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Polar Sea, in the years 1819-20-21-22, Volu, by John Franklin

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Title: Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea, in the years 1819-20-21-22, Volume 2

Author: John Franklin

Release Date: August 3, 2006 [EBook #18985]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Robert Cicconetti, gvb and the Online
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Transcriber's notes:

There are several inconsistencies in spelling and punctuation in the original. Some corrections have been made for obvious typographical errors; these, as well as some comments, have been noted individually in the text. Details of corrections and comments are listed at the end of the text. Note that many of the errors were introduced in the third edition, as cross-referencing the second edition has shown.

In the original, the "Mc" in Scottish names is given as "M" followed by what looks like a left single quotation mark (Unicode 2018). This has been changed to "Mc" throughout the text, in order to guarantee a consistent display in all browsers.

Specific spellings that differ from their modern versions and have been retained in this text are "Saskatchawan" (modern "Saskatchewan"), "Winipeg" (modern "Winnipeg"), "Esquimaux" (modern "Eskimo") and "musquito" (modern "mosquito").





THE YEARS 1819-20-21-22.


JOHN FRANKLIN, Capt. R.N., F.R.S., M.W.S.,







[Pg iii]






Transactions at Fort EnterpriseMr. Back's Narrative of his Journey to Chipewyan, and Return1


Continuation of Proceedings at Fort EnterpriseSome Account of the Copper IndiansPreparations for the Journey to the Northward76


Departure from Fort EnterpriseNavigation of the Copper-Mine RiverVisit to the Copper MountainInterview with the EsquimauxDeparture of the Indian HuntersArrangements made with them for our Return122


Navigation of the Polar Sea, in two Canoes, as far as Cape Turnagain, to the Eastward, a distance exceeding Five Hundred and Fifty MilesObservations on the probability of a North-West Passage193

[Pg iv]


Journey across the barren groundsDifficulty and delay in crossing Copper-Mine RiverMelancholy and fatal Results thereofExtreme Misery of the whole PartyMurder of Mr. HoodDeath of several of the CanadiansDesolate State of Fort EnterpriseDistress suffered at that PlaceDr. Richardson's NarrativeMr. Back's NarrativeConclusion237

[Pg 1]





Transactions at Fort EnterpriseMr. Back's Narrative of his Journey to Chipewyan and Return.


During our little expedition to the Copper-Mine River, Mr. Wentzel had made great progress in the erection of our winter-house, having nearly roofed it in. But before proceeding to give an account of a ten months' residence at this place, henceforth designated Fort Enterprise, I may premise, that I shall omit many of the ordinary occurrences of a North American winter, as they have been already detailed in so able and interesting a manner by Ellis[1], and confine myself principally to the circumstances[Pg 2] which had an influence on our progress in the ensuing summer. The observations on the magnetic needle, the temperature of the atmosphere, the Aurora Borealis, and other meteorological phenomena, together with the mineralogical and botanical notices, being less interesting to the general reader, are omitted in this edition.

[1] Voyage to Hudson's Bay in the Dobbs and California.

The men continued to work diligently at the house, and by the 30th of September had nearly completed it for our reception, when a heavy fall of rain washed the greater part of the mud off the roof. This rain was remarked by the Indians as unusual, after what they had deemed so decided a commencement of winter in the early part of the month. The mean temperature for the month was 33-3/4°, but the thermometer had sunk as low as 16°, and on one occasion rose to 53°.

Besides the party constantly employed at the house, two men were appointed to fish, and others were occasionally sent for meat, as the hunters procured it. This latter employment, although extremely laborious, was always relished by the Canadians, as they never failed to use a prescriptive right of helping themselves to the fattest and most delicate parts of the deer. Towards the end of the month, the rein-deer began to quit the barren grounds, and came into the vicinity of the[Pg 3] house, on their way to the woods; and the success of the hunters being consequently great, the necessity of sending for the meat considerably retarded the building of the house. In the mean time we resided in our canvas tents, which proved very cold habitations, although we maintained a fire in front of them, and also endeavoured to protect ourselves from the piercing winds by a barricade of pine branches.

On the 6th of October, the house being completed, we struck our tents, and removed into it. It was merely a log-building, fifty feet long, and twenty-four wide, divided into a hall, three bed rooms and a kitchen. The walls and roof were plastered with clay, the floors laid with planks rudely squared with the hatchet, and the windows closed with parchment of deer-skin. The clay, which from the coldness of the weather, required to be tempered before the fire with hot water, froze as it was daubed on, and afterwards cracked in such a manner as to admit the wind from every quarter; yet, compared with the tents, our new habitation appeared comfortable; and having filled our capacious clay-built chimney with fagots, we spent a cheerful evening before the invigorating blaze. The change was peculiarly beneficial to Dr. Richardson, who, having, in one of his excursions, incautiously laid down on the[Pg 4] frozen side of a hill when heated with walking, had caught a severe inflammatory sore throat, which became daily worse whilst we remained in the tents, but began to mend soon after he was enabled to confine himself to the more equable warmth of the house. We took up our abode at first on the floor, but our working party, who had shown such skill as house carpenters, soon proved themselves to be, with the same tools, (the hatchet and crooked knife,) excellent cabinet makers, and daily added a table, chair, or bedstead, to the comforts of our establishment. The crooked knife generally made of an old file, bent and tempered by heat, serves an Indian or Canadian voyager for plane, chisel, and auger. With it the snow-shoe and canoe-timbers are fashioned, the deals of their sledges reduced to the requisite thinness and polish, and their wooden bowls and spoons hollowed out. Indeed, though not quite so requisite for existence as the hatchet, yet without its aid there would be little comfort in these wilds.

On the 7th we were gratified by a sight of the sun, after it had been obscured for twelve days. On this and several following days the meridian sun melted the light covering of snow or hoar frost on the lichens, which clothe the barren grounds, and rendered them so tender as to attract great herds of rein-deer to our neighbourhood.[Pg 5] On the morning of the 10th I estimated the numbers I saw during a short walk, at upwards of two thousand. They form into herds of different sizes, from ten to a hundred, according as their fears or accident induce them to unite or separate.

The females being at this time more lean and active, usually lead the van. The haunches of the males are now covered to the depth of two inches or more with fat, which is beginning to get red and high flavoured, and is considered a sure indication of the commencement of the rutting season. Their horns, which in the middle of August were yet tender, have now attained their proper size, and are beginning to lose their hairy covering which hangs from them in ragged filaments. The horns of the rein-deer vary, not only with its sex and age, but are otherwise so uncertain in their growth, that they are never alike in any two individuals. The old males shed their's about the end of December; the females retain them until the disappearance of the snow enables them to frequent the barren grounds, which may be stated to be about the middle or end of May, soon after which period they proceed towards the sea-coast and drop their young. The young males lose their horns about the same time with the females or a little earlier, some of them as early as April. The hair of the rein-deer[Pg 6] falls in July, and is succeeded by a short thick coat of mingled clove, deep reddish, and yellowish browns; the belly and under parts of the neck, &c., remaining white. As the winter approaches the hair becomes longer, and lighter in its colours, and it begins to loosen in May, being then much worn on the sides, from the animal rubbing itself against trees and stones. It becomes grayish and almost white, before it is completely shed. The Indians form their robes of the skins procured in autumn, when the hair is short. Towards the spring the larvæ of the œstrus attaining a large size, produce so many perforations in the skins, that they are good for nothing. The cicatrices only of these holes are to be seen in August, but a fresh set of ova have in the mean time been deposited[2].

[2] "It is worthy of remark, that in the month of May a very great number of large larvæ exist under the mucous membrane at the root of the tongue, and posterior part of the nares and pharynx. The Indians consider them to belong to the same species with the œstrus, that deposits its ova under the skin: to us the larvæ of the former appeared more flattened than those of the latter. Specimens of both kinds, preserved in spirits, were destroyed by the frequent falls they received on the portages."—Dr. Richardson's Journal.

The rein-deer retire from the sea-coast in July and August, rut in October on the verge of the barren grounds, and shelter themselves in the woods during the winter. They are often induced by a few fine days in winter, to pay a transitory[Pg 7] visit to their favourite pastures in the barren country, but their principal movement to the northward commences generally in the end of April, when the snow first begins to melt on the sides of the hills, and early in May, when large patches of the ground are visible, they are on the banks of the Copper-Mine River. The females take the lead in this spring migration, and bring forth their young on the sea-coast about the end of May or beginning of June. There are certain spots or passes well known to the Indians, through which the deer invariably pass in their migrations to and from the coast, and it has been observed that they always travel against the wind. The principal food of the rein-deer in the barren grounds, consists of the cetraria nivalis and cucullata, cenomyce rangiferina, cornicularia ochrileuca, and other lichens, and they also eat the hay or dry grass which is found in the swamps in autumn. In the woods they feed on the different lichens which hang from the trees. They are accustomed to gnaw their fallen antlers, and are said also to devour mice.

The weight of a full grown barren-ground deer, exclusive of the offal, varies from ninety to one hundred and thirty pounds. There is, however, a much larger kind found in the woody parts of the country, whose carcase weighs from two hundred[Pg 8] to two hundred and forty pounds. This kind never leaves the woods, but its skin is as much perforated by the gad-fly as that of the others; a presumptive proof that the smaller species are not driven to the sea-coast solely by the attacks of that insect. There are a few rein-deer occasionally killed in the spring, whose skins are entire, and these are always fat, whereas the others are lean at that season. This insect likewise infests the red-deer (wawaskeesh,) but its ova are not found in the skin of the moose, or buffalo, nor, as we have been informed, of the sheep and goat that inhabit the Rocky Mountains, although the rein-deer found in those parts, (which are of an unusually large kind,) are as much tormented by them as the barren-ground variety.

The herds of rein-deer are attended in their migrations by bands of wolves, which destroy a great many of them. The Copper Indians kill the rein-deer in the summer with the gun, or taking advantage of a favourable disposition of the ground, they enclose a herd upon a neck of land, and drive them into a lake, where they fall an easy prey; but in the rutting season and in the spring, when they are numerous on the skirts of the woods, they catch them in snares. The snares are simple nooses, formed in a rope made[Pg 9] of twisted sinew, which are placed in the aperture of a slight hedge, constructed of the branches of trees. This hedge is so disposed as to form several winding compartments, and although it is by no means strong, yet the deer seldom attempt to break through it. The herd is led into the labyrinth by two converging rows of poles, and one is generally caught at each of the openings by the noose placed there. The hunter, too, lying in ambush, stabs some of them with his bayonet as they pass by, and the whole herd frequently becomes his prey. Where wood is scarce, a piece of turf turned up answers the purpose of a pole to conduct them towards the snares.

The rein-deer has a quick eye, but the hunter by keeping to leeward and using a little caution, may approach very near; their apprehensions being much more easily roused by the smell than the sight of any unusual object. Indeed their curiosity often causes them to come close up and wheel around the hunter; thus affording him a good opportunity of singling out the fattest of the herd, and upon these occasions they often become so confused by the shouts and gestures of their enemy, that they run backwards and forwards with great rapidity, but without the power of making their escape.

[Pg 10]The Copper Indians find by experience that a white dress attracts them most readily, and they often succeed in bringing them within shot, by kneeling and vibrating the gun from side to side, in imitation of the motion of a deer's horns when he is in the act of rubbing his head against a stone.

The Dog-Rib Indians have a mode of killing these animals, which though simple, is very successful. It was thus described by Mr. Wentzel, who resided long amongst that people. The hunters go in pairs, the foremost man carrying in one hand the horns and part of the skin of the head of a deer, and in the other a small bundle of twigs, against which he, from time to time, rubs the horns, imitating the gestures peculiar to the animal. His comrade follows treading exactly in his footsteps, and holding the guns of both in a horizontal position, so that the muzzles project under the arms of him who carries the head. Both hunters have a fillet of white skin round their foreheads, and the foremost has a strip of the same kind round his wrists. They approach the herd by degrees, raising their legs very slowly, but setting them down somewhat suddenly, after the manner of a deer, and always taking care to lift their right or left feet simultaneously. If any of the herd leave off feeding to[Pg 11] gaze upon this extraordinary phenomenon, it instantly stops, and the head begins to play its part by licking its shoulders, and performing other necessary movements. In this way the hunters attain the very centre of the herd without exciting suspicion, and have leisure to single out the fattest. The hindmost man then pushes forward his comrade's gun, the head is dropt, and they both fire nearly at the same instant. The herd scampers off, the hunters trot after them; in a short time the poor animals halt to ascertain the cause of their terror, their foes stop at the same instant, and having loaded as they ran, greet the gazers with a second fatal discharge. The consternation of the deer increases, they run to and fro in the utmost confusion, and sometimes a great part of the herd is destroyed within the space of a few hundred yards.

A party who had been sent to Akaitcho returned, bringing three hundred and seventy pounds of dried meat, and two hundred and twenty pounds of suet, together with the unpleasant information, that a still larger quantity of the latter article had been found and carried off, as he supposed, by some Dog-ribs, who had passed that way.

The weather becoming daily colder, all the lakes in the neighbourhood of the house were completely, and the river partially, frozen over[Pg 12] by the middle of the month. The rein-deer now began to quit us for more southerly and better-sheltered pastures. Indeed, their longer residence in our neighbourhood would have been of little service to us, for our ammunition was almost completely expended, though we had dealt it of late with a very sparing hand to the Indians. We had, however, already secured in the store-house the carcases of one hundred deer, together with one thousand pounds of suet, and some dried meat; and had, moreover, eighty deer stowed up at various distances from the house. The necessity of employing the men to build a house for themselves, before the weather became too severe, obliged us to put the latter en cache, as the voyagers term it, instead of adopting the more safe plan of bringing them to the house. Putting a deer en cache, means merely protecting it against the wolves, and still more destructive wolverenes, by heavy loads of wood or stones; the latter animal, however, sometimes digs underneath the pile, and renders the precaution abortive.

On the 18th, Mr. Back and Mr. Wentzel set out for Fort Providence, accompanied by Beauparlant, Belanger, and two Indians, Akaiyazza and Thoolezzeh, with their wives, the Little Forehead, and the Smiling Marten. Mr. Back had volunteered to go and make the necessary arrangements[Pg 13] for transporting the stores we expected from Cumberland House, and to endeavour to obtain some additional supplies from the establishments at Slave Lake. If any accident should have prevented the arrival of our stores, and the establishments at Moose-Deer Island should be unable to supply the deficiency, he was, if he found himself equal to the task, to proceed to Chipewyan. Ammunition was essential to our existence, and a considerable supply of tobacco was also requisite, not only for the comfort of the Canadians, who use it largely, and had stipulated for it in their engagements, but also as a means of preserving the friendship of the Indians. Blankets, cloth, and iron-work, were scarcely less indispensible to equip our men for the advance next season.

Mr. Wentzel accompanied Mr. Back, to assist him in obtaining from the traders, on the score of old friendship, that which they might be inclined to deny to our necessities. I forwarded by them letters to the Colonial Office and Admiralty, detailing the proceedings of the Expedition up to this period.

On the 22d we were surprised by a visit from a dog; the poor animal was in low condition, and much fatigued. Our Indians discovered, by marks on his ears, that he belonged to the Dog-ribs.[Pg 14] This tribe, unlike the Chipewyans and Copper Indians, had preserved that useful associate of man, although from their frequent intercourse with the latter people, they were not ignorant of the prediction alluded to in a former page. One of our interpreters was immediately despatched, with an Indian, to endeavour to trace out the Dog-ribs, whom he supposed might be concealed in the neighbourhood from their dread of the Copper Indians; although we had no doubt of their coming to us, were they aware of our being here. The interpreter, however, returned without having discovered any traces of strange Indians; a circumstance which led us to conclude, that the dog had strayed from his masters a considerable time before.

Towards the end of the month the men completed their house, and took up their abode in it. It was thirty-four feet long and eighteen feet wide; was divided into two apartments, and was placed at right angles to the officers' dwelling, and facing the store-house: the three buildings forming three sides of a quadrangle.

On the 26th Akaitcho and his party arrived, the hunting in this neighbourhood being terminated for the season, by the deer having retired southward to the shelter of the woods.

The arrival of this large party was a serious[Pg 15] inconvenience to us, from our being compelled to issue them daily rates of provision from the store. The want of ammunition prevented us from equipping and sending them to the woods to hunt; and although they are accustomed to subsist themselves for a considerable part of the year by fishing, or snaring the deer, without having recourse to fire-arms, yet, on the present occasion, they felt little inclined to do so, and gave scope to their natural love of ease, as long as our store-house seemed to be well stocked. Nevertheless, as they were conscious of impairing our future resources, they did not fail, occasionally, to remind us that it was not their fault, to express an ardent desire to go hunting, and to request a supply of ammunition, although they knew that it was not in our power to give it.

The summer birds by this time had entirely deserted us, leaving, for our winter companions, the raven, cinereous crow, ptarmigan, and snow-bird. The last of the water-fowl that quitted us was a species of diver, of the same size with the colymbus arcticus, but differing from it in the arrangement of the white spots on its plumage, and in having a yellowish white bill. This bird was occasionally caught in our fishing nets.

The thermometer during the month of October, at Fort Enterprise, never rose above 37°, or fell[Pg 16] below 5°; the mean temperature for the month was 23°.

In the beginning of October a party had been sent to the westward to search for birch to make snow-shoe frames, and the Indian women were afterwards employed in netting the shoes and preparing leather for winter-clothing to the men. Robes of rein-deer skins were also obtained from the Indians, and issued to the men who were to travel, as they are not only a great deal lighter than blankets, but also much warmer, and altogether better adapted for a winter in this climate. They are, however, unfit for summer use, as the least moisture causes the skin to spoil, and lose its hair. It requires the skins of seven deer to make one robe. The finest are made of the skins of young fawns.

The fishing, having failed as the weather became more severe, was given up on the 5th. It had procured us about one thousand two hundred white fish, from two to three pounds each. There are two other species of Coregoni in Winter Lake, Back's grayling and the round fish; and a few trout, pike, methye, and red carp, were also occasionally obtained from the nets. It may be worthy of notice here, that the fish froze as they were taken out of the nets, in a short time became a solid mass of ice, and by a blow or two[Pg 17] of the hatchet were easily split open, when the intestines might be removed in one lump. If in this completely frozen state they were thawed before the fire, they recovered their animation. This was particularly the case with the carp, and we had occasion to observe it repeatedly, as Dr. Richardson occupied himself in examining the structure of the different species of fish, and was, always in the winter, under the necessity of thawing them before he could cut them. We have seen a carp recover so far as to leap about with much vigour, after it had been frozen for thirty-six hours.

From the 12th to the 16th we had fine, and for the season, warm weather; and the deer, which had not been seen since the 26th of October, reappeared in the neighbourhood of the house, to the surprise of the Indians, who attributed their return to the barren grounds to the unusual mildness of the season. On this occasion, by melting some of our pewter cups, we managed to furnish five balls to each of the hunters, but they were all expended unsuccessfully, except by Akaitcho, who killed two deer.

By the middle of the month Winter River was firmly frozen over, except the small rapid at its commencement, which remained open all the winter. The ice on the lake was now nearly two[Pg 18] feet thick. After the 16th we had a succession of cold, snowy, and windy weather. We had become anxious to hear of the arrival of Mr. Back and his party at Fort Providence. The Indians, who had calculated the period at which a messenger ought to have returned from thence to be already passed, became impatient when it had elapsed, and with their usual love of evil augury tormented us by their melancholy forebodings. At one time they conjectured that the whole party had fallen through the ice; at another, that they had been way-laid and cut off by the Dog-ribs. In vain did we urge the improbability of the former accident, or the peaceable character of the Dog-ribs, so little in conformity with the latter. "The ice at this season was deceitful," they said, "and the Dog-ribs, though unwarlike, were treacherous." These assertions, so often repeated, had some effect upon the spirits of our Canadian voyagers, who seldom weigh any opinion they adopt; but we persisted in treating their fears as chimerical, for had we seemed to listen to them for a moment, it is more than probable that the whole of our Indians would have gone to Fort Providence in search of supplies, and we should have found it extremely difficult to have recovered them.

The matter was put to rest by the appearance[Pg 19] of Belanger on the morning of the 23d, and the Indians, now running into the opposite extreme, were disposed to give us more credit for our judgment than we deserved. They had had a tedious and fatiguing journey to Fort Providence, and for some days were destitute of provisions.

Belanger arrived alone; he had walked constantly for the last six-and-thirty hours, leaving his Indian companions encamped at the last woods, they being unwilling to accompany him across the barren grounds during the storm that had prevailed for several days, and blew with unusual violence on the morning of his arrival. His locks were matted with snow, and he was incrusted with ice from head to foot, so that we scarcely recognised him when he burst in upon us. We welcomed him with the usual shake of the hand, but were unable to give him the glass of rum which every voyager receives on his arrival at a trading post.

As soon as his packet was thawed, we eagerly opened it to obtain our English letters. The latest were dated on the preceding April. They came by way of Canada, and were brought up in September to Slave Lake by the North-West Company's canoes.

We were not so fortunate with regard to our stores; of ten pieces, or bales of 90lbs. weight,[Pg 20] which had been sent from York Factory by Governor Williams, five of the most essential had been left at the Grand Rapid on the Saskatchawan, owing, as far as we could judge from the accounts that reached us, to the misconduct of the officer to whom they were intrusted, and who was ordered to convey them to Cumberland-House. Being overtaken by some of the North-West Company's canoes, he had insisted on their taking half of his charge as it was intended for the service of Government. The North-West gentlemen objected, that their canoes had already got a cargo in, and that they had been requested to convey our stores from Cumberland House only, where they had a canoe waiting for the purpose. The Hudson's-Bay officer upon this deposited our ammunition and tobacco upon the beach, and departed without any regard to the serious consequences that might result to us from the want of them. The Indians, who assembled at the opening of the packet, and sat in silence watching our countenances, were necessarily made acquainted with the non-arrival of our stores, and bore the intelligence with unexpected tranquillity. We took care, however, in our communications with them to dwell upon the more agreeable parts of our intelligence, and they seemed to receive particular pleasure on being[Pg 21] informed of the arrival of two Esquimaux interpreters at Slave Lake, on their way to join the party. The circumstance not only quieted their fears of opposition from the Esquimaux on our descent to the sea next season, but also afforded a substantial proof of our influence in being able to bring two people of that nation from such a distance.

Akaitcho, who is a man of great penetration and shrewdness, duly appreciated these circumstances; indeed he has often surprised us by his correct judgment of the character of individuals amongst the traders or of our own party, although his knowledge of their opinions was, in most instances, obtained through the imperfect medium of interpretation. He was an attentive observer, however, of every action, and steadily compared their conduct with their pretensions.

By the newspapers we learned the demise of our revered and lamented sovereign George III., and the proclamation of George IV. We concealed this intelligence from the Indians, lest the death of their Great Father might lead them to suppose that we should be unable to fulfil our promises to them.

The Indians who had left Fort Providence with Belanger arrived the day after him, and, amongst other intelligence, informed Akaitcho of some[Pg 22] reports they had heard to our disadvantage. They stated that Mr. Weeks, the gentleman in charge of Fort Providence, had told them, that so far from our being what we represented ourselves to be, the officers of a great King, we were merely a set of dependant wretches, whose only aim was to obtain subsistence for a season in the plentiful country of the Copper Indians; that, out of charity we had been supplied with a portion of goods by the trading Companies, but that there was not the smallest probability of our being able to reward the Indians when their term of service was completed. Akaitcho, with great good sense, instantly came to have the matter explained, stating at the same time, that he could not credit it. I then pointed out to him that Mr. Wentzel, with whom they had long been accustomed to trade, had pledged the credit of his Company for the stipulated rewards to the party that accompanied us, and that the trading debts due by Akaitcho, and his party had already been remitted, which was of itself a sufficient proof of our influence with the North-West Company. I also reminded Akaitcho, that our having caused the Esquimaux to be brought up at a great expense, was evidence of our future intentions, and informed him that I should write to Mr. Smith, the senior trader in the department,[Pg 23] on the subject, when I had no doubt that a satisfactory explanation would be given. The Indians retired from the conference apparently satisfied, but this business was in the end productive of much inconvenience to us, and proved very detrimental to the progress of the Expedition. In conjunction also with other intelligence conveyed in Mr. Back's letters respecting the disposition of the traders towards us, particularly a statement of Mr. Weeks, that he had been desired not to assist us with supplies from his post, it was productive of much present uneasiness to me.

On the 28th St. Germain, the interpreter, set out with eight Canadian voyagers and four Indian hunters to bring up our stores from Fort Providence. I wrote by him to Mr. Smith, at Moose-Deer Island, and Mr. Keith, at Chipewyan, both of the North-West Company, urging them in the strongest manner to comply with the requisition for stores, which Mr. Back would present. I also informed Mr. Simpson, principal agent in the Athabasca for the Hudson's Bay Company, who had proffered every assistance in his power, that we should gladly avail ourselves of the kind intentions expressed in a letter which I had received from him.

We also sent a number of broken axes to[Pg 24] Slave Lake to be repaired. The dog that came to us on the 22d of October, and had become very familiar, followed the party. We were in hopes that it might prove of some use in dragging their loads, but we afterwards learned, that on the evening after their departure from the house, they had the cruelty to kill and eat it, although they had no reason to apprehend a scarcity of provision. A dog is considered to be delicate eating by the voyagers.

The mean temperature of the air for November was -0°.7. The greatest heat observed was 25° above, and the least 31° below, zero.

On the 1st of December the sky was clear, a slight appearance of stratus only being visible near the horizon; but a kind of snow fell at intervals in the forenoon, its particles so minute as to be observed only in the sunshine. Towards noon the snow became more apparent, and the two limbs of a prismatic arch were visible, one on each side of the sun near its place in the heavens, the centre being deficient. We have frequently observed this descent of minute icy spiculæ when the sky appears perfectly clear, and could even perceive that its silent but continued action, added to the snowy covering of the ground.

Having received one hundred balls from Fort[Pg 25] Providence by Belanger, we distributed them amongst the Indians, informing the leader at the same time, that the residence of so large a party as his at the house, amounting, with women and children, to forty souls, was producing a serious reduction in our stock of provision. He acknowledged the justice of the statement, and promised to remove as soon as his party had prepared snow-shoes and sledges for themselves. Under one pretext or other, however, their departure was delayed until the 10th of the month, when they left us, having previously received one of our fishing-nets, and all the ammunition we possessed. The leader left his aged mother and two female attendants to our care, requesting that if she died during his absence, she might be buried at a distance from the fort, that he might not be reminded of his loss when he visited us.

Keskarrah, the guide, also remained behind, with his wife and daughter. The old man has become too feeble to hunt, and his time is almost entirely occupied in attendance upon his wife, who has been long affected with an ulcer on the face, which has nearly destroyed her nose.

Lately he made an offering to the water spirits, whose wrath he apprehended to be the cause of her malady. It consisted of a knife, a piece of tobacco, and some other trifling articles, which were tied[Pg 26] up in a small bundle, and committed to the rapid with a long prayer. He does not trust entirely, however, to the relenting of the spirits for his wife's cure, but comes daily to Dr. Richardson for medicine.

Upon one occasion he received the medicine from the Doctor with such formality, and wrapped it up in his rein-deer robe with such extraordinary carefulness, that it excited the involuntary laughter of Mr. Hood and myself. The old man smiled in his turn, and as he always seemed proud of the familiar way in which we were accustomed to joke with him, we thought no more upon the subject. But he unfortunately mentioned the circumstance to his wife, who imagined in consequence, that the drug was not productive of its usual good effects, and they immediately came to the conclusion that some bad medicine had been intentionally given to them. The distress produced by this idea, was in proportion to their former faith in the potency of the remedy, and the night was spent in singing and groaning. Next morning the whole family were crying in concert, and it was not until the evening of the second day that we succeeded in pacifying them. The old woman began to feel better, and her faith in the medicine was renewed.

While speaking of this family, I may remark[Pg 27] that the daughter, whom we designated Green-stockings from her dress, is considered by her tribe to be a great beauty. Mr. Hood drew an accurate portrait of her, although her mother was averse to her sitting for it. She was afraid, she said, that her daughter's likeness would induce the Great Chief who resided in England to send for the original. The young lady, however, was undeterred by any such fear. She has already been an object of contest between her countrymen, and although under sixteen years of age, has belonged successively to two husbands, and would probably have been the wife of many more, if her mother had not required her services as a nurse.

The weather during this month, was the coldest we experienced during our residence in America. The thermometer sunk on one occasion to 57° below zero, and never rose beyond 6° above it; the mean for the month was -29°.7. During these intense colds, however, the atmosphere was generally calm, and the wood-cutters and others went about their ordinary occupations without using any extraordinary precautions, yet without feeling any bad effects. They had their rein-deer shirts on, leathern mittens lined with blankets, and furred caps; but none of them used any defence for the face, or needed any. Indeed[Pg 28] we have already mentioned that the heat is abstracted most rapidly from the body during strong breezes, and most of those who have perished from cold in this country, have fallen a sacrifice to their being overtaken on a lake or other unsheltered place, by a storm of wind. The intense colds, were, however, detrimental to us in another way. The trees froze to their very centres and became as hard as stones, and more difficult to cut. Some of the axes were broken daily, and by the end of the month we had only one left that was fit for felling trees. By intrusting it only to one of the party who had been bred a carpenter, and who could use it with dexterity, it was fortunately preserved until the arrival of our men with others from Fort Providence.

A thermometer, hung in our bed-room at the distance of sixteen feet from the fire, but exposed to its direct radiation, stood even in the day-time occasionally at 15° below zero, and was observed more than once previous to the kindling of the fire in the morning, to be as low as 40° below zero. On two of these occasions the chronometers 2149 and 2151, which during the night lay under Mr. Hood's and Dr. Richardson's pillows, stopped while they were dressing themselves.

The rapid at the commencement of the river[Pg 29] remained open in the severest weather, although it was somewhat contracted in width. Its temperature was 32°, as was the surface of the river opposite the house, about a quarter of a mile lower down, tried at a hole in the ice, through which water was drawn for domestic purposes. The river here was two fathoms and a half deep, and the temperature at its bottom was at least 42° above zero. This fact was ascertained by a spirit thermometer; in which, probably, from some irregularity in the tube, a small portion of the coloured liquor usually remained at 42° when the column was made to descend rapidly. In the present instance the thermometer standing at 47° below zero, with no portion of the fluid in the upper part of the tube, was let down slowly into the water, but drawn cautiously and rapidly up again, when a red drop at +42° indicated that the fluid had risen to that point or above it. At this period the daily visits of the sun were very short, and owing to the obliquity of his rays, afforded us little warmth or light. It is half past eleven before he peeps over a small ridge of hills opposite to the house, and he sinks in the horizon at half past two. On the 28th Mr. Hood, in order to attain an approximation to the quantity of terrestrial refraction, observed the sun's meridian[Pg 30] altitude when the thermometer stood at 46° below zero, at the imminent hazard of having his fingers frozen.

He found the sextant had changed its error considerably, and that the glasses had lost their parallelism from the contraction of the brass. In measuring the error he perceived that the diameter of the sun's image was considerably short of twice the semi-diameter; a proof of the uncertainty of celestial observations made during these intense frosts. The results of this and another similar observation are given at the bottom of the page[3].

[3] "The observed meridian altitude of ☉ upper limb was 2° 52' 51". Temperature of the air -45° 5'. By comparing this altitude, corrected by the mean refraction and parallax, with that deduced from the latitude which was observed in autumn, the increase of refraction is found to be 6' 50", the whole refraction, therefore, for the altitude 2° 52' 51" is 21' 49". Admitting that the refraction increases in the same ratio as that of the atmosphere at a mean state of temperature, the horizontal refraction will be 47' 22". But the diameter of the sun measured immediately after the observation, was only 27' 7", which shews an increase of refraction at the lower limb of 3' 29". The horizontal refraction calculated with this difference, and the above-mentioned ratio, is 56' 3", at the temperature -45° 5'. So that in the parallel 68° 42', where if there was no refraction, the sun would be invisible for thirty-four days, his upper limb, with the refraction 56' 3", is, in fact, above the horizon at every noon.

The wind was from the westward a moderate breeze, and the air perfectly clear. January 1st, 1821. Observed meridian altitude of ☉ lower limb 2° 35' 20". ☉ apparent diameter 29° 20'. For apparent altitude 2° 35' 20", the mean refraction is 16' 5" (Mackay's Tables), and the true, found as detailed above, is 20' 8": which increasing in the same ratio as that of the atmosphere, at a mean state of temperature, is 41' 19" at the horizon. But the difference of refraction at the upper and lower limbs, increasing also in that ratio, gives 55' 16" for the horizontal refraction. Temperature of the air -41°. Wind north, a light breeze, a large halo visible about the sun. January 15th, 1821.—Observed an apparent meridian altitude ☉ lower limb 4° 24' 57". ☉ apparent diameter 31' 5". For apparent altitude 4° 24' 57", the mean refraction is 10' 58" (Mackay's Tables), and the true, found as detailed above, is 14' 39", which, increasing in the same ratio as that of the atmosphere at a mean state of temperature, is 43' 57" at the horizon. But the difference of refraction between the upper and lower limbs increasing also in that ratio, gives 48' 30" for the horizontal refraction.

Temperature of the air -35°, a light air from the westward, very clear.

The extreme coldness of the weather rendered these operations difficult and dangerous; yet I think the observations may be depended upon within 30", as will appear by their approximate results in calculating the horizontal refraction; for it must be considered that an error of 30", in the refraction in altitude, would make a difference of several minutes in the horizontal refraction."—Mr. Hood's Journal.

[Pg 31]The aurora appeared with more or less brilliancy on twenty-eight nights in this month, and we were also gratified by the resplendent beauty of the moon, which for many days together performed its circle round the heavens, shining with undiminished lustre, and scarcely disappearing below the horizon during the twenty-four hours.

During many nights there was a halo round the moon, although the stars shone brightly, and the atmosphere appeared otherwise clear. The same phenomenon was observed round the candles, even in our bed-rooms; the diameter of the halo increasing as the observer receded from the[Pg 32] light. These halos, both round the moon and candles, occasionally exhibited faintly some of the prismatic colours.

As it may be interesting to the reader to know how we passed our time at this season of the year, I shall mention briefly, that a considerable portion of it was occupied in writing up our journals. Some newspapers and magazines, that we had received from England with our letters, were read again and again, and commented upon, at our meals; and we often exercised ourselves with conjecturing the changes that might take place in the world before we could hear from it again. The probability of our receiving letters, and the period of their arrival, were calculated to a nicety. We occasionally paid the woodmen a visit, or took a walk for a mile or two on the river.

In the evenings we joined the men in the hall, and took a part in their games, which generally continued to a late hour; in short, we never found the time to hang heavy upon our hands; and the peculiar occupations of each of the officers afforded them more employment than might at first be supposed. I re-calculated the observations made on our route; Mr. Hood protracted the charts, and made those drawings of birds, plants, and fishes, which cannot appear in this work, but[Pg 33] which have been the admiration of every one who has seen them. Each of the party sedulously and separately recorded their observations on the aurora; and Dr. Richardson contrived to obtain from under the snow, specimens of most of the lichens in the neighbourhood, and to make himself acquainted with the mineralogy of the surrounding country.

The Sabbath was always a day of rest with us; the woodmen were required to provide for the exigencies of that day on Saturday, and the party were dressed in their best attire. Divine service was regularly performed, and the Canadians attended, and behaved with great decorum, although they were all Roman Catholics, and but little acquainted with the language in which the prayers were read. I regretted much that we had not a French Prayer-Book, but the Lord's Prayer and Creed were always read to them in their own language.

Our diet consisted almost entirely of rein-deer meat, varied twice a week by fish, and occasionally by a little flour, but we had no vegetables of any description. On the Sunday mornings we drank a cup of chocolate, but our greatest luxury was tea (without sugar,) of which we regularly partook twice a-day. With rein-deer's fat, and strips of cotton shirts, we formed candles; and[Pg 34] Hepburn acquired considerable skill in the manufacture of soap, from the wood-ashes, fat, and salt. The formation of soap was considered as rather a mysterious operation by our Canadians, and, in their hands, was always supposed to fail if a woman approached the kettle in which the ley was boiling. Such are our simple domestic details.

On the 30th, two hunters came from the leader, to convey ammunition to him, as soon as our men should bring it from Fort Providence.

The men, at this time, coated the walls of the house on the outside, with a thin mixture of clay and water, which formed a crust of ice, that, for some days, proved impervious to the air; the dryness of the atmosphere, however, was such, that the ice in a short time evaporated, and gave admission to the wind as before. It is a general custom at the forts to give this sort of coating to the walls at Christmas time. When it was gone, we attempted to remedy its defect, by heaping up snow against the walls.

January 1.

This morning our men assembled, and greeted us with the customary salutation on the commencement of the new year. That they might enjoy a holiday, they had yesterday collected double the usual quantity of fire-wood, and we anxiously expected the return of the men[Pg 35] from Fort Providence, with some additions to their comforts. We had stronger hope of their arrival before the evening, as we knew that every voyager uses his utmost endeavour to reach a post upon, or previous to, the jour de l'an, that he may partake of the wonted festivities. It forms, as Christmas is said to have done among our forefathers, the theme of their conversation for months before and after the period of its arrival. On the present occasion we could only treat them with a little flour and fat; these were both considered as great luxuries, but still the feast was defective from the want of rum, although we promised them a little when it should arrive.

The early part of January proved mild, the thermometer rose to 20° above zero, and we were surprised by the appearance of a kind of damp fog approaching very nearly to rain. The Indians expressed their astonishment at this circumstance, and declared the present to be one of the warmest winters they had ever experienced. Some of them reported that it had actually rained in the woody parts of the country. In the latter part of the month, however, the thermometer again descended to -49°, and the mean temperature for the month proved to be -15°.6. Owing to the fogs that obscured the sky the aurora was visible only upon eighteen nights in the month.

[Pg 36]On the 15th seven of our men arrived from Fort Providence with two kegs of rum, one barrel of powder, sixty pounds of ball, two rolls of tobacco, and some clothing. They had been twenty-one days on their march from Slave Lake, and the labour they underwent was sufficiently evinced by their sledge-collars having worn out the shoulders of their coats. Their loads weighed from sixty to ninety pounds each, exclusive of their bedding and provisions, which at starting must have been at least as much more. We were much rejoiced at their arrival, and proceeded forthwith to pierce the spirit cask, and issue to each of the household the portion of rum which had been promised on the first day of the year. The spirits, which were proof, were frozen, but after standing at the fire for some time they flowed out of the consistency of honey. The temperature of the liquid, even in this state, was so low as instantly to convert into ice the moisture which condensed on the surface of the dram-glass. The fingers also adhered to the glass, and would, doubtless, have been speedily frozen had they been kept in contact with it; yet each of the voyagers swallowed his dram without experiencing the slightest inconvenience, or complaining of tooth-ache.

After the men had retired, an Indian, who had[Pg 37] accompanied them from Fort Providence, informed me that they had broached the cask on their way up and spent two days in drinking. This instance of breach of trust was excessively distressing to me; I felt for their privations and fatigues, and was disposed to seize every opportunity of alleviating them, but this, combined with many instances of petty dishonesty with regard to meat, shewed how little confidence could be put in a Canadian voyager when food or spirits were in question. We had been indeed made acquainted with their character on these points by the traders; but we thought that when they saw their officers living under equal if not greater privations than themselves, they would have been prompted by some degree of generous feeling to abstain from those depredations which, under ordinary circumstances, they would scarcely have blushed to be detected in.

