in general, possess much, as to pick up whatever trifles we could afford to bestow upon them. These people were at all times ready to assist in any work that was going on, pulling on the ropes, heaving at the windlass, and sawing the ice, sometimes for an hour together. They always accompanied their exertions by imitating the sailors in their peculiar manner of "singing out" when hauling, thus, at least, affording the latter constant amusement, if not any very material assistance, during their labour. Among the numerous young people at Igloolik, there were some whose activity on this and other occasions particularly struck us. Of these I shall, at present, only mention two: N=o=ogloo, an adopted son of Toolemak, and K=ong~ol~ek, a brother of "John Bull." These two young men, who were from eighteen to twenty years of age, and stood five feet seven inches in height, displayed peculiar tact in acquiring our method of heaving at the windlass, an exercise at which K=ong~ol~ek became expert after an hour or two's practice. The countenances of both were handsome and prepossessing, and their limbs well-formed and muscular; qualities which, combined with their activity and manliness, rendered them (to speak like a naturalist), perhaps, as fine specimens of the human race as almost any country can produce.
Some of our Winter Island friends had now arrived also, being the party who left us there towards the end of the preceding May, and whom we had afterward overtaken on their journey to the northward. They were certainly all very glad to see us again, and, throwing off the Esquimaux for a time, shook us heartily by the hand, with every demonstration of sincere delight. Ewerat, in his quiet, sensible way, which was always respectable, gave us a circumstantial account of every event of his journey. On his arrival at Owlitteweek, near which island we overtook him, he had buried the greater part of his baggage under heaps of stones, the ice no longer being fit for dragging the sledge upon. Here also he was happily eased of a still greater burden, by the death of his idiot boy, who thus escaped the miseries to which a longer life must, among these people, have inevitably exposed him. As for that noisy little fellow, "John Bull" (Kooillitiuk), he employed almost the whole of his first visit in asking every one, by name, "How d'ye do, Mr. So and So?" a question which had obtained him great credit among our people at Winter Island. Being a very important little personage, he also took great pride in pointing out various contrivances on board the ships, and explaining to the other Esquimaux their different uses, to which the latter did not fail to listen with all the attention due to so knowing an oracle.
Preparations for the Winter.—Various Meteorological Phenomena to the close of the year 1822.—Sickness among the Esquimaux.—Meteorological Phenomena to the end of March.
November.—The measures now adopted for the security of the ships and their stores, for the maintenance of economy, cleanliness, and health, and for the prosecution of the various observations and experiments, being principally the same as those already detailed in the preceding winter's narrative, I shall be readily excused for passing them over in silence.
The daily visits of the Esquimaux to the ships throughout the winter afforded, both to officers and men, a fund of constant variety and never-failing amusement, which no resources of our own could possibly have furnished. Our people were, however, too well aware of the advantage they derived from the schools not to be desirous of their re-establishment, which accordingly took place soon after our arrival at Igloolik; and they were glad to continue this as their evening occupation during the six succeeding months.
The year closed with the temperature of -42 deg., the mean of the month of December having been 27 deg. 8', which, taken in connexion with that of November, led us to expect a severe winter.
About the middle of the month of December several of the Esquimaux had moved from the huts at Igloolik, some taking up their quarters on the ice at a considerable distance to the northwest, and the rest about a mile outside the summer station of the tents. At the close of the year from fifty to sixty individuals had thus decamped, their object being, like that of other savages on terra firma, to increase their means of subsistence by covering more ground; their movements were arranged so quietly that we seldom heard of their intentions till they were gone. At the new stations they lived entirely in huts of snow; and the northerly and easterly winds were considered by them most favourable for their fishing, as these served to bring in the loose ice, on which they principally kill the walruses.