As they were pretty well aware that such a circumstance could not long be concealed from us, one of them came the next morning with an artful apology for their conduct. He stated, that as they knew it was my intention to treat them with a dram on the commencement of the new year, they had helped themselves to a small quantity on that day, trusting to my goodness for forgiveness; and being unwilling to act harshly at this[Pg 38] period, I did forgive them, after admonishing them to be very circumspect in their future conduct.

The ammunition, and a small present of rum, were sent to Akaitcho.

On the 18th Vaillant, the woodman, had the misfortune to break his axe. This would have been a serious evil a few weeks sooner, but we had just received some others from Slave Lake.

On the 27th Mr. Wentzel and St. Germain arrived with the two Esquimaux, Tattannœuck and Hœootœrock, (the belly and the ear.) The English names, which were bestowed upon them at Fort Churchill in commemoration of the months of their arrival there, are Augustus and Junius. The former speaks English.

We now learned that Mr. Back proceeded with Beauparlant to Fort Chipewyan, on the 24th of December, to procure stores, having previously discharged J. Belleau from our service at his own request, and according to my directions. I was the more induced to comply with this man's desire of leaving us, as he proved to be too weak to perform the duty of bowman which he had undertaken.

Four dogs were brought up by this party, and proved a great relief to our wood-haulers during the remainder of the season.

By the arrival of Mr. Wentzel, who is an excellent[Pg 39] musician, and assisted us (con amore) in our attempts to amuse the men, we were enabled to gratify the whole establishment with an occasional dance. Of this amusement the voyagers were very fond, and not the less so, as it was now and then accompanied by a dram as long as our rum lasted.

On the 5th of February, two Canadians came from Akaitcho for fresh supplies of ammunition. We were mortified to learn that he had received some further unpleasant reports concerning us from Fort Providence, and that his faith in our good intentions was somewhat shaken. He expressed himself dissatisfied with the quantity of ammunition we had sent him, accused us of an intention of endeavouring to degrade him in the eyes of his tribe, and informed us that Mr. Weeks had refused to pay some notes for trifling quantities of goods and ammunition that had been given to the hunters who accompanied our men to Slave Lake.

Some powder and shot, and a keg of diluted spirits were sent to him with the strongest assurances of our regard.

On the 12th, another party of six men was sent to Fort Providence, to bring up the remaining stores. St. Germain went to Akaitcho for the[Pg 40] purpose of sending two of his hunters to join this party on its route.

On comparing the language of our two Esquimaux with a copy of St. John's Gospel, printed for the use of the Moravian Missionary Settlements on the Labrador coast, it appeared that the Esquimaux who resort to Churchill speak a language essentially the same with those who frequent the Labrador coast. The Red Knives, too, recognise the expression Teyma, used by the Esquimaux when they accost strangers in a friendly manner, as similarly pronounced by Augustus, and those of his race who frequent the mouth of the Copper-Mine River.

The tribe to which Augustus belongs resides generally a little to the northward of Churchill. In the spring, before the ice quits the shores, they kill seal, but during winter they frequent the borders of the large lakes near the coast, where they obtain fish, rein-deer, and musk-oxen.

There are eighty-four grown men in the tribe, only seven of whom are aged. Six Chiefs have each two wives; the rest of the men have only one, so that the number of married people may amount to one hundred and seventy. He could give me no certain data whereby I might estimate the number of children.

[Pg 41]Two great Chiefs, or Ackhaiyoot, have complete authority in directing the movements of the party, and in distributing provisions. The Attoogawnœuck, or lesser Chiefs, are respected principally as senior men. The tribe seldom suffers from want of food, if the Chief moves to the different stations at the proper season. They seem to follow the eastern custom respecting marriage. As soon as a girl is born, the young lad who wishes to have her for a wife goes to her father's tent, and proffers himself. If accepted, a promise is given which is considered binding, and the girl is delivered to her betrothed husband at the proper age.

They consider their progenitors to have come from the moon. Augustus has no other idea of a Deity than some confused notions which he has obtained at Churchill.

When any of the tribe are dangerously ill, a conjurer is sent for, and the bearer of the message carries a suitable present to induce his attendance. Upon his arrival he encloses himself in the tent with the sick man, and sings over him for days together without tasting food; but Augustus, as well as the rest of the uninitiated, are ignorant of the purport of his songs, and of the nature of the Being to whom they are addressed. The conjurers practise a good deal of jugglery in[Pg 42] swallowing knives, firing bullets through their bodies, &c., but they are at these times generally secluded from view, and the bystanders believe their assertions, without requiring to be eye-witnesses of the fact. Sixteen men and three women amongst Augustus' tribe are acquainted with the mysteries of the art. The skill of the latter is exerted only on their own sex.

Upon the map being spread before Augustus, he soon comprehended it, and recognised Chesterfield Inlet to be "the opening into which salt waters enter at spring tides, and which receives a river at its upper end." He termed it Kannœuck Kleenœuck. He has never been farther north himself than Marble Island, which he distinguishes as being the spot where the large ships were wrecked, alluding to the disastrous termination of Barlow and Knight's Voyage of Discovery[4]. He says, however, that Esquimaux of three different tribes have traded with his countrymen, and that they described themselves as having come across land from a northern sea. One tribe, who named themselves Ahwhacknanhelett, he supposes may come from Repulse Bay; another, designated Ootkooseek-kalingmœoot, or Stone-Kettle Esquimaux, reside more to the westward;[Pg 43] and the third, the Kang-orr-mœoot, or White Goose Esquimaux, describe themselves as coming from a great distance, and mentioned that a party of Indians had killed several of their tribe on the summer preceding their visit. Upon comparing the dates of this murder with that of the last massacre which the Copper Indians have perpetrated on these harmless and defenceless people, they appear to differ two years; but the lapse of time is so inaccurately recorded, that this difference in their accounts is not sufficient to destroy their identity; besides the Chipewyans, the only other Indians who could possibly have committed the deed, have long since ceased to go to war. If this massacre should be the one mentioned by the Copper Indians, the Kang-orr-mœoot must reside near the mouth of the Anatessy, or River of Strangers.

[4] See Introduction to Hearne's Journey, page xxiv.

The winter habitations of the Esquimaux, who visit Churchill are built of snow, and judging from one constructed by Augustus to-day, they are very comfortable dwellings. Having selected a spot on the river, where the snow was about two feet deep, and sufficiently compact, he commenced by tracing out a circle twelve feet in diameter. The snow in the interior of the circle was next divided with a broad knife, having a long[Pg 44] handle, into slabs three feet long, six inches thick, and two feet deep, being the thickness of the layer of snow. These slabs were tenacious enough to admit of being moved about without breaking, or even losing the sharpness of their angles, and they had a slight degree of curvature, corresponding with that of the circle from which they were cut. They were piled upon each other exactly like courses of hewn stone around the circle which was traced out, and care was taken to smooth the beds of the different courses with the knife, and to cut them so as to give the wall a slight inclination inwards, by which contrivance the building acquired the properties of a dome. The dome was closed somewhat suddenly and flatly by cutting the upper slabs in a wedge-form, instead of the more rectangular shape of those below. The roof was about eight feet high, and the last aperture was shut up by a small conical piece. The whole was built from within, and each slab was cut so that it retained its position without requiring support until another was placed beside it, the lightness of the slabs greatly facilitating the operation. When the building was covered in, a little loose snow was thrown over it, to close up every chink, and a low door was cut through the walls with a knife. A bed-place was next[Pg 45] formed and neatly faced up with slabs of snow, which was then covered with a thin layer of pine branches, to prevent them from melting by the heat of the body. At each end of the bed a pillar of snow was erected to place a lamp upon, and lastly, a porch was built before the door, and a piece of clear ice was placed in an aperture cut in the wall for a window.

The purity of the material of which the house was framed, the elegance of its construction, and the translucency of its walls, which transmitted a very pleasant light, gave it an appearance far superior to a marble building, and one might survey it with feelings somewhat akin to those produced by the contemplation of a Grecian temple, reared by Phidias; both are triumphs of art, inimitable in their kinds.

Annexed there is a plan of a complete Esquimaux snow-house and kitchen and other apartments, copied from a sketch made by Augustus, with the names of the different places affixed. The only fire-place is in the kitchen, the heat of the lamps sufficing to keep the other apartments warm:—

[Pg 46]

Plan of an Esquimaux snow-house


A.Ablokeyt, steps.
B.Pahlœuk, porch.
C.Wadl-leek, passage.
D.Haddnœweek, for the reception of the sweepings of the house.
E. G.Tokheuook, antechamber, or passage.
H.Eegah, cooking-house.
I.Eegah-natkah, passage.
K.Keidgewack, for piling wood upon.
L.Keek kloweyt, cooking side.
M.Keek loot, fire-place built of stone.
N.Eegloo, house.
O.Kattack, door.
P.Nattœuck, clear space in the apartment.
a. d. Eekput, a kind of shelf where the candle stands; and
b. c. a pit where they throw their bones, and other offal of their provision.
Q.Eegl-luck, bed-place.
R.Eegleeteœt, bed-side or sitting-place.
S.bed-place, as on the other side.
T.Kietgn-nok, small pantry.
U.Hœrgloack, store-house for provisions.

[Pg 48]Several deer were killed near the house, and we received some supplies from Akaitcho. Parties were also employed in bringing in the meat that was placed en cache in the early part of the winter. More than one half of these caches, however, had been destroyed by the wolves and wolverenes; a circumstance which, in conjunction with the empty state of our store-house, led us to fear that we should be much straitened for provisions before the arrival of any considerable number of rein-deer in this neighbourhood.

A good many ptarmigan were seen at this time, and the women caught some in snares, but not in sufficient quantity to make any further alteration in the rations of deers' meat that were daily issued. They had already been reduced from eight, to the short allowance of five pounds.

Many wolves prowled nightly about the house, and even ventured upon the roof of the kitchen, which is a low building, in search of food; Keskarrah shot a very large white one, of which a beautiful and correct drawing was made by Mr. Hood.

The temperature in February was considerably lower than in the preceding month, although not so low as in December, the mean being -25°.3. The greatest temperature was 1° above zero, and the lowest 51° below.

On the 5th of March the people returned from Slave Lake, bringing the remainder of our stores,[Pg 49] consisting of a cask of flour, thirty-six pounds of sugar, a roll of tobacco, and forty pounds of powder. I received a letter from Mr. Weeks, wherein he denied that he had ever circulated any reports to our disadvantage; and stated that he had done every thing in his power to assist us, and even discouraged Akaitcho from leaving us, when he had sent him a message, saying, that he wished to do so, if he was sure of being well received at Fort Providence.

We mentioned the contents of the letter to the Indians, who were at the house at the time, when one of the hunters, who had attended the men on their journey, stated, that he had heard many of the reports against us from Mr. Weeks himself, and expressed his surprise that he should venture to deny them. St. Germain soon afterwards arrived from Akaitcho, and informed us, that he left him in good humour, and, apparently, not harbouring the slightest idea of quitting us.

On the 12th, we sent four men to Fort Providence; and, on the 17th Mr. Back arrived from Fort Chipewyan, having performed, since he left us, a journey of more than one thousand miles on foot. I had every reason to be much pleased with his conduct on this arduous undertaking; but his exertions may be best estimated by the perusal of the following narrative.

[Pg 50]"On quitting Fort Enterprise, with Mr. Wentzel and two Canadians, accompanied by two hunters and their wives, our route lay across the barren hills. We saw, during the day, a number of deer, and, occasionally, a solitary white wolf; and in the evening halted near a small knot of pines. Owing to the slow progress made by the wives of the hunters, we only travelled the first day a distance of seven miles and a half. During the night we had a glimpse of the fantastic beauties of the Aurora Borealis, and were somewhat annoyed by the wolves, whose nightly howling interrupted our repose. Early the next morning we continued our march, sometimes crossing small lakes (which were just frozen enough to bear us,) and at other times going large circuits, in order to avoid those which were open. The walking was extremely bad throughout the day; for independent of the general unevenness of the ground, and the numberless large stones which lay scattered in every direction, the unusual warmth of the weather had dissolved the snow, which not only kept us constantly wet, but deprived us of a firm footing, so that the men, with their heavy burdens, were in momentary apprehension of falling. In the afternoon a fine herd of deer was descried, and the Indians, who are always anxious for the chase, and can hardly be[Pg 51] restrained from pursuing every animal they see, set out immediately. It was late when they returned, having had good success, and bringing with them five tongues, and the shoulder of a deer. We made about twelve miles this day. The night was fine, and the Aurora Borealis so vivid, that we imagined, more than once, that we heard a rustling noise like that of autumnal leaves stirred by the wind; but after two hours of attentive listening, we were not entirely convinced of the fact. The coruscations were not so bright, nor the transition from one shape and colour to another so rapid, as they sometimes are; otherwise, I have no doubt, from the midnight silence which prevailed, that we should have ascertained this yet undecided point.

"The morning of the 20th was so extremely hazy that we could not see ten yards before us; it was, therefore, late when we started, and during our journey the hunters complained of the weather, and feared they should lose the track of our route. Towards the evening it became so thick that we could not proceed; consequently, we halted in a small wood, situated in a valley, having only completed a distance of six miles.

"The scenery consisted of high hills, which were almost destitute of trees, and lakes appeared in the valleys. The cracking of the ice was so loud[Pg 52] during the night as to resemble thunder, and the wolves howled around us. We were now at the commencement of the woods, and at an early hour, on the 21st, continued our journey over high hills for three miles, when the appearance of some deer caused us to halt, and nearly the remainder of the day was passed in hunting them. In the evening we stopped within sight of Prospect Hill, having killed and concealed six deer. A considerable quantity of snow fell during the night.

"The surrounding country was extremely rugged; the hills divided by deep ravines, and the valleys covered with broken masses of rocks and stones; yet the deer fly (as it were,) over these impediments with apparent ease, seldom making a false step, and springing from crag to crag with all the confidence of the mountain goat. After passing Rein-Deer Lake, (where the ice was so thin as to bend at every step for nine miles,) we halted, perfectly satisfied with our escape from sinking into the water. While some of the party were forming the encampment one of the hunters killed a deer, a part of which was concealed to be ready for use on our return. This evening we halted in a wood near the canoe track, after having travelled a distance of nine miles. The wind was S.E. and the night cloudy, with wind and rain.

[Pg 53]"On the 24th and 25th we underwent some fatigue from being obliged to go round the lakes, which lay across our route, and were not sufficiently frozen to bear us. Several rivulets appeared to empty themselves into the lakes, no animals were killed, and few tracks seen. The scenery consisted of barren rocks and high hills, covered with lofty pine, birch, and larch trees.

"October 26.—We continued our journey, sometimes on frozen lakes, and at other times on high craggy rocks. When we were on the lakes we were much impeded in our journey by different parts which were unfrozen. There was a visible increase of wood, consisting of birch and larch, as we inclined to the southward. About ten A.M. we passed Icy Portage, where we saw various tracks of the moose, bear, and otter; and after a most harassing march through thick woods and over fallen trees, we halted a mile to the westward of Fishing Lake; our provisions were now almost expended; the weather was cloudy with snow.

"On the 27th we crossed two lakes, and performed a circuitous route, frequently crossing high hills to avoid those lakes which were not frozen; during the day one of the women made a hole through the ice, and caught a fine pike, which she gave to us; the Indians would not partake of it, from the idea (as we afterwards[Pg 54] learnt,) that we should not have sufficient for ourselves: 'We are accustomed to starvation,' said they, 'but you are not.' In the evening, we halted near Rocky Lake. I accompanied one of the Indians to the summit of a hill, where he shewed me a dark horizontal cloud, extending to a considerable distance along the mountains in the perspective, which he said was occasioned by the Great Slave Lake, and was considered as a good guide to all the hunters in the vicinity. On our return we saw two untenanted bears' dens.

"The night was cloudy with heavy snow, yet the following morning we continued our tedious march; many of the lakes remained still open, and the rocks were high and covered with snow, which continued to fall all day, consequently we effected but a trifling distance, and that too with much difficulty. In the evening we halted; having only performed about seven miles. One of the Indians gave us a fish which he had caught, though he had nothing for himself; and it was with much trouble that he could be prevailed upon to partake of it. The night was again cloudy with snow. On the 29th we set out through deep snow and thick woods; and after crossing two small lakes stopped to breakfast, sending the women on before, as they had already complained of lameness, and could not keep pace with the party. It was not long before we overtook them on the banks of a small lake,[Pg 55] which though infinitely less in magnitude than many we had passed, yet had not a particle of ice on its surface. It was shoal, had no visible current, and was surrounded by hills. We had nothing to eat, and were not very near an establishment where food could be procured; however, as we proceeded, the lakes were frozen, and we quickened our pace stopping but twice for the hunters to smoke. Nevertheless the distance we completed was but trifling, and at night we halted near a lake, the men being tired, and much bruised from constantly falling amongst thick broken wood and loose stones concealed under the snow. The night was blowing and hazy with snow.

"On the 30th we set out with the expectation of gaining the Slave Lake in the evening; but our progress was again impeded by the same causes as before, so that the whole day was spent in forcing our way through thick woods and over snow-covered swamps. We had to walk over pointed and loose rocks, which sliding from under our feet, made our path dangerous, and often threw us down several feet on sharp-edged stones lying beneath the snow. Once we had to climb a towering, and almost perpendicular, rock, which not only detained us, but was the cause of great anxiety for the safety of the women who being heavily laden with furs, and one of them with a child at her back, could not exert[Pg 56] themselves with the activity which such a task required. Fortunately nothing serious occurred, though one of them once fell with considerable violence. During the day one of the hunters broke through the ice, but was soon extricated; when it became dark we halted near the Bow String Portage, greatly disappointed at not having reached the lake. The weather was cloudy, accompanied with thick mist and snow. The Indians expected to have found here a bear in its den, and to have made a hearty meal of its flesh: indeed it had been the subject of conversation all day, and they had even gone so far as to divide it, frequently asking me what part I preferred; but when we came to the spot—oh! lamentable! it had already fallen a prey to the devouring appetites of some more fortunate hunters, who had only left sufficient evidence that such a thing had once existed, and we had merely the consolation of realizing an old proverb. One of our men, however, caught a fish which with the assistance of some weed scraped from the rocks, (tripe de roche,) which forms a glutinous substance, made us a tolerable supper; it was not of the most choice kind, yet good enough for hungry men. While we were eating it I perceived one of the women busily employed scraping an old skin, the contents of which her husband presented us with. They consisted of pounded meat, fat, and a greater proportion of Indians' and deers'[Pg 57] hair than either; and though such a mixture may not appear very alluring to an English stomach, it was thought a great luxury after three days' privation in these cheerless regions of America. Indeed had it not been for the precaution and generosity of the Indians, we must have gone without sustenance until we reached the Fort.

"On the 1st of November our men began to make a raft to enable us to cross a river which was not even frozen at the edges. It was soon finished, and three of us embarked, being seated up to the ankles in water. We each took a pine branch for a paddle, and made an effort to gain the opposite shore, in which, after some time, (and not without strong apprehensions of drifting into the Slave Lake,) we succeeded. In two hours the whole party was over, with a comfortable addition to it in the shape of some fine fish, which the Indians had caught: of course we did not forget to take these friends with us, and after passing several lakes, to one of which we saw no termination, we halted within eight miles to the fort. The Great Slave Lake was not frozen.

"In crossing a narrow branch of the lake I fell through the ice, but received no injury; and at noon we arrived at Fort Providence, and were received by Mr. Weeks, a clerk of the North-West Company, in charge of the establishment.[Pg 58] I found several packets of letters for the officers, which I was desirous of sending to them immediately; but as the Indians and their wives complained of illness and inability to return without rest, a flagon of mixed spirits was given them, and their sorrows were soon forgotten. In a quarter of an hour they pronounced themselves excellent hunters, and capable of going any where; however, their boasting ceased with the last drop of the bottle, when a crying scene took place, which would have continued half the night, had not the magic of an additional quantity of spirits dried their tears, and once more turned their mourning into joy. It was a satisfaction to me to behold these poor creatures enjoying themselves, for they had behaved in the most exemplary and active manner towards the party, and with a generosity and sympathy seldom found even in the more civilized parts of the world: and the attention and affection which they manifested towards their wives, evinced a benevolence of disposition and goodness of nature which could not fail to secure the approbation of the most indifferent observer.

"The accounts I here received of our goods were of so unsatisfactory a nature, that I determined to proceed, as soon as the lake was frozen, to Moose-Deer Island, or if necessary to the Athabasca[Pg 59] Lake; both to inform myself of the grounds of the unceremonious and negligent manner in which the Expedition had been treated, and to obtain a sufficient supply of ammunition and other stores, to enable it to leave its present situation, and proceed for the attainment of its ultimate object.

"November 9.—I despatched to Fort Enterprise one of the men, with the letters and a hundred musquet-balls, which Mr. Weeks lent me on condition that they should be returned the first opportunity. An Indian and his wife accompanied the messenger. Lieutenant Franklin was made acquainted with the exact state of things; and I awaited with much impatience the freezing of the lake.

"November 16.—A band of Slave Indians came to the fort with a few furs and some bear's grease. Though we had not seen any of them, it appeared that they had received information of our being in the country, and knew the precise situation of our house, which they would have visited long ago, but from the fear of being pillaged by the Copper Indians. I questioned the chief about the Great Bear and Marten Lakes, their distance from Fort Enterprise, &c.; but his answers were so vague and unsatisfactory that they were not worth attention; his description of Bouleau's[Pg 60] Route, (which he said was the shortest and best, and abundant in animals,) was very defective, though the relative points were sufficiently characteristic, had we not possessed a better route. He had never been at the sea; and knew nothing about the mouth of the Copper-Mine River. In the evening he made his young men dance, and sometimes accompanied them himself. They had four feathers in each hand. One commenced moving in a circular form, lifting both feet at the same time, similar to jumping sideways. After a short time a second and a third joined, and afterwards the whole band was dancing, some in a state of nudity, others half dressed, singing an unmusical wild air with (I suppose,) appropriate words; the particular sounds of which were, ha! ha! ha! uttered vociferously, and with great distortion of countenance, and peculiar attitude of body, the feathers being always kept in a tremulous motion. The ensuing day I made the chief acquainted with the object of our mission, and recommended him to keep at peace with his neighbouring tribes, and to conduct himself with attention and friendship towards the whites. I then gave him a medal, telling him it was the picture of the King, whom they emphatically term 'their Great Father.'

"November 18.—We observed two mock moons[Pg 61] at equal distances from the central one; and the whole were encircled by a halo: the colour of the inner edge of the large circle was a light red, inclining to a faint purple.

"November 20.—Two parhelia were observable with a halo; the colours of the inner edge of the circle were a bright carmine and red lake, intermingled with a rich yellow, forming a purplish orange; the outer edge was pale gamboge.

"December 5.—A man was sent some distance on the lake, to see if it was sufficiently frozen for us to cross. I need scarcely mention my satisfaction, when he returned with the pleasing information that it was.

"December 7.—I quitted Fort Providence, being accompanied by Mr. Wentzel, Beauparlant, and two other Canadians, provided with dogs and sledges. We proceeded along the borders of the lake, occasionally crossing deep bays; and at dusk encamped at the Gros Cap, having proceeded twenty-five miles.

"December 8.—We set out on the lake with an excessively cold north-west wind, and were frequently interrupted by large pieces of ice which had been thrown up by the violence of the waves during the progress of congelation, and at dusk we encamped on the Rein-Deer Islands.

"The night was fine, with a faint Aurora Borealis.[Pg 62] Next day the wind was so keen, that the men proposed conveying me in a sledge that I might be the less exposed, to which, after some hesitation, I consented. Accordingly a rein-deer skin and a blanket were laid along the sledge, and in these I was wrapped tight up to the chin, and lashed to the vehicle, just leaving sufficient play for my head to perceive when I was about to be upset on some rough projecting piece of ice. Thus equipped, we set off before the wind (a favourable circumstance on a lake), and went on very well until noon; when the ice being driven up in ridges, in such a manner as to obstruct us very much, I was released; and I confess not unwillingly, though I had to walk the remainder of the day.

"There are large openings in many parts where the ice had separated; and in attempting to cross one of them, the dogs fell into the water, and were saved with difficulty. The poor animals suffered dreadfully from the cold, and narrowly escaped being frozen to death. We had quickened our pace towards the close of the day, but could not get sight of the land; and it was not till the sun had set that we perceived it about four miles to our left, which obliged us to turn back, and head the wind. It was then so cold, that two of the party were frozen almost immediately[Pg 63] about the face and ears. I escaped, from having the good fortune to possess a pair of gloves made of rabbits' skin, with which I kept constantly chafing the places which began to be affected. At six P.M. we arrived at the fishing-huts near Stony Island, and remained the night there. The Canadians were not a little surprised at seeing us whom they had already given up for lost—nor less so at the manner by which we had come—for they all affirmed, that the lake near them was quite free from ice the day before.

"December 10.—At an early hour we quitted the huts, lashed on sledges as before, with some little addition to our party; and at three hours thirty minutes P.M. arrived at the North-West Fort on Moose-Deer Island, where I was received by Mr. Smith, with whom I had been acquainted at the Athabasca. He said he partly expected me. The same evening I visited Messrs. McVicar and McAuley at Hudson's Bay Fort, when I found the reports concerning our goods were but too true, there being in reality but five packages for us. I also was informed that two Esquimaux, Augustus the chief, and Junius his servant, who had been sent from Fort Churchill by Governor Williams, to serve in the capacity of interpreters to the Expedition, were at the Fort. These men[Pg 64] were short of stature but muscular, apparently good-natured, and perfectly acquainted with the purpose for which they were intended. They had built themselves a snow-house on an adjacent island, where they used frequently to sleep. The following day I examined the pieces, and to my great disappointment found them to consist of three kegs of spirits, already adulterated by the voyagers who had brought them; a keg of flour, and thirty-five pounds of sugar, instead of sixty. The ammunition and tobacco, the two greatest requisites, were left behind.

"I lost no time in making a demand from both parties; and though their united list did not furnish the half of what was required, yet it is possible that every thing was given by them which could be spared consistently with their separate interests, particularly by Mr. McVicar, who in many articles gave me the whole he had in his possession. These things were sent away immediately for Fort Enterprise, when an interpreter arrived with letters from Lieutenant Franklin, which referred to a series of injurious reports said to have been propagated against us by some one at Fort Providence.

"Finding a sufficiency of goods could not be provided at Moose-Deer Island, I determined to proceed to the Athabasca Lake, and ascertain the[Pg 65] inclinations of the gentlemen there. With this view I communicated my intentions to both parties; but could only get dogs enough from the North-West Company to carry the necessary provisions for the journey. Indeed Mr. Smith informed me plainly he was of opinion that nothing could be spared at Fort Chipewyan; that goods had never been transported so long a journey in the winter season, and that the same dogs could not possibly go and return; besides, it was very doubtful if I could be provided with dogs there; and finally, that the distance was great, and would take sixteen days to perform it. He added that the provisions would be mouldy and bad, and that from having to walk constantly on snow-shoes, I should suffer a great deal of misery and fatigue. Notwithstanding these assertions, on the 23d of December I left the Fort, with Beauparlant and a Bois-brulé, each having a sledge drawn by dogs, laden with pemmican. We crossed an arm of the lake, and entered the Little Buffalo River, which is connected with the Salt River, and is about fifty yards wide at its junction with the lake—the water is brackish. This route is usually taken in the winter, as it cuts off a large angle in going to the Great Slave River. In the afternoon we passed two empty fishing-huts, and in the evening encamped amongst[Pg 66] some high pines on the banks of the river, having had several snow-showers during the day, which considerably impeded the dogs, so that we had not proceeded more than fifteen miles.

"December 24 and 25.—We continued along the river, frequently making small portages to avoid going round the points, and passed some small canoes, which the Indians had left for the winter. The snow was so deep that the dogs were obliged to stop every ten minutes to rest; and the cold so excessive, that both the men were badly frozen on both sides of the face and chin. At length, having come to a long meadow, which the dogs could not cross that night, we halted in an adjoining wood, and were presently joined by a Canadian, who was on his return to the fort, and who treated us with some fresh meat in exchange for pemmican. During the latter part of the day we had seen numerous tracks of the moose, buffalo, and marten.

"December 26.—The weather was so cold that we were compelled to run to prevent ourselves from freezing; our route lay across some large meadows which appeared to abound in animals, though the Indians around Slave Lake are in a state of great want. About noon we passed a sulphur-stream, which ran into the river; it appeared to come from a plain about fifty yards distant.[Pg 67] There were no rocks near it, and the soil through which it took its course was composed of a reddish clay. I was much galled by the strings of the snow-shoes during the day, and once got a severe fall, occasioned by the dogs running over one of my feet, and dragging me some distance, my snow-shoe having become entangled with the sledge. In the evening we lost our way, from the great similarity of appearance in the country, and it was dark before we found it again, when we halted in a thick wood, after having come about sixteen miles from the last encampment. Much snow fell during the night.

"At an early hour on the 27th of December, we continued our journey over the surface of a long but narrow lake, and then through a wood, which brought us to the grand detour on the Slave River. The weather was extremely cloudy, with occasional falls of snow, which tended greatly to impede our progress, from its gathering in lumps between the dogs' toes; and though they did not go very fast, yet my left knee pained me so much, that I found it difficult to keep up with them. At three P.M. we halted within nine miles of the Salt River, and made a hearty meal of mouldy pemmican.

"December 28 and 29.—We had much difficulty in proceeding, owing to the poor dogs being quite worn out, and their feet perfectly raw. We endeavoured[Pg 68] to tie shoes on them, to afford them some little relief, but they continually came off when amongst deep snow, so that it occupied one person entirely to look after them. In this state they were hardly of any use among the steep ascents of the portages, when we were obliged to drag the sledges ourselves. We found a few of the rapids entirely frozen. Those that were not had holes and large spaces about them, from whence issued a thick vapour, and in passing this we found it particularly cold; but what appeared most curious was the number of small fountains which rose through the ice, and often rendered it doubtful which way we should take. I was much disappointed at finding several falls (which I had intended to sketch) frozen almost even with the upper and lower parts of the stream; the ice was connected by a thin arch, and the rushing of the water underneath might be heard at a considerable distance. On the banks of these rapids there was a constant overflowing of the water, but in such small quantities as to freeze before it had reached the surface of the central ice, so that we passed between two ridges of icicles, the transparency of which was beautifully contrasted by the flakes of snow and the dark green branches of the over-hanging pine.

"Beauparlant complained bitterly of the cold[Pg 69] whilst among the rapids, but no sooner had he reached the upper part of the river than he found the change of the temperature so great, that he vented his indignation against the heat.—"Mais c'est terrible," said he, to be frozen and sun-burnt in the same day. The poor fellow, who had been a long time in the country, regarded it as the most severe punishment that could have been inflicted on him, and would willingly have given a part of his wages rather than this disgrace had happened; for there is a pride amongst "Old Voyagers," which makes them consider the state of being frost-bitten as effeminate, and only excusable in a "Pork-eater," or one newly come into the country. I was greatly fatigued, and suffered acute pains in the knees and legs, both of which were much swollen when we halted a little above the Dog River.

"December 30 and 31.—Our journey these days was by far the most annoying we had yet experienced; but, independent of the vast masses of ice that were piled on one another, as well as the numerous open places about the rapids (and they did not a little impede us,) there was a strong gale from the north-west, and so dreadfully keen, that our time was occupied in rubbing the frozen parts of the face, and in attempting to warm the hands, in order to be prepared for the next operation.[Pg 70] Scarcely was one place cured by constant friction than another was frozen; and though there was nothing pleasant about it, yet it was laughable enough to observe the dexterity which was used in changing the position of the hand from the face to the mitten, and vice versâ. One of the men was severely affected, the whole side of his face being nearly raw. Towards sunset I suffered so much in my knee and ankle, from a recent sprain, that it was with difficulty I could proceed with snow-shoes to the encampment on the Stony Islands. But in this point I was not singular: for Beauparlant was almost as bad, and without the same cause.

January 1.

"We set out with a quick step, the wind still blowing fresh from the north-west, which seemed in some measure to invigorate the dogs; for towards sunset they left me considerably behind. Indeed my legs and ankles were now so swelled, that it was excessive pain to drag the snow-shoes after me. At night we halted on the banks of Stony River, when I gave the men a glass of grog, to commemorate the new year; and the next day, January 2, we arrived at Fort Chipewyan, after a journey of ten days and four hours—the shortest time in which the distance had been performed at the same season. I found Messrs. G. Keith and S. McGillivray[Pg 71] in charge of the fort, who were not a little surprised to see me. The commencement of the new year is the rejoicing season of the Canadians, when they are generally intoxicated for some days. I postponed making any demand till this time of festivity should cease; but on the same day I went over to the Hudson's Bay Fort, and delivered Lieutenant Franklin's letters to Mr. Simpson. If they were astonished on one side to see me, the amazement was still greater on the other; for reports were so far in advance, that we were said to have already fallen by the spears of the Esquimaux.

"January 3.—I made a demand from both parties for supplies; such as ammunition, gun-flints, axes, files, clothing, tobacco, and spirits. I stated to them our extreme necessity, and that without their assistance the Expedition must be arrested in its progress. The answer from the North-West gentlemen was satisfactory enough; but on the Hudson's Bay side I was told, "that any farther assistance this season entirely depended on the arrival of supplies expected in a few weeks from a distant establishment." I remained at Fort Chipewyan five weeks, during which time some laden sledges did arrive, but I could not obtain any addition to the few articles I had procured at first. A packet of letters for us, from[Pg 72] England, having arrived, I made preparations for my return, but not before I had requested both Companies to send next year, from the depôts, a quantity of goods for our use, specified in lists furnished to them.

"The weather, during my abode at Chipewyan, was generally mild, with occasional heavy storms, most of which were anticipated by the activity of the Aurora Borealis; and this I observed had been the case between Fort Providence and the Athabasca in December and January, though not invariably so in other parts of the country. One of the partners of the North-West Company related to me the following singular story:—'He was travelling in a canoe in the English River, and had landed near the Kettle Fall, when the coruscations of the Aurora Borealis were so vivid and low, that the Canadians fell on their faces, and began praying and crying, fearing they should be killed; he himself threw away his gun and knife, that they might not attract the flashes, for they were within two feet from the earth, flitting along with incredible swiftness, and moving parallel to its surface. They continued for upwards of five minutes, as near as he could judge, and made a loud rustling noise, like the waving of a flag in a strong breeze. After they had ceased, the sky became clear, with little wind.'

[Pg 73]"February 9.—Having got every thing arranged, and had a hearty breakfast with a coupe de l'eau de vie, (a custom amongst the traders,) I took my departure, or rather attempted to do so, for on going to the gate there was a long range of women, who came to bid me farewell. They were all dressed (after the manner of the country) in blue or green cloth, with their hair fresh greased, separated before, and falling down behind, not in careless tresses, but in a good sound tail, fastened with black tape or riband. This was considered a great compliment, and the ceremony consisted in embracing the whole party.

"I had with me four sledges, laden with goods for the Expedition, and a fifth belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company. We returned exactly by the same route, suffering no other inconvenience but that arising from the chafing of the snow-shoe, and bad weather. Some Indians, whom we met on the banks of the Little Buffalo River, were rather surprised at seeing us, for they had heard that we were on an island, which was surrounded by Esquimaux. The dogs were almost worn out, and their feet raw, when, on February the 20th, we arrived at Moose-Deer Island with our goods all in good order. Towards the end of the month two of our men arrived with letters from Lieutenant Franklin, containing some[Pg 74] fresh demands, the major part of which I was fortunate enough to procure without the least trouble. Having arranged the accounts and receipts between the Companies and the Expedition, and sent every thing before me to Fort Providence, I prepared for my departure; and it is but justice to the gentlemen of both parties at Moose-Deer Island to remark, that they afforded the means of forwarding our stores in the most cheerful and pleasant manner.

"March 5.—I took leave of the gentlemen at the forts, and, in the afternoon, got to the fisheries near Stony Island, where I found Mr. McVicar, who was kind enough to have a house ready for my reception; and I was not a little gratified at perceiving a pleasant-looking girl employed in roasting a fine joint, and afterwards arranging the table with all the dexterity of an accomplished servant.

"March 6.—We set out at daylight, and breakfasted at the Rein-Deer Islands. As the day advanced, the heat became so oppressive, that each pulled off his coat and ran till sunset, when we halted with two men, who were on their return to Moose-Deer Island. There was a beautiful Aurora Borealis in the night; it rose about N.b.W., and divided into three bars, diverging at equal distances as far as the zenith, and then[Pg 75] converging until they met in the opposite horizon; there were some flashes at right angles to the bars.

"March 7.—We arrived at Fort Providence, and found our stores safe and in good order. There being no certainty when the Indian, who was to accompany me to our house, would arrive, and my impatience to join my companions increasing as I approached it, after making the necessary arrangements with Mr. Weeks respecting our stores, on March the 10th I quitted the fort, with two of our men, who had each a couple of dogs and a sledge laden with provision. On the 13th we met the Indian, near Icy Portage, who was sent to guide me back. On the 14th we killed a deer, and gave the dogs a good feed; and on the 17th, at an early hour, we arrived at Fort Enterprise, having travelled about eighteen miles a-day. I had the pleasure of meeting my friends all in good health, after an absence of nearly five months, during which time I had travelled one thousand one hundred and four miles, on snow-shoes, and had no other covering at night, in the woods, than a blanket and deer-skin, with the thermometer frequently at -40°, and once at -57°; and sometimes passing two or three days without tasting food."


[Pg 76]

Continuation of Proceedings at Fort EnterpriseSome Account of the Copper IndiansPreparations for the Journey to the Northward.

March 18.

I shall now give a brief account of the Copper Indians, termed by the Chipewyans, Tantsawhoi-dinneh, or Birch-rind Indians. They were originally a tribe of the Chipewyans, and, according to their own account, inhabited the south side of Great Slave Lake, at no very distant period. Their language, traditions, and customs, are essentially the same with those of the Chipewyans, but in personal character they have greatly the advantage of that people; owing, probably, to local causes, or perhaps to their procuring their food more easily and in greater abundance. They hold women in the same low estimation as the Chipewyans do, looking upon them as a kind of property, which the stronger may take from the weaker, whenever there is just reason for quarrelling, if the parties are of their own nation, or whenever they meet, if the weaker party are Dog-ribs or other strangers. They suffer, however,[Pg 77] the kinder affections to shew themselves occasionally; they, in general, live happily with their wives, the women are contented with their lot, and we witnessed several instances of strong attachment. Of their kindness to strangers we are fully qualified to speak; their love of property, attention to their interests, and fears for the future, made them occasionally clamorous and unsteady; but their delicate and humane attention to us, in a season of great distress, at a future period, are indelibly engraven on our memories. Of their notions of a Deity, or future state, we never could obtain any satisfactory account; they were unwilling, perhaps, to expose their opinions to the chance of ridicule. Akaitcho generally evaded our questions on these points, but expressed a desire to learn from us, and regularly attended Divine Service during his residence at the fort, behaving with the utmost decorum.

This leader, indeed, and many others of his tribe, possess a laudable curiosity, which might easily be directed to the most important ends; and I believe, that a well-conducted Christian mission to this quarter would not fail of producing the happiest effect. Old Keskarrah alone used boldly to express his disbelief of a Supreme Deity, and state that he could not credit the existence of a Being, whose power was said to[Pg 78] extend every where, but whom he had not yet seen, although he was now an old man. The aged sceptic is not a little conceited, as the following exordium to one of his speeches evinces: "It is very strange that I never meet with any one who is equal in sense to myself." The same old man, in one of his communicative moods, related to us the following tradition. The earth had been formed, but continued enveloped in total darkness, when a bear and a squirrel met on the shores of a lake; a dispute arose as to their respective powers, which they agreed to settle by running in opposite directions round the lake, and whichever arrived first at the starting point, was to evince his superiority by some signal act of power. The squirrel beat, ran up a tree, and loudly demanded light, which instantly beaming forth, discovered a bird dispelling the gloom with its wings; the bird was afterwards recognised to be a crow. The squirrel next broke a piece of bark from the tree, endowed it with the power of floating, and said, "Behold the material which shall afford the future inhabitants of the earth the means of traversing the waters."

The Indians are not the first people who have ascribed the origin of nautics to the ingenuity of the squirrel. The Copper Indians consider the bear, otter, and other animals of prey, or rather[Pg 79] some kind of spirits which assume the forms of these creatures, as their constant enemies, and the cause of every misfortune they endure; and in seasons of difficulty or sickness they alternately deprecate and abuse them.

Few of this nation have more than one wife at a time, and none but the leaders have more than two. Akaitcho has three, and the mother of his only son is the favourite. They frequently marry two sisters, and there is no prohibition to the intermarriage of cousins, but a man is restricted from marrying his niece.

The last war excursion they made against the Esquimaux was ten years ago, when they destroyed about thirty persons, at the mouth of what they term Stony-Point River, not far from the mouth of the Copper-Mine River. They now seem desirous of being on friendly terms with that persecuted nation, and hope, through our means, to establish a lucrative commerce with them. Indeed, the Copper Indians are sensible of the advantages that would accrue to them, were they made the carriers of goods between the traders and Esquimaux.

At the time of Hearne's visit, the Copper Indians being unsupplied with fire-arms, were oppressed by the Chipewyans; but even that traveller had occasion to praise their kindness of[Pg 80] heart. Since they have received arms from the traders, the Chipewyans are fearful of venturing upon their lands; and all of that nation, who frequent the shores of Great Slave Lake, hold the name of Akaitcho in great respect. The Chipewyans have no leader of equal authority amongst themselves.

The number of the Copper Indians may be one hundred and ninety souls, viz., eighty men and boys, and one hundred and ten women and young children. There are forty-five hunters in the tribe. The adherents of Akaitcho amount to about forty men and boys; the rest follow a number of minor chiefs.

For the following notices of the nations on Mackenzie's River, we are principally indebted to Mr. Wentzel, who resided for many years in that quarter.

The Thlingcha-dinneh, or Dog-ribs, or, as they are sometimes termed after the Crees, who formerly warred against them, Slaves, inhabit the country to the westward of the Copper Indians, as far as Mackenzie's River. They are of a mild, hospitable, but rather indolent, disposition; spend much of their time in amusements, and are fond of singing and dancing. In this respect, and in another, they differ very widely from most of the other Aborigines of North America.[Pg 81] I allude to their kind treatment of the women. The men do the laborious work, whilst their wives employ themselves in ornamenting their dresses with quill-work, and in other occupations suited to their sex. Mr. Wentzel has often known the young married men to bring specimens of their wives' needle-work to the forts, and exhibit them with much pride. Kind treatment of the fair sex being usually considered as an indication of considerable progress in civilization, it might be worth while to inquire how it happens, that this tribe has stept so far beyond its neighbours. It has had, undoubtedly, the same common origin with the Chipewyans, for their languages differ only in accent, and their mode of life is essentially the same. We have not sufficient data to prosecute the inquiry with any hope of success, but we may recall to the reader's memory what was formerly mentioned, that the Dog-ribs say they came from the westward, whilst the Chipewyans say that they migrated from the eastward.

When bands of Dog-ribs meet each other after a long absence, they perform a kind of dance. A piece of ground is cleared for the purpose, if in winter of the snow, or if in summer of the bushes; and the dance frequently lasts for two or three days, the parties relieving each other as[Pg 82] they get tired. The two bands commence the dance with their backs turned to each other, the individuals following one another in Indian file, and holding the bow in the left hand, and an arrow in the right. They approach obliquely, after many turns, and when the two lines are closely back to back, they feign to see each other for the first time, and the bow is instantly transferred to the right hand, and the arrow to the left, signifying that it is not their intention to employ them against their friends. At a fort they use feathers instead of bows. The dance is accompanied with a song. These people are the dancing-masters of the country. The Copper Indians have neither dance nor music but what they borrow from them. On our first interview with Akaitcho, at Fort Providence, he treated us, as has already been mentioned, with a representation of the Dog-rib dance; and Mr. Back, during his winter journey, had an opportunity of observing it performed by the Dog-ribs themselves.

The chief tribe of the Dog-rib nation, termed Horn Mountain Indians, inhabit the country betwixt Great Bear Lake, and the west end of Great Slave Lake. They muster about two hundred men and boys capable of pursuing the chase. Small detachments of the nation frequent Marten Lake, and hunt during the summer in[Pg 83] the neighbourhood of Fort Enterprise. Indeed this part of the country was formerly exclusively theirs, and most of the lakes and remarkable hills bear the names which they imposed upon them. As the Copper Indians generally pillage them of their women and furs when they meet, they endeavour to avoid them, and visit their ancient quarters on the barren grounds only by stealth.

Immediately to the northward of the Dog-ribs, on the north side of Bear Lake River, are the Kawcho-dinneh, or Hare Indians, who also speak a dialect of the Chipewyan language, and have much of the same manners with the Dog-ribs, but are considered both by them and by the Copper Indians, to be great conjurers. These people report that in their hunting excursions to the northward of Great Bear Lake they meet small parties of Esquimaux.

Immediately to the northward of the Hare Indians, on both banks of Mackenzie's River, are the Tykothee-dinneh, Loucheux, Squint-Eyes, or Quarrellers. They speak a language distinct from the Chipewyan. They war often with the Esquimaux at the mouth of Mackenzie's River, but have occasionally some peaceable intercourse with them, and it would appear that they find no difficulty in understanding each other, there being[Pg 84] considerable similarity in their languages. Their dress also resembles the Esquimaux, and differs from that of the other inhabitants of Mackenzie's River. The Tykothee-dinneh trade with Fort Good-Hope, situated a considerable distance below the confluence of Bear Lake River with Mackenzie's River, and as the traders suppose, within three days' march of the Arctic Sea. It is the most northern establishment of the North-West Company, and some small pieces of Russian copper coin once made their way thither across the continent from the westward. Blue or white beads are almost the only articles of European manufacture coveted by the Loucheux. They perforate the septum of the nose, and insert in the opening three small shells, which they procure at a high price from the Esquimaux.

On the west bank of Mackenzie's River there are several tribes who speak dialects of the Chipewyan language, that have not hitherto been mentioned. The first met with, on tracing the river to the southward from Fort Good-Hope, are the Ambawtawhoot-dinneh, or Sheep Indians. They inhabit the Rocky Mountains near the sources of the Dawhoot-dinneh River which flows into Mackenzie's, and are but little known to the traders. Some of them have visited Fort Good-Hope. A report of their being cannibals[Pg 85] may have originated in an imperfect knowledge of them.

Some distance to the southward of this people are the Rocky Mountain Indians, a small tribe which musters about forty men and boys capable of pursuing the chase. They differ but little from the next we are about to mention, the Edchawtawhoot-dinneh, Strong-bow, Beaver, or Thick-wood Indians, who frequent the Rivière aux Liards, or south branch of Mackenzie's River. The Strong-bows resemble the Dog-ribs somewhat in their disposition; but when they meet they assume a considerable degree of superiority over the latter, who meekly submit to the haughtiness of their neighbours. Until the year 1813, when a small party of them, from some unfortunate provocation, destroyed Fort Nelson on the Rivière aux Liards, and murdered its inmates, the Strong-bows were considered to be a friendly and quiet tribe, and esteemed as excellent hunters. They take their names, in the first instance, from their dogs. A young man is the father of a certain dog, but when he is married, and has a son, he styles himself the father of the boy. The women have a habit of reproving the dogs very tenderly when they observe them fighting.—"Are you not ashamed," say they,[Pg 86] "are you not ashamed to quarrel with your little brother?" The dogs appear to understand the reproof, and sneak off.

The Strong-bows, and Rocky-Mountain Indians, have a tradition in common with the Dog-ribs, that they came originally from the westward, from a level country, where there was no winter, which produced trees, and large fruits, now unknown to them. It was inhabited also by many strange animals, amongst which there was a small one whose visage bore a striking resemblance to the human countenance. During their residence in this land, their ancestors were visited by a man who healed the sick, raised the dead, and performed many other miracles, enjoining them at the same time to lead good lives, and not to eat of the entrails of animals, nor to use the brains for dressing skins until after the third day; and never to leave the skulls of deer upon the ground within the reach of dogs and wolves, but to hang them carefully upon trees. No one knew from whence this good man came, or whither he went. They were driven from that land by the rising of the waters, and following the tracks of animals on the sea-shore, they directed their course to the northward. At length they came to a strait, which they crossed upon a raft, but the sea has[Pg 87] since frozen, and they have never been able to return. These traditions are unknown to the Chipewyans.

The number of men and boys of the Strong-bow nation who are capable of hunting, may amount to seventy.

There are some other tribes who also speak dialects of the Chipewyan, upon the upper branches of the Rivière aux Liards, such as the Nohhannies and the Tsillawdawhoot-dinneh, or Brushwood Indians. They are but little known, but the latter are supposed occasionally to visit some of the establishments on Peace River.

Having now communicated as briefly as I could the principal facts that came to our knowledge regarding the Indians in this quarter, I shall resume the narrative of events at Fort Enterprise.—The month of March proved fine. The thermometer rose once to 24° above zero, and fell upon another day 49° below zero, but the mean was -11-1/2°.

On the 23d the last of our winter's stock of deer's meat was expended, and we were compelled to issue a little pounded meat which we had reserved for making pemmican for summer use. Our nets, which were set under the ice on the 15th, produced only two or three small fish daily. Amongst these was the round fish, a[Pg 88] species of Coregonus, which we had not previously seen.

On the following day two Indians came with a message from the Hook, the chief next to Akaitcho in authority amongst the Copper Indians. His band was between West Marten and Great Bear Lakes, and he offered to provide a quantity of dried meat for us on the banks of the Copper-Mine River in the beginning of summer, provided we sent him goods and ammunition. It was in his power to do this without inconvenience, as he generally spends the summer months on the banks of the river, near the Copper Mountain; but we had no goods to spare, and I could not venture to send any part of our small stock of ammunition until I saw what the necessities of our own party required. I told them, however, that I would gladly receive either provisions or leather when we met, and would pay for them by notes on the North-West Company's post; but to prevent any misunderstanding with Mr. Weeks, I requested them to take their winter's collection of furs to Fort Providence before they went to the Copper-Mine River. They assured me that the Hook would watch anxiously for our passing, as he was unwell, and wished to consult the doctor.

Several circumstances having come lately to my knowledge that led me to suspect the fidelity[Pg 89] of our interpreters, they were examined upon this subject. It appeared that in their intercourse with the Indians they had contracted very fearful ideas of the danger of our enterprise, which augmented as the time of our departure drew near, and had not hesitated to express their dislike to the journey in strong terms amongst the Canadians, who are accustomed to pay much deference to the opinions of an interpreter. But this was not all; I had reason to suspect they had endeavoured to damp the exertions of the Indians, with the hope that the want of provision in the spring would put an end to our progress at once. St. Germain, in particular, had behaved in a very equivocal way, since his journey to Slave Lake. He denied the principal parts of the charge in a very dogged manner, but acknowledged he had told the leader that we had not paid him the attention which a chief like him ought to have received; and that we had put a great affront on him in sending him only a small quantity of rum. An artful man like St. Germain, possessing a flow of language, and capable of saying even what he confessed, had the means of poisoning the minds of the Indians without committing himself by any direct assertion; and it is to be remarked, that[Pg 90] unless Mr. Wentzel had possessed a knowledge of the Copper Indian language, we should not have learned what we did.

Although perfectly convinced of his baseness, I could not dispense with his services; and had no other resource but to give him a serious admonition, and desire him to return to his duty; after endeavouring to work upon his fears by an assurance, that I would certainly convey him to England for trial, if the Expedition should be stopped through his fault. He replied, "It is immaterial to me where I lose my life, whether in England, or in accompanying you to the sea, for the whole party will perish." After this discussion, however, he was more circumspect in his conduct.

On the 28th we received a small supply of meat from the Indian lodges. They had now moved into a lake, about twelve miles from us, in expectation of the deer coming soon to the northward.

On the 29th Akaitcho arrived at the house, having been sent for to make some arrangements respecting the procuring of provision, and that we might learn what his sentiments were with regard to accompanying us on our future journey. Next morning we had a conference, which I commenced by shewing him the charts[Pg 91] and drawings that were prepared to be sent to England, and explaining fully our future intentions. He appeared much pleased at this mark of attention, and, when his curiosity was satisfied, began his speech by saying, that "although a vast number of idle rumours had been floating about the barren grounds during the winter," he was convinced that the representations made to him at Fort Providence regarding the purport of the Expedition were perfectly correct. I next pointed out to him the necessity of our proceeding with as little delay as possible during the short period of the year that was fit for our operations, and that to do so it was requisite we should have a large supply of provisions at starting. He instantly admitted the force of these observations, and promised that he and his young men should do their utmost to comply with our desires: and afterwards, in answer to my questions, informed us that he would accompany the Expedition to the mouth of the Copper-Mine River, or, if we did not meet with Esquimaux there, for some distance along the coast; he was anxious, he said, to have an amicable interview with that people; and he further requested, that, in the event of our meeting with Dog-ribs on the Copper-Mine River, we should use our influence to persuade them to live on friendly terms with[Pg 92] his tribe. We were highly pleased to find his sentiments so favourable to our views, and, after making some minor arrangements, we parted, mutually content. He left us on the morning of the 31st, accompanied by Augustus, who, at his request, went to reside for a few days at his lodge.

On the 4th of April our men arrived with the last supply of goods from Fort Providence, the fruits of Mr. Back's arduous journey to the Athabasca Lake; and on the 17th Belanger le gros and Belanger le rouge, for so our men discriminated them, set out for Slave Lake, with a box containing the journals of the officers, charts, drawings, observations, and letters addressed to the Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs. They also conveyed a letter for Governor Williams, in which I requested that he would, if possible, send a schooner to Wager Bay with provisions and clothing to meet the exigencies of the party, should they succeed in reaching that part of the coast.

Connoyer, who was much tormented with biliary calculi, and had done little or no duty all the winter, was discharged at the same time, and sent down in company with an Indian named the Belly.

The commencement of April was fine, and for[Pg 93] several days a considerable thaw took place in the heat of the sun, which laying bare some of the lichens on the sides of the hills, produced a consequent movement of the rein-deer to the northward, and induced the Indians to believe that the spring was already commencing. Many of them, therefore, quitted the woods, and set their snares on the barren grounds near Fort Enterprise. Two or three days of cold weather, however, towards the middle of the month, damped their hopes, and they began to say that another moon must elapse before the arrival of the wished-for season. In the mean time their premature departure from the woods, caused them to suffer from want of food, and we were in some degree involved in their distress. We received no supplies from the hunters, our nets produced but very few fish, and the pounded meat which we had intended to keep for summer use was nearly expended. Our meals at this period were always scanty, and we were occasionally restricted to one in the day.

The Indian families about the house, consisting principally of women and children, suffered most. I had often requested them to move to Akaitcho's lodge, where they were more certain of receiving supplies; but as most of them were sick or infirm,[Pg 94] they did not like to quit the house, where they daily received medicines from Dr. Richardson, to encounter the fatigue of following the movements of a hunting camp. They cleared away the snow on the site of the autumn encampments to look for bones, deer's feet, bits of hide, and other offal. When we beheld them gnawing the pieces of hide, and pounding the bones, for the purpose of extracting some nourishment from them by boiling, we regretted our inability to relieve them, but little thought that we should ourselves be afterwards driven to the necessity of eagerly collecting these same bones a second time from the dunghill.

At this time, to divert the attention of the men from their wants, we encouraged the practice of sliding down the steep bank of the river upon sledges. These vehicles descended the snowy bank with much velocity, and ran a great distance upon the ice. The officers joined in the sport, and the numerous overturns we experienced formed no small share of the amusement of the party; but on one occasion, when I had been thrown from my seat and almost buried in the snow, a fat Indian woman drove her sledge over me, and sprained my knee severely.

On the 18th at eight in the evening a beautiful[Pg 95] halo appeared round the sun when it was about 8° high. The colours were prismatic, and very bright, the red next the sun.

On the 21st the ice in the river was measured and found to be five feet thick, and in setting the nets in Round Rock Lake, it was there ascertained to be six feet and a half thick, the water being six fathoms deep. The stomachs of some fish were at this time opened by Dr. Richardson, and found filled with insects which appear to exist in abundance under the ice during the winter.

On the 22nd a moose-deer was killed at the distance of forty-five miles; St. Germain went for it with a dog-sledge, and returned with unusual expedition on the morning of the third day. This supply was soon exhausted, and we passed the 27th without eating, with the prospect of fasting a day or two longer, when old Keskarrah entered with the unexpected intelligence of having killed a deer. It was divided betwixt our own family and the Indians, and during the night a seasonable supply arrived from Akaitcho. Augustus returned with the men who brought it, much pleased with the attention he had received from the Indians during his visit to Akaitcho.

Next day Mr. Wentzel set out with every man[Pg 96] that we could spare from the fort, for the purpose of bringing meat from the Indians as fast as it could be procured. Dr. Richardson followed them two days afterwards, to collect specimens of the rocks in that part of the country. On the same day the two Belangers arrived from Fort Providence, having been only five days on the march from thence.

The highest temperature in April was +40°, the lowest -32°, the mean +4°.6. The temperature of the rapid, examined on the 30th by Messrs. Back and Hood, was 32° at the surface, 33° at the bottom.

On the 7th of May, Dr. Richardson returned. He informed me that the rein-deer were again advancing to the northward, but that the leader had been joined by several families of old people, and that the daily consumption of provision at the Indian tents was consequently great. This information excited apprehensions of being very scantily provided when the period of our departure should arrive.

The weather in the beginning of May was fine and warm. On the 2nd some patches of sandy ground near the house were cleared of snow. On the 7th the sides of the hills began to appear bare, and on the 8th a large house-fly was seen. This interesting event spread cheerfulness through[Pg 97] our residence and formed a topic of conversation for the rest of the day.

On the 9th the approach of spring was still more agreeably confirmed by the appearance of a merganser and two gulls, and some loons, or arctic divers, at the rapid. This day, to reduce the labour of dragging meat to the house, the women and children and all the men, except four, were sent to live at the Indian tents.

The blue-berries, crow-berries, eye-berries, and cran-berries, which had been covered, and protected by the snow during the winter, might at this time be gathered in abundance, and proved indeed a valuable resource. The ground continued frozen, but the heat of the sun had a visible effect on vegetation; the sap thawed in the pine-trees, and Dr. Richardson informed me that the mosses were beginning to shoot, and the calyptræ of some of the jungermanniæ already visible.

On the 11th Mr. Wentzel returned from the Indian lodges, having made the necessary arrangements with Akaitcho for the drying of meat for summer use, the bringing fresh meat to the fort and the procuring a sufficient quantity of the resin of the spruce fir, or as it is termed by the voyagers gum, for repairing the canoes previous to starting, and during the voyage. By my desire, he had promised payment to the Indian[Pg 98] women who should bring in any of the latter article, and had sent several of our own men to the woods to search for it. At this time I communicated to Mr. Wentzel the mode in which I meant to conduct the journey of the approaching summer. Upon our arrival at the sea, I proposed to reduce the party to what would be sufficient to man two canoes, in order to lessen the consumption of provisions during our voyage, or journey along the coast; and as Mr. Wentzel had expressed a desire of proceeding no farther than the mouth of the Copper-Mine River, which was seconded by the Indians, who wished him to return with them, I readily relieved his anxiety on this subject; the more so as I thought he might render greater service to us by making deposits of provision at certain points, than by accompanying us through a country which was unknown to him, and amongst a people with whom he was totally unacquainted. My intentions were explained to him in detail, but they were of course to be modified by circumstances.

On the 14th a robin (turdus migratorius) appeared; this bird is hailed by the natives as the infallible precursor of warm weather. Ducks and geese were also seen in numbers, and the rein-deer advanced to the northward. The merganser, (mergus serrator,) which preys[Pg 99] upon small fish, was the first of the duck tribe that appeared; next came the teal, (anas crecca,) which lives upon small insects that abound in the waters at this season; and lastly the goose, which feeds upon berries and herbage. Geese appear at Cumberland House, in latitude 54°, usually about the 12th of April; at Fort Chipewyan, in latitude 59°, on the 25th of April; at Slave Lake, in latitude 61°, on the 1st of May; and at Fort Enterprise, in latitude 64° 28', on the 12th or 14th of the same month.

On the 16th a minor chief amongst the Copper Indians, attended by his son, arrived from Fort Providence to consult Dr. Richardson. He was affected with snow-blindness, which was soon relieved by the dropping of a little laudanum into his eyes twice a day. Most of our own men had been lately troubled with this complaint, but it always yielded in twenty or thirty hours to the same remedy.

On the 21st all our men returned from the Indians, and Akaitcho was on his way to the fort. In the afternoon two of his young men arrived to announce his visit, and to request that he might be received with a salute and other marks of respect that he had been accustomed to on visiting Fort Providence in the spring. I complied with his desire although I regretted the expenditure[Pg 100] of ammunition, and sent the young men away with the customary present of powder to enable him to return the salute, some tobacco, vermilion to paint their faces, a comb and a looking-glass.

At eleven Akaitcho arrived; at the first notice of his appearance the flag was hoisted at the fort, and upon his nearer approach, a number of muskets were fired by a party of our people, and returned by his young men. Akaitcho, preceded by his standard-bearer, led the party, and advanced with a slow and stately step to the door where Mr. Wentzel and I received him. The faces of the party were daubed with vermilion, the old men having a spot on the right cheek, the young ones on the left. Akaitcho himself was not painted. On entering he sat down on a chest, the rest placed themselves in a circle on the floor. The pipe was passed once or twice round, and in the mean time a bowl of spirits and water, and a present considerable for our circumstances of cloth, blankets, capots, shirts, &c., was placed on the floor for the chief's acceptance, and distribution amongst his people. Akaitcho then commenced his speech, but I regret to say, that it was very discouraging, and indicated that he had parted with his good humour, at least since his March visit. He first inquired, whether, in the event of a passage by sea being discovered, we should[Pg 101] come to his lands in any ship that might be sent? And being answered, that it was probable but not quite certain, that some one amongst us might come; he expressed a hope that some suitable present should be forwarded to himself and nation; "for," said he, "the great Chief who commands where all the goods come from, must see from the drawings and descriptions of us and our country that we are a miserable people." I assured him that he would be remembered, provided he faithfully fulfilled his engagement with us.

He next complained of the non-payment of my notes by Mr. Weeks, from which he apprehended that his own reward would be withheld. "If," said he, "your notes to such a trifling amount are not accepted, whilst you are within such a short distance, and can hold communication with the fort, it is not probable that the large reward which has been promised to myself and party, will be paid when you are far distant, on your way to your own country. It really appears to me," he continued, "as if both the Companies consider your party as a third company, hostile to their interests, and that neither of them will pay the notes you give to the Indians."

Afterwards, in the course of a long conference, he enumerated many other grounds of dissatisfaction;[Pg 102] the principal of which were our want of attention to him as chief, the weakness of the rum formerly sent to him, the smallness of the present now offered, and the want of the chief's clothing, which he had been accustomed to receive at Fort Providence every spring. He concluded, by refusing to receive the goods now laid before him.

In reply to these complaints it was stated that Mr. Weeks's conduct could not be properly discussed at such a distance from his fort; that no dependence ought to be placed on the vague reports that floated through the Indian territory; that, for our part, although we had heard many stories to his (Akaitcho's) disadvantage, we discredited them all; that the rum we had sent him, being what the great men in England were accustomed to drink, was of a milder kind, but, in fact, stronger than what he had been accustomed to receive; and that the distance we had come, and the speed with which we travelled, precluded us from bringing large quantities of goods like the traders; that this had been fully explained to him when he agreed to accompany us; and that, in consideration of his not receiving his usual spring outfit, his debts to the Company had been cancelled, and a present, much greater than any he had ever received before, ordered to be got ready for his return. He[Pg 103] was further informed, that we were much disappointed in not receiving any dried meat from him, an article indispensable for our summer voyage, and which, he had led us to believe there was no difficulty in procuring; and that, in fact, his complaints were so groundless, in comparison with the real injury we sustained from the want of supplies, that we were led to believe they were preferred solely for the purpose of cloaking his own want of attention to the terms of his engagement. He then shifted his ground, and stated, that if we endeavoured to make a voyage along the sea-coast we should inevitably perish; and he advised us strongly against persisting in the attempt. This part of his harangue being an exact transcript of the sentiments formerly expressed by our interpreters, induced us to conclude that they had prompted his present line of conduct, by telling him, that we had goods or rum concealed. He afterwards received a portion of our dinner, in the manner he had been accustomed to do, and seemed inclined to make up matters with us in the course of the evening, provided we added to the present offered to him. Being told, however, that this was impossible, since we had already offered him all the rum we had, and every article of goods we could spare from our own equipment, his obstinacy was a little shaken, and he made some concessions, but[Pg 104] deferred giving a final answer, until the arrival of Humpy, his elder brother. The young men, however, did not choose to wait so long, and at night came for the rum, which we judged to be a great step towards a reconciliation.

St. Germain, the most intelligent of our two interpreters, and the one who had most influence with the Indians, being informed that their defection was, in a great measure, attributed to the unguarded conversations he had held with them, and which he had in part acknowledged, exerted himself much, on the following day, in bringing about a change in their sentiments, and with some success. The young men, though they declined hunting, conducted themselves with the same good humour and freedom as formerly. Akaitcho being, as he said, ashamed to shew himself, kept close in his tent all day.

On the 24th, one of the women who accompanied us from Athabasca, was sent down to Fort Providence, under charge of the old chief, who came some days before for medicine for his eyes. Angelique and Roulante, the other two women, having families, preferred accompanying the Indians during their summer hunt. On the 25th, clothing, and other necessary articles, were issued to the Canadians as their equipment for the ensuing voyage. Two or three blankets, some cloth, iron work, and trinkets were reserved for[Pg 105] distribution amongst the Esquimaux on the sea-coast. Laced dresses were given to Augustus and Junius. It is impossible to describe the joy that took possession of the latter on the receipt of this present. The happy little fellow burst into extatic laughter, as he surveyed the different articles of his gay habiliments[5].

[5] These men kept their dresses, and delighted in them. An Indian Chief, on the other hand, only appears once before the donor in the dress of ceremony which he receives, and then transfers it to some favourite in the tribe whom he desires to reward by this "robe of honour."

In the afternoon Humpy, the leader's elder brother; Annœthai-yazzeh, another of his brothers; and one of our guides, arrived with the remainder of Akaitcho's band; as also Long-legs, brother to the Hook, with three of his band. There were now in the encampment, thirty hunters, thirty-one women, and sixty children, in all one hundred and twenty-one of the Copper-Indian or Red-Knife tribe. The rest of the nation were with the Hook on the lower part of the Copper-Mine River.

Annœthai-yazzeh is remarkable amongst the Indians for the number of his descendants; he has eighteen children living by two wives, of whom sixteen were at the fort at this time.

In the evening we had another formidable conference. The former complaints were reiterated,[Pg 106] and we parted about midnight, without any satisfactory answer to my questions, as to when Akaitcho would proceed towards the River, and where he meant to make provision for our march. I was somewhat pleased, however, to find, that Humpy and Annœthai-yazzeh censured their brother's conduct, and accused him of avarice.

On the 26th the canoes were removed from the places where they had been deposited, as we judged that the heat of the atmosphere was now so great, as to admit of their being repaired, without risk of cracking the bark. We were rejoiced to find that two of them had suffered little injury from the frost during the winter. The bark of the third was considerably rent, but it was still capable of repair.

The Indians sat in conference in their tents all the morning; and in the afternoon, came into the house charged with fresh matter for discussion.

Soon after they had seated themselves, and the room was filled with the customary volume of smoke from their calumets, the goods which had been laid aside, were again presented to the leader; but he at once refused to distribute so small a quantity amongst his men, and complained that there were neither blankets, kettles, nor daggers, amongst them; and in the warmth of his anger,[Pg 107] he charged Mr. Wentzel with having advised the distribution of all our goods to the Canadians, and thus defrauding the Indians of what was intended for them. Mr. Wentzel, of course, immediately repelled this injurious accusation, and reminded Akaitcho again, that he had been told, on engaging to accompany us, that he was not to expect any goods until his return. This he denied with an effrontery that surprised us all, when Humpy, who was present at our first interview at Fort Providence, declared that he heard us say, that no goods could be taken for the supply of the Indians on the voyage; and the first guide added, "I do not expect any thing here, I have promised to accompany the white people to the sea, and I will, therefore, go, confidently relying upon receiving the stipulated reward on my return." Akaitcho did not seem prepared to hear such declarations from his brothers, and instantly changing the subject, began to descant upon the treatment he had received from the traders in his concerns with them, with an asperity of language that bore more the appearance of menace than complaint. I immediately refused to discuss this topic, as foreign to our present business, and desired Akaitcho to recall to memory, that he had told me on our first meeting, that he considered me the father of every[Pg 108] person attached to the Expedition, in which character it was surely my duty to provide for the comfort and safety of the Canadians as well as the Indians. The voyagers, he knew, had a long journey to perform, and would in all probability, be exposed to much suffering from cold on a coast destitute of wood; and, therefore, required a greater provision of clothing than was necessary for the Indians, who, by returning immediately from the mouth of the river, would reach Fort Providence in August, and obtain their promised rewards. Most of the Indians appeared to assent to this argument, but Akaitcho said, "I perceive the traders have deceived you; you should have brought more goods, but I do not blame you." I then told him, that I had brought from England only ammunition, tobacco, and spirits; and that being ignorant what other articles the Indians required, we were dependent on the traders for supplies; but he must be aware, that every endeavour had been used on our parts to procure them, as was evinced by Mr. Back's journey to Fort Chipewyan. With respect to the ammunition and tobacco, we had been as much disappointed as themselves in not receiving them, but this was to be attributed to the neglect of those to whom they had been intrusted. This explanation seemed to satisfy[Pg 109] him. After some minutes of reflection, his countenance became more cheerful, and he made inquiry, whether his party might go to either of the trading posts they chose on their return, and whether the Hudson's Bay Company were rich, for they had been represented to him as a poor people? I answered him, that we really knew nothing about the wealth of either Company, having never concerned ourselves with trade, but that all the traders appeared to us to be respectable. Our thoughts, I added, are fixed solely on the accomplishment of the objects for which we came to the country. Our success depends much on your furnishing us with provision speedily, that we may have all the summer to work; and if we succeed a ship will soon bring goods in abundance to the mouth of the Copper-Mine River. The Indians talked together for a short time after this conversation, and then the leader made an application for two or three kettles and some blankets, to be added to the present to his young men; we were unable to spare him any kettles, but the officers promised to give a blanket each from their own beds.

Dinner was now brought in, and relieved us for a time from their importunity. The leading men, as usual, received each a portion from the table. When the conversation was resumed,[Pg 110] the chief renewed his solicitations for goods, but it was now too palpable to be mistaken, that he aimed at getting every thing he possibly could, and leaving us without the means of making any presents to the Esquimaux, or other Indians we might meet. I resolved, therefore, on steadily refusing every request; and when he perceived that he could extort nothing more, he rose in an angry manner, and addressing his young men, said: "There are too few goods for me to distribute; those that mean to follow the white people to the sea may take them."

This was an incautious speech, as it rendered it necessary for his party to display their sentiments. The guides, and most of the hunters, declared their readiness to go, and came forward to receive a portion of the present, which was no inconsiderable assortment. This relieved a weight of anxiety from my mind, and I did not much regard the leader's retiring in a very dissatisfied mood.

The hunters then applied to Mr. Wentzel for ammunition, that they might hunt in the morning, and it was cheerfully given to them.

The officers and men amused themselves at prison-bars, and other Canadian games till two o'clock in the morning, and we were happy to[Pg 111] observe the Indians sitting in groups enjoying the sport. We were desirous of filling up the leisure moments of the Canadians with amusements, not only for the purpose of enlivening their spirits, but also to prevent them from conversing upon our differences with the Indians, which they must have observed. The exercise was also in a peculiar manner serviceable to Mr. Hood. Ever ardent in his pursuits, he had, through close attention to his drawings and other avocations, confined himself too much to the house in winter, and his health was impaired by his sedentary habits. I could only take the part of a spectator in these amusements, being still lame from the hurt formerly alluded to.

The sun now sank for so short a time below the horizon, that there was more light at midnight, than we enjoyed on some days at noon in the winter-time.

On the 27th the hunters brought in two rein-deer. Many of the Indians attended divine service this day, and were attentive spectators of our addresses to the Almighty.

On the 28th I had a conversation with Long-legs, whose arrival two days before has been mentioned. I acquainted him with the objects of our expedition, and our desire of promoting peace between his nation and the Esquimaux, and[Pg 112] learned from him, that his brother the Hook was by this time on the Copper-Mine River with his party; and that, although he had little ammunition, yet it was possible he might have some provision collected before our arrival at his tents. I then decorated him with a medal similar to those given to the other chiefs. He was highly pleased with this mark of our regard, and promised to do every thing for us in his power. Akaitcho came in during the latter part of our conversation, with a very cheerful countenance. Jealousy of the Hook, and a knowledge that the sentiments of the young men differed from his own, with respect to the recent discussions, had combined to produce this change in his conduct, and next morning he took an opportunity of telling me that I must not think the worse of him for his importunities. It was their custom, he said, to do so, however strange it might appear to us, and he, as the leader of his party, had to beg for them all; but as he saw we had not deceived him by concealing any of our goods, and that we really had nothing left, he should ask for no more. He then told me that he would set out for the river as soon as the state of the country admitted of travelling. The snow, he remarked, was still too deep for sledges to the northward, and the moss too wet to make fires.[Pg 113] He was seconded in this opinion by Long-legs, whom I was the more inclined to believe, knowing that he was anxious to rejoin his family as soon as possible.

Akaitcho now accepted the dress he had formerly refused, and next day clothed himself in another new suit, which he had received from us in the autumn. Ever since his arrival at the fort, he had dressed meanly, and pleaded poverty; but, perceiving that nothing more could be gained by such conduct, he thought proper to shew some of his riches to the strangers who were daily arriving. In the afternoon, however, he made another, though a covert, attack upon us. He informed me that two old men had just arrived at the encampment with a little pounded meat which they wished to barter. It was evident that his intention was merely to discover whether we had any goods remaining or not. I told him that we had nothing at present to give for meat, however much we stood in need of it, but that we would pay for it by notes on the North-West Company, in any kind of goods they pleased. After much artful circumlocution, and repeated assurances of the necessities of the men who owned the meat, he introduced them, and they readily agreed to give us the provision on our own terms.

[Pg 114]I have deemed it my duty to give the details of these tedious conversations, to point out to future travellers, the art with which these Indians pursue their objects, their avaricious nature, and the little reliance that can be placed upon them when their interests jar with their promises. In these respects they agree with other tribes of northern Indians; but as has been already mentioned, their dispositions are not cruel, and their hearts are readily moved by the cry of distress.

The average temperature for May was nearly 32°, the greatest heat was 68°, the lowest 8°.

We had constant daylight at the end of the month, and geese and ducks were abundant, indeed rather too much so, for our hunters were apt to waste upon them the ammunition that was given to them for killing deer. Uncertain as to the length of time that it might be required to last, we did not deem a goose of equal value with the charge it cost to procure it.

Dr. Richardson and Mr. Back having visited the country to the northward of the Slave Rock, and reported that they thought we might travel over it, I signified my intention of sending the first party off on Monday the 4th of June. I was anxious to get the Indians to move on before, but they lingered about the house, evidently with the intention of picking up such articles as we might[Pg 115] deem unnecessary to take. When Akaitcho was made acquainted with my purpose of sending away a party of men, he came to inform me that he would appoint two hunters to accompany them, and at the same time requested that Dr. Richardson, or as he called him, the Medicine Chief, might be sent with his own band. These Indians set a great value upon medicine, and made many demands upon Dr. Richardson on the prospect of his departure. He had to make up little packets, of the different articles in his chest, not only for the leader, but for each of the minor chiefs, who carefully placed them in their medicine bags, noting in their memories the directions he gave for their use. The readiness with which their requests for medical assistance were complied with, was considered by them as a strong mark of our good intentions towards them; and the leader often remarked, that they owed much to our kindness in that respect; that formerly numbers had died every year, but that not a life had been lost since our arrival amongst them. In the present instance, however, the leader's request could not be complied with. Dr. Richardson had volunteered to conduct the first party to the Copper-Mine River, whilst the rest of the officers remained with me to the last moment, to complete[Pg 116] our astronomical observations at the house. He, therefore, informed the leader that he would remain stationary at Point Lake until the arrival of the whole party, where he might be easily consulted if any of his people fell sick, as it was in the neighbourhood of their hunting-grounds.

On the 2nd the stores were packed up in proper-sized bales for the journey. I had intended to send the canoes by the first party, but they were not yet repaired, the weather not being sufficiently warm for the men to work constantly at them, without the hazard of breaking the bark. This day one of the new trading guns, which we had recently received from Fort Chipewyan, burst in the hands of a young Indian; fortunately, however, without doing him any material injury. This was the sixth accident of the kind which had occurred since our departure from Slave Lake. Surely this deficiency in the quality of the guns, which hazards the lives of so many poor Indians, requires the serious consideration of the principals of the trading Companies.

On the 4th, at three in the morning, the party under the charge of Dr. Richardson started. It consisted of fifteen voyagers, three of them conducting dog sledges, Baldhead and Basil, two Indian hunters with their wives, Akaiyazzeh a[Pg 117] sick Indian and his wife, together with Angelique and Roulante; so that the party amounted to twenty-three exclusive of children.

The burdens of the men were about eighty pounds each, exclusive of their personal baggage, which amounted to nearly as much more. Most of them dragged their loads upon sledges, but a few preferred carrying them on their backs. They set off in high spirits.

After breakfast the Indians struck their tents, and the women, the boys, and the old men who had to drag sledges, took their departure. It was three P.M., however, before Akaitcho and the hunters left us. We issued thirty balls to the leader, and twenty to each of the hunters and guides, with a proportionate quantity of powder, and gave them directions to make all the provision they could on their way to Point Lake. I then desired Mr. Wentzel to inform Akaitcho, in the presence of the other Indians, that I wished a deposit of provision to be made at this place previous to next September, as a resource should we return this way. He and the guides not only promised to see this done, but suggested that it would be more secure if placed in the cellar, or in Mr. Wentzel's room. The Dog-ribs, they said, would respect any thing that was in the[Pg 118] house, as knowing it to belong to the white people. At the close of this conversation Akaitcho exclaimed with a smile, "I see now that you have really no goods left, (the rooms and stores being completely stripped,) and therefore I shall not trouble you any more, but use my best endeavours to prepare provision for you, and I think if the animals are tolerably numerous, we may get plenty before you can embark on the river."

Whilst the Indians were packing up this morning, one of the women absconded. She belongs to the Dog-rib tribe, and had been taken by force from her relations by her present husband, who treated her very harshly. The fellow was in my room when his mother announced the departure of his wife, and received the intelligence with great composure, as well as the seasonable reproof of Akaitcho. "You are rightly served," said the chief to him, "and will now have to carry all your things yourself, instead of having a wife to drag them." One hunter remained after the departure of the other Indians.

On the 5th the Dog-rib woman presented herself on a hill at some distance from the house, but was afraid to approach us, until the interpreter went and told her that neither we nor the Indian who remained with us, would prevent her[Pg 119] from going where she pleased. Upon this she came to solicit a fire-steel and kettle. She was at first low-spirited, from the non-arrival of a country-woman who had promised to elope with her, but had probably been too narrowly watched. The Indian hunter, however, having given her some directions as to the proper mode of joining her own tribe, she became more composed, and ultimately agreed to adopt his advice of proceeding at once to Fort Providence, instead of wandering about the country all summer in search of them, at the imminent hazard of being starved.

On the 7th the wind, shifting to the southward, dispersed the clouds which had obscured the sky for several days, and produced a change of temperature under which the snow rapidly disappeared. The thermometer rose to 73°, many flies came forth, musquitoes shewed themselves for the first time, and one swallow made its appearance. We were the more gratified with these indications of summer, that St. Germain was enabled to commence the repair of the canoes, and before night had completed the two which had received the least injury. Augustus killed two deer to-day.

On the 10th the dip of the magnetic needle being observed, shewed a decrease of 22' 44"[Pg 120] since last autumn. The repairs of the third canoe were finished this evening.

The snow was now confined to the bases of the hills, and our Indian hunter told us the season was early. The operations of nature, however, seemed to us very tardy. We were eager to be gone, and dreaded the lapse of summer, before the Indians would allow it had begun.

On the 11th the geese and ducks had left the vicinity of Fort Enterprise, and proceeded to the northward. Some young ravens and whiskey-johns made their appearance at this time.

On the 12th Winter River was nearly cleared of ice, and on the 13th the men returned, having left Dr. Richardson on the borders of Point Lake. Dr. Richardson informed me by letter that the snow was deeper in many parts near his encampment than it had been at any time last winter near Fort Enterprise, and that the ice on Point Lake had scarcely begun to decay. Although the voyagers were much fatigued on their arrival, and had eaten nothing for the last twenty-four hours, they were very cheerful, and expressed a desire to start with the remainder of the stores next morning. The Dog-rib woman, who had lingered about the house since the 6th of June, took alarm at the approach of our men, thinking,[Pg 121] perhaps, that they were accompanied by Indians, and ran off. She was now provided with a hatchet, kettle, and fire-steel, and would probably go at once to Fort Providence, in the expectation of meeting with some of her countrymen before the end of summer.


[Pg 122]

[6] It will be seen hereafter that I had the misfortune to lose my portfolio containing my journals from Fort Enterprise to the 14th of September. But the loss has been amply redeemed by my brother officers' journals, from which the narrative up to that period has been chiefly compiled.

Departure from Fort EnterpriseNavigation of the Copper-Mine RiverVisit to the Copper MountainInterview with the EsquimauxDeparture of the Indian HuntersArrangements made with them for our return.

June 14.

The trains for the canoes having been finished during the night, the party attached to them commenced their journey at ten this morning. Each canoe was dragged by four men assisted by two dogs. They took the route of Winter Lake, with the intention of following, although more circuitous, the water-course as far as practicable, it being safer for the canoes than travelling over land. After their departure, the remaining stores, the instruments, and our small stock of dried meat, amounting only to eighty pounds, were distributed equally among Hepburn, three Canadians, and the two Esquimaux; with this party and two Indian hunters, we quitted[Pg 123] Fort Enterprise, most sincerely rejoicing that the long-wished-for day had arrived, when we were to proceed towards the final object of the Expedition.

We left in one of the rooms a box, containing a journal of the occurrences up to this date, the charts and some drawings, which was to be conveyed to Fort Chipewyan by Mr. Wentzel, on his return from the sea, and thence to be sent to England. The room was blocked up, and, by the advice of Mr. Wentzel, a drawing representing a man holding a dagger in a threatening attitude, was affixed to the door, to deter any Indians from breaking it open. We directed our course towards the Dog-rib Rock, but as our companions were loaded with the weight of near one hundred and eighty pounds each, we of necessity proceeded at a slow pace. The day was extremely warm, and the musquitoes, whose attacks had hitherto been feeble, issued forth in swarms from the marshes, and were very tormenting. Having walked five miles we encamped near a small cluster of pines about two miles from the Dog-rib Rock. The canoe party had not been seen since they set out. Our hunters went forward to Marten Lake, intending to wait for us at a place where two deer were deposited. At nine P.M. the temperature of the air was 63°.

[Pg 124]We resumed our march at an early hour, and crossed several lakes which lay in our course, as the ice enabled the men to drag their burdens on trains formed of sticks and deers' horns, with more ease than they could carry them on their backs. We were kept constantly wet by this operation, as the ice had broken near the shores of the lakes, but this was little regarded as the day was unusually warm: the temperature at two P.M. being at 82-1/2°. At Marten Lake we joined the canoe party, and encamped with them. We had the mortification of learning from our hunters that the meat they had put en cache here, had been destroyed by the wolverenes, and we had in consequence, to furnish the supper from our scanty stock of dried meat. The wind changed from S.E. to N.E. in the evening, and the weather became very cold, the thermometer being at 43° at nine P.M. The few dwarf birches we could collect afforded fire insufficient to keep us warm, and we retired under the covering of our blankets as soon as the supper was despatched. The N.E. breeze rendered the night so extremely cold, that we procured but little sleep, having neither fire nor shelter; for though we carried our tents, we had been forced to leave the tent-poles which we could not now replace; we therefore gladly recommenced the[Pg 125] journey at five in the morning, and travelled through the remaining part of the lake on the ice. Its surface being quite smooth, the canoes were dragged along expeditiously by the dogs, and the rest of the party had to walk very quick to keep pace with them, which occasioned many severe falls. By the time we had reached the end of the lake, the wind had increased to a perfect gale, and the atmosphere was so cold that we could not proceed further with the canoes without the risk of breaking the bark, and seriously injuring them: we therefore crossed Winter River in them, and put up in a well-sheltered place on a ridge of sand hills; but as the stock of provision was scanty, we determined on proceeding as quick as possible, and leaving the canoe-party under the charge of Mr. Wentzel. We parted from them in the afternoon, and first directed our course towards a range of hills, where we expected to find Antonio Fontano, who had separated from us in the morning. In crossing towards these hills I fell through the ice into the lake, with my bundle on my shoulders, but was soon extricated without any injury; and Mr. Back, who left us to go in search of the straggler, met with a similar accident in the evening. We put up on a ridge of sand hills, where we found some pines, and made a large fire to[Pg 126] apprize Mr. Back and Fontano of our position. St. Germain having killed a deer in the afternoon, we received an acceptable supply of meat. The night was stormy and very cold.

At five the next morning, our men were sent in different directions after our absent companions; but as the weather was foggy, we despaired of finding them, unless they should chance to hear the muskets our people were desired to fire. They returned, however, at ten, bringing intelligence of them. I went immediately with Hepburn to join Mr. Back, and directed Mr. Hood to proceed with the Canadians, and halt with them at the spot where the hunters had killed a deer. Though Mr. Back was much fatigued he set off with me immediately, and in the evening we rejoined our friends on the borders of the Big Lake. The Indians informed us that Fontano only remained a few hours with them, and then continued his journey. We had to oppose a violent gale and frequent snow-storms through the day, which unseasonable weather caused the temperature to descend below the freezing point this evening. The situation of our encampment being bleak, and our fuel stunted green willows, we passed a very cold and uncomfortable night.

June 18.—Though the breeze was moderate this morning, the air was piercingly keen.[Pg 127] When on the point of starting, we perceived Mr. Wentzel's party coming, and awaited his arrival to learn whether the canoes had received any injury during the severe weather of yesterday. Finding they had not, we proceeded to get upon the ice on the lake, which could not be effected without walking up to the waist in water, for some distance from its borders. We had not the command of our feet in this situation, and the men fell often; poor Junius broke through the ice with his heavy burden on his back, but fortunately was not hurt.

This lake is extensive, and large arms branch from its main course in different directions. At these parts we crossed the projecting points of land, and on each occasion had to wade as before, which so wearied every one, that we rejoiced when we reached its north side and encamped, though our resting-place was a bare rock. We had the happiness of finding Fontano at this place. The poor fellow had passed the three preceding days without tasting food, and was exhausted by anxiety and hunger. His sufferings were considered to have been a sufficient punishment for his imprudent conduct in separating from us, and I only admonished him to be more cautious in future.

Having received information that the hunters[Pg 128] had killed a deer, we sent three men to fetch the meat, which was distributed between our party and the canoe-men who had been encamped near to us. The thermometer at three P.M. was 46°, at nine 34°.

We commenced the following day by crossing a lake about four miles in length, and then passed over a succession of rugged hills for nearly the same distance. The men being anxious to reach some pine-trees, which they had seen on their former journey, walked a quick pace, though they were suffering from swelled legs and rheumatic pains; we could not, however, attain the desired point, and therefore encamped on the declivity of a hill, which sheltered us from the wind; and used the rein-deer moss for fuel, which afforded us more warmth than we expected. Several patches of snow were yet remaining on the surrounding hills. The thermometer varied to-day between 55° and 45°.

On the 20th of June we began our march by crossing a small lake, not without much risk, as the surface of the ice was covered with water to the depth of two feet, and there were many holes into which we slipped, in spite of our efforts to avoid them. A few of the men, being fearful of attempting the traverse with their heavy loads, walked round the eastern end of the lake. The[Pg 129] parties met on the sandy ridge, which separates the streams that fall into Winter Lake from those that flow to the northward; and here we killed three deer. Near the base of this ridge we crossed a small but rapid stream, in which there is a remarkable cascade of about fifty feet. Some Indians joined us here, and gave information respecting the situation of Dr. Richardson's tent, which our hunters considered was sufficient for our guidance, and therefore proceeded as quickly as they could. We marched a few miles farther in the evening, and encamped among some pines; but the comfort of a good fire did not compensate for the torment we suffered from the host of musquitoes at this spot. The temperature was 52°.

We set off next morning at a very early hour. The men took the course of Point Lake, that they might use their sledges, but the officers pursued the nearest route by land to Dr. Richardson's tent, which we reached at eleven A.M. It was on the western side of an arm of the lake and near the part through which the Copper-Mine River runs. Our men arrived soon after us, and in the evening Mr. Wentzel and his party, with the canoes in excellent condition. They were much jaded by their fatiguing journey[Pg 130] and several were lame from swellings of the lower extremities. The ice on the lake was still six or seven feet thick, and there was no appearance of its decay except near the edges; and as it was evident that, by remaining here until it should be removed, we might lose every prospect of success in our undertaking, I determined on dragging our stores along its surface, until we should come to a part of the river where we could embark; and directions were given this evening for each man to prepare a train for the conveyance of his portion of the stores. I may remark here, as a proof of the strong effect of radiation from the earth in melting the ice, that the largest holes in the ice were always formed at the base of the high and steep cliffs, which abound on the borders of this lake.

We found Akaitcho and the hunters encamped here, but their families, and the rest of the tribe, had gone off two days before to the Beth-see-to, a large lake to the northward, where they intended passing the summer. Long-legs and Keskarrah had departed, to desire the Hook to collect as much meat as he could against our arrival at his lodge. We were extremely distressed to learn from Dr. Richardson, that Akaitcho and his party had expended all the ammunition they had[Pg 131] received at Fort Enterprise, without having contributed any supply of provision. The Doctor had, however, through the assistance of two hunters he kept with him, prepared two hundred pounds of dried meat, which was now our sole dependance for the journey. On the following morning I represented to Akaitcho that we had been greatly disappointed by his conduct, which was so opposite to the promise of exertion he had made, on quitting Fort Enterprise. He offered many excuses, but finding they were not satisfactory, admitted that the greater part of the ammunition had been given to those who accompanied the women to the Beth-see-to, and promised to behave better in future. I then told him, that I intended in future to give them ammunition only in proportion to the meat which was brought in, and that we should commence upon that plan, by supplying him with fifteen balls, and each of the hunters with ten.

The number of our hunters was now reduced to five, as two of the most active declined going any further, their father, who thought himself dying, having solicited them to remain and close his eyes. These five were furnished with ammunition, and sent forward to hunt on the south border of the lake, with directions to place any[Pg 132] meat they might procure near the edge of the lake, and set up marks to guide us to the spots. Akaitcho, his brother, the guide, and three other men, remained to accompany us. We were much surprised to perceive an extraordinary difference in climate in so short an advance to the northward as fifty miles. The snow here was lying in large patches on the hills. The dwarf-birch and willows were only just beginning to open their buds, which had burst forth at Fort Enterprise many days before our departure. Vegetation seemed to be three weeks or a month later here than at that place. We had heavy showers of rain through the night of the 22d, which melted the snow, and visibly wasted the ice.

On the 23d, the men were busily employed in making their trains, and in pounding the meat for pemmican. The situation of the encampment was ascertained, latitude 65° 12' 40" N., longitude 113° 8' 25" W., and the variation 43° 4' 20" E. The arrangements being completed, we purposed commencing our journey next morning, but the weather was too stormy to venture upon the lake with the canoes. In the afternoon a heavy fall of snow took place, succeeded by sleet and rain. The north-east gale continued, but the thermometer rose to 39°.

[Pg 133]June 25.—The wind having abated in the night, we prepared for starting at an early hour. The three canoes were mounted on sledges, and nine men were appointed to conduct them, having the assistance of two dogs to each canoe. The stores and provisions were distributed equally among the rest of our men, except a few small articles which the Indians carried. The provision consisted of only two bags of pemmican, two of pounded meat, five of suet, and two small bundles of dried provision, together with fresh meat sufficient for our supper at night. It was gratifying to witness the readiness with which the men prepared for and commenced a journey, which threatened to be so very laborious, as each of them had to drag upwards of one hundred and eighty pounds on his sledge.

Our course led down the main channel of the lake, which varied in breadth from half a mile to three miles; but we proceeded at a slow pace, as the snow, which fell last night, and still lay on the ice, very much impeded the sledges. Many extensive arms branched off on the north side of this channel, and it was bounded on the south by a chain of lofty islands. The hills on both sides rose to six or seven hundred feet, and high steep cliffs were numerous. Clusters of pines were occasionally seen in the valleys.[Pg 134] We put up, at eight P.M., in a spot which afforded us but a few twigs for fuel. The party was much fatigued, and several of the men were affected by an inflammation on the inside of the thigh attended with hardness and swelling. The distance made to-day was six miles.

We started at ten next morning. The day was extremely hot, and the men were soon jaded; their lameness increased very much, and some not previously affected began to complain. The dogs too shewed symptoms of great weakness, and one of them stretched himself obstinately on the ice, and was obliged to be released from the harness. We were, therefore, compelled to encamp at an early hour, having come only four miles. The sufferings of the people in this early stage of our journey were truly discouraging to them, and very distressing to us, whose situation was comparatively easy. I, therefore, determined on leaving the third canoe, which had been principally carried to provide against any accident to the others. We should thus gain three men, to lighten the loads of those who were most lame, and an additional dog for each of the other canoes. It was accordingly properly secured on a stage erected for the purpose near the encampment. Dried meat was issued for supper, but in the course of the evening[Pg 135] the Indians killed two deer, for which we immediately sent.

The channel of the lake through which we had passed to-day was bounded on both sides by islands of considerable height, presenting bold and rugged scenery. We were informed by our guide, that a large body of the lake lies to the northward of a long island which we passed.

Another deer was killed next morning, but as the men breakfasted off it before they started, the additional weight was not materially felt. The burdens of the men being considerably lightened by the arrangements of last evening, the party walked at the rate of one mile and three quarters an hour until the afternoon, when our pace was slackened, as the ice was more rough, and our lame companions felt their sores very galling. At noon we passed a deep bay on the south side, which is said to receive a river. Throughout the day's march the hills on each side of the lake bore a strong resemblance, in height and form, to those about Fort Enterprise. We encamped on the north main shore, among some spruce trees, having walked eight miles and a half. Three or four fish were caught with lines through holes, which the water had worn in the ice. We perceived a light westerly current at these places.

[Pg 136]It rained heavily during the night, and this was succeeded by a dense fog on the morning of the 28th. Being short of provisions we commenced our journey, though the points of land were not discernible beyond a short distance. The surface of the ice, being honeycombed by the recent rains, presented innumerable sharp points, which tore our shoes and lacerated the feet at every step. The poor dogs, too, marked their path with their blood.

In the evening the atmosphere became clear, and, at five P.M., we reached the rapid by which Point Lake communicates with Red-Rock Lake. This rapid is only one hundred yards wide, and we were much disappointed at finding the Copper-Mine River such an inconsiderable stream. The canoes descended the rapid, but the cargoes were carried across the peninsula, and placed again on the sledges, as the next lake was still frozen. We passed an extensive arm, branching to the eastward, and encamped just below it, on the western bank, among spruce pines, having walked six miles of direct distance. The rolled stones on the beach are principally red clay slate, hence its Indian appellation, which we have retained.

We continued our journey at the usual hour next morning. At noon the variation was observed to be 47° east. Our attention was afterwards[Pg 137] directed to some pine branches, scattered on the ice, which proved to be marks placed by our hunters, to guide us to the spot where they had deposited the carcasses of two small deer. This supply was very seasonable, and the men cheerfully dragged the additional weight. Akaitcho, judging from the appearance of the meat, thought it had been placed here three days ago, and that the hunters were considerably in advance. We put up at six P.M., near the end of the lake, having come twelve miles and three quarters, and found the channel open by which it is connected with the Rock-nest Lake. A river was pointed out, bearing south from our encampment, which is said to rise near Great Marten Lake. Red-Rock Lake is in general narrow, its shelving banks are well clothed with wood, and even the hills, which attain an elevation of four hundred or five hundred feet, are ornamented half way up, with stunted pines.

On June 30, the men having gummed the canoes, embarked with their burdens to descend the river; but we accompanied the Indians about five miles across a neck of land, when we also embarked. The river was about two hundred yards wide, and its course being uninterrupted, we cherished a sanguine hope of now getting on more speedily, until we perceived that the waters[Pg 138] of Rock-nest Lake were still bound by ice, and that recourse must again be had to the sledges. The ice was much decayed, and the party were exposed to great risk of breaking through in making the traverse. In one part we had to cross an open channel in the canoes, and in another were compelled to quit the Lake, and make a portage along the land. When the party had got upon the ice again, our guide evinced much uncertainty as to the route. He first directed us towards the west end of the lake; but when we had nearly gained that point, he discovered a remarkable rock to the north-east, named by the Indians the Rock-nest, and then recollected that the river ran at its base. Our course was immediately changed to that direction, but the traverse we had then to make was more dangerous than the former one. The ice cracked under us at every step, and the party were obliged to separate widely to prevent accidents. We landed at the first point we could approach, but having found an open channel close to the shore, were obliged to ferry the goods across on pieces of ice. The fresh meat being expended we had to make another inroad on our pounded meat. The evening was very warm, and the musquitoes numerous. A large fire was made to apprize the hunters of our advance. The scenery of Rock-nest Lake is[Pg 139] picturesque, its shores are rather low, except at the Rock's nest, and two or three eminences on the eastern side. The only wood is the pine, which is twenty or thirty feet high, and about one foot in diameter. Our distance to-day was six miles.

July 1.—Our guide directed us to proceed towards a deep bay on the north side of the lake, where he supposed we should find the river. In consequence of the bad state of the ice, we employed all the different modes of travelling we had previously followed in attaining this place; and, in crossing a point of land, had the misfortune to lose one of the dogs, which set off in pursuit of some rein-deer. Arriving at the bay, we only found a stream that fell into it from the north-east, and looked in vain for the Copper-Mine River. This circumstance confused the guide, and he confessed that he was now doubtful of the proper route; we, therefore, halted, and despatched him, with two men, to look for the river from the top of the high hills near the Rock-nest. During this delay a slight injury was repaired, which one of the canoes had received. We were here amused by the sight of a wolf chasing two rein-deer on the ice. The pursuer being alarmed at the sight of our men, gave up the chase when near to the hindmost,[Pg 140] much to our regret, for we were calculating upon the chance of sharing in his capture.

At four P.M. our men returned, with the agreeable information that they had seen the river flowing at the base of the Rock-nest. The canoes and stores were immediately placed on the ice, and dragged thither; we then embarked, but soon had to cut through a barrier of drift ice that blocked up the way. We afterwards descended two strong rapids, and encamped near the discharge of a small stream which flows from an adjoining lake. The Copper-Mine River, at this point, is about two hundred yards wide, and ten feet deep, and flows very rapidly over a rocky bottom. The scenery of its banks is picturesque, the hills shelve to the water-side, and are well covered with wood, and the surface of the rocks is richly ornamented with lichens. The Indians say that the same kind of country prevails as far as Mackenzie's River in this parallel; but that the land to the eastward is perfectly barren. Akaitcho and one of the Indians killed two deer, which were immediately sent for. Two of the hunters arrived in the night, and we learned that their companions, instead of being in advance, as we supposed, were staying at the place where we first found the river open. They had only seen our fires last evening, and had sent to examine[Pg 141] who we were. The circumstance of having passed them was very vexatious, as they had three deer en cache, at their encampment. However, an Indian was sent to desire those who remained to join us, and bring the meat.

We embarked at nine A.M. on July 2nd, and descended a succession of strong rapids for three miles. We were carried along with extraordinary rapidity, shooting over large stones, upon which a single stroke would have been destructive to the canoes; and we were also in danger of breaking them, from the want of the long poles which lie along their bottoms and equalize their cargoes, as they plunged very much, and on one occasion the first canoe was almost filled with the waves. But there was no receding after we had once launched into the stream, and our safety depended on the skill and dexterity of the bowmen and steersmen. The banks of the river here are rocky, and the scenery beautiful; consisting of gentle elevations and dales wooded to the edge of the stream, and flanked on both sides at the distance of three or four miles by a range of round-backed barren hills, upwards of six hundred feet high. At the foot of the rapids the high lands recede to a greater distance, and the river flows with a more gentle current, in a wider channel, through a level and open country[Pg 142] consisting of alluvial sand. In one place the passage was blocked up by drift ice, still deeply covered with snow. A channel for the canoes was made for some distance with the hatchets and poles; but on reaching the more compact part, we were under the necessity of transporting the canoes and cargoes across it; an operation of much hazard, as the snow concealed the numerous holes which the water had made in the ice. This expansion of the river being mistaken by the guide for a lake, which he spoke of as the last on our route to the sea, we supposed that we should have no more ice to cross, and therefore encamped after passing through it, to fit the canoes properly for the voyage, and to provide poles, which are not only necessary to strengthen them when placed in the bottom, but essentially requisite for the safe management of them in dangerous rapids. The guide began afterwards to doubt whether the lake he meant was not further on, and he was sent with two men to examine into the fact, who returned in the evening with the information of its being below us, but that there was an open channel through it. This day was very sultry, and several plants appeared in flower.

The men were employed in repairing their canoes to a late hour, and commenced very early[Pg 143] next morning, as we were desirous of availing ourselves of every part of this favourable weather. The hunters arrived in the course of the night. It appeared that the dog which escaped from us two days ago came into the vicinity of their encampment, howling piteously; seeing him without his harness, they came to the hasty conclusion that our whole party had perished in a rapid; and throwing away part of their baggage, and leaving the meat behind them, they set off with the utmost haste to join Long-legs. Our messenger met them in their flight, but too far advanced to admit of their returning for the meat. Akaitcho scolded them heartily for their thoughtlessness in leaving the meat, which we so much wanted. They expressed their regret, and being ashamed of their panic, proposed to remedy the evil as much as possible by going forward, without stopping, until they came to a favourable spot for hunting, which they expected to do about thirty or forty miles below our present encampment. Akaitcho accompanied them, but previous to setting off he renewed his charge that we should be on our guard against the bears, which was occasioned by the hunters having fired at one this morning as they were descending a rapid in their canoe. As their small canoes would only carry five persons,[Pg 144] two of the hunters had to walk in turns along the banks.

In our rambles round the encampment, we witnessed with pleasure the progress which vegetation had made within the few last warm days; most of the trees had put forth their leaves, and several flowers ornamented the moss-covered ground; many of the smaller summer birds were observed in the woods, and a variety of ducks, gulls, and plovers, sported on the banks of the river. It is about three hundred yards wide at this part, is deep and flows over a bed of alluvial sand. We caught some trout of considerable size with our lines, and a few white fish in the nets, which maintained us, with a little assistance from the pemmican. The repair of our canoes was completed this evening. Before embarking I issued an order that no rapid should in future be descended until the bowman had examined it, and decided upon its being safe to run. Wherever the least danger was to be apprehended, or the crew had to disembark for the purpose of lightening the canoe, the ammunition, guns and instruments, were always to be put out and carried along the bank, that we might be provided with the means of subsisting ourselves, in case of any accident befalling the canoes.

The situation of our encampment was ascertained[Pg 145] to be 65° 43' 28" N., longitude 114° 26' 45" W., and the variation 42° 17' 22" E.

At four in the morning of July 4th we embarked and descended a succession of very agitated rapids, but took the precaution of landing the articles mentioned yesterday, wherever there appeared any hazard; notwithstanding all our precautions the leading canoe struck with great force against a stone, and the bark was split, but this injury was easily repaired, and we regretted only the loss of time. At eleven we came to an expansion of the river where the current ran with less force, and an accumulation of drift ice had, in consequence, barred the channel; over this the canoes and cargoes were carried. The ice in many places adhered to the banks, and projected in wide ledges several feet thick over the stream, which had hollowed them out beneath. On one occasion as the people were embarking from one of these ledges, it suddenly gave way, and three men were precipitated into the water, but were rescued without further damage than a sound ducking, and the canoe fortunately (and narrowly) escaped being crushed. Perceiving one of the Indians sitting on the east bank of the river, we landed, and having learned from him that Akaitcho and the hunters had gone in pursuit of[Pg 146] a herd of musk oxen, we encamped, having come twenty-four miles and a half.

In the afternoon they brought us the agreeable intelligence of having killed eight cows, of which four were full grown. All the party were immediately despatched to bring in this seasonable supply. A young cow, irritated by the firing of the hunters, ran down to the river, and passed close to me when walking at a short distance from the tents. I fired and wounded it, when the animal instantly turned, and ran at me, but I avoided its fury by jumping aside and getting upon an elevated piece of ground. In the mean time some people came from the tents, and it took to flight.

The musk oxen, like the buffalo, herd together in bands, and generally frequent the barren grounds during the summer months, keeping near the rivers, but retire to the woods in winter. They seem to be less watchful than most other wild animals, and when grazing are not difficult to approach, provided the hunters go against the wind; when two or three men get so near a herd as to fire at them from different points, these animals instead of separating or running away, huddle closer together, and several are generally killed; but if the wound is not mortal they become enraged and dart in[Pg 147] the most furious manner at the hunters, who must be very dextrous to evade them. They can defend themselves by their powerful horns against the wolves and bears, which, as the Indians say, they not unfrequently kill.

The musk oxen feed on the same substances with the rein-deer, and the prints of the feet of these two animals are so much alike, that it requires the eye of an experienced hunter to distinguish them. The largest killed by us did not exceed in weight three hundred pounds. The flesh has a musky disagreeable flavour, particularly when the animal is lean, which unfortunately for us was the case with all that we now killed.

During this day's march the river varied in breadth from one hundred to two hundred feet, and except in two open spaces, a very strong current marked a deep descent the whole way. It flows over a bed of gravel, of which also its immediate banks are composed. Near to our encampment it is bounded by cliffs of fine sand from one hundred to two hundred feet high. Sandy plains extend on a level with the summit of these cliffs, and at the distance of six or seven miles are terminated by ranges of hills eight hundred or one thousand feet high. The grass on these plains affords excellent pasturage for the[Pg 148] musk oxen, and they generally abound here. The hunters added two more to our stock in the course of the night. As we had now more meat than the party could consume fresh, we delayed our voyage next day to dry it. The hunters were supplied with more ammunition, and sent forward; but Akaitcho, his brother, and another Indian, remained with us.

It may here be proper to mention, that the officers had treated Akaitcho more distantly since our departure from Point Lake, to mark their opinion of his misconduct. The diligence in hunting, however, which he had evinced at this place, induced us to receive him more familiarly when he came to the tent this evening. During our conversation he endeavoured to excite suspicions in our minds against the Hook, by saying, "I am aware that you consider me the worst man of my nation; but I know the Hook to be a great rogue, and, I think he will disappoint you."

On the morning of the 6th we embarked, and descended a series of rapids, having twice unloaded the canoes where the water was shallow. After passing the mouth of the Fairy[7] Lake[Pg 149] River the rapids ceased. The main stream was then about three hundred yards wide, and generally deep, though, in one part, the channel was interrupted by several sandy banks, and low alluvial islands covered with willows. It flows between banks of sand thinly wooded, and as we advanced the barren hills approached the water's edge.

[7] This is an Indian name. The Northern Indian fairies are six inches high, lead a life similar to the Indians, and are excellent hunters. Those who have had the good fortune to fall in with their tiny encampments have been kindly treated, and regaled on venison. We did not learn with certainty whether the existence of these delightful creatures is known from Indian tradition, or whether the Indians owe their knowledge of them to their intercourse with the traders, but think the former probable.

At ten we rejoined our hunters, who had killed a deer, and halted to breakfast. We sent them forward; one of them, who was walking along the shore afterwards, fired upon two brown bears, and wounded one of them, which instantly turned and pursued him. His companions in the canoes put ashore to his assistance, but did not succeed in killing the bears, which fled upon the reinforcement coming up. During the delay thus occasioned we overtook them, and they continued with us the rest of the day.

We encamped at the foot of a lofty range of mountains, which appear to be from twelve to fifteen hundred feet high; they are in general round backed, but the outline is not even, being interrupted by craggy conical eminences. This is the[Pg 150] first ridge of hills we have seen in this country, that deserves the appellation of a mountain range; it is probably a continuation of the Stony Mountains crossed by Hearne. Many plants appeared in full flower near the tents, and Dr. Richardson gathered some high up on the hills. The distance we made to-day was fifty miles.

There was a hoar frost in the night, and the temperature, at four next morning, was 40°: embarking at that hour, we glided quickly down the stream, and by seven arrived at the Hook's encampment, which was placed on the summit of a lofty sand cliff, whose base was washed by the river. This chief had with him only three hunters, and a few old men and their families, the rest of his band having remained at their snares in Bear Lake. His brother, Long-legs, and our guide, Keskarrah, who had joined him three days before, had communicated to him our want of provision, and we were happy to find that, departing from the general practice of Indian chiefs, he entered at once upon the business, without making a long speech. As an introductory mark of our regard, I decorated him with a medal similar to those which had been given to the other leaders. The Hook began by stating, "that he was aware of our being destitute of[Pg 151] provision, and of the great need we had of an ample stock, to enable us to execute our undertaking; and his regret, that the unusual scarcity of animals this season, together with the circumstance of his having only just received a supply of ammunition from Fort Providence, had prevented him from collecting the quantity of meat he had wished to do for our use. The amount, indeed," he said, "is very small, but I will cheerfully give you what I have: we are too much indebted to the white people, to allow them to want food on our lands, whilst we have any to give them. Our families can live on fish until we can procure more meat, but the season is too short to allow of your delaying, to gain subsistence in that manner." He immediately desired, aloud, that the women should bring all the meat they had to us; and we soon collected sufficient to make three bags and a half of pemmican, besides some dried meat and tongues. We were truly delighted by this prompt and cheerful behaviour, and would gladly have rewarded the kindness of himself and his companions by some substantial present, but we were limited by the scantiness of our store to a small donation of fifteen charges of ammunition to each of the chiefs. In return for the provision they accepted notes on the North-West Company, to be paid at Fort[Pg 152] Providence; and to these was subjoined an order for a few articles of clothing, as an additional present. I then endeavoured to prevail upon the Hook to remain in this vicinity with his hunters until the autumn, and to make deposits of provision in different parts of the course to the sea, as a resource for our party, in the event of our being compelled to return by this route. He required time, however, to consider this matter, and promised to give me an answer next day. I was rejoiced to find him then prepared to meet my wish, and the following plan was agreed upon:—As the animals abound, at all times, on the borders of Bear Lake, he promised to remain on the east side of it until the month of November, at that spot which is nearest to the Copper-Mine River, from whence there is a communication by a chain of lakes and portages. There the principal deposit of provision was to be made; but during the summer the hunters were to be employed in putting up supplies of dried meat at convenient distances, not only along the communication from this river, but also upon its banks, as far down as the Copper Mountain. They were also to place particular marks to guide our course to their lodges. We contracted to pay them liberally, whether we returned by this way or not; if we did, they were to accompany us to[Pg 153] Fort Providence to receive the reward; and, at any rate, I promised to send the necessary documents by Mr. Wentzel, from the sea-coast, to ensure them an ample remuneration. With this arrangement they were perfectly satisfied, and we could not be less so, knowing they had every motive for fulfilling their promises, as the place they had chosen to remain at is their usual hunting-ground. The uncommon anxiety these chiefs expressed for our safety, appeared to us likely to prompt them to every care and attention, and I record their expressions with gratitude. After representing the numerous hardships we should have to encounter in the strongest manner, though in language similar to what we had often heard from our friend Akaitcho, they earnestly entreated we would be constantly on our guard against the treachery of the Esquimaux; and no less forcibly desired we would not proceed far along the coast, as they dreaded the consequences of our being exposed to a tempestuous sea in canoes, and having to endure the cold of the autumn on a shore destitute of fuel. The Hook, having been an invalid for several years, rejoiced at the opportunity of consulting Dr. Richardson, who immediately gave him advice, and supplied him with medicine.

The pounded meat and fat were converted into pemmican, preparatory to our voyage.

[Pg 154]The result of our observations at the Hook's encampment was, latitude 66° 45' 11" N., longitude 115° 42' 23" W., variation of the compass 46° 7' 30" E.

We embarked at eleven to proceed on our journey. Akaitcho and his brother, the guide, being in the first canoe, and old Keskarrah in the other. We wished to dispense with the further attendance of two guides, and made a proposition that either of them might remain here, but neither would relinquish the honour of escorting the Expedition to the sea. One of our hunters, however, was less eager for this distinction, and preferred remaining with Green Stockings, Keskarrah's fascinating daughter. The other four, with the Little Singer, accompanied us, two of them conducting their small canoes in turns, and the rest walking along the beach.

The river flows over a bed of sand, and winds in an uninterrupted channel of from three quarters to a mile broad, between two ranges of hills, which are pretty even in their outline, and round backed, but having rather steep acclivities. The immediate borders of the stream consist either of high banks of sand, or steep gravel cliffs; and sometimes, where the hills recede to a little distance, the intervening space is occupied by high sandy ridges.

At three P.M., after passing along the foot of[Pg 155] a high range of hills, we arrived at the portage leading to the Bear Lake, to which we have previously alluded. Its position is very remarkable, being at the most westerly part of the Copper-Mine River, and at the point where it resumes a northern course, and forces a passage through the lofty ridge of mountains, to which it has run parallel for the last thirty miles. As the Indians travel from hence, with their families, in three days to the point where they have proposed staying for us, the distance, I think, cannot exceed forty miles; and admitting the course to be due west, which is the direction the guide pointed, it would place the eastern part of Bear Lake in 118-1/4° W. longitude.

Beyond this spot the river is diminished in breadth and a succession of rapids are formed; but as the water was deep, we passed through them without discharging any part of the cargoes. It still runs between high ranges of mountains, though its actual boundaries are banks of mud mixed with clay, which are clothed with stunted pines. We picked up a deer which the hunters had shot, and killed another from the canoe; and also received an addition to our stock of provision of seven young geese, which the hunters had beaten down with their sticks. About six P.M. we perceived a mark on the shore, which on[Pg 156] examination was found to have been recently put up by some Indians: and, on proceeding further, we discerned stronger proofs of their vicinity; we, therefore, encamped, and made a large fire as a signal, which they answered in a similar way. Mr. Wentzel was immediately sent, in expectation of getting provision from them. On his return, we learned that the party consisted of three old Copper Indians, with their families who had supported themselves with the bow and arrow since last autumn, not having visited Fort Providence for more than a year; and so successful had they been, that they were enabled to supply us with upwards of seventy pounds of dried meat, and six moose skins fit for making shoes, which were the more valuable as we were apprehensive of being barefooted before the journey could be completed. The evening was sultry, and the musquitoes appeared in great numbers. The distance made to-day was twenty-five miles.

On the following morning we went down to these Indians, and delivered to them notes on the North-West Company, for the meat and skins they had furnished; and we had then the mortification of learning, that not having people to carry a considerable quantity of pounded meat, which they had intended for us, they had left it[Pg 157] upon the Bear Lake Portage. They promised, however to get it conveyed to the banks of this river before we could return, and we rewarded them with a present of knives and files.

After re-embarking we continued to descend the river, which was now contracted between lofty banks to about one hundred and twenty yards wide; the current was very strong. At eleven we came to a rapid which had been the theme of discourse with the Indians for many days, and which they had described to us as impassable in canoes. The river here descends for three quarters of a mile, in a deep, but narrow and crooked, channel, which it has cut through the foot of a hill of five hundred or six hundred feet high. It is confined between perpendicular cliffs, resembling stone walls, varying in height from eighty to one hundred and fifty feet, on which lies a mass of fine sand. The body of the river pent within this narrow chasm, dashed furiously round the projecting rocky columns, and discharged itself at the northern extremity in a sheet of foam. The canoes, after being lightened of part of their cargoes, ran through this defile without sustaining any injury. Accurate sketches of this interesting scene were taken by Messrs. Back and Hood. Soon after passing this rapid, we perceived the hunters running up the east side of the river, to prevent[Pg 158] us from disturbing a herd of musk oxen, which they had observed grazing on the opposite bank; we put them across and they succeeded in killing six, upon which we encamped for the purpose of drying the meat. The country below the Rocky Defile Rapid consists of sandy plains; broken by small conical eminences also of sand; and bounded to the westward by a continuation of the mountain chain, which we had crossed at the Bear Lake Portage; and to the eastward and northward, at the distance of twelve miles, by the Copper Mountains, which Mr. Hearne visited. The plains are crowned by several clumps of moderately large spruces about thirty feet high.

This evening the Indians made a large fire, as a signal to the Hook's party that we had passed the terrific rapid in safety.

The position of our encampment was ascertained to be, latitude 67° 1' 10" N., longitude 116° 27' 28" W., variation of the compass 44° 11' 43" E., dip of the needle 87° 31' 18".

Some thunder showers retarded the drying of the meat, and our embarkation was delayed till next day. The hunters were sent forward to hunt at the Copper Mountains, under the superintendence of Adam, the interpreter, who received strict injunctions not to permit them to make[Pg 159] any large fires, lest they should alarm straggling parties of the Esquimaux.

The musquitoes were now very numerous and annoying, but we consoled ourselves with the hope that their season would be short.

On the 11th we started at three A.M., and as the guide had represented the river below our encampment to be full of shoals, some of the men were directed to walk along the shore, but they were assailed so violently by the musquitoes, as to be compelled to embark very soon; and we afterwards passed over the shallow parts by the aid of the poles, without experiencing much interruption. The current ran very rapidly, having been augmented by the waters of the Mouse River and several small streams. We rejoined our hunters at the foot of the Copper Mountains, and found they had killed three musk oxen. This circumstance determined us on encamping to dry the meat, as there was wood at the spot. We availed ourselves of this delay to visit the Copper Mountains in search of specimens of the ore, agreeably to my instructions; and a party of twenty-one persons, consisting of the officers, some of the voyagers, and all the Indians, set off on that excursion. We travelled for nine hours over a considerable space of ground, but found[Pg 160] only a few small pieces of native copper. The range we ascended was on the west side of the river, extending W.N.W. and E.S.E. The mountains varied in height from twelve to fifteen hundred feet. The uniformity of the mountains is interrupted by narrow valleys traversed by small streams. The best specimens of metal we procured were among the stones in these valleys, and it was in such situations, that our guides desired us to search most carefully. It would appear, that when the Indians see any sparry substance projecting above the surface, they dig there; but they have no other rule to direct them, and have never found the metal in its original repository. Our guides reported that they had found copper in large pieces in every part of this range, for two days' walk to the north-west, and that the Esquimaux come hither to search for it. The annual visits which the Copper Indians were accustomed to make to these mountains, when most of their weapons and utensils were made of copper, have been discontinued since they have been enabled to obtain a supply of ice chisels and other instruments of iron by the establishment of trading posts near their hunting grounds. That none of those who accompanied[Pg 161] us had visited them for many years was evident, from their ignorance of the spots most abundant in metal.

The impracticability of navigating the river upwards from the sea, and the want of wood for forming an establishment, would prove insuperable objections to rendering the collection of copper at this part worthy of mercantile speculation.

We had the opportunity of surveying the country from several elevated positions. Two or three small lakes only were visible, still partly frozen; and much snow remained on the mountains. The trees were reduced to a scanty fringe on the borders of the river, and every side was beset by naked mountains.

The day was unusually warm, and, therefore, favourable for drying the meat. Our whole stock of provision, calculated for preservation, was sufficient for fourteen days, without any diminution of the ordinary allowance of three pounds to each man per day. The situation of our tents was 67° 10' 30" N., longitude 116° 25' 45" W.

July 12.—The Indians knowing the course of the river below this point to be only a succession of rapids, declined taking their canoes any further; but as I conceived one of them would be required, should we be compelled to walk along[Pg 162] the coast, two of our men were appointed to conduct it.

As we were now entering the confines of the Esquimaux country, our guides recommended us to be cautious in lighting fires, lest we should discover ourselves, adding that the same reason would lead them to travel as much as possible in the valleys, and to avoid crossing the tops of the hills. We embarked at six A.M., taking with us only old Keskarrah. The other Indians walked along the banks of the river. Throughout this day's voyage the current was very strong, running four or five miles an hour; but the navigation was tolerable, and we had to lighten the canoes only once, in a contracted part of the river where the waves were very high. The river is in many places confined between perpendicular walls of rock to one hundred and fifty yards in width, and there the rapids were most agitated. Large masses of ice twelve or fourteen feet thick, were still adhering to many parts of the bank, indicating the tardy departure of winter from this inhospitable land, but the earth around them was rich with vegetation. In the evening two musk-oxen being seen on the beach, were pursued and killed by our men. Whilst we were waiting to embark the meat, the Indians rejoined us, and reported they had been attacked by a bear, which[Pg 163] sprung upon them whilst they were conversing together. His attack was so sudden that they had not time to level their guns properly, and they all missed except Akaitcho, who, less confused than the rest, took deliberate aim, and shot the animal dead. They do not eat the flesh of the bear, but knowing that we had no such prejudice, they brought us some of the choice pieces, which upon trial we found to be excellent meat.

The Indians having informed us that we were now within twelve miles of the rapid where the Esquimaux have invariably been found, we pitched our tents on the beach, under the shelter of a high hill whose precipitous side is washed by the river, intending to send forward some persons to determine the situation of their present abode. Some vestiges of an old Esquimaux encampment were observed near the tents, and the stumps of the trees bore marks of the stone hatchets they use. A strict watch was appointed, consisting of an officer, four Canadians, and an Indian, and directions were given for the rest of the party to sleep with their arms by their side. That as little delay as possible might be experienced in opening a communication with the Esquimaux, we immediately commenced arrangements for sending forward persons to discover whether there were any in our vicinity.[Pg 164] Akaitcho and the guides proposed that two of the hunters should be despatched on this service, who had extremely quick sight, and were accustomed to act as scouts, an office which requires equal caution and circumspection. A strong objection, however, lay against this plan, in the probability of their being discovered by a straggling hunter, which would be destructive to every hope of accommodation. It was therefore determined to send Augustus and Junius, who were very desirous to undertake the service. These adventurous men proposed to go armed only with pistols concealed in their dress, and furnished with beads, looking-glasses, and other articles, that they might conciliate their countrymen by presents. We could not divest our minds of the apprehension, that it might be a service of much hazard, if the Esquimaux were as hostile to strangers as the Copper Indians have invariably represented them to be; and we felt great reluctance in exposing our two little interpreters, who had rendered themselves dear to the whole party, to the most distant chance of receiving injury; but this course of proceeding appeared in their opinion and our own to offer the only chance of gaining an interview. Though not insensible to the danger, they cheerfully prepared for their mission, and clothed themselves in Esquimaux dresses, which had been[Pg 165] made for the purpose at Fort Enterprise. Augustus was desired to make his presents, and to tell the Esquimaux that the white men had come to make peace between them and all their enemies, and also to discover a passage by which every article of which they stood in need might be brought in large ships. He was not to mention that we were accompanied by the Indians, but to endeavour to prevail on some of the Esquimaux to return with him. He was directed to come back immediately if there were no lodges at the rapid.

The Indians were not suffered to move out of our sight, but in the evening we permitted two of them to cross the river in pursuit of a musk-ox, which they killed on the beach, and returned immediately. The officers, prompted by an anxious solicitude for Augustus and Junius, crawled up frequently to the summit of the mountain to watch their return. The view, however, was not extensive, being bounded at the distance of eight miles by a range of hills similar to the Copper Mountains, but not so lofty. The night came without bringing any intelligence of our messengers, and our fears for their safety increased with the length of their absence.

As every one had been interested in the welfare of these men through their vivacity and good[Pg 166] nature, and the assistance they had cheerfully rendered in bearing their portion of whatever labour might be going on, their detention formed the subject of all our conversation, and numerous conjectures were hazarded as to the cause.

Dr. Richardson, having the first watch, had gone to the summit of the hill and remained seated, contemplating the river that washed the precipice under his feet, long after dusk had hid distant objects from his view. His thoughts were, perhaps, far distant from the surrounding scenery, when he was roused by an indistinct noise behind him, and on looking round, perceived that nine white wolves had ranged themselves in form of a crescent, and were advancing, apparently with the intention of driving him into the river. On his rising up they halted, and when he advanced they made way for his passage down to the tents. He had his gun in his hand, but forbore to fire, lest there should be Esquimaux in the neighbourhood. During Mr. Wentzel's middle watch, the wolves appeared repeatedly on the summit of the hill, and at one time they succeeded in driving a deer over the precipice. The animal was stunned by the fall, but recovering itself, swam across the stream, and escaped up the river. I may remark here, that at midnight it was tolerably dark in the valley of the river at this time, but that an object[Pg 167] on the eminence above could be distinctly seen against the sky.

The following observations were taken at this encampment, latitude 67° 23' 14" N., longitude 116° 6' 51" W., variation 49° 46' 24" E. Thermometer 75° at three P.M. Sultry weather.

Augustus and Junius not having returned next morning, we were more alarmed respecting them, and determined on proceeding to find out the cause of their detention, but it was eleven A.M. before we could prevail upon the Indians to remain behind, which we wished them to do lest the Esquimaux might be suspicious of our intentions, if they were seen in our suite. We promised to send for them when we had paved the way for their reception; but Akaitcho, ever ready to augur misfortune, expressed his belief that our messengers had been killed, and that the Esquimaux, warned of our approach, were lying in wait for us, and "although," said he, "your party may be sufficiently strong to repulse any hostile attack, my band is too weak to offer effectual resistance when separated from you; and therefore, we are determined to go on with you, or to return to our lands." After much argument, however, he yielded and agreed to stay behind, provided Mr. Wentzel would remain with him. This gentleman was accordingly left with[Pg 168] a Canadian attendant, and they promised not to pass a range of hills then in view to the northward, unless we sent notice to them.

The river during the whole of this day's voyage flowed between alternate cliffs of loose sand intermixed with gravel, and red sand-stone rocks, and was every where shallow and rapid. As its course was very crooked, much time was spent in examining the different rapids previous to running them, but the canoes descended, except at a single place, without any difficulty. Most of the officers and half the men marched along the land to lighten the canoes, and reconnoitre the country, each person being armed with a gun and a dagger. Arriving at a range of mountains which had terminated our view yesterday, we ascended it with much eagerness, expecting to see the rapid that Mr. Hearne visited near its base, and to gain a view of the sea; but our disappointment was proportionably great, when we beheld beyond, a plain similar to that we had just left, terminated by another range of trap hills, between whose tops the summits of some distant blue mountains appeared. Our reliance on the information of the guides, which had been for some time shaken was now quite at an end, and we feared that the sea was still far distant. The flat country here is covered with[Pg 169] grass, and is devoid of the large stones, so frequent in the barren grounds, but the ranges of trap hills which seem to intersect it at regular distances are quite barren. A few decayed stunted pines were standing on the borders of the river. In the evening we had the gratification of meeting Junius, who was hastening back to inform us that they had found four Esquimaux tents at the Fall which we recognised to be the one described by Mr. Hearne. The inmates were asleep at the time of their arrival, but rose soon afterwards, and then Augustus presented himself, and had some conversation across the river. He told them the white people had come, who would make them very useful presents. The information of our arrival, seemed to alarm them very much, but as the noise of the rapid prevented them from hearing distinctly, one of them approached him in his canoe, and received the rest of the message. He would not, however, land on his side of the river, but returned to the tents without receiving the present. His language differed in some respects from Augustus's, but they understood each other tolerably well. Augustus trusting for a supply of provision to the Esquimaux, had neglected to carry any with him, and this was the main cause of Junius's return.[Pg 170] We now encamped, having come fourteen miles. After a few hours' rest, Junius set off again to rejoin his companion, being accompanied by Hepburn, who was directed to remain about two miles above the fall, to arrest the canoes on their passage, lest we should too suddenly surprise the Esquimaux. About ten P.M. we were mortified by the appearance of the Indians with Mr. Wentzel, who had in vain endeavoured to restrain them from following us. The only reason assigned by Akaitcho for this conduct was, that he wished for a reassurance of my promise to establish peace between his nation and the Esquimaux. I took this occasion of again enforcing the necessity of their remaining behind, until we had obtained the confidence and good-will of their enemies. After supper Dr. Richardson ascended a lofty hill about three miles from the encampment, and obtained the first view of the sea; it appeared to be covered with ice. A large promontory, which I named Cape Hearne, bore N.E., and its lofty mountains proved to be the blue land we had seen in the forenoon, and which had led us to believe the sea was still far distant. He saw the sun set a few minutes before midnight from the same elevated situation. It did not rise during the half hour he remained there, but before he reached[Pg 171] the encampment its rays gilded the tops of the hills.

The night was warm, and we were much annoyed by the musquitoes.

July 15.—We this morning experienced as much difficulty as before in prevailing upon the Indians to remain behind, and they did not consent until I had declared that they should lose the reward which had been promised, if they proceeded any farther, before we had prepared the Esquimaux to receive them. We left a Canadian with them, and proceeded, not without apprehension that they would follow us, and derange our whole plan by their obstinacy. Two of the officers and a party of the men walked on the shore, to lighten the canoes. The river, in this part, flows between high and stony cliffs, reddish slate clay rocks, and shelving banks of white clay, and is full of shoals and dangerous rapids. One of these was termed Escape Rapid, both the canoes having narrowly escaped foundering in its high waves. We had entered the rapid before we were aware, and the steepness of the cliffs preventing us from landing, we were indebted to the swiftness of our descent for preservation. Two waves made a complete breach over the canoes; a third would in all probability have filled and overset them, which[Pg 172] must have proved fatal to every one in them. The powder fortunately escaped the water, which was soon discharged when we reached the bottom of the rapid. At noon we perceived Hepburn lying on the left bank of the river, and landed immediately to receive his information. As he represented the water to be shoal the whole way to the rapid (below which the Esquimaux were,) the shore party were directed to continue their march to a sandy bay at the head of the fall, and there await the arrival of the canoes. The land in the neighbourhood of the rapid, is of the most singular form: large irregular sand-hills bounding both banks, apparently so unconnected that they resemble icebergs; the country around them consisting of high round green hills. The river becomes wide in this part, and full of shoals, but we had no difficulty in finding a channel through them. On regaining the shore party, we regretted to find that some of the men had incautiously appeared on the tops of the hills, just at the time Augustus was conversing with one of the Esquimaux, who had again approached in his canoe, and was almost persuaded to land. The unfortunate appearance of so many people at this instant, revived his fears, and he crossed over to the eastern bank of the river, and fled, with the whole of his party. We learned from[Pg 173] Augustus that this party, consisting of four men and as many women, had manifested a friendly disposition. Two of the former were very tall. The man who first came to speak to him, inquired the number of canoes that we had with us, expressed himself to be not displeased at our arrival, and desired him to caution us not to attempt running the rapid, but to make the portage on the west side of the river. Notwithstanding this appearance of confidence and satisfaction, it seems they did not consider their situation free from danger, as they retreated the first night, to an island somewhat farther down the river, and in the morning they returned and threw down their lodges, as if to give notice to any of their nation that might arrive, that there was an enemy in the neighbourhood. From seeing all their property strewed about, and ten of their dogs left, we entertained the hope that these poor people would return after their first alarm had subsided; and therefore I determined on remaining until the next day, in the expectation of seeing them, as I considered the opening of an early communication a matter of the greatest importance in our state of absolute ignorance respecting the sea-coast. The canoes and cargoes were carried across the portage, and we encamped on the north side of it. We sent Augustus and[Pg 174] Junius across the river to look for the runaways, but their search was fruitless. They put a few pieces of iron and trinkets in their canoes, which were lying on the beach. We also sent some men to put up the stages of fish, and secure them as much as possible from the attacks of the dogs. Under the covering of their tents were observed some stone kettles and hatchets, a few fish spears made of copper, two small bits of iron, a quantity of skins, and some dried salmon, which was covered with maggots, and half putrid. The entrails of the fish were spread out to dry. A great many skins of small birds were hung up to a stage, and even two mice were preserved in the same way. Thus it would appear that the necessities of these poor people induce them to preserve every article than can be possibly used as food. Several human skulls which bore the marks of violence, and many bones were strewed about the ground near the encampment, and as the spot exactly answers the description given by Mr. Hearne, of the place where the Chipewyans who accompanied him perpetrated the dreadful massacre on the Esquimaux, we had no doubt of this being the place, notwithstanding the difference in its position as to latitude and longitude given by him, and ascertained by our observation. We have, therefore, preserved the appellation[Pg 175] of Bloody Fall, which he bestowed upon it. Its situation by our observations is, in latitude 67° 42' 35" N., longitude 115° 49' 33" W., variation 50° 20' 14" E. This rapid is a sort of shelving cascade, about three hundred yards in length, having a descent of from ten to fifteen feet. It is bounded on each side by high walls of red sand-stone upon which rests a series of lofty green hills. On its north side, close to the east bank, is the low rocky island which the Esquimaux had deserted. The surrounding scenery was accurately delineated in a sketch taken by Mr. Hood. We caught forty excellent salmon and white fish in a single net below the rapid. We had not seen any trees during this day's journey; our fuel consisted of small willows and pieces of dried wood that were picked up near the encampment. The ground is well clothed with grass, and nourishes most of the shrubs and berry-bearing plants that we have seen north of Fort Enterprise; and the country altogether has a richer appearance than the barren lands of the Copper Indians. We had a distinct view of the sea from the summit of a hill behind the tents; it appeared choked with ice and full of islands.

On the morning of the 16th three men were sent up the river to search for dried wood to[Pg 176] make floats for the nets. Adam, the interpreter, was also despatched with a Canadian, to inform Akaitcho of the flight of the Esquimaux. We were preparing to go down to the sea in one of the canoes, leaving Mr. Back to await the return of the men who were absent; but just as the crew were putting the canoe in the water, Adam returned in the utmost consternation, and informed us that a party of Esquimaux were pursuing the men whom we had sent to collect floats. The orders for embarking were instantly countermanded, and we went with a part of our men to their rescue. We soon met our people returning at a slow pace, and learned that they had come unawares upon the Esquimaux party, which consisted of six men, with their women and children, who were travelling towards the rapid with a considerable number of dogs carrying their baggage. The women hid themselves on the first alarm, but the men advanced, and stopping at some distance from our men, began to dance in a circle, tossing up their hands in the air, and accompanying their motions with much shouting, to signify, I conceive, their desire of peace. Our men saluted them by pulling off their hats, and making bows, but neither party was willing to approach the other; and, at length, the Esquimaux retired to the hill, from whence they had descended when first seen. We proceeded in[Pg 177] the hope of gaining an interview with them, but lest our appearance in a body should alarm them, we advanced in a long line, at the head of which was Augustus. We were led to their baggage, which they had deserted, by the howling of the dogs; and on the summit of the hill we found, lying behind a stone, an old man who was too infirm to effect his escape with the rest. He was much terrified when Augustus advanced, and probably expected immediate death; but that the fatal blow might not be unrevenged, he seized his spear, and made a thrust with it at his supposed enemy. Augustus, however, easily repressed the feeble effort, and soon calmed his fears by presenting him with some pieces of iron, and assuring him of his friendly intentions. Dr. Richardson and I then joined them, and, after receiving our presents, the old man was quite composed, and became communicative. His dialect differed from that used by Augustus, but they understood each other tolerably well.

It appeared that his party consisted of eight men and their families, who were returning from a hunting excursion with dried meat. After being told who we were, he said, that he had heard of white people from different parties of his nation which resided on the sea-coast to the eastward; and to our inquiries respecting the provision[Pg 178] and fuel we might expect to get on our voyage, he informed us that the rein-deer frequent the coast during summer, the fish are plentiful at the mouths of the rivers, the seals are abundant, but there are no sea-horses nor whales, although he remembered one of the latter, which had been killed by some distant tribe, having been driven on shore on his part of the coast by a gale of wind. That musk oxen were to be found a little distance up the rivers, and that we should get drift wood along the shore. He had no knowledge of the coast to the eastward beyond the next river, which he called Nappa-arktok-towock, or Tree River. The old man, contrary to the Indian practice, asked each of our names; and, in reply to a similar question on our part, said his name was Terregannœuck, or the White Fox; and that his tribe denominated themselves Nagge-ook-tormœoot, or Deer-Horn Esquimaux. They usually frequent the Bloody Fall during this and the following moons, for the purpose of salting salmon, and then retire to a river which flows into the sea, a short way to the westward, (since denominated Richardson's River,) and pass the winter in snow-houses.

After this conversation Terregannœuck proposed going down to his baggage, and we then perceived, he was too infirm to walk without the[Pg 179] assistance of sticks. Augustus, therefore, offered him his arm, which he readily accepted, and, on reaching his store, he distributed pieces of dried meat to each person, which, though highly tainted, were immediately eaten; this being an universal token among the Indians of peaceable intention.

We then informed him of our desire to procure as much meat as we possibly could, and he told us that he had a large quantity concealed in the neighbourhood, which he would cause to be carried to us when his people returned.

I now communicated to him that we were accompanied by some Copper Indians, who were very desirous to make peace with his nation, and that they had requested me to prevail upon the Esquimaux to receive them in a friendly manner; to which he replied, he should rejoice to see an end put to the hostility that existed between the nations, and therefore would most gladly welcome our companions. Having despatched Adam to inform Akaitcho of this circumstance, we left Terregannœuck, in the hope that his party would rejoin him; but as we had doubts whether the young men would venture upon coming to our tents, on the old man's bare representation, we sent Augustus and Junius back in the evening, to remain with him until they came, that they might fully detail our intentions.

[Pg 180]The countenance of Terregannœuck was oval, with a sufficiently prominent nose, and had nothing very different from a European face, except in the smallness of his eyes, and, perhaps, in the narrowness of his forehead. His complexion was very fresh and red, and he had a longer beard than I had seen on any of the aboriginal inhabitants of America. It was between two and three inches long, and perfectly white. His face was not tattooed. His dress consisted of a shirt, or jacket with a hood, wide breeches, reaching only to the knee, and tight leggins sewed to the shoes, all of deer skins. The soles of the shoes were made of seal-skin, and stuffed with feathers instead of socks. He was bent with age, but appeared to be about five feet ten inches high. His hands and feet were small in proportion to his height. Whenever Terregannœuck received a present, he placed each article first on his right shoulder, then on his left; and when he wished to express still higher satisfaction, he rubbed it over his head. He held hatchets, and other iron instruments, in the highest esteem. On seeing his countenance in a glass for the first time, he exclaimed, "I shall never kill deer more," and immediately put the mirror down. The tribe to which he belongs repair to the sea in spring, and kill seals; as the season advances they hunt[Pg 181] deer and musk oxen at some distance from the coast. Their weapon is the bow and arrow, and they get sufficiently nigh the deer, either by crawling, or by leading these animals by ranges of turf towards a spot where the archer can conceal himself. Their bows are formed of three pieces of fir, the centre piece alone bent, the other two lying in the same straight line with the bowstring; the pieces are neatly tied together with sinew. Their canoes are similar to those we saw in Hudson's Straits, but smaller. They get fish constantly in the rivers, and in the sea as soon as the ice breaks up. This tribe do not make use of nets, but are tolerably successful with the hook and line. Their cooking utensils are made of pot-stone, and they form very neat dishes of fir, the sides being made of thin deal, bent into an oval form, secured at the ends by sewing, and fitted so nicely to the bottom as to be perfectly water-tight. They have also large spoons made of the horns of the musk oxen.

Akaitcho and the Indians arrived at our tents in the evening, and we learned that they had seen the Esquimaux the day before, and endeavoured, without success, to open a communication with them. They exhibited no hostile intention, but were afraid to advance. Akaitcho, keeping out of their sight, followed at a distance,[Pg 182] expecting that ultimately finding themselves enclosed between our party and his, they would be compelled to come to a parley with one of us. Akaitcho had seen Terregannœuck soon after our departure; he was much terrified, and thrust his spear at him as he had done at Augustus; but was soon reconciled after the demonstrations of kindness the Indians made, in cutting off the buttons from their dress to present to him.

July 17.—We waited all this forenoon in momentary expectation of the return of Augustus and Junius, but as they did not appear at two P.M., I sent Mr. Hood with a party of men, to inquire into the cause of their detention, and to bring the meat which Terregannœuck had promised us. He returned at midnight with the information, that none of the Esquimaux had yet ventured to come near Terregannœuck except his aged wife, who had concealed herself amongst the rocks at our first interview; and she told him the rest of the party had gone to a river, a short distance to the westward, where there was another party of Esquimaux fishing. Augustus and Junius had erected the tent, and done every thing in their power to make the old man comfortable in their absence. Terregannœuck being unable to walk to the place where the meat was concealed,[Pg 183] readily pointed the spot out to Mr. Hood, who went thither; but after experiencing much difficulty in getting at the column of rock on which it was deposited, he found it too putrid for our use. The features of Terregannœuck's wife were remarkable for roundness and flatness; her face was much tattooed, and her dress differed little from the old man's.

In the afternoon a party of nine Esquimaux appeared on the east bank of the river, about a mile below our encampment, carrying their canoes and baggage on their backs; but they turned and fled as soon as they perceived our tents. The appearance of so many different bands of Esquimaux terrified the Indians so much, that they determined on leaving us the next day, lest they should be surrounded and their retreat cut off. I endeavoured, by the offer of any remuneration they would choose, to prevail upon one or two of the hunters to proceed, but in vain; and I had much difficulty even in obtaining their promise to wait at the Copper Mountains for Mr. Wentzel and the four men, whom I intended to discharge at the sea.

The fears which our interpreters, St. Germain and Adam, entertained respecting the voyage, were now greatly increased, and both of them came this evening to request their discharge,[Pg 184] urging that their services could be no longer requisite, as the Indians were going from us. St. Germain even said that he had understood he was only engaged to accompany us as long as the Indians did, and persisted in this falsehood until his agreement to go with us throughout the voyage had been twice read to him. As these were the only two of the party on whose skill in hunting we could rely, I was unable to listen for a moment to their desire of quitting us, and lest they should leave us by stealth, their motions were strictly watched. This was not an unnecessary precaution, as I was informed that they had actually laid a plan for eloping; but the rest of the men knowing that their own safety would have been compromised had they succeeded, kept a watchful eye over them. We knew that the dread of the Esquimaux would prevent these men from leaving us as soon as the Indians were at a distance, and we trusted to their becoming reconciled to the journey when once the novelty of a sea voyage had worn off.

July 18.—As the Indians persevered in their determination of setting out this morning, I reminded them, through Mr. Wentzel and St. Germain, of the necessity of our having the deposit of provision made at Fort Enterprise, and received a renewed assurance of their attending to that[Pg 185] point. They were also desired to put as much meat as they could en cache on the banks of the Copper-Mine River on their return. We then furnished them with what ammunition we could spare, and they took their departure, promising to wait three days for Mr. Wentzel at the Copper Mountains. We afterwards learned that their fears did not permit them to do so, and that Mr. Wentzel did not rejoin them until they were a day's march to the southward of the mountains.

We embarked at five A.M. and proceeded towards the sea, which is about nine miles beyond the Bloody Fall. After passing a few rapids, the river became wider, and more navigable for canoes, flowing between banks of alluvial sand. We encamped at ten on the western bank at its junction with the sea. The river is here about a mile wide, but very shallow, being barred nearly across by sand banks, which run out from the main land on each side to a low alluvial island that lies in the centre, and forms two channels; of these the westernmost only is navigable even for canoes, the other being obstructed by a stony bar. The islands to seaward are high and numerous, and fill the horizon in many points of the compass; the only open space, seen from an eminence near the encampment, being from[Pg 186] N.bE. to N.E.bN. Towards the east the land was like a chain of islands, the ice apparently surrounding them in a compact body, leaving a channel between its edge and the main of about three miles. The water in this channel was of a clear green colour, and decidedly salt. Mr. Hearne could have tasted it only at the mouth of the river, when he pronounced it merely brackish. A rise and fall of four inches in the water was observed. The shore is strewed with a considerable quantity of drift timber, principally of the populus balsamifera, but none of it of great size. We also picked up some decayed wood far out of the reach of the water. A few stunted willows were growing near the encampment. Some ducks, gulls, and partridges were seen this day. As I had to make up despatches for England to be sent by Mr. Wentzel, the nets were set in the interim, and we were rejoiced to find that they produced sufficient fish for the party. Those caught were, the Copper-Mine River salmon, white fish, and two species of pleuronectes. We felt a considerable change of temperature on reaching the sea-coast, produced by the winds changing from the southward to the N.W. Our Canadian voyagers complained much of the cold, but they were amused with their first view of the sea, and particularly[Pg 187] with the sight of the seals that were swimming about near the entrance of the river, but these sensations gave place to despondency before the evening had elapsed. They were terrified at the idea of a voyage through an icy sea in bark canoes. They speculated on the length of the journey, the roughness of the waves, the uncertainty of provisions, the exposure to cold where we could expect no fuel, and the prospect of having to traverse the barren grounds to get to some establishment. The two interpreters expressed their apprehensions with the least disguise, and again urgently applied to be discharged; but only one of the Canadians made a similar request. Judging that the constant occupation of their time as soon as we were enabled to commence the voyage would prevent them from conjuring up so many causes of fear, and that familiarity with the scenes on the coast, would in a short time enable them to give scope to their natural cheerfulness, the officers endeavoured to ridicule their fears, and happily succeeded for the present. The manner in which our faithful Hepburn viewed the element to which he had been so long accustomed, contributed not a little to make them ashamed of their fears.

On the morning of the 19th, Dr. Richardson, accompanied by Augustus, paid another visit to[Pg 188] Terregannœuck, to see if he could obtain any additional information respecting the country to the eastward; but he was disappointed at finding that his affrighted family had not yet rejoined him, and the old man could add nothing to his former communication. The Doctor remarked that Terregannœuck had a great dislike to mentioning the name of the Copper-Mine River, and evaded the question with much dexterity as often as it was put to him; but that he willingly told the name of a river to the eastward, and also of his tribe. He attempted to persuade Augustus to remain with him, and offered him one of his daughters for a wife. These Esquimaux strike fire with two stones, catching the sparks in the down of the catkins of a willow.

The despatches being finished were delivered this evening to Mr. Wentzel, who parted from us at eight P.M. with Parent, Gagnier, Dumas, and Forcier, Canadians, whom I had discharged for the purpose of reducing our expenditure of provision as much as possible. The remainder of the party, including officers, amounted to twenty persons. I made Mr. Wentzel acquainted with the probable course of our future proceedings, and mentioned to him that if we were far distant from this river, when the season or other circumstances rendered it necessary to put a stop to our advance,[Pg 189] we should, in all probability be unable to return to it, and should have to travel across the barren grounds towards some established post: in which case I told him that we should certainly go first to Fort Enterprise, expecting that he would cause the Indians to place a supply of dried provision there, as soon as possible after their arrival in its vicinity. My instructions to him were, that he should proceed to Point Lake, transport the canoe that was left there to Fort Enterprise, where he was to embark the instruments and books, and carry them to Slave Lake, and to forward the box containing the journals, &c., with the present despatches, by the next winter packet to England. But before he quitted Fort Enterprise, he was to be assured of the intention of the Indians to lay up the provision we required, and if they should be in want of ammunition for that purpose to procure it if possible from Fort Providence, or the other forts in Slave Lake, and send it immediately to them by the hunters who accompanied him thither. I also requested him to ascertain from Akaitcho and the other leading Indians, where their different parties would be hunting in the months of September and October, and to leave this information in a letter at Fort Enterprise, for our guidance in finding them, as we should require their assistance. Mr.[Pg 190] Wentzel was furnished with a list of the stores that had been promised to Akaitcho and his party as a remuneration for their services, as well as with an official request to the North-West Company that these goods might be paid to them on their next visit to Fort Providence, which they expected to make in the latter part of November. I desired him to mention this circumstance to the Indians as an encouragement to exertion in our behalf, and to promise them an additional reward for the supply of provision they should collect at Fort Enterprise.

If Mr. Wentzel met the Hook, or any of his party, he was instructed to assure them that he was provided with the necessary documents to get them payment for any meat they should put en cache for our use; and to acquaint them, that we fully relied on their fulfilling every part of the agreement they had made with us. Whenever the Indians, whom he was to join at the Copper-Mountains, killed any animals on their way to Fort Enterprise, he was requested to put en cache whatever meat could be spared, placing conspicuous marks to guide us to them; and I particularly begged he would employ them in hunting in our service, immediately after his arrival at the house.

When Mr. Wentzel's party had been supplied with ammunition, our remaining stock consisted[Pg 191] of one thousand balls, and rather more than the requisite proportion of powder. A bag of small shot was missing, and we afterwards discovered that the Canadians had secreted and distributed it among themselves, in order that when provision should become scarce, they might privately procure ducks and geese, and avoid the necessity of sharing them with the officers.

The situation of our encampment was ascertained to be, latitude 67° 47' 50" N., longitude 115° 36' 49" W., the variation of the compass 46° 25' 52" E., and dip of the needle 88° 5' 07".

It will be perceived, that the position of the mouth of the river, given by our observations, differs widely from that assigned by Mr. Hearne; but the accuracy of his description, conjoined with Indian information, assured us that we were at the very part he visited. I therefore named the most conspicuous cape we then saw "Cape Hearne," as a just tribute to the memory of that persevering traveller. I distinguished another cape by the name of Mackenzie, in honour of Sir Alexander Mackenzie, the only other European[8] who had before reached the Northern Ocean. I called the river which falls into the sea, to the westward of the Copper-Mine, Richardson, as a testimony of sincere[Pg 192] regard for my friend and companion Dr. Richardson; and named the islands which were in view from our encampment, "Couper's Isles," in honour of a friend of his. The sun set this night at thirty minutes after eleven, apparent time.

[8] Captain Parry's success was at this time unknown to us.

The travelling distance from Fort Enterprise to the North of the Copper-Mine River, is about three hundred and thirty-four miles. The canoes and baggage were dragged over snow and ice for one hundred and seventeen miles of this distance.


[Pg 193]

Navigation of the Polar Sea, in two Canoes, as far as Cape Turnagain, to the Eastward, a distance exceeding Five Hundred and Fifty MilesObservations on the probability of a North-West Passage.

July 20.

We intended to have embarked early this morning, and to have launched upon an element more congenial with our habits than the fresh-water navigations, with their numerous difficulties and impediments which we had hitherto encountered, but which was altogether new to our Canadian voyagers. We were detained, however, by a strong north-east gale, which continued the whole day, with constant thunder showers; the more provoking as our nets procured but few fish, and we had to draw upon our store of dried meat; which, with other provision for the journey, amounted only to fifteen days' consumption. Indeed, we should have preferred going dinnerless to bed rather than encroach on our small stock, had we not been desirous of satisfying the appetites, and cheering the spirits of our Canadian companions at the commencement of our voyage. These thoughtless people would, at any time incur the hazard[Pg 194] of absolute starvation, at a future period, for the present gratification of their appetites; to indulge which they do not hesitate, as we more than once experienced, at helping themselves secretly; it being, in their opinion, no disgrace to be detected in pilfering food.

Our only luxury now was a little salt, which had long been our substitute both for bread and vegetables. Since our departure from Point Lake we had boiled the Indian tea plant, ledum palustre, which produced a beverage in smell much resembling rhubarb; notwithstanding which we found it refreshing, and were gratified to see this plant flourishing abundantly on the sea-shore, though of dwarfish growth.

July 21.—The wind, which had blown strong through the night became moderate in the morning, but a dense fog prevented us from embarking until noon, when we commenced our voyage on the Hyperborean Sea. Soon afterwards we landed on an island where the Esquimaux had erected a stage of drift timber, and stored up many of their fishing implements and winter sledges, together with a great many dressed seal, musk-ox, and deer skins. Their spears headed with bone, and many small articles of the same material, were worked with extreme neatness, as well as their wooden dishes, and cooking utensils[Pg 195] of stone; and several articles, very elegantly formed of bone, were evidently intended for some game, but Augustus was unacquainted with their use. We took from this deposit four seal-skins to repair our shoes, and left in exchange a copper-kettle, some awls and beads.

We paddled all day along the coast to the eastward, on the inside of a crowded range of islands, and saw very little ice; the "blink" of it, however, was visible to the northward, and one small iceberg was seen at a distance. A tide was distinguishable among the islands by the foam floating on the water, but we could not ascertain its direction. In the afternoon St. Germain killed on an island a fat deer, which was a great acquisition to us; it was the first we had seen for some months in good condition.

Having encamped on the main shore, after a run of thirty-seven miles, we set up a pole to ascertain the rise and fall of the water, which was repeated at every halting-place, and Hepburn was ordered to attend to the result. We found the coast well covered with vegetation, of moderate height, even in its outline, and easy of approach. The islands are rocky and barren, presenting high cliffs of a columnar structure. I have named the westernmost group of those we passed "Berens' Isles," in honour of the Governor[Pg 196] of the Hudson's Bay Company; and the easternmost, "Sir Graham Moore's Islands." At the spot where we landed some muscle-shells and a single piece of sea-weed lay on the beach; this was the only spot on the coast where we saw shells. We were rejoiced to find the beach strewed with abundance of small drift wood, none of it recent.

It may be remarked that the Copper-Mine River does not bring down any drift-wood; nor does any other known stream except Mackenzie's River; hence, from its appearance on this part of the coast an easterly current may be inferred. This evening we were all in high glee at the progress we had made; the disappearance of the ice, and the continuance of the land in an eastern direction, and our future prospects, formed an enlivening subject of conversation. The thermometer varied during the day between 43° and 45°. The fishing nets were set, but produced nothing.

On the 22nd we embarked at four A.M., and having the benefit of a light breeze continued our voyage along the coast under sail, until eleven, when we halted to breakfast, and to obtain the latitude. The coast up to this point presented the same general appearance as yesterday, namely, a gravelly or sandy beach, skirted by green plains; but as we proceeded, the shore[Pg 197] became exceedingly rocky and sterile; and, at last, projecting considerably to the northward, it formed a high and steep promontory. Some ice had drifted down upon this cape, which, we feared, might check our progress; but, as the evening was fine, we ventured upon pushing the canoes through the small channels formed among it. After pursuing this kind of navigation, with some danger and more anxiety, we landed and encamped on a smooth rocky point; whence we perceived, with much satisfaction, that the ice consisted only of detached pieces, which would be removed by the first breeze. We sounded in seventeen fathoms, close to the shore, this day. The least depth ascertained by the lead, since our departure from the river, was six fathoms; and any ship might pass safely between the islands and the main. The water is of a light green colour, but not very clear; and much less salt than that of the Atlantic, judging from our recollection of its taste. In the course of the day we saw geese and ducks with their young, and two deer; and experienced very great variations of temperature, from the light breezes blowing alternately from the ice and the land. The name of "Lawford's Islands" was bestowed on a group we passed in the course of the day, as a mark of my respect[Pg 198] for Vice-Admiral Lawford, under whose auspices I first entered the naval service.

A fresh breeze blowing through the night had driven the ice from the land, and opened a channel of a mile in width; we, therefore, embarked at nine A.M. to pursue our journey along the coast, but at the distance of nine miles were obliged to seek shelter in Port Epworth, the wind having become adverse, and too strong to admit of our proceeding. The Tree River of the Esquimaux, which discharges its waters into this bay, appears to be narrow, and much interrupted by rapids. The fishing-nets were set, but obtained only one white fish and a few bull-heads. This part of the coast is the most sterile and inhospitable that can be imagined. One trap-cliff succeeds another with tiresome uniformity, and their debris cover the narrow valleys that intervene, to the exclusion of every kind of herbage. From the summit of these cliffs the ice appeared in every direction.

We obtained the following observations during our stay; latitude 67° 42' 15" N., longitude 112° 30' 00" W., variation 47° 37' 42" E.

The wind abating, at eight P.M. we re-embarked, and soon afterwards discovered, on an island, a rein-deer, which the interpreters fortunately killed. Resuming our voyage we were much[Pg 199] impeded by the ice, and, at length, being unable to force a passage through a close stream that had collected round a cape, we put ashore at four A.M. On the 24th, several stone fox-traps and other traces of the Esquimaux were seen near the encampment. The horizontal refraction varied so much this morning, that the upper limb of the sun twice appeared at the horizon before it finally rose.

For the last two days the water rose and fell about nine inches. The tides, however, seemed to be very irregular, and we could not determine the direction of the ebb or flood. A current setting to the eastward was running about two miles an hour during our stay. The ice having removed a short distance from the shore, by eleven A.M. we embarked, and with some difficulty effected a passage; then making a traverse across Gray's Bay[9], we paddled up under the eastern shore against a strong wind. The interpreters landed here, and went in pursuit of a deer, but had no success. This part of the coast is indented by deep bays, which are separated by peninsulas formed like wedges, sloping many miles into the sea, and joined by low[Pg 200] land to the main: so that often mistaking them for islands, we were led by a circuitous route round the bays. Cliffs were numerous on the islands, which were all of the trap formation.

[9] Named after Mr. Gray, principal of the Belfast Academy. An island which lies across the mouth of this bay bears the name of our English sailor Hepburn.

At seven, a thunder-storm coming on, we encamped at the mouth of a river about eighty yards wide and set four nets. This stream, which received the name of Wentzel, after our late companion, discharges a considerable body of water. Its banks are sandy and clothed with herbage. The Esquimaux had recently piled up some drift timber here. A few ducks, ravens, and snow birds were seen to-day. The distance made was thirty-one miles.

July 25.—We had constant rain with thunder during the night. The nets furnished only three salmon-trout. We attributed the want of greater success to the entrance of some seals into the mouth of the river. Embarking at six A.M. we paddled against a cold breeze, until the spreading of a thick fog caused us to land. The rocks here consisted of a beautiful mixture of red and gray granite, traversed from north to south by veins of red felspar, which were crossed in various directions by smaller veins filled with the same substance.

At noon the wind coming from a favourable quarter tempted us to proceed, although the fog[Pg 201] was unabated. We kept as close as we could to the main shore, but having to cross some bays, it became a matter of doubt whether we had not left the main, and were running along an island. Just as we were endeavouring to double a bold cape, the fog partially cleared away, and allowed us an imperfect view of a chain of islands on the outside, and of much heavy ice which was pressing down upon us. The coast near us was so steep and rugged that no landing of the cargoes could be effected, and we were preserved only by some men jumping on the rocks, and thrusting the ice off with poles. There was no alternative but to continue along this dreary shore, seeking a channel between the different masses of ice which had accumulated at the various points. In this operation both the canoes were in imminent danger of being crushed by the ice, which was now tossed about by the waves that the gale had excited. We effected a passage, however, and keeping close to the shore, landed at the entrance of Detention Harbour, at nine P.M., having come twenty-eight miles. An old Esquimaux encampment was traced on this spot; and an ice chisel, a copper knife, and a small iron knife were found under the turf. I named this cape after Mr. Barrow of the Admiralty, to whose exertions are[Pg 202] mainly owing the discoveries recently made in Arctic geography. An opening on its eastern side received the appellation of Inman Harbour, after my friend the Professor at the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth; and to a group of islands to seaward of it, we gave the name of Jameson, in honour of the distinguished Professor of Mineralogy at Edinburgh.

We had much wind and rain during the night; and by the morning of the 26th a great deal of ice had drifted into the inlet. We embarked at four and attempted to force a passage, when the first canoe got enclosed, and remained for some time in a very perilous situation: the pieces of ice, crowded together by the action of the current and wind, pressing strongly against its feeble sides. A partial opening, however, occurring, we landed without having sustained any serious injury. Two men were then sent round the bay, and it was ascertained that instead of having entered a narrow passage between an island and the main, we were at the mouth of a harbour, having an island at its entrance; and that it was necessary to return by the way we came, and get round a point to the northward. This was, however, impracticable, the channel being blocked up by drift ice; and we had no prospect of release except by a change[Pg 203] of wind. This detention was extremely vexatious, as we were losing a fair wind, and expending our provision. In the afternoon the weather cleared up, and several men went hunting, but were unsuccessful. During the day the ice floated backwards and forwards in the harbour, moved by currents, not regular enough to deserve the name of tide, and which appeared to be governed by the wind. We perceived great diminution by melting in the pieces near us. That none of this ice survived the summer is evident, from the rapidity of its decay; and because no ice of last year's formation was hanging on the rocks. Whether any body of it exists at a distance from the shore, we could not determine.

The land around Cape Barrow, and to Detention Harbour, consists of steep craggy mountains of granite, rising so abruptly from the water's edge, as to admit few landing-places even for a canoe. The higher parts attain an elevation of fourteen or fifteen hundred feet; and the whole is entirely destitute of vegetation.

On the morning of the 27th, the ice remaining stationary at the entrance, we went to the bottom of the harbour, and carried the canoes and cargoes about a mile and a half across the point of land that forms the east side of it; but the ice was not[Pg 204] more favourable there for our advancement than at the place we had left. It consisted of small pieces closely packed together by the wind, extending along the shore, but leaving a clear passage beyond the chain of islands with which the whole of this coast is girt. Indeed, when we left the harbour we had little hope of finding a passage; and the principal object in moving was, to employ the men, in order to prevent their reflecting upon and discussing the dangers of our situation, which we knew they were too apt to do when leisure permitted. Our observations place the entrance of Detention Harbour in latitude 67° 53' 45", longitude 110° 41' 20" W., variation 40° 49' 34" E. It is a secure anchorage, being sheltered from the wind in every direction; the bottom is sandy.

July 28.—As the ice continued in the same state, several of the men were sent out to hunt; and one of them fired no less than four times at deer, but unfortunately without success. It was satisfactory, however, to ascertain that the country was not destitute of animals. We had the mortification to discover that two of the bags of pemmican, which was our principal reliance, had become mouldy by wet. Our beef too had been so badly cured, as to be scarcely eatable, through[Pg 205] our having been compelled, from haste, to dry it by fire instead of the sun. It was not, however, the quality of our provision that gave us uneasiness, but its diminution, and the utter incapacity to obtain any addition. Seals were the only animals that met our view at this place, and these we could never approach.

Dr. Richardson discovered near the beach a small vein of galena, traversing gneiss rocks, and the people collected a quantity of it in the hope of adding to our stock of balls; but their endeavours to smelt it, were, as may be supposed, ineffectual. The drift timber on this part of the coast consists of pine and taccamahac, (populus balsamifera), most probably from Mackenzie's, or some other river to the westward of the Copper Mine. It all appears to have lain long in the water, the bark being completely worn off, and the ends of the pieces rubbed perfectly smooth. There had been a sharp frost in the night, which formed a pretty thick crust of ice in a kettle of water that stood in the tents; and for several nights thin films of ice had appeared on the salt water amongst the cakes of stream ice[10]. Notwithstanding this state of temperature, we were tormented by swarms of musquitoes; we had[Pg 206] persuaded ourselves that these pests could not sustain the cold in the vicinity of the sea, but it appears they haunt every part of this country in defiance of climate. Mr. Back made an excursion to a hill at seven or eight miles' distance, and from its summit he perceived the ice close to the shore as far as his view extended.

[10] This is termed bay-ice by the Greenland-men.

On the morning of the 29th the party attended divine service. About noon the ice appearing less compact, we embarked to change our situation, having consumed all the fuel within our reach. The wind came off the land just as the canoes had started, and we determined on attempting to force a passage along the shore; in which we happily succeeded, after seven hours' labour and much hazard to our frail vessels. The ice lay so close that the crews disembarked on it, and effected a passage by bearing against the pieces with their poles; but in conducting the canoes through the narrow channels thus formed, the greatest care was requisite, to prevent the sharp projecting points from breaking the bark. They fortunately received no material injury, though they were split in two places.

At the distance of three miles, we came to the entrance of a deep bay, whose bottom was filled by a body of ice so compact as to preclude the idea of a passage through it; whilst at the same[Pg 207] time, the traverse across its mouth was attended with much danger, from the approach of a large field of ice, which was driving down before the wind. The dread of further detention, however, prevented us from hesitating; and we had the satisfaction of landing in an hour and a half on the opposite shore, where we halted to repair the canoes and to dine. I have named this bay after my friend Mr. Daniel Moore of Lincoln's Inn; to whose zeal for science, the Expedition was indebted for the use of a most valuable chronometer. Its shores are picturesque; sloping hills receding from the beach, and clothed with verdure, bound its bottom and western side; and lofty cliffs of slate clay, with their intervening grassy valleys, skirt its eastern border. Embarking at midnight, we pursued our voyage without interruption, passing between the Stockport and Marcet Islands and the main, until six A.M. on July 30th; when, having rounded Point Kater, we entered Arctic Sound, and were again involved in a stream of ice, but after considerable delay extricated ourselves, and proceeded towards the bottom of the inlet in search of the mouth of a river, which we supposed it to receive, from the change in the colour of the water.

About ten A.M. we landed, to breakfast on a[Pg 208] small deer which St. Germain had killed; and sent men in pursuit of some others in sight, but with which they did not come up. Re-embarking, we passed the river without perceiving it, and entered a deep arm of the sound; which I have named Baillie's Cove, in honour of a relative of the lamented Mr. Hood. As it was too late to return, we encamped, and by walking across the country discovered the river, whose mouth being barred by low sandy islands and banks, was not perceived when we passed it. Course and distance from Galena Point to this encampment were S.E.3/4S.—forty-one miles.

From the accounts of Black-meat and Boileau at Fort Chipewyan, we considered this river to be the Anatessy; and Cape Barrow to be the projection which they supposed to be the N.E. termination of America. The outline of the coast, indeed, bears some resemblance to the chart they sketched; and the distance of this river from the Copper Mine, nearly coincides with what we estimated the Anatessy to be, from their statements. In our subsequent journey, however, across the barren grounds we ascertained that this conjecture was wrong, and that the Anatessy, which is known to come from Rum Lake, must fall into the sea to the eastward of this place.

[Pg 209]Our stock of provision being now reduced to eight days' consumption, it had become a matter of the first importance to obtain a supply; and as we had learned from Terregannœuck that the Esquimaux frequent the rivers at this season, I determined on seeking a communication with them here, in the hope of obtaining relief for our present wants, or even shelter for the winter if the season should prevent us from returning either to the Hook's party, or Fort Enterprise; and I was the more induced to take this step at this time, as several deer had been seen to-day, and the river appeared good for fishing: which led me to hope we might support the party during our stay, if not add to our stock by our own exertions in hunting and fishing. Augustus, Junius, and Hepburn, were therefore furnished with the necessary presents, and desired to go along the bank of the river as far as they could, on the following day, in search of the natives, to obtain provision and leather, as well as information respecting the coast.

They started at four A.M., and at the same time our hunters were sent off in search of deer: and the rest of the party proceeded in the canoes to the first cascade in the river, at the foot of which we encamped, and set four nets. This cascade, produced by a ridge of rocks crossing[Pg 210] the stream, is about three or four feet in height, and about two hundred and fifty yards wide. Its position by our observations in latitude 67° 19' 23" N., longitude 109° 44' 30" W., variation 41° 43' 22", dip 88° 58' 48". I have named this river Hood, as a small tribute to the memory of our lamented friend and companion. It is from three to four hundred yards wide below the cascade, but in many places very shallow. The banks, bottom, and adjacent hills, are formed of a mixture of sand and clay. The ground was overspread with small willows and the dwarf birch, both too diminutive for fuel; and the stream brought down no drift wood. We were mortified to find the nets only procured one salmon and five white fish, and that we had to make another inroad upon our dried meat.

August 1.—At two this morning the hunters returned with two small deer and a brown bear. Augustus and Junius arrived at the same time, having traced the river twelve miles further up, without discovering any vestige of inhabitants. We had now an opportunity of gratifying our curiosity respecting the bear so much dreaded by the Indians, and of whose strength and ferocity we had heard such terrible accounts. It proved to be a lean male of a yellowish brown colour, and not longer than a common black bear.[Pg 211] It made a feeble attempt to defend itself, and was easily despatched. The flesh was brought to the tent, but our fastidious voyagers supposing, from its leanness, that the animal had been sickly, declined eating it; the officers, however, being less scrupulous, boiled the paws, and found them excellent.

We embarked at ten A.M., and proceeding down the river, took on board another deer that had been killed by Crédit last evening. We then ran along the eastern shore of Arctic Sound, distinguished by the name of Banks' Peninsula, in honour of the late Right Honourable Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society; and rounding Point Wollaston at its eastern extremity, opened another extensive sheet of water; and the remainder of the afternoon was spent in endeavouring to ascertain, from the tops of the hills, whether it was another bay, or merely a passage enclosed by a chain of islands. Appearances rather favouring the latter opinion, we determined on proceeding through it to the southward. During the delay four more deer were killed, all young and lean. It appeared that the coast is pretty well frequented by rein-deer at this season; but it was rather singular, that hitherto we had killed none (excepting the first) but young ones of last season, which were all too[Pg 212] lean to have been eaten by any but persons who had no choice.

We paddled along the western shore with the intention of encamping, but were prevented by the want of drift wood on the beach. This induced us to make a traverse to an island, where we put up at midnight, having found a small bay, whose shores furnished us with a little fire-wood. A heavy gale came on from the westward, attended with constant rain, and one of the squalls overthrew our tents. The course and distance made this day were north-east sixteen miles and a half. I may here mention, that Arctic Sound appeared the most convenient, and perhaps the best place for ships to anchor that we had seen along the coast; at this season especially, when they might increase their stock of provision, if provided with good marksmen. Deer are numerous in its vicinity, musk-oxen also may be found up Hood's River, and the fine sandy bottom of the bays promises favourably for fishing with the seine. The hills on the western side are even in their outline and slope gradually to the water's edge. The rocks give place to an alluvial sandy soil, towards the bottom of the Sound; but on Banks' Peninsula rocky eminences again prevail, which are rugged and uneven, but intersected by valleys, at this time green; along[Pg 213] their base is a fine sandy beach. From Point Wollaston to our encampment the coast is skirted with trap cliffs, which have often a columnar form, and are very difficult of access. These cliffs lie in ranges parallel to the shore, and the deer that we killed were feeding in small marshy grassy plats that lie in the valleys between them.

Being detained by the continuance of the gale, on the 2d of August some men were sent out to hunt, and the officers visited the tops of the highest hills, to ascertain the best channels to be pursued. The wind abating, at ten P.M., we embarked and paddled round the southern end of the island, and continued our course to the south-east. Much doubt at this time prevailed as to the land on the right being the main shore, or merely a chain of islands. The latter opinion was strengthened by the broken appearance of the land, and the extensive view we had up Brown's Channel, (named after my friend Mr. Robert Brown,) the mouth of which we passed, and were in some apprehension of being led away from the main shore; and, perhaps, after passing through a group of islands, of coming to a traverse greater than we durst venture upon in canoes: on the other hand, the continuous appearance of the land on the north side of the[Pg 214] channel, and its tending to the southward excited the fear that we were entering a deep inlet.

In this state of doubt we landed often, and endeavoured, from the summits of the highest hills adjoining the shore, to ascertain the true nature of the coast, but in vain, and we continued paddling through the channel all night against a fresh breeze, which, at half-past four, increased to a violent gale, and compelled us to land. The gale diminished a short time after noon on the 3d, and permitted us to re-embark and continue our voyage until four P.M., when it returned with its former violence, and finally obliged us to encamp, having come twenty-four miles on a south-east three-quarter south course.

From the want of drift wood to make a fire we had fasted all day, and were under the necessity, in the evening, of serving out pemmican, which was done with much reluctance, especially as we had some fresh deers' meat remaining. The inlet, when viewed from a high hill adjoining to our encampment, exhibited so many arms, that the course we ought to pursue was more uncertain than ever. It was absolutely necessary, however, to see the end of it before we could determine that it was not a strait. Starting at three A.M., on the 4th, we paddled the whole day through channels, from two to five or six miles wide, all[Pg 215] tending to the southward. In the course of the day's voyage we ascertained, that the land which we had seen on our right since yesterday morning, consisted of several large islands, which have been distinguished by the names of Goulburn, Elliott, and Young; but the land on our left preserved its unbroken appearance, and when we encamped, we were still uncertain whether it was the eastern side of a deep sound or merely a large island. It differed remarkably from the main shore, being very rugged, rocky, and sterile, whereas the outline of the main on the opposite side was even, and its hills covered with a comparatively good sward of grass, exhibiting little naked rock. There was no drift timber, but the shores near the encampment were strewed with small pieces of willow, which indicated our vicinity to the mouth of a river. This fuel enabled us to make a hearty supper from a small deer killed this evening.

The shallows we passed this day were covered with shoals of capelin, the angmaggϟk of the Esquimaux. It was known to Augustus, who informed us that it frequents the coast of Hudson's Bay, and is delicate eating. The course and distance made was, south by east-half-east, thirty-three miles.

[Pg 216]After paddling twelve miles in the morning of the 5th, we had the mortification to find the inlet terminated by a river; the size of which we could not ascertain, as the entrance was blocked by shoals. Its mouth lies in latitude 66° 30' N., longitude 107° 53' W. I have named this stream Back, as a mark of my friendship for my associate[11]. We were somewhat consoled for the loss of time in exploring this inlet, by the success of Junius in killing a musk-ox, the first we had seen on the coast; and afterwards by the acquisition of the flesh of a bear, that was shot as we were returning up the eastern side in the evening. The latter proved to be a female, in very excellent condition; and our Canadian voyagers, whose appetite for fat meat is insatiable, were delighted.

[11] From subsequent conversation with the Copper Indians, we were inclined to suppose this may be the Thlueetessy, described by Black-meat, mentioned in a former part of the narrative.

We encamped on the shores of a sandy bay, and set the nets; and finding a quantity of dried willows on the beach, we were enabled to cook the bear's flesh, which was superior to any meat we tasted on the coast. The water fell two feet at this place during the night. Our nets produced a great variety of fish, namely, a salmon-trout, some round fish, tittameg, bleak, star-fish,[Pg 217] several herrings, and a flat fish resembling plaice, but covered on the back with horny excrescences.

On the 6th we were detained in the encampment by stormy weather until five P.M., when we embarked and paddled along the northern shore of the inlet; the weather still continuing foggy, but the wind moderate. Observing on the beach a she bear with three young ones, we landed a party to attack them: but being approached without due caution, they took the alarm and scaled a precipitous rocky hill, with a rapidity that baffled all pursuit. At eight o'clock, the fog changing into rain, we encamped. Many seals were seen this day, but as they kept in deep water we did not fire at them.

On August 7th the atmosphere was charged with fog and rain all the day, but as the wind was moderate we pursued our journey; our situation, however, was very unpleasant, being quite wet and without room to stretch a limb, much less to obtain warmth by exercise. We passed a cove which I have named after my friend Mr. W. H. Tinney; and proceeded along the coast until five P.M., when we put up on a rocky point nearly opposite to our encampment on the 3d, having come twenty-three miles on a north-north-west course.

[Pg 218]We were detained on the 8th by a northerly gale, which blew violently throughout the day, attended by fog and rain. Some of the men went out to hunt, but they saw no other animal than a white wolf, which could not be approached. The fresh meat being expended, a little pemmican was served out this evening.

The gale abated on the morning of the 9th; and the sea, which it had raised, having greatly subsided, we embarked at seven A.M., and after paddling three or four miles, opened Sir J. A. Gordon's Bay, into which we penetrated thirteen miles, and then discovered from the summit of a hill that it would be vain to proceed in this direction, in search of a passage out of the inlet.

Our breakfast diminished our provision to two bags of pemmican, and a single meal of dried meat. The men began to apprehend absolute want of food, and we had to listen to their gloomy forebodings of the deer entirely quitting the coast in a few days. As we were embarking, however, a large bear was discovered on the opposite shore, which we had the good fortune to kill; and the sight of this fat meat relieved their fears for the present. Dr. Richardson found in the stomach of this animal the remains of a seal, several marmots (arctomys Richardsonii), a large quantity of the liquorice root of Mackenzie[Pg 219] (hedysarum) which is common on these shores, and some berries. There was also intermixed with these substances a small quantity of grass.

We got again into the main inlet, and paddled along its eastern shore until forty minutes after eight A.M. when we encamped in a small cove. We found a single log of drift wood; it was pine, and sufficiently large to enable us to cook a portion of the bear, which had a slight fishy taste, but was deemed very palatable.

August 10.—We followed up the east border of the inlet about twenty-four miles, and at length emerged into the open sea; a body of islands to the westward concealing the channel by which we had entered. Here our progress was arrested by returning bad weather. We killed a bear and its young cub of this year, on the beach near our encampment. We heartily congratulated ourselves at having arrived at the eastern entrance of this inlet, which had cost us nine invaluable days in exploring. It contains several secure harbours, especially near the mouth of Back's River, where there is a sandy bottom in forty fathoms.

On the 3d and 4th of August we observed a fall of more than two feet in the water during the night. There are various irregular and partial[Pg 220] currents in the inlet, which may be attributed to the wind. I have distinguished it by the name of Bathurst's Inlet, after the noble Secretary of State, under whose orders I had the honour to act. It runs about seventy-six miles south-east from Cape Everitt, but in coasting its shores we went about one hundred and seventy-four geographical miles. It is remarkable that none of the Indians with whom we had spoken mentioned this inlet; and we subsequently learned, that in their journeys, they strike across from the mouth of one river to the mouth of another, without tracing the intermediate line of coast.

August 11.—Embarking at five A.M. we rounded Point Everitt, and then encountered a strong breeze and heavy swell, which by causing the canoes to pitch very much, greatly impeded our progress. Some deer being seen grazing in a valley near the beach, we landed and sent St. Germain and Adam in pursuit of them, who soon killed three which were very small and lean. Their appearance, however, quite revived the spirits of our men, who had suspected that the deer had retired to the woods. It would appear, from our not having seen any in passing along the shores of Bathurst's Inlet, that at this season they confine[Pg 221] themselves to the sea-coast and the islands. The magpie-berries (arbutus alpina) were found quite ripe at this place, and very abundant on the acclivities of the hills. We also descended the highest hill and gained a view of a distant chain of islands, extending as far as the eye could reach, and perceived a few patches of ice still lingering round to some of them; but in every other part the sea was quite open. Resuming our voyage after noon, we proceeded along the coast, which is fringed by islands; and at five P.M., entered another bay, where we were for some time involved in our late difficulties by the intricacy of the passages; but we cleared them in the afternoon, and encamped near the northern entrance of the bay, at a spot which had recently been visited by a small party of Esquimaux, as the remains of some eggs containing young, were lying beside some half-burnt fire-wood. There were also several piles of stones put up by them. I have named this bay after my friend, Captain David Buchan, of the Royal Navy. It appears to be a safe anchorage, well sheltered from the wind and sea, by islands; the bottom is sandy, the shores high, and composed of red sand-stone. Two deer were seen on its beach, but could not be approached. The distance we[Pg 222] made to-day was eighteen miles and three quarters.

Embarking at four on the morning of the 12th, we proceeded against a fresh piercing north-east wind, which raised the waves to a height that quite terrified our people, accustomed only to the navigation of rivers and lakes. We were obliged, however, to persevere in our advance, feeling as we did, that the short season for our operations was hastening away; but after rounding Cape Croker the wind became so strong that we could proceed no further. The distance we had made was only six miles on a north-east by east course. The shore on which we encamped is formed of the debris of red sand-stone, and is destitute of vegetation. The beach furnished no drift wood, and we dispensed with our usual meal rather than expend our pemmican. Several deer were seen, but the hunters could not approach them; they killed two swans. We observed the latitude 68° 1' 20", where we had halted to breakfast this morning.

August 13.—Though the wind was not much diminished, we were urged, by the want of fire-wood, to venture upon proceeding. We paddled close to the shore for some miles, and then ran before the breeze with reefed sails, scarcely two[Pg 223] feet in depth. Both the canoes received much water, and one of them struck twice on sunken rocks. At the end of eighteen miles we halted to breakfast in a bay, which I have named after Vice-Admiral Sir William Johnstone Hope, one of the Lords of the Admiralty.

We found here a considerable quantity of small willows, such as are brought down by the rivers we had hitherto seen; and hence we judged, that a river discharges itself into the bottom of this bay. A paddle was also found, which Augustus, on examination, declared to be made after the fashion of the White Goose Esquimaux, a tribe with whom his countrymen had had some trading communication, as has been mentioned in a former part of the Narrative.

This morning we passed the embouchure of a pretty large stream, and saw the vestiges of an Esquimaux encampment, not above a month old. Having obtained the latitude 68° 6' 40" N., we recommenced our voyage under sail, taking the precaution to embark all the pieces of willow we could collect, as we had found the drift-wood become more scarce as we advanced. Our course was directed to a distant point, which we supposed to be a cape, and the land stretching to the westward of it to be islands; but we soon found ourselves in an extensive bay, from which[Pg 224] no outlet could be perceived but the one by which we had entered. On examination, however, from the top of a hill, we perceived a winding shallow passage running to the north-west, which we followed for a short time, and then encamped having come twenty-three miles north by east half east.

Some articles left by the Esquimaux attracted our attention; we found a winter sledge raised upon four stones, with some snow-shovels, and a small piece of whalebone. An ice-chisel, a knife and some beads were left at this pile. The shores of this bay, which I have named after Sir George Warrender, are low and clayey, and the country for many miles is level, and much intersected with water; but we had not leisure to ascertain whether they were branches of the bay or fresh-water lakes. Some white geese were seen this evening, and some young gray ones were caught on the beach being unable to fly. We fired at two rein-deer, but without success.

On August 14th we paddled the whole day along the northern shores of the sound, returning towards its mouth. The land which we were now tracing is generally so flat, that it could not be descried from the canoes at the distance of four miles, and is invisible from the opposite side of the sound, otherwise a short traverse might have saved us some days. The few eminences that[Pg 225] are on this side were mistaken for islands when seen from the opposite shore; they are for the most part cliffs of basalt, and are not above one hundred feet high; the subjacent strata are of white sand-stone. The rocks are mostly confined to the capes and shores, the soil inland being flat, clayey, and barren. Most of the headlands shewed traces of visits from the Esquimaux, but none of them recent. Many ducks were seen, belonging to a species termed by the voyagers from their cry, "caccawees." We also saw some gray geese and swans. The only seal we procured during our voyage, was killed this day; it happened to be blind, and our men imagining it to be in bad health would not taste the flesh; we, however, were less nice.

We encamped at the end of twenty-four miles' march, on the north-west side of a bay, to which I have given the name of my friend Capt. Parry, now employed in the interesting research for a North-West Passage. Drift wood had become very scarce, and we found none near the encampment; a fire, however, was not required, as we served out pemmican for supper, and the evening was unusually warm.

On the following morning the breeze was fresh and the waves rather high. In paddling along the west side of Parry's Bay, we saw several[Pg 226] deer, but owing to the openness of the country, the hunters could not approach them. They killed, however, two swans that were moulting, several cranes and many gray geese. We procured also some caccawees, which were then moulting, and assembled in immense flocks. In the evening, having rounded Point Beechy, and passed Hurd's Islands, we were exposed to much inconvenience and danger from a heavy rolling sea; the canoes receiving many severe blows, and shipping a good deal of water, which induced us to encamp at five P.M. opposite to Cape Croker, which we had passed on the morning of the 12th; the channel which lay between our situation and it, being about seven miles wide. We had now reached the northern point of entrance into this sound, which I have named in honour of Lord Viscount Melville, the first Lord of the Admiralty. It is thirty miles wide from east to west, and twenty from north to south; and in coasting it we had sailed eighty-seven and a quarter geographical miles. Shortly after the tents were pitched, Mr. Back reported from the steersmen that both canoes had sustained material injury during this day's voyage. I found on examination that fifteen timbers of the first canoe were broken, some of them in two places, and that the second canoe was so loose in the frame[Pg 227] that its timbers could not be bound in the usual secure manner, and consequently there was danger of its bark separating from the gunwales if exposed to a heavy sea. Distressing as were these circumstances, they gave me less pain than the discovery that our people, who had hitherto displayed in following us through dangers and difficulties no less novel than appalling to them, a courage beyond our expectation, now felt serious apprehensions for their safety, which so possessed their minds that they were not restrained even by the presence of their officers from expressing them. Their fears, we imagined, had been principally excited by the interpreters, St. Germain and Adam, who from the outset had foreboded every calamity; and we now strongly suspected that their recent want of success in hunting had proceeded from an intentional relaxation in their efforts to kill deer in order that the want of provision might compel us to put a period to our voyage.

I must now mention that many concurrent circumstances had caused me, during the few last days, to meditate on the approach of this painful necessity. The strong breezes we had encountered for some days, led me to fear that the season was breaking up, and severe weather would soon ensue, which we could not sustain in a country[Pg 228] destitute of fuel. Our stock of provision was now reduced to a quantity of pemmican only sufficient for three days' consumption, and the prospect of increasing it was not encouraging, for though rein-deer were seen, they could not be easily approached on the level shores we were now coasting, besides it was to be apprehended they would soon migrate to the south. It was evident that the time spent in exploring the Arctic and Melville Sounds, and Bathurst's Inlet, had precluded the hope of reaching Repulse Bay, which at the outset of the voyage we had fondly cherished; and it was equally obvious that as our distance from any of the trading establishments would increase as we proceeded, the hazardous traverse across the barren grounds, which we should have to make, if compelled to abandon the canoes upon any part of the coast, would become greater.

I this evening communicated to the officers my sentiments on these points, as well as respecting our return, and was happy to find that their opinions coincided with my own. We were all convinced of the necessity of putting a speedy termination to our advance, as our hope of meeting the Esquimaux and procuring provision from them, could now scarcely be retained; but yet we were desirous of proceeding, until the land should be[Pg 229] seen trending again to the eastward; that we might be satisfied of its separation from what we had conceived, in passing from Cape Barrow to Bathurst's Inlet, to be a great chain of islands. As it was needful, however, at all events, to set a limit to our voyage, I announced my determination of returning after four days' examination, unless, indeed, we should previously meet the Esquimaux, and be enabled to make some arrangement for passing the winter with them. This communication was joyfully received by the men, and we hoped that the industry of our hunters being once more excited, we should be able to add to our stock of provision.

It may here be remarked that we observed the first regular return of the tides in Warrender's and Parry's Bays; but their set could not be ascertained. The rise of water did not amount to more than two feet. Course to-day south one quarter east—nine miles and a quarter.

August 16.—Some rain fell in the night, but the morning was unusually fine. We set forward at five A.M., and the men paddled cheerfully along the coast for ten miles, when a dense fog caused us to land on Slate-clay Point. Here we found more traces of the Esquimaux, and the skull of a man placed between two rocks. The fog dispersed at noon, and we discerned a group of[Pg 230] islands to the northward, which I have named after Vice Admiral Sir George Cockburn, one of the Lords of the Admiralty. Re-embarking, we rounded the point and entered Walker's Bay, (so called after my friend Admiral Walker,) where, as in other instances, the low beach which lay between several high trap cliffs, could not be distinguished until we had coasted down the east side nearly to the bottom of the bay. When the continuity of the land was perceived, we crossed to the western shore, and on landing, discovered a channel leading through a group of islands. Having passed through this channel, we ran under sail by the Porden Islands, across Riley's Bay, and rounding a cape which now bears the name of my lamented friend Captain Flinders, had the pleasure to find the coast trending north-north-east, with the sea in the offing unusually clear of islands; a circumstance which afforded matter of wonder to our Canadians, who had not previously had an uninterrupted view of the ocean.

Our course was continued along the coast until eight P.M. when a change in the wind and a threatening thunder squall induced us to encamp; but the water was so shallow, that we found some difficulty in approaching the shore. Large pieces of drift-wood gave us assurance that we had finally escaped from the bays. Our tents[Pg 231] were scarcely pitched before we were assailed by a heavy squall and rain, which was succeeded by a violent gale from west-north-west, which thrice overset the tents during the night. The wind blew with equal violence on the following day, and the sea rolled furiously upon the beach. The Canadians had now an opportunity of witnessing the effect of a storm upon the sea; and the sight increased their desire of quitting it.

Our hunters were sent out, and saw many deer, but the flatness of the country defeated their attempts to approach them; they brought, however, a few unfledged geese. As there was no appearance of increasing our stock of provision, the allowance was limited to a handful of pemmican, and a small portion of portable soup to each man per day. The thermometer this afternoon stood to 41°. The following observations were obtained: latitude 68° 18' 50" N., longitude 110° 5' 15" W.; but 109° 25' 00" W. was used in the construction of the chart, as the chronometers were found, on our return to Hood's River, to have altered their rates; variation 44° 15' 46" E., and dip of the needle 89° 31' 12".

On August 18th the stormy weather and sea continuing, there was no prospect of our being able to embark. Dr. Richardson, Mr. Back, and I, therefore, set out on foot to discover whether the[Pg 232] land within a day's march, inclined more to the east. We went from ten to twelve miles along the coast, which continued flat, and kept the same direction as the encampment. The most distant land we saw had the same bearing north-north-east, and appeared like two islands, which we estimated to be six or seven miles off; the shore on their side seemingly tended more to the east, so that is it probable Point Turnagain, for so this spot was named, forms the pitch of a low flat cape.

Augustus killed a deer in the afternoon, but the men were not able to find it. The hunters found the burrows of a number of white foxes, and Hepburn killed one of these animals, which proved excellent eating, equal to the young geese, with which it was boiled, and far superior to the lean deer we had upon the coast. Large flocks of geese passed over the tents, flying to the southward. The lowest temperature to-day was 38°.

Though it will appear from the chart, that the position of Point Turnagain is only six degrees and a half to the east of the mouth of the Copper-Mine River; we sailed, in tracing the deeply-indented coast, five hundred and fifty-five geographic miles, which is little less than the direct distance between the Copper-Mine River and[Pg 233] Repulse Bay; supposing the latter to be in the longitude assigned to it by Middleton.

When the many perplexing incidents which occurred during the survey of the coast are considered, in connexion with the shortness of the period during which operations of the kind can be carried on, and the distance we had to travel before we could gain a place of shelter for the winter, I trust it will be judged that we prosecuted the enterprise as far as was prudent, and abandoned it only under a well-founded conviction that a further advance would endanger the lives of the whole party, and prevent the knowledge of what had been done from reaching England. The active assistance I received from the officers, in contending with the fears of the men, demands my warmest gratitude.

Our researches, as far as they have gone, favour the opinion of those who contend for the practicability of a North-West Passage. The general line of coast probably runs east and west, nearly in the latitude assigned to Mackenzie's River, the Sound into which Kotzebue entered, and Repulse Bay; and I think there is little doubt of a continued sea, in or about that line of direction. The existence of whales too, on this part of the coast, evidenced by the whalebone we found in Esquimaux Cove, may be considered as an[Pg 234] argument for an open sea; and a connexion with Hudson's Bay is rendered more probable from the same kind of fish abounding on the coasts we visited, and on those to the north of Churchill River. I allude more particularly to the Capelin or Salmo Arcticus, which we found in large shoals in Bathurst's Inlet, and which not only abounds, as Augustus told us, in the bays in his country, but swarms in the Greenland firths[12]. The portion of the sea over which we passed is navigable for vessels of any size; the ice we met, particularly after quitting Detention Harbour, would not have arrested a strong boat. The chain of islands affords shelter from all heavy seas, and there are good harbours at convenient distances. I entertain, indeed, sanguine hopes that the skill and exertions of my friend Captain Parry will soon render this question no longer problematical. His task is doubtless an arduous one, and, if ultimately successful, may occupy two and perhaps three seasons; but confiding as I do, from personal knowledge, in his perseverance and talent for surmounting difficulties, the strength of his ships, and the abundance of provisions with which they are stored, I have very little apprehension of his safety. As I understand[Pg 235] his object was to keep the coast of America close on board, he will find in the spring of the year, before the breaking up of the ice can permit him to pursue his voyage, herds of deer flocking in abundance to all parts of the coast, which may be procured without difficulty; and, even later in the season, additions to his stock of provision may be obtained on many parts of the coast, should circumstances give him leisure to send out hunting parties. With the trawl or seine nets also, he may almost every where get abundance of fish even without retarding his progress. Under these circumstances I do not conceive that he runs any hazard of wanting provisions, should his voyage be prolonged even beyond the latest period of time which is calculated upon. Drift timber may be gathered at many places in considerable quantities, and there is a fair prospect of his opening a communication with the Esquimaux, who come down to the coast to kill seals in the spring, previous to the ice breaking up; and from whom, if he succeeds in conciliating their good-will, he may obtain provision, and much useful assistance.

[12] Arctic Zoology, vol. ii, p. 394.

If he makes for Copper-Mine River, as he probably will do, he will not find it in the longitude as laid down on the charts; but he will probably find, what would be more interesting to him, a[Pg 236] post, which we erected on the 26th August at the mouth of Hood's River, which is nearly, as will appear hereafter, in that longitude, with a flag upon it, and a letter at the foot of it, which may convey to him some useful information. It is possible, however, that he may keep outside of the range of islands which skirt this part of the coast.


[Pg 237]

Journey across the barren groundsDifficulty and delay in crossing Copper-Mine RiverMelancholy and fatal Results thereofExtreme Misery of the whole PartyMurder of Mr. HoodDeath of several of the CanadiansDesolate State of Fort EnterpriseDistress suffered at that PlaceDr. Richardson's NarrativeMr. Back's NarrativeConclusion.

August 17.

My original intention, whenever the season should compel us to relinquish the survey, had been to return by the Copper-Mine River, and in pursuance of my arrangement with the Hook to travel to Slave Lake through the line of woods extending thither by the Great Bear and Marten Lakes, but our scanty stock of provision and the length of the voyage rendered it necessary to make for a nearer place. We had already found that the country, between Cape Barrow and the Copper-Mine River, would not supply our wants, and this it seemed probable would now be still more the case; besides, at this advanced season, we expected the frequent recurrence of gales, which would cause great detention, if not danger in proceeding along that very rocky part of the coast.

I determined, therefore, to make at once for Arctic Sound, where we had found the animals[Pg 238] more numerous than at any other place; and entering Hood's River, to advance up that stream as far as it was navigable, and then to construct small canoes out of the materials of the larger ones, which could be carried in crossing the barren grounds to Fort Enterprise.

August 19.—We were almost beaten out of our comfortless abodes by rain during the night, and this morning the gale continued without diminution. The thermometer fell to 33°. Two men were sent with Junius to search for the deer which Augustus had killed. Junius returned in the evening, bringing part of the meat, but owing to the thickness of the weather, his companions parted from him and did not make their appearance. Divine service was read. On the 20th we were presented with the most chilling prospect, the small pools of water being frozen over, the ground covered with snow, and the thermometer at the freezing point at mid-day. Flights of geese were passing to the southward. The wind, however, was more moderate, having changed to the eastward. Considerable anxiety prevailing respecting Belanger and Michel, the two men who strayed from Junius yesterday, the rest were sent out to look for them. The search was successful, and they all returned in the evening. The stragglers were much fatigued, and[Pg 239] had suffered severely from the cold, one of them having his thighs frozen, and what under our present circumstances was most grievous, they had thrown away all the meat. The wind during the night returned to the north-west quarter, blew more violently than ever, and raised a very turbulent sea. The next day did not improve our condition, the snow remained on the ground, and the small pools were frozen. Our hunters were sent out, but they returned after a fatiguing day's march without having seen any animals. We made a scanty meal off a handful of pemmican, after which only half a bag remained.

The wind abated after midnight, and the surf diminished rapidly, which caused us to be on the alert at a very early hour on the 22d, but we had to wait until six A.M. for the return of Augustus, who had continued out all night on an unsuccessful pursuit of deer. It appears that he had walked a few miles farther along the coast, than the party had done on the 18th, and from a sketch he drew on the sand, we were confirmed in our former opinion that the shore inclined more to the eastward beyond Point Turnagain. He also drew a river of considerable size, that discharges its waters into Walker's Bay; on the banks of which stream he saw a piece of wood, such as the Esquimaux use in producing fire, and other marks[Pg 240] so fresh that he supposed they had recently visited the spot. We therefore left several iron materials for them; and embarking without delay, prepared to retrace our steps[13]. Our men, cheered by the prospect of returning, shewed the utmost alacrity; and, paddling with unusual vigour, carried us across Riley's and Walker's Bays, a distance of twenty miles, before noon, when we landed on Slate-clay Point, as the wind had freshened too much to permit us to continue the voyage. The whole party went to hunt, but returned without success in the evening, drenched with the heavy rain which commenced soon after they had set out. Several deer were seen, but could not be approached in this naked country; and as our stock of pemmican did not admit of serving out two meals, we went dinnerless to bed.

[13] It is a curious coincidence that our Expedition left Point Turnagain on August 22d,—on the same day that Captain Parry sailed out of Repulse Bay. The parties were then distant from each other 539 miles.

Soon after our departure this day, a sealed tin-case, sufficiently buoyant to float, was thrown overboard, containing a short account of our proceedings, and the position of the most conspicuous points. The wind blew off the land, the water was smooth, and as the sea is in this part more free from islands than in any other,[Pg 241] there was every probability of its being driven off the shore into the current; which as I have before mentioned, we suppose, from the circumstance of Mackenzie's River being the only known stream that brings down the wood we have found along the shores, to set to the eastward.

August 23.—A severe frost caused us to pass a comfortless night. At two P.M. we set sail, and the men voluntarily launched out to make a traverse of fifteen miles across Melville Sound, before a strong wind and heavy sea. The privation of food, under which our voyagers were then labouring, absorbed every other terror; otherwise the most powerful persuasion could not have induced them to attempt such a traverse. It was with the utmost difficulty that the canoes were kept from turning their broadsides to the waves, though we sometimes steered with all the paddles. One of them narrowly escaped being overset by this accident, which occurred in a mid-channel, where the waves were so high that the masthead of our canoe was often hid from the other, though it was sailing within hail.

The traverse, however, was made; we were then near a high rocky lee shore, on which a heavy surf was beating. The wind being on the beam, the canoes drifted fast to leeward;[Pg 242] and, on rounding a point, the recoil of the sea from the rocks was so great that they were with difficulty kept from foundering. We looked in vain for a sheltered bay to land in; but, at length, being unable to weather another point, we were obliged to put ashore on the open beach, which fortunately was sandy at this spot. The debarkation was effected fortunately, without further injury than splitting the head of the second canoe, which was easily repaired.

Our encampment being near the spot where we killed the deer on the 11th, almost the whole party went out to hunt, but returned in the evening without having seen any game. The berries, however, were ripe and plentiful, and, with the addition of some country tea, furnished a supper. There were some showers in the afternoon, and the weather was cold, the thermometer being 42°, but the evening and night were calm and fine. It may be remarked that the musquitoes disappeared when the late gales commenced.

August 24.—Embarking at three A.M., we stretched across the eastern entrance of Bathurst's Inlet, and arrived at an island, which I have named after the Right Hon. Colonel Barry, of Newton Barry. Some deer being seen on the beach, the[Pg 243] hunters went in pursuit of them, and succeeded in killing three females, which enabled us to save our last remaining meal of pemmican. They saw also some fresh tracks of musk-oxen on the banks of a small stream which flowed into a lake in the centre of the island. These animals must have crossed a channel, at least, three miles wide, to reach the nearest of these islands. Some specimens of variegated pebbles and jasper were found here imbedded in the amygdaloidal rock.

Re-embarking at two P.M., and continuing through what was supposed to be a channel between two islands, we found our passage barred by a gravelly isthmus of only ten yards in width; the canoes and cargoes were carried across it, and we passed into Bathurst's Inlet through another similar channel, bounded on both sides by steep rocky hills. The wind then changing from S.E. to N.W. brought heavy rain, and we encamped at seven P.M., having advanced eighteen miles.

August 25.—Starting this morning with a fresh breeze in our favour, we soon reached that part of Barry's Island where the canoes were detained on the 2d and 3d of this month, and contrary to what we then experienced, the deer were now plentiful. The hunters killed two, and relieved us from all apprehension of immediate want of food. From their assembling at this time in[Pg 244] such numbers on the islands nearest to the coast, we conjectured that they were about to retire to the main shore. Those we saw were generally females with their young, and all of them very lean.

The wind continued in the same direction until we had rounded Point Wollaston, and then changed to a quarter, which enabled us to steer for Hood's River, which we ascended as high as the first rapid and encamped. Here terminated our voyage on the Arctic Sea, during which we had gone over six hundred and fifty geographical miles. Our Canadian voyagers could not restrain their joy at having turned their backs on the sea, and passed the evening in talking over their past adventures with much humour and no little exaggeration. The consideration that the most painful, and certainly the most hazardous part of the journey was yet to come, did not depress their spirits at all. It is due to their character to mention that they displayed much courage in encountering the dangers of the sea, magnified to them by their novelty.

The shores between Cape Barrow and Cape Flinders, including the extensive branches of Arctic and Melville Sounds, and Bathurst's Inlet, may be comprehended in one great gulf, which I have distinguished by the appellation of George[Pg 245] IV.'s Coronation Gulf, in honour of His Most Gracious Majesty, the latter name being added to mark the time of its discovery. The Archipelago of islands which fringe the coast from Copper-Mine River to Point Turnagain, I have named in honour of His Royal Highness the Duke of York.

It may be deserving of notice that the extremes in temperature of the sea water during our voyage were 53° and 35°, but its general temperature was between 43° and 48°. Throughout our return from Point Turnagain we observed that the sea had risen several feet above marks left at our former encampments. This may, perhaps, be attributed to the north-west gales.

August 26.—Previous to our departure this morning an assortment of iron materials, beads, looking-glasses, and other articles were put up in a conspicuous situation for the Esquimaux, and the English Union was planted on the loftiest sand-hill, where it might be seen by any ships passing in the offing. Here also, was deposited in a tin box, a letter containing an outline of our proceedings, the latitude and longitude of the principal places, and the course we intended to pursue towards Slave Lake.

Embarking at eight A.M. we proceeded up the river which is full of sandy shoals, but sufficiently[Pg 246] deep for canoes in the channels. It is from one hundred to two hundred yards wide, and is bounded by high and steep banks of clay. We encamped at a cascade of eighteen or twenty feet high, which is produced by a ridge of rock crossing the river, and the nets were set. A mile below this cascade Hood's River is joined by a stream half its own size, which I have called James' Branch. Bear and deer tracks had been numerous on the banks of the river when we were here before, but not a single recent one was to be seen at this time. Crédit, however, killed a small deer at some distance inland, which, with the addition of berries, furnished a delightful repast this evening. The weather was remarkably fine, and the temperature so mild, that the musquitoes again made their appearance, but not in any great numbers. Our distance made to-day was not more than six miles.

The next morning the net furnished us with ten white fish and trout. Having made a further deposit of iron work for the Esquimaux we pursued our voyage up the river, but the shoals and rapids in this part were so frequent, that we walked along the banks the whole day, and the crews laboured hard in carrying the canoes thus lightened over the shoals or dragging them up the rapids, yet our journey in a direct line was[Pg 247] only about seven miles. In the evening we encamped at the lower end of a narrow chasm through which the river flows for upwards of a mile. The walls of this chasm are upwards of two hundred feet high, quite perpendicular, and in some places only a few yards apart. The river precipitates itself into it over a rock, forming two magnificent and picturesque falls close to each other. The upper fall is about sixty feet high, and the lower one at least one hundred; but perhaps considerably more, for the narrowness of the chasm into which it fell prevented us from seeing its bottom, and we could merely discern the top of the spray far beneath our feet. The lower fall is divided into two, by an insulated column of rock which rises about forty feet above it. The whole descent of the river at this place probably exceeds two hundred and fifty feet. The rock is very fine felspathose sand-stone. It has a smooth surface and a light red colour. I have named these magnificent cascades "Wilberforce Falls," as a tribute of my respect for that distinguished philanthropist and christian. Messrs. Back and Hood took beautiful sketches of this majestic scene.

The river being surveyed from the summit of a hill, above these falls, appeared so rapid and shallow, that it seemed useless to attempt proceeding[Pg 248] any farther in the large canoes. I therefore determined on constructing out of their materials two smaller ones of sufficient size to contain three persons, for the purpose of crossing any river that might obstruct our progress. This operation was accordingly commenced, and by the 31st both the canoes being finished, we prepared for our departure on the following day.

The leather which had been preserved for making shoes was equally divided among the men, two pairs of flannel socks were given to each person, and such articles of warm clothing as remained, were issued to those who most required them. They were also furnished with one of the officers' tents. This being done, I communicated to the men my intention of proceeding in as direct a course as possible to the part of Point Lake, opposite our spring encampment, which was only distant one hundred and forty-nine miles in a straight line. They received the communication cheerfully, considered the journey to be short, and left me in high spirits, to arrange their own packages. The stores, books, &c., which were not absolutely necessary to be carried, were then put up in boxes to be left en cache here, in order that the men's burdens might be as light as possible.

[Pg 249] The next morning was warm, and very fine. Every one was on the alert at an early hour, being anxious to commence the journey. Our luggage consisted of ammunition, nets, hatchets, ice chisels, astronomical instruments, clothing, blankets, three kettles, and the two canoes, which were each carried by one man. The officers carried such a portion of their own things as their strength would permit; the weight carried by each man was about ninety pounds, and with this we advanced at the rate of about a mile an hour, including rests. In the evening the hunters killed a lean cow, out of a large drove of musk-oxen; but the men were too much laden to carry more than a small portion of its flesh. The alluvial soil, which towards the mouth of the river spreads into plains, covered with grass and willows, was now giving place to a more barren and hilly country; so that we could but just collect sufficient brushwood to cook our suppers. The part of the river we skirted this day was shallow, and flowed over a bed of sand; its width about one hundred and twenty yards. About midnight our tent was blown down by a squall, and we were completely drenched with rain before it could be re-pitched.

On the morning of the 1st of September a fall of snow took place; the canoes became a cause[Pg 250] of delay, from the difficulty of carrying them in a high wind, and they sustained much damage through the falls of those who had charge of them. The face of the country was broken by hills of moderate elevation, but the ground was plentifully strewed with small stones, which, to men bearing heavy burdens, and whose feet were protected only by soft moose skin shoes, occasioned great pain. At the end of eleven miles we encamped, and sent for a musk-ox and a deer, which St. Germain and Augustus had killed. The day was extremely cold, the thermometer varying between 34° and 36°. In the afternoon a heavy fall of snow took place, on the wind changing from north-west to south-west. We found no wood at the encampment, but made a fire of moss to cook the supper, and crept under our blankets for warmth. At sunrise the thermometer was at 31°, and the wind fresh from north-west; but the weather became mild in the course of the forenoon, and the snow disappeared from the gravel. The afternoon was remarkably fine, and the thermometer rose to 50°. One of the hunters killed a musk-ox. The hills in this part are lower, and more round-backed than those we passed yesterday, exhibiting but little naked rock; they were covered with lichens.

Having ascertained from the summit of the[Pg 251] highest hill near the tents, that the river continued to preserve a west course; and fearing that by pursuing it further we might lose much time, and unnecessarily walk over a great deal of ground, I determined on quitting its banks the next day, and making as directly as we could for Point Lake. We accordingly followed the river on the 3d, only to the place where the musk-ox had been killed last evening, and after the meat was procured, crossed the river in our two canoes lashed together. We now emerged from the valley of the river, and entered a level, but very barren, country, varied only by small lakes and marshes, the ground being covered with small stones. Many old tracks of rein-deer were seen in the clayey soil, and some more recent traces of the musk-ox. We encamped on the borders of Wright's River, which flows to the eastward; the direct distance walked to-day being ten miles and three-quarters. The next morning was very fine, and, as the day advanced, the weather became quite warm. We set out at six A.M., and, having forded the river, walked over a perfectly level country, interspersed with small lakes, which communicated with each other, by streams running in various directions. No berry-bearing plants were found in this part, the[Pg 252] surface of the earth being thinly covered in the moister places with a few grasses, and on the drier spots with lichens.

Having walked twelve miles and a half, we encamped at seven P.M., and distributed our last piece of pemmican, and a little arrow-root for supper, which afforded but a scanty meal. This evening was warm, but dark clouds overspread the sky. Our men now began to find their burdens very oppressive, and were much fatigued by this day's march, but did not complain. One of them was lame from an inflammation in the knee. Heavy rain commenced at midnight, and continued without intermission until five in the morning, when it was succeeded by snow on the wind changing to north-west, which soon increased to a violent gale. As we had nothing to eat, and were destitute of the means of making a fire, we remained in our beds all the day; but the covering of our blankets was insufficient to prevent us from feeling the severity of the frost, and suffering inconvenience from the drifting of the snow into our tents. There was no abatement of the storm next day; our tents were completely frozen, and the snow had drifted around them to a depth of three feet, and even in the inside there was a covering of several inches on our blankets. Our[Pg 253] suffering from cold, in a comfortless canvass tent in such weather, with the temperature at 20°, and without fire, will easily be imagined; it was, however, less than that which we felt from hunger.

The morning of the 7th cleared up a little, but the wind was still strong, and the weather extremely cold. From the unusual continuance of the storm, we feared the winter had set in with all its rigour, and that by longer delay we should only be exposed to an accumulation of difficulties; we therefore prepared for our journey, although we were in a very unfit condition for starting, being weak from fasting, and our garments stiffened by the frost. We had no means of making a fire to thaw them, the moss, at all times difficult to kindle, being now covered with ice and snow. A considerable time was consumed in packing up the frozen tents and bed clothes, the wind blowing so strong that no one could keep his hands long out of his mittens.

Just as we were about to commence our march, I was seized with a fainting fit, in consequence of exhaustion and sudden exposure to the wind; but after eating a morsel of portable soup, I recovered so far as to be able to move on. I was unwilling at first to take this morsel of soup, which was diminishing the small and only remaining[Pg 254] meal for the party; but several of the men urged me to it, with much kindness. The ground was covered a foot deep with snow, the margins of the lakes were incrusted with ice, and the swamps over which we had to pass were entirely frozen; but the ice not being sufficiently strong to bear us, we frequently plunged knee-deep in water. Those who carried the canoes were repeatedly blown down by the violence of the wind, and they often fell, from making an insecure step on a slippery stone; on one of these occasions, the largest canoe was so much broken as to be rendered utterly unserviceable. This we felt was a serious disaster, as the remaining canoe having through mistake been made too small, it was doubtful whether it would be sufficient to carry us across a river. Indeed we had found it necessary in crossing Hood's River, to lash the two canoes together. As there was some suspicion that Benoit, who carried the canoe, had broken it intentionally, he having on a former occasion been overheard by some of the men to say, that he would do so when he got it in charge, we closely examined him on the point; he roundly denied having used the expressions attributed to him, and insisted that it was broken by his falling accidentally; and as he brought men to attest the latter fact, who saw[Pg 255] him tumble, we did not press the matter further. I may here remark that our people had murmured a good deal at having to carry two canoes, though they were informed of the necessity of taking both, in case it should be deemed advisable to divide the party; which it had been thought probable we should be obliged to do if animals proved scarce, in order to give the whole the better chance of procuring subsistence, and also for the purpose of sending forward some of the best walkers to search for Indians, and to get them to meet us with supplies of provision. The power of doing this was now at an end. As the accident could not be remedied, we turned it to the best account, by making a fire of the bark and timbers of the broken vessel, and cooked the remainder of our portable soup and arrow-root. This was a scanty meal after three days' fasting, but it served to allay the pangs of hunger, and enabled us to proceed at a quicker pace than before. The depth of the snow caused us to march in Indian file, that is in each other's steps; the voyagers taking it in turn to lead the party. A distant object was pointed out to this man in the direction we wished to take, and Mr. Hood followed immediately behind him, to renew the bearings, and keep him from deviating more than could be helped from the mark. It may be here[Pg 256] observed, that we proceeded in this manner throughout our route across the barren grounds.

In the afternoon we got into a more hilly country, where the ground was strewed with large stones. The surface of these was covered with lichens of the genus gyrophora, which the Canadians term tripe de roche. A considerable quantity was gathered, and with half a partridge each, (which we shot in the course of the day,) furnished a slender supper, which we cooked with a few willows, dug up from beneath the snow. We passed a comfortless night in our damp clothes, but took the precaution of sleeping upon our socks and shoes to prevent them from freezing. This plan was afterwards adopted throughout the journey.

At half past five in the morning we proceeded; and after walking about two miles, came to Cracroft's River, flowing to the westward, with a very rapid current over a rocky channel. We had much difficulty in crossing this, the canoe being useless, not only from the bottom of the channel being obstructed by large stones, but also from its requiring gumming, an operation which, owing to the want of wood and the frost, we were unable to perform. However, after following the course of the river some distance we effected a passage by means of a range of large rocks that crossed a[Pg 257] rapid. As the current was strong, and many of the rocks were covered with water to the depth of two or three feet, the men were exposed to much danger in carrying their heavy burdens across, and several of them actually slipped into the stream, but were immediately rescued by the others. Junius went farther up the river in search of a better crossing-place and did not rejoin us this day. As several of the party were drenched from head to foot, and we were all wet to the middle, our clothes became stiff with the frost, and we walked with much pain for the remainder of the day. The march was continued to a late hour from our anxiety to rejoin the hunters who had gone before, but we were obliged to encamp at the end of ten miles and a quarter, without seeing them. Our only meal to-day consisted of a partridge each (which the hunters shot,) mixed with tripe de roche. This repast, although scanty for men with appetites such as our daily fatigue created, proved a cheerful one, and was received with thankfulness. Most of the men had to sleep in the open air, in consequence of the absence of Crédit, who carried their tent; but we fortunately found an unusual quantity of roots to make a fire, which prevented their suffering much from the cold, though the thermometer was at 17°.

We started at six on the 9th, and at the end of[Pg 258] two miles regained our hunters, who were halting on the borders of a lake amidst a clump of stunted willows. This lake stretched to the westward as far as we could see, and its waters were discharged by a rapid stream one hundred and fifty yards wide. Being entirely ignorant where we might be led by pursuing the course of the lake, and dreading the idea of going a mile unnecessarily out of the way, we determined on crossing the river if possible; and the canoe was gummed for the purpose, the willows furnishing us with fire. But we had to await the return of Junius before we could make the traverse. In the mean time we gathered a little tripe de roche, and breakfasted upon it and a few partridges that were killed in the morning. St. Germain and Adam were sent upon some recent tracks of deer. Junius arrived in the afternoon and informed us that he had seen a large herd of musk-oxen on the banks of Cracroft's River, and had wounded one of them, but it escaped. He brought about four pounds of meat, the remains of a deer that had been devoured by the wolves. The poor fellow was much fatigued, having walked throughout the night, but as the weather was particularly favourable for our crossing the river, we could not allow him to rest. After he had taken some refreshment we proceeded to the river. The[Pg 259] canoe being put into the water was found extremely ticklish, but it was managed with much dexterity by St. Germain, Adam, and Peltier, who ferried over one passenger at a time, causing him to lie flat in its bottom, by no means a pleasant position, owing to its leakiness, but there was no alternative. The transport of the whole party was effected by five o'clock and we walked about two miles further and encamped, having come five miles and three quarters on a south-west course. Two young alpine hares were shot by St. Germain, which, with the small piece of meat brought in by Junius, furnished the supper of the whole party. There was no tripe de roche here. The country had now become decidedly hilly, and was covered with snow. The lake preserved its western direction, as far as I could see from the summit of the highest mountain near the encampment. We subsequently learned from the Copper Indians, that the part at which we had crossed the river was the Congecatha-wha-chaga of Hearne, of which I had little idea at the time, not only from the difference of latitude, but also from its being so much further east of the mouth of the Copper-Mine River, than his track is laid down; he only making one degree and three quarters' difference of longitude, and we, upwards of four. Had I been aware of the fact, several days' harassing march, and a disastrous accident[Pg 260] would have been prevented by keeping on the western side of the lake, instead of crossing the river. We were informed also, that this river is the Anatessy or River of Strangers, and is supposed to fall into Bathurst's Inlet; but although the Indians have visited its mouth, their description was not sufficient to identify it with any of the rivers whose mouths we had seen. It probably discharges itself in that part of the coast which was hid from our view by Goulbourn's or Elliott's Islands.

September 10.—We had a cold north wind, and the atmosphere was foggy. The thermometer 18° at five A.M. In the course of our march this morning, we passed many small lakes; and the ground becoming higher and more hilly as we receded from the river, was covered to a much greater depth with snow. This rendered walking not only extremely laborious, but also hazardous in the highest degree; for the sides of the hills, as is usual throughout the barren grounds, abounding in accumulations of large angular stones, it often happened that the men fell into the interstices with their loads on their backs, being deceived by the smooth appearance of the drifted snow. If any one had broken a limb here, his fate would have been melancholy indeed; we could neither have remained with him, nor carried him on. We halted at ten to[Pg 261] gather tripe de roche, but it was so frozen, that we were quite benumbed with cold before a sufficiency could be collected even for a scanty meal. On proceeding our men were somewhat cheered, by observing on the sandy summit of a hill, from whence the snow had been blown, the summer track of a man; and afterwards by seeing several deer tracks on the snow. About noon the weather cleared up a little, and to our great joy, we saw a herd of musk-oxen grazing in a valley below us. The party instantly halted, and the best hunters were sent out; they approached the animals with the utmost caution, no less than two hours being consumed before they got within gun-shot. In the mean time we beheld their proceedings with extreme anxiety, and many secret prayers were, doubtless, offered up for their success. At length they opened their fire, and we had the satisfaction of seeing one of the largest cows fall; another was wounded, but escaped. This success infused spirit into our starving party. To skin and cut up the animal was the work of a few minutes. The contents of its stomach were devoured upon the spot, and the raw intestines, which were next attacked, were pronounced by the most delicate amongst us to be excellent. A few willows, whose tops were seen peeping through the snow in the bottom of the valley, were quickly grubbed, the tents[Pg 262] pitched, and supper cooked, and devoured with avidity. This was the sixth day since we had had a good meal; the tripe de roche, even where we got enough, only serving to allay the pangs of hunger for a short time. After supper, two of the hunters went in pursuit of the herd, but could not get near them. I do not think that we witnessed through the course of our journey a more striking proof of the wise dispensation of the Almighty, and of the weakness of our own judgment than on this day. We had considered the dense fog which prevailed throughout the morning, as almost the greatest inconvenience that could have befallen us, since it rendered the air extremely cold, and prevented us from distinguishing any distant object towards which our course could be directed. Yet this very darkness enabled the party to get to the top of the hill which bounded the valley wherein the musk-oxen were grazing, without being perceived. Had the herd discovered us and taken alarm, our hunters in their present state of debility would in all probability have failed in approaching them.

We were detained all the next day by a strong southerly wind, and were much incommoded in the tents by the drift snow. The temperature was 20°. The average for the last ten days about 24°. We restricted ourselves to one[Pg 263] meal this day, as we were at rest, and there was only meat remaining sufficient for the morrow.

The gale had not diminished on the 12th, and, as we were fearful of its continuance for some time, we determined on going forward; our only doubt regarded the preservation of the canoe, but the men promised to pay particular attention to it, and the most careful persons were appointed to take it in charge. The snow was two feet deep and the ground much broken, which rendered the march extremely painful. The whole party complained more of faintness and weakness than they had ever done before; their strength seemed to have been impaired by the recent supply of animal food. In the afternoon the wind abated, and the snow ceased; cheered with the change, we proceeded forward at a quicker pace, and encamped at six P.M., having come eleven miles. Our supper consumed the last of our meat.

We set out on the 13th, in thick hazy weather, and, after an hour's march, had the extreme mortification to find ourselves on the borders of a large lake; neither of its extremities could be seen, and as the portion which lay to the east seemed the widest, we coasted along to the westward portion in search of a crossing-place. This lake being bounded by steep and lofty hills, our march was very fatiguing. Those sides which were exposed to the sun, were free from snow, and we[Pg 264] found upon them some excellent berries. We encamped at six P.M., having come only six miles and a half. Crédit was then missing, and he did not return during the night. We supped off a single partridge and some tripe de roche; this unpalatable weed was now quite nauseous to the whole party, and in several it produced bowel complaints. Mr. Hood was the greatest sufferer from this cause. This evening we were extremely distressed, at discovering that our improvident companions, since we left Hood's River had thrown away three of the fishing-nets, and burnt the floats; they knew we had brought them to procure subsistence for the party, when the animals should fail, and we could scarcely believe the fact of their having wilfully deprived themselves of this resource, especially when we considered that most of them had passed the greater part of their servitude in situations where the nets alone had supplied them with food. Being thus deprived of our principal resource, that of fishing, and the men evidently getting weaker every day, it became necessary to lighten their burdens of every thing except ammunition, clothing, and the instruments that were required to find our way. I, therefore, issued directions to deposit at this encampment the dipping needle, azimuth compass, magnet, a large thermometer, and a few books we had carried, having torn out[Pg 265] of these, such parts as we should require to work the observations for latitude and longitude. I also promised, as an excitement to the efforts in hunting, my gun to St. Germain, and an ample compensation to Adam, or any of the other men who should kill any animals. Mr. Hood, on this occasion, lent his gun to Michel, the Iroquois, who was very eager in the chase, and often successful.

September 14.—This morning the officers being assembled round a small fire, Perrault presented each of us with a small piece of meat which he had saved from his allowance. It was received with great thankfulness, and such an act of self-denial and kindness, being totally unexpected in a Canadian voyager, filled our eyes with tears. In directing our course to a river issuing from the lake, we met Crédit, who communicated the joyful intelligence of his having killed two deer in the morning. We instantly halted, and having shared the deer that was nearest to us, prepared breakfast. After which, the other deer was sent for, and we went down to the river, which was about three hundred yards wide, and flowed with great velocity through a broken rocky channel. Having searched for a part where the current was most smooth, the canoe was placed in the water at the head of a rapid, and St. Germain, Solomon Belanger, and I, embarked in order to cross. We went from the shore very well, but in[Pg 266] mid-channel the canoe became difficult to manage under our burden as the breeze was fresh. The current drove us to the edge of the rapid, when Belanger unluckily applied his paddle to avert the apparent danger of being forced down it, and lost his balance. The canoe was overset in consequence in the middle of the rapid. We fortunately kept hold of it, until we touched a rock where the water did not reach higher than our waists; here we kept our footing, notwithstanding the strength of the current, until the water was emptied out of the canoe. Belanger then held the canoe steady whilst St. Germain placed me in it, and afterwards embarked himself in a very dextrous manner. It was impossible, however, to embark Belanger, as the canoe would have been hurried down the rapid, the moment he should have raised his foot from the rock on which he stood. We were, therefore, compelled to leave him in his perilous situation. We had not gone twenty yards before the canoe, striking on a sunken rock, went down. The place being shallow, we were again enabled to empty it, and the third attempt brought us to the shore. In the mean time Belanger was suffering extremely, immersed to his middle in the centre of a rapid, the temperature of which was very little above the freezing point, and the upper part of his body covered with wet clothes, exposed in a[Pg 267] temperature not much above zero, to a strong breeze. He called piteously for relief, and St. Germain on his return endeavoured to embark him, but in vain. The canoe was hurried down the rapid, and when he landed he was rendered by the cold incapable of further exertion, and Adam attempted to embark Belanger, but found it impossible. An attempt was next made to carry out to him a line, made of the slings of the men's loads. This also failed, the current acting so strongly upon it, as to prevent the canoe from steering, and it was finally broken and carried down the stream. At length, when Belanger's strength seemed almost exhausted, the canoe reached him with a small cord belonging to one of the nets, and he was dragged perfectly senseless through the rapid. By the direction of Dr. Richardson, he was instantly stripped, and being rolled up in blankets, two men undressed themselves and went to bed with him: but it was some hours before he recovered his warmth and sensations. As soon as Belanger was placed in his bed, the officers sent over my blankets, and a person to make a fire. Augustus brought the canoe over, and in returning he was obliged to descend both the rapids, before he could get across the stream; which hazardous service he performed with the greatest coolness and judgment. It is impossible to describe my[Pg 268] sensations as I witnessed the various unsuccessful attempts to relieve Belanger. The distance prevented my seeing distinctly what was going on, and I continued pacing up and down upon the rock on which I landed, regardless of the coldness of my drenched and stiffening garments. The canoe, in every attempt to reach him, was hurried down the rapid, and was lost to view amongst the rocky islets, with a rapidity that seemed to threaten certain destruction; once, indeed, I fancied that I saw it overwhelmed in the waves. Such an event would have been fatal to the whole party. Separated as I was from my companions, without gun, ammunition, hatchet, or the means of making a fire, and in wet clothes, my doom would have been speedily sealed. My companions too, driven to the necessity of coasting the lake, must have sunk under the fatigue of rounding its innumerable arms and bays, which, as we have learned from the Indians, are very extensive. By the goodness of Providence, however, we were spared at that time, and some of us have been permitted to offer up our thanksgivings, in a civilized land, for the signal deliverances we then and afterwards experienced.

By this accident I had the misfortune to lose my portfolio, containing my journal from Fort Enterprise, together with all the astronomical and[Pg 269] meteorological observations made during the descent of the Copper-Mine River, and along the sea-coast, (except those for the dip and variation.) I was in the habit of carrying it strapped across my shoulders, but had taken it off on entering the canoe, to reduce the upper weight. The results of most of the observations for latitude and longitude, had been registered in the sketch books, so that we preserved the requisites for the construction of the chart. The meteorological observations, not having been copied, were lost. My companions, Dr. Richardson, Mr. Back, and Mr. Hood, had been so careful in noting every occurrence in their journals, that the loss of mine could fortunately be well supplied. These friends immediately offered me their documents, and every assistance in drawing up another narrative, of which kindness I availed myself at the earliest opportunity afterwards.

September 15.—The rest of the party were brought across this morning, and we were delighted to find Belanger so much recovered as to be able to proceed, but we could not set out until noon, as the men had to prepare substitutes for the slings which were lost yesterday. Soon after leaving the encampment we discerned a herd of deer, and after a long chase a fine male was killed by Perrault, several others were wounded but they escaped. After this we passed round[Pg 270] the north end of a branch of the lake, and ascended the Willingham Mountains, keeping near the border of the lake. These hills were steep, craggy, and covered with snow. We encamped at seven and enjoyed a substantial meal. The party were in good spirits this evening at the recollection of having crossed the rapid, and being in possession of provision for the next day. Besides we had taken the precaution of bringing away the skin of the deer to eat when the meat should fail. The temperature at six P.M. was 30°.

We started at seven next morning and marched until ten, when the appearance of a few willows peeping through the snow induced us to halt and breakfast. Recommencing the journey at noon, we passed over a more rugged country, where the hills were separated by deep ravines, whose steep sides were equally difficult to descend and to ascend, and the toil and suffering we experienced were greatly increased.

The party was quite fatigued, when we encamped, having come ten miles and three quarters. We observed many summer deer roads, and some recent tracks. Some marks that had been put up by the Indians were also noticed. We have since learned that this is a regular deer pass, and on that account, annually frequented by the Copper Indians. The lake is called by them[Pg 271] Contwoy-to, or Rum Lake; in consequence of Mr. Hearne having here given the Indians who accompanied him some of that liquor. Fish is not found here.

We walked next day over a more level country, but it was strewed with large stones. These galled our feet a good deal; we contrived, however, to wade through the snow at a tolerably quick pace until five P.M., having proceeded twelve miles and a half. We had made to-day our proper course, south by east, which we could not venture upon doing before, for fear of falling again upon some branch of the Contwoy-to. Some deer were seen in the morning, but the hunters failed of killing any, and in the afternoon we fell into the track of a large herd, which had passed the day before, but did not overtake them. In consequence of this want of success we had no breakfast, and but a scanty supper; but we allayed the pangs of hunger, by eating pieces of singed hide. A little tripe de roche[14] was also obtained. These would have satisfied us in ordinary times, but we were now almost exhausted by slender fare and travel, and our appetites had become ravenous. We looked, however, with humble confidence to the Great Author and Giver of all good, for a continuance of the support[Pg 272] which had hitherto been always supplied to us at our greatest need. The thermometer varied to-day between 25° and 28°. The wind blew fresh from the south.

[14] The different kinds of gyrophora, are termed indiscriminately by the voyagers, tripe de roche.

On the 18th the atmosphere was hazy, but the day was more pleasant for walking than usual. The country was level and gravelly, and the snow very deep. We went for a short time along a deeply-beaten road made by the rein-deer, which turned suddenly off to the south-west, a direction so wide of our course that we could not venture upon following it. All the small lakes were frozen, and we marched across those which lay in our track. We supped off the tripe de roche which had been gathered during our halts in the course of the march. Thermometer at six P.M. 32°.

Showers of snow fell without intermission through the night, but they ceased in the morning, and we set out at the usual hour. The men were very faint from hunger, and marched with difficulty, having to oppose a fresh breeze, and to wade through snow two feet deep. We gained, however, ten miles by four o'clock, and then encamped. The canoe was unfortunately broken by the fall of the person who had it in charge. No tripe de roche was seen to-day, but in clearing the snow to pitch the tents we found a quantity of Iceland moss, which was boiled for[Pg 273] supper. This weed, not having been soaked, proved so bitter, that few of the party could eat more than a few spoonfuls.

Our blankets did not suffice this evening to keep us in tolerable warmth; the slightest breeze seeming to pierce through our debilitated frames. The reader will, probably, be desirous to know how we passed our time in such a comfortless situation: the first operation after encamping was to thaw our frozen shoes, if a sufficient fire could be made, and dry ones were put on; each person then wrote his notes of the daily occurrences, and evening prayers were read; as soon as supper was prepared it was eaten, generally in the dark, and we went to bed, and kept up a cheerful conversation until our blankets were thawed by the heat of our bodies, and we had gathered sufficient warmth to enable us to fall asleep. On many nights we had not even the luxury of going to bed in dry clothes, for when the fire was insufficient to dry our shoes, we durst not venture to pull them off, lest they should freeze so hard as to be unfit to put on in the morning, and, therefore, inconvenient to carry.

On the 20th we got into a hilly country, and the marching became much more laborious, even[Pg 274] the stoutest experienced great difficulty in climbing the craggy eminences. Mr. Hood was particularly weak, and was obliged to relinquish his station of second in the line, which Dr. Richardson now took, to direct the leading man in keeping the appointed course. I was also unable to keep pace with the men, who put forth their utmost speed, encouraged by the hope, which our reckoning had led us to form, of seeing Point Lake in the evening, but we were obliged to encamp without gaining a view of it. We had not seen either deer or their tracks through the day, and this circumstance, joined to the disappointment of not discovering the lake, rendered our voyagers very desponding, and the meagre supper of tripe de roche was little calculated to elevate their spirits. They now threatened to throw away their bundles, and quit us, which rash act they would probably have committed, if they had known what track to pursue.

September 21.—We set out at seven this morning in dark foggy weather, and changed our course two points to the westward. The party were very feeble, and the men much dispirited; we made slow progress, having to march over a hilly and very rugged country.

Just before noon the sun beamed through the[Pg 275] haze for the first time for six days, and we obtained an observation in latitude 65° 7' 06" N., which was six miles to the southward of that part of Point Lake to which our course was directed. By this observation we discovered that we had kept to the eastward of the proper course, which may be attributed partly to the difficulty of preserving a straight line through an unknown country, unassisted by celestial observations, and in such thick weather, that our view was often limited to a few hundred yards; but chiefly to our total ignorance of the amount of the variation of the compass.

We altered the course immediately to west-south-west, and fired guns to apprize the hunters who were out of our view, and ignorant of our having done so. After walking about two miles we waited to collect the stragglers. Two partridges were killed, and these with some tripe de roche, furnished our supper. Notwithstanding a full explanation was given to the men of the reasons for altering the course, and they were assured that the observation had enabled us to discover our exact distance from Fort Enterprise, they could not divest themselves of the idea of our having lost our way, and a gloom was spread over every countenance. At this encampment Dr. Richardson was obliged to deposit his specimens[Pg 276] of plants and minerals, collected on the sea-coast, being unable to carry them any farther. The way made to-day was five miles and a quarter.

September 22.—After walking about two miles this morning, we came upon the borders of an extensive lake, whose extremities could not be discerned in consequence of the density of the atmosphere; but as its shores seemed to approach nearer to each other to the southward than to the northward, we determined on tracing it in that direction. We were grieved at finding the lake expand very much beyond the contracted part we had first seen, and incline to the eastward of south. As, however, it was considered more than probable, from the direction and size of the body of water we were now tracing, that it was a branch of Point Lake; and as, in any case, we knew that by passing round its south end, we must shortly come to the Copper-Mine River, our course was continued in that direction. The appearance of some dwarf pines and willows, larger than usual, induced us to suppose the river was near. We encamped early, having come eight miles. Our supper consisted of tripe de roche and half a partridge each.

Our progress next day was extremely slow, from the difficulty of managing the canoe in passing[Pg 277] over the hills, as the breeze was fresh. Peltier who had it in charge, having received several severe falls, became impatient, and insisted on leaving his burden, as it had already been much injured by the accidents of this day; and no arguments we could use were sufficient to prevail on him to continue carrying it. Vaillant was, therefore, directed to take it, and we proceeded forward. Having found that he got on very well, and was walking even faster than Mr. Hood could follow, in his present debilitated state, I pushed forward to stop the rest of the party, who had got out of sight during the delay which the discussion respecting the canoe had occasioned. I accidentally passed the body of the men, and followed the tracks of two persons who had separated from the rest, until two P.M., when not seeing any person, I retraced my steps, and on my way met Dr. Richardson, who had also missed the party whilst he was employed gathering tripe de roche, and we went back together in search of them. We found they had halted among some willows, where they had picked up some pieces of skin, and a few bones of deer that had been devoured by the wolves last spring. They had rendered the bones friable by burning, and eaten them as well as the skin; and several of them had added their old shoes to the repast. Peltier and Vaillant[Pg 278] were with them, having left the canoe, which, they said, was so completely broken by another fall, as to be rendered incapable of repair, and entirely useless. The anguish this intelligence occasioned may be conceived, but it is beyond my power to describe it. Impressed, however, with the necessity of taking it forward, even in the state these men represented it to be, we urgently desired them to fetch it; but they declined going, and the strength of the officers was inadequate to the task. To their infatuated obstinacy on this occasion, a great portion of the melancholy circumstances which attended our subsequent progress may, perhaps, be attributed. The men now seemed to have lost all hope of being preserved; and all the arguments we could use failed in stimulating them to the least exertion. After consuming the remains of the bones and horns of the deer we resumed our march, and in the evening, reached a contracted part of the lake, which, perceiving it to be shallow, we forded, and encamped on the opposite side. Heavy rain began soon afterwards, and continued all night. On the following morning the rain had so wasted the snow, that the tracks of Mr. Back and his companions, who had gone before with the hunters, were traced with difficulty; and the frequent showers during the day almost obliterated[Pg 279] them. The men became furious at the apprehension of being deserted by the hunters, and some of the strongest throwing down their bundles, prepared to set out after them, intending to leave the more weak to follow as they could. The entreaties and threats of the officers, however, prevented their executing this mad scheme; but not before Solomon Belanger was despatched with orders for Mr. Back to halt until we should join him. Soon afterwards a thick fog came on, but we continued our march and overtook Mr. Back, who had been detained in consequence of his companions having followed some recent tracks of deer. After halting an hour, during which we refreshed ourselves with eating our old shoes, and a few scraps of leather, we set forward in the hope of ascertaining whether an adjoining piece of water was the Copper-Mine River or not, but were soon compelled to return and encamp, for fear of a separation of the party, as we could not see each other at ten yards' distance. The fog diminishing towards evening, Augustus was sent to examine the water, but having lost his way he did not reach the tents before midnight, when he brought the information of its being a lake. We supped upon, tripe de roche, and enjoyed a comfortable fire, having found some pines,[Pg 280] seven or eight feet high, in a valley near the encampment.

The bounty of Providence was most seasonably manifested to us next morning, in our killing five small deer out of a herd, which came in sight as we were on the point of starting. This unexpected supply re-animated the drooping spirits of our men, and filled every heart with gratitude.

The voyagers instantly petitioned for a day's rest which we were most reluctant to grant, being aware of the importance of every moment at this critical period of our journey. But they so earnestly and strongly pleaded their recent sufferings, and their conviction, that the quiet enjoyment of two substantial meals, after eight days' famine, would enable them to proceed next day more vigorously, that we could not resist their entreaties. The flesh, the skins, and even the contents of the stomachs of the deer were equally distributed among the party by Mr. Hood, who had volunteered, on the departure of Mr. Wentzel, to perform the duty of issuing the provision. This invidious task he had all along performed with great impartiality, but seldom without producing some grumbling amongst the Canadians; and, on the present occasion, the hunters were displeased[Pg 281] that the heads and some other parts, had not been added to their portions. It is proper to remark, that Mr. Hood always took the smallest portion for his own mess, but this weighed little with these men, as long as their own appetites remained unsatisfied. We all suffered much inconvenience from eating animal food after our long abstinence, but particularly those men who indulged themselves beyond moderation. The Canadians, with their usual thoughtlessness, had consumed above a third of their portions of meat that evening.

We set out early on the 26th, and after walking about three miles along the lake, came to the river which we at once recognised, from its size, to be the Copper-Mine. It flowed to the northward, and after winding about five miles, terminated in Point Lake. Its current was swift, and there were two rapids in this part of its course, which in a canoe we could have crossed with ease and safety. These rapids, as well as every other part of the river, were carefully examined in search of a ford; but finding none, the expedients occurred, of attempting to cross on a raft made of the willows which were growing there, or in a vessel framed with willows, and covered with the canvass of the tents; but both these schemes were abandoned, through the obstinacy of the[Pg 282] interpreters and the most experienced voyagers, who declared that they would prove inadequate to the conveyance of the party, and that much time would be lost in the attempt. The men, in fact, did not believe that this was the Copper-Mine River, and so little confidence had they in our reckoning, and so much had they bewildered themselves on the march that some of them asserted it was Hood's River, and others that it was the Bethe-tessy. (A river which rises from a lake to the northward of Rum Lake, and holds a course to the sea parallel with that of the Copper-Mine.) In short, their despondency had returned, and they all despaired of seeing Fort Enterprise again. However, the steady assurances of the officers that we were actually on the banks of the Copper-Mine River, and that the distance to Fort Enterprise did not exceed forty miles, made some impression upon them, which was increased upon our finding some bear-berry plants (arbutus uva ursi,) which are reported by the Indians not to grow to the eastward of that river. They then deplored their folly and impatience in breaking the canoe, being all of opinion, that had it not been so completely demolished on the 23d, it might have been repaired sufficiently to take the party over. We again closely interrogated Peltier and Vaillant as to its state, with the intention of[Pg 283] sending for it; but they persisted in the declaration, that it was in a totally unserviceable condition. St. Germain being again called upon to endeavour to construct a canoe frame with willows, stated that he was unable to make one sufficiently large. It became necessary, therefore, to search for pines of sufficient size to form a raft; and being aware that such trees grow on the borders of Point Lake, we considered it best to trace its shores in search of them; we, therefore, resumed our march, carefully looking, but in vain, for a fordable part, and encamped at the east end of Point Lake.

As there was little danger of our losing the path of our hunters whilst we coasted the shores of this lake, I determined on again sending Mr. Back forward, with the interpreters to hunt. I had in view, in this arrangement, the further object of enabling Mr. Back to get across the lake with two of these men, to convey the earliest possible account of our situation to the Indians. Accordingly I instructed him to halt at the first pines he should come to, and then prepare a raft; and if his hunters had killed animals, so that the party could be supported whilst we were making our raft, he was to cross immediately with St. Germain and Beauparlant, and send the Indians[Pg 284] to us as quickly as possible with supplies of meat.

We had this evening the pain of discovering that two of our men had stolen part of the officers' provision, which had been allotted to us with strict impartiality. This conduct was the more reprehensible, as it was plain that we were suffering, even in a greater degree than themselves, from the effects of famine, owing to our being of a less robust habit, and less accustomed to privations. We had no means of punishing this crime, but by the threat that they should forfeit their wages, which had now ceased to operate.

Mr. Back and his companions set out at six in the morning, and we started at seven. As the snow had entirely disappeared, and there were no means of distinguishing the footsteps of stragglers, I gave strict orders, previously to setting out, for all the party to keep together: and especially I desired the two Esquimaux not to leave us, they having often strayed in search of the remains of animals. Our people, however, through despondency, had become careless and disobedient, and had ceased to dread punishment, or hope for reward. Much time was lost in halting and firing guns to collect them, but the labour of walking was so much lightened by the[Pg 285] disappearance of the snow, that we advanced seven or eight miles along the lake before noon, exclusive of the loss of distance in rounding its numerous bays. At length we came to an arm, running away to the north-east, and apparently connected with the lake which we had coasted on the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th, of the month.

The idea of again rounding such an extensive piece of water and of travelling over so barren a country was dreadful, and we feared that other arms, equally large, might obstruct our path, and that the strength of the party would entirely fail, long before we could reach the only part where we were certain of finding wood, distant in a direct line twenty-five miles. While we halted to consider of this subject, and to collect the party, the carcase of a deer was discovered in the cleft of a rock into which it had fallen in the spring. It was putrid, but little less acceptable to us on that account, in our present circumstances; and a fire being kindled, a large portion was devoured on the spot, affording us an unexpected breakfast, for in order to husband our small remaining portion of meat, we had agreed to make only one scanty meal a day. The men, cheered by this unlooked-for supply, became sanguine in the hope of being able to cross the stream on a raft of willows, although they had[Pg 286] before declared such a project impracticable, and they unanimously entreated us to return back to the rapid, a request which accorded with our own opinion, and was therefore acceded to. Crédit and Junius, however, were missing, and it was also necessary to send notice of our intention to Mr. Back and his party. Augustus being promised a reward, undertook the task, and we agreed to wait for him at the rapid. It was supposed he could not fail meeting with the two stragglers on his way to or from Mr. Back, as it was likely they would keep on the borders of the lake. He accordingly set out after Mr. Back, whilst we returned about a mile towards the rapid, and encamped in a deep valley amongst some large willows. We supped on the remains of the putrid deer, and the men having gone to the spot where it was found, scraped together the contents of its intestines which were scattered on the rock, and added them to their meal. We also enjoyed the luxury to-day of eating a large quantity of excellent blue-berries and cran-berries (vaccinium uliginosum and v. vitis idæa) which were laid bare by the melting of the snow, but nothing could allay our inordinate appetites.

In the night we heard the report of Crédit's gun in answer to our signal muskets, and he rejoined us in the morning, but we got no intelligence[Pg 287] of Junius. We set out about an hour after day-break, and encamped at two P.M. between the rapids, where the river was about one hundred and thirty yards wide, being its narrowest part.

Eight deer were seen by Michel and Crédit, who loitered behind the rest of the party, but they could not approach them. A great many shots were fired by those in the rear at partridges, but they missed, or at least did not choose to add what they killed to the common stock. We subsequently learned that the hunters often secreted the partridges they shot, and ate them unknown to the officers. Some tripe de roche was collected, which we boiled for supper, with the moiety of the remainder of our deer's meat. The men commenced cutting the willows for the construction of the raft. As an excitement to exertion, I promised a reward of three hundred livres to the first person who should convey a line across the river, by which the raft could be managed in transporting the party.

September 29.—Strong south-east winds with fog in the morning, more moderate in the evening. Temperature of the rapid 38°. The men began at an early hour to bind the willows in fagots for the construction of the raft, and it was finished by seven; but as the willows were green,[Pg 288] it proved to be very little buoyant, and was unable to support more than one man at a time. Even on this, however, we hoped the whole party might be transported, by hauling it from one side to the other, provided a line could be carried to the other bank. Several attempts were made by Belanger and Benoit, the strongest men of the party, to convey the raft across the stream, but they failed for want of oars. A pole constructed by tying the tent poles together, was too short to reach the bottom at a short distance from the shore; and a paddle which had been carried from the sea-coast by Dr. Richardson, did not possess sufficient power to move the raft in opposition to a strong breeze, which blew from the other side. All the men suffered extremely from the coldness of the water, in which they were necessarily immersed up to the waists, in their endeavours to aid Belanger and Benoit; and having witnessed repeated failures, they began to consider the scheme as hopeless. At this time Dr. Richardson, prompted by a desire of relieving his suffering companions, proposed to swim across the stream with a line, and to haul the raft over. He launched into the stream with the line round his middle, but when he had got a short distance from the bank, his arms became benumbed with cold, and he lost the power of moving them; still[Pg 289] he persevered, and, turning on his back, had nearly gained the opposite bank, when his legs also became powerless, and to our infinite alarm we beheld him sink. We instantly hauled upon the line and he came again on the surface, and was gradually drawn ashore in an almost lifeless state. Being rolled up in blankets, he was placed before a good fire of willows, and fortunately was just able to speak sufficiently to give some slight directions respecting the manner of treating him. He recovered strength gradually, and through the blessing of God was enabled in the course of a few hours to converse, and by the evening was sufficiently recovered to remove into the tent. We then regretted to learn, that the skin of his whole left side was deprived of feeling, in consequence of exposure to too great heat. He did not perfectly recover the sensation of that side until the following summer. I cannot describe what every one felt at beholding the skeleton which the Doctor's debilitated frame exhibited. When he stripped, the Canadians simultaneously exclaimed, "Ah! que nous sommes maigres!" I shall best explain his state and that of the party, by the following extract from his journal: "It may be worthy of remark that I should have had little hesitation in any former period of my life, at plunging into water even below 38° Fahrenheit;[Pg 290] but at this time I was reduced almost to skin and bone, and, like the rest of the party, suffered from degrees of cold that would have been disregarded in health and vigour. During the whole of our march we experienced that no quantity of clothing could keep us warm whilst we fasted, but on those occasions on which we were enabled to go to bed with full stomachs, we passed the night in a warm and comfortable manner."

In following the detail of our friend's narrow escape, I have omitted to mention, that when he was about to step into the water, he put his foot on a dagger, which cut him to the bone; but this misfortune could not stop him from attempting the execution of his generous undertaking.

In the evening Augustus came in. He had walked a day and a half beyond the place from whence we turned back, but had neither seen Junius nor Mr. Back. Of the former he had seen no traces, but he had followed the tracks of Mr. Back's party for a considerable distance, until the hardness of the ground rendered them imperceptible. Junius was well equipped with ammunition, blankets, knives, a kettle, and other necessaries; and it was the opinion of Augustus that when he found he could not rejoin the party, he would endeavour to gain the woods on the west end of Point Lake, and follow the river until[Pg 291] he fell in with the Esquimaux, who frequent its mouth. The Indians too with whom we have since conversed upon this subject, are confident that he would be able to subsist himself during the winter. Crédit, on his hunting excursion to-day, found a cap, which our people recognised to belong to one of the hunters who had left us in the spring. This circumstance produced the conviction of our being on the banks of the Copper-Mine River, which all the assertions of the officers had hitherto failed in effecting with some of the party; and it had the happy consequence of reviving their spirits considerably. We consumed the last of our deer's meat this evening at supper.

Next morning the men went out in search of dry willows, and collected eight large fagots, with which they formed a more buoyant raft than the former, but the wind being still adverse and strong, they delayed attempting to cross until a more favourable opportunity. Pleased, however, with the appearance of this raft, they collected some tripe de roche, and made a cheerful supper. Dr. Richardson was gaining strength, but his leg was much swelled and very painful. An observation for latitude placed the encampment in 65° 00' 00" N., the longitude being 112° 20' 00" W., deduced from the last observation.

On the morning of the 1st of October, the wind[Pg 292] was strong, and the weather as unfavourable as before for crossing on the raft. We were rejoiced to see Mr. Back and his party in the afternoon. They had traced the lake about fifteen miles farther than we did, and found it undoubtedly connected, as we had supposed, with the lake we fell in with on the 22nd of September; and dreading, as we had done, the idea of coasting its barren shores, they returned to make an attempt at crossing here. St. Germain now proposed to make a canoe of the fragments of painted canvass in which we wrapped our bedding. This scheme appearing practicable, a party was sent to our encampment of the 24th and 25th last, to collect pitch amongst the small pines that grew there, to pay over the seams of the canoe.

In the afternoon we had a heavy fall of snow, which continued all night. A small quantity of tripe de roche was gathered; and Crédit, who had been hunting, brought in the antlers and back bone of a deer which had been killed in the summer. The wolves and birds of prey had picked them clean, but there still remained a quantity of the spinal marrow which they had not been able to extract. This, although putrid, was esteemed a valuable prize, and the spine being divided into portions, was distributed equally.[Pg 293] After eating the marrow, which was so acrid as to excoriate the lips, we rendered the bones friable by burning, and ate them also.

On the following morning the ground was covered with snow to the depth of a foot and a half, and the weather was very stormy. These circumstances rendered the men again extremely despondent; a settled gloom hung over their countenances, and they refused to pick tripe de roche, choosing rather to go entirely without eating, than to make any exertion. The party which went for gum returned early in the morning without having found any; but St. Germain said he could still make the canoe with the willows, covered with canvass, and removed with Adam to a clump of willows for that purpose. Mr. Back accompanied them to stimulate his exertion, as we feared the lowness of his spirits would cause him to be slow in his operations. Augustus went to fish at the rapid, but a large trout having carried away his bait, we had nothing to replace it.

The snow-storm continued all the night, and during the forenoon of the 3d. Having persuaded the people to gather some tripe de roche, I partook of a meal with them; and afterwards set out with the intention of going to St. Germain to hasten his operations, but though he was only three quarters of a mile distant, I spent three[Pg 294] hours in a vain attempt to reach him, my strength being unequal to the labour of wading through the deep snow; and I returned quite exhausted, and much shaken by the numerous falls I had got. My associates were all in the same debilitated state, and poor Hood was reduced to a perfect shadow, from the severe bowel complaints which the tripe de roche never failed to give him. Back was so feeble as to require the support of a stick in walking; and Dr. Richardson had lameness superadded to weakness. The voyagers were somewhat stronger than ourselves, but more indisposed to exertion, on account of their despondency. The sensation of hunger was no longer felt by any of us, yet we were scarcely able to converse upon any other subject than the pleasures of eating. We were much indebted to Hepburn at this crisis. The officers were unable from weakness to gather tripe de roche themselves, and Samandrè, who had acted as our cook on the journey from the coast, sharing in the despair of the rest of the Canadians, refused to make the slightest exertion. Hepburn, on the contrary, animated by a firm reliance on the beneficence of the Supreme Being, tempered with resignation to his will, was indefatigable in his exertions to serve us, and daily collected all the tripe de roche that was used in the officers' mess. Mr.[Pg 295] Hood could not partake of this miserable fare, and a partridge which had been reserved for him was, I lament to say, this day stolen by one of the men.

October 4.—The canoe being finished, it was brought to the encampment, and the whole party being assembled in anxious expectation on the beach, St. Germain embarked, and amidst our prayers for his success, succeeded in reaching the opposite shore. The canoe was then drawn back again, and another person transported, and in this manner by drawing it backwards and forwards, we were all conveyed over without any serious accident. By these frequent traverses the canoe was materially injured; and latterly it filled each time with water before reaching the shore, so that all our garments and bedding were wet, and there was not a sufficiency of willows upon the side on which we now were, to make a fire to dry them.

That no time might be lost in procuring relief, I immediately despatched Mr. Back with St. Germain, Solomon Belanger, and Beauparlant, to search for the Indians, directing him to go to Fort Enterprise, where we expected they would be, or where, at least, a note from Mr. Wentzel would be found to direct us in our search for them. If St. Germain should kill any animals on[Pg 296] his way, a portion of the meat was to be put up securely for us, and conspicuous marks placed over it.

It is impossible to imagine a more gratifying change than was produced in our voyagers after we were all safely landed on the southern banks of the river. Their spirits immediately revived, each of them shook the officers cordially by the hand, and declared they now considered the worst of their difficulties over, as they did not doubt of reaching Fort Enterprise in a few days, even in their feeble condition. We had, indeed, every reason to be grateful, and our joy would have been complete had it not been mingled with sincere regret at the separation of our poor Esquimaux, the faithful Junius.

The want of tripe de roche caused us to go supperless to bed. Showers of snow fell frequently during the night. The breeze was light next morning, the weather cold and clear. We were all on foot by day-break, but from the frozen state of our tents and bed-clothes, it was long before the bundles could be made, and as usual, the men lingered over a small fire they had kindled, so that it was eight o'clock before we started. Our advance, from the depth of the snow, was slow, and about noon, coming to a spot where there was some tripe de roche, we stopped[Pg 297] to collect it, and breakfasted. Mr. Hood, who was now very feeble, and Dr. Richardson, who attached himself to him, walked together at a gentle pace in the rear of the party. I kept with the foremost men, to cause them to halt occasionally, until the stragglers came up. Resuming our march after breakfast, we followed the track of Mr. Back's party, and encamped early, as all of us were much fatigued, particularly Crédit, who having to-day carried the men's tent, it being his turn so to do, was so exhausted, that when he reached the encampment he was unable to stand. The tripe de roche disagreed with this man and with Vaillant, in consequence of which, they were the first whose strength totally failed. We had a small quantity of this weed in the evening, and the rest of our supper was made up of scraps of roasted leather. The distance walked to-day was six miles. As Crédit was very weak in the morning, his load was reduced to little more than his personal luggage, consisting of his blanket, shoes, and gun. Previous to setting out, the whole party ate the remains of their old shoes, and whatever scraps of leather they had, to strengthen their stomachs for the fatigue of the day's journey. We left the encampment at nine, and pursued our route over a[Pg 298] range of black hills. The wind having increased to a strong gale in the course of the morning, became piercingly cold, and the drift rendered it difficult for those in the rear to follow the track over the heights; whilst in the valleys, where it was sufficiently marked, from the depth of the snow, the labour of walking was proportionably great. Those in advance made, as usual, frequent halts, yet being unable from the severity of the weather to remain long still, they were obliged to move on before the rear could come up, and the party, of course, straggled very much.

About noon Samandrè coming up, informed us that Crédit and Vaillant could advance no further. Some willows being discovered in a valley near us, I proposed to halt the party there, whilst Dr. Richardson went back to visit them. I hoped too, that when the sufferers received the information of a fire being kindled at so short a distance they would be cheered, and use their utmost efforts to reach it, but this proved a vain hope. The Doctor found Vaillant about a mile and a half in the rear, much exhausted with cold and fatigue. Having encouraged him to advance to the fire, after repeated solicitations he made the attempt, but fell down amongst the deep snow at every step. Leaving him in this situation,[Pg 299] the Doctor went about half a mile farther back, to the spot where Crédit was said to have halted, and the track being nearly obliterated by the snow drift, it became unsafe for him to go further. Returning he passed Vaillant, who having moved only a few yards in his absence, had fallen down, was unable to rise, and could scarcely answer his questions. Being unable to afford him any effectual assistance, he hastened on to inform us of his situation. When J. B. Belanger had heard the melancholy account, he went immediately to aid Vaillant, and bring up his burden. Respecting Crédit, we were informed by Samandrè, that he had stopped a short distance behind Vaillant, but that his intention was to return to the encampment of the preceding evening.

When Belanger came back with Vaillant's load, he informed us that he had found him lying on his back, benumbed with cold, and incapable of being roused. The stoutest men of the party were now earnestly entreated to bring him to the fire, but they declared themselves unequal to the task; and, on the contrary, urged me to allow them to throw down their loads, and proceed to Fort Enterprise with the utmost speed. A compliance with their desire would have caused the loss of the whole party, for the men were totally ignorant of the course to be pursued, and none of[Pg 300] the officers, who could have directed the march, were sufficiently strong to keep up at the pace they would then walk; besides, even supposing them to have found their way, the strongest men would certainly have deserted the weak. Something, however, was absolutely necessary to be done, to relieve them as much as possible from their burdens, and the officers consulted on the subject. Mr. Hood and Dr. Richardson proposed to remain behind, with a single attendant, at the first place where sufficient wood and tripe de roche should be found for ten days' consumption; and that I should proceed as expeditiously as possible with the men to the house, and thence send them immediate relief. They strongly urged that this arrangement would contribute to the safety of the rest of the party, by relieving them from the burden of a tent, and several other articles; and that they might afford aid to Crédit, if he should unexpectedly come up. I was distressed beyond description at the thought of leaving them in such a dangerous situation, and for a long time combated their proposal; but they strenuously urged, that this step afforded the only chance of safety for the party, and I reluctantly acceded to it. The ammunition, of which we had a small barrel, was also to be left with them, and it was hoped that this deposit[Pg 301] would be a strong inducement for the Indians to venture across the barren grounds to their aid. We communicated this resolution to the men, who were cheered at the slightest prospect of alleviation to their present miseries, and promised with great appearance of earnestness to return to those officers, upon the first supply of food.

The party then moved on; Vaillant's blanket and other necessaries were left in the track, at the request of the Canadians, without any hope, however, of his being able to reach them. After marching till dusk without seeing a favourable place for encamping, night compelled us to take shelter under the lee of a hill, amongst some willows, with which, after many attempts, we at length made a fire. It was not sufficient, however, to warm the whole party, much less to thaw our shoes; and the weather not permitting the gathering of tripe de roche, we had nothing to cook. The painful retrospection of the melancholy events of the day banished sleep, and we shuddered as we contemplated the dreadful effects of this bitterly cold night on our two companions, if still living. Some faint hopes were entertained of Crédit's surviving the storm, as he was provided with a good blanket, and had leather to eat.

[Pg 302]The weather was mild next morning. We left the encampment at nine, and a little before noon came to a pretty extensive thicket of small willows, near which there appeared a supply of tripe de roche on the face of the rocks. At this place Dr. Richardson and Mr. Hood determined to remain, with John Hepburn, who volunteered to stop with them. The tent was securely pitched, a few willows collected, and the ammunition and all other articles were deposited, except each man's clothing, one tent, a sufficiency of ammunition for the journey, and the officers' journals. I had only one blanket, which was carried for me, and two pair of shoes. The offer was now made for any of the men, who felt themselves too weak to proceed, to remain with the officers, but none of them accepted it. Michel alone felt some inclination to do so. After we had united in thanksgiving and prayers to Almighty God, I separated from my companions, deeply afflicted that a train of melancholy circumstances should have demanded of me the severe trial of parting, in such a condition, from friends who had become endeared to me by their constant kindness and co-operation, and a participation of numerous sufferings. This trial I could not have been induced to undergo, but for the reasons they had so strongly urged the day[Pg 303] before, to which my own judgment assented, and for the sanguine hope I felt of either finding a supply of provision at Fort Enterprise, or meeting the Indians in the immediate vicinity of that place, according to my arrangements with Mr. Wentzel and Akaitcho. Previously to our starting, Peltier and Benoit repeated their promises, to return to them with provision, if any should be found at the house, or to guide the Indians to them, if any were met.

Greatly as Mr. Hood was exhausted, and indeed, incapable as he must have proved, of encountering the fatigue of our very next day's journey, so that I felt his resolution to be prudent, I was sensible that his determination to remain, was chiefly prompted by the disinterested and generous wish to remove impediments to the progress of the rest. Dr. Richardson and Hepburn, who were both in a state of strength to keep pace with the men, besides this motive which they shared with him, were influenced in their resolution to remain, the former by the desire which had distinguished his character, throughout the expedition, of devoting himself to the succour of the weak, and the latter by the zealous attachment he had ever shown towards his officers.

We set out without waiting to take any of the[Pg 304] tripe de roche, and walking at a tolerable pace, in an hour arrived at a fine group of pines, about a mile and a quarter from the tent. We sincerely regretted not having seen these before we separated from our companions, as they would have been better supplied with fuel here, and there appeared to be more tripe de roche than where we had left them.

Descending afterwards into a more level country, we found the snow very deep, and the labour of wading through it so fatigued the whole party, that we were compelled to encamp, after a march of four miles and a half. Belanger and Michel were left far behind, and when they arrived at the encampment appeared quite exhausted. The former, bursting into tears, declared his inability to proceed, and begged me to let him go back next morning to the tent, and shortly afterwards Michel made the same request. I was in hopes they might recover a little strength by the night's rest, and therefore deferred giving any permission until morning. The sudden failure in the strength of these men cast a gloom over the rest, which I tried in vain to remove, by repeated assurances that the distance to Fort Enterprise was short, and that we should, in all probability, reach it in four days. Not being able to find any tripe de roche, we drank an infusion[Pg 305] of the Labrador tea plant, (ledum palustre), and ate a few morsels of burnt leather for supper. We were unable to raise the tent, and found its weight too great to carry it on; we, therefore, cut it up, and took a part of the canvass for a cover. The night was bitterly cold, and though we lay as close to each other as possible, having no shelter, we could not keep ourselves sufficiently warm to sleep. A strong gale came on after midnight, which increased the severity of the weather. In the morning Belanger and Michel renewed their request to be permitted to go back to the tent, assuring me they were still weaker than on the preceding evening, and less capable of going forward; and they urged, that the stopping at a place where there was a supply of tripe de roche was their only chance of preserving life; under these circumstances, I could not do otherwise than yield to their desire. I wrote a note to Dr. Richardson and Mr. Hood, informing them of the pines we had passed, and recommending their removing thither. Having found that Michel was carrying a considerable quantity of ammunition, I desired him to divide it among my party, leaving him only ten balls and a little shot, to kill any animals he might meet on his way to the tent. This man was very particular in his inquiries respecting[Pg 306] the direction of the house, and the course we meant to pursue; he also said, that if he should be able, he would go and search for Vaillant, and Crédit; and he requested my permission to take Vaillant's blanket, if he should find it, to which I agreed, and mentioned it in my notes to the officers.

Scarcely were these arrangements finished, before Perrault and Fontano were seized with a fit of dizziness, and betrayed other symptoms of extreme debility. Some tea was quickly prepared for them, and after drinking it, and eating a few morsels of burnt leather, they recovered, and expressed their desire to go forward; but the other men, alarmed at what they had just witnessed, became doubtful of their own strength, and, giving way to absolute dejection, declared their inability to move. I now earnestly pressed upon them the necessity of continuing our journey, as the only means of saving their own lives, as well as those of our friends at the tent; and, after much entreaty, got them to set out at ten A.M.: Belanger and Michel were left at the encampment, and proposed to start shortly afterwards. By the time we had gone about two hundred yards, Perrault became again dizzy, and desired us to halt, which we did, until he, recovering, offered to march on. Ten minutes[Pg 307] more had hardly elapsed before he again desired us to stop, and, bursting into tears, declared he was totally exhausted, and unable to accompany us further. As the encampment was not more than a quarter of a mile distant, we recommended that he should return to it, and rejoin Belanger and Michel, whom we knew to be still there, from perceiving the smoke of a fresh fire; and because they had not made any preparation for starting when we quitted them. He readily acquiesced in the proposition, and having taken a friendly leave of each of us, and enjoined us to make all the haste we could in sending relief, he turned back, keeping his gun and ammunition. We watched him until he was nearly at the fire, and then proceeded. During these detentions, Augustus becoming impatient of the delay had walked on, and we lost sight of him. The labour we experienced in wading through the deep snow induced us to cross a moderate sized lake, which lay in our track, but we found this operation far more harassing. As the surface of the ice was perfectly smooth, we slipt at almost every step, and were frequently blown down by the wind with such force as to shake our whole frames.

Poor Fontano was completely exhausted by the labour of this traverse, and we made a halt until his strength was recruited, by which[Pg 308] time the party was benumbed with cold. Proceeding again, he got on tolerably well for a little time; but being again seized with faintness and dizziness, he fell often, and at length exclaimed that he could go no further. We immediately stopped, and endeavoured to encourage him to persevere, until we should find some willows to encamp; he insisted, however, that he could not march any longer through this deep snow; and said, that if he should even reach our encampment this evening, he must be left there, provided tripe de roche could not be procured to recruit his strength. The poor man was overwhelmed with grief, and seemed desirous to remain at that spot. We were about two miles from the place where the other men had been left, and as the track to it was beaten, we proposed to him to return thither, as we thought it probable he would find the men still there; at any rate, he would be able to get fuel to keep him warm during the night; and, on the next day, he could follow their track to the officers' tent; and, should the path be covered by the snow, the pines we had passed yesterday would guide him, as they were yet in view.

I cannot describe my anguish on the occasion of separating from another companion under circumstances so distressing. There was, however,[Pg 309] no alternative. The extreme debility of the rest of the party put the carrying him quite out of the question, as he himself admitted; and it was evident that the frequent delays he must occasion if he accompanied us, and did not gain strength, would endanger the lives of the whole. By returning he had the prospect of getting to the tent where tripe de roche could be obtained, which agreed with him better than with any other of the party, and which he was always very assiduous in gathering. After some hesitation he determined on going back, and set out, having bid each of us farewell in the tenderest manner. We watched him with inexpressible anxiety for some time, and were rejoiced to find, though he got on slowly, that he kept on his legs better than before. Antonio Fontano was an Italian, and had served many years in De Meuron's regiment. He had spoken to me that very morning, and after his first attack of dizziness, about his father; and had begged, that should he survive, I would take him with me to England, and put him in the way of reaching home.

The party was now reduced to five persons, Adam, Peltier, Benoit, Samandrè, and myself. Continuing the journey, we came, after an hour's walk, to some willows, and encamped under the[Pg 310] shelter of a rock, having walked in the whole four miles and a half. We made an attempt to gather some tripe de roche, but could not, owing to the severity of the weather. Our supper, therefore, consisted of tea and a few morsels of leather.

Augustus did not make his appearance, but we felt no alarm at his absence, supposing he would go to the tent if he missed our track. Having fire, we procured a little sleep. Next morning the breeze was light and the weather mild, which enabled us to collect some tripe de roche, and to enjoy the only meal we had had for four days. We derived great benefit from it, and walked with considerably more ease than yesterday. Without the strength it supplied, we should certainly have been unable to oppose the strong breeze we met in the afternoon. After walking about five miles, we came upon the borders of Marten Lake, and were rejoiced to find it frozen, so that we could continue our course straight for Fort Enterprise. We encamped at the first rapid in Winter River amidst willows and alders; but these were so frozen, and the snow fell so thick, that the men had great difficulty in making a fire. This proving insufficient to warm us, or even thaw our shoes, and having no food to prepare, we crept under our blankets. The arrival[Pg 311] in a well-known part raised the spirits of the men to a high pitch, and we kept up a cheerful conversation until sleep overpowered us. The night was very stormy, and the morning scarcely less so; but, being desirous to reach the house this day, we commenced our journey very early. We were gratified by the sight of a large herd of rein-deer on the side of the hill near the track, but our only hunter, Adam, was too feeble to pursue them. Our shoes and garments were stiffened by the frost, and we walked in great pain until we arrived at some stunted pines, at which we halted, made a good fire, and procured the refreshment of tea. The weather becoming fine in the afternoon, we continued our journey, passed the Dog-rib Rock, and encamped among a clump of pines of considerable growth, about a mile further on. Here we enjoyed the comfort of a large fire for the first time since our departure from the sea-coast; but this gratification was purchased at the expense of many severe falls in crossing a stony valley, to get to these trees. There was no tripe de roche, and we drank tea and ate some of our shoes for supper. Next morning after taking the usual repast of tea, we proceeded to the house. Musing on what we were likely to find there, our minds were agitated between hope and fear, and, contrary[Pg 312] to the custom we had kept up, of supporting our spirits by conversation, we went silently forward.

At length we reached Fort Enterprise, and to our infinite disappointment and grief found it a perfectly desolate habitation. There was no deposit of provision, no trace of the Indians, no letter from Mr. Wentzel to point out where the Indians might be found. It would be impossible to describe our sensations after entering this miserable abode, and discovering how we had been neglected: the whole party shed tears, not so much for our own fate, as for that of our friends in the rear, whose lives depended entirely on our sending immediate relief from this place.

I found a note, however, from Mr. Back, stating that he had reached the house two days before and was going in search of the Indians, at a part where St. Germain deemed it probable they might be found. If he was unsuccessful, he purposed walking to Fort Providence, and sending succour from thence: but he doubted whether either he or his party could perform the journey to that place in their present debilitated state. It was evident that any supply that could be sent from Fort Providence would be long in reaching us, neither could it be sufficient to enable us to afford any assistance to our companions behind,[Pg 313] and that the only relief for them must be procured from the Indians. I resolved therefore, on going also in search of them: but my companions were absolutely incapable of proceeding, and I thought by halting two or three days they might gather a little strength, whilst the delay would afford us the chance of learning whether Mr. Back had seen the Indians.

We now looked round for the means of subsistence, and were gratified to find several deer-skins, which had been thrown away during our former residence. The bones were gathered from the heap of ashes; these with the skins, and the addition of tripe de roche, we considered would support us tolerably well for a time. As to the house, the parchment being torn from the windows, the apartment we selected for our abode was exposed to all the rigour of the season. We endeavoured to exclude the wind as much as possible, by placing loose boards against the apertures. The temperature was now between 15° and 20° below zero. We procured fuel by pulling up the flooring of the other rooms, and water for cooking, by melting the snow. Whilst we were seated round the fire, singeing the deer-skin for supper, we were rejoiced by the unexpected entrance of Augustus. He had followed quite a different course from[Pg 314] ours, and the circumstance of his having found his way through a part of the country he had never been in before, must be considered a remarkable proof of sagacity. The unusual earliness of this winter became manifest to us from the state of things at this spot. Last year at the same season, and still later there had been very little snow on the ground, and we were surrounded by vast herds of rein-deer; now there were but few recent tracks of these animals, and the snow was upwards of two feet deep. Winter River was then open, now it was frozen two feet thick.

When I arose the following morning, my body and limbs were so swollen that I was unable to walk more than a few yards. Adam was in a still worse condition, being absolutely incapable of rising without assistance. My other companions happily experienced this inconvenience in a less degree, and went to collect bones, and some tripe de roche which supplied us with two meals. The bones were quite acrid, and the soup extracted from them excoriated the mouth if taken alone, but it was somewhat milder when boiled with tripe de roche, and we even thought the mixture palatable, with the addition of salt, of which a cask had been fortunately left here in the spring. Augustus to-day set two fishing lines[Pg 315] below the rapid. On his way thither he saw two deer, but had not strength to follow them.

On the 13th the wind blew violently from south-east, and the snow drifted so much that the party were confined to the house. In the afternoon of the following day Belanger arrived with a note from Mr. Back, stating that he had seen no trace of the Indians, and desiring further instructions as to the course he should pursue. Belanger's situation, however, required our first care, as he came in almost speechless, and covered with ice, having fallen into a rapid, and, for the third time since we left the coast, narrowly escaped drowning. He did not recover sufficiently to answer our questions, until we had rubbed him for some time, changed his dress, and given him some warm soup. My companions nursed him with the greatest kindness, and the desire of restoring him to health, seemed to absorb all regard for their own situation. I witnessed with peculiar pleasure this conduct, so different from that which they had recently pursued, when every tender feeling was suspended by the desire of self-preservation. They now no longer betrayed impatience or despondency, but were composed and cheerful, and had entirely given up the practice of swearing, to which the Canadian voyagers are so lamentably addicted. Our conversation[Pg 316] naturally turned upon the prospect of getting relief, and upon the means which were best adapted for obtaining it. The absence of all traces of Indians on Winter River, convinced me that they were at this time on the way to Fort Providence, and that by proceeding towards that post we should overtake them, as they move slowly when they have their families with them. This route also offered us the prospect of killing deer, in the vicinity of Rein-Deer Lake, in which neighbourhood, our men in their journey to and fro last winter, had always found them abundant. Upon these grounds I determined on taking the route to Fort Providence as soon as possible, and wrote to Mr. Back, desiring him to join me at Rein-Deer Lake, and detailing the occurrences since we parted, that our friends might receive relief, in case of any accident happening to me.

Belanger did not recover sufficient strength to leave us before the 18th. His answers as to the exact part of Round-Rock Lake in which he had left Mr. Back, were very unsatisfactory; and we could only collect that it was at a considerable distance, and that he was still going on with the intention of halting at the place where Akaitcho was encamped last summer, about thirty miles off. This distance appeared so great, that I told[Pg 317] Belanger it was very unsafe for him to attempt it alone, and that he would be several days in accomplishing it. He stated, however, that as the track was beaten, he should experience little fatigue, and seemed so confident, that I suffered him to depart with a supply of singed hide. Next day I received information which explained why he was so unwilling to acquaint us with the situation of Mr. Back's party. He dreaded that I should resolve upon joining it, when our numbers would be so great as to consume at once every thing St. Germain might kill, if by accident he should be successful in hunting. He even endeavoured to entice away our other hunter, Adam, and proposed to him to carry off the only kettle we had, and without which we could not have subsisted two days. Adam's inability to move, however, precluded him from agreeing to the proposal, but he could assign no reason for not acquainting me with it previous to Belanger's departure. I was at first inclined to consider the whole matter as a fiction of Adam's, but he persisted in his story without wavering; and Belanger, when we met again, confessed that every part of it was true. It is painful to have to record a fact so derogatory to human nature, but I have deemed it proper to mention it, to shew the difficulties we had to contend with, and the effect which distress[Pg 318] had in warping the feelings and understanding of the most diligent and obedient of our party; for such Belanger had been always esteemed up to this time.

In making arrangements for our departure, Adam disclosed to me, for the first time, that he was affected with œdematous swellings in some parts of the body, to such a degree as to preclude the slightest attempt at marching; and upon my expressing my surprise at his having hitherto concealed from me the extent of his malady, among other explanations the details of the preceding story came out. It now became necessary to abandon the original intention of proceeding with the whole party towards Fort Providence, and Peltier and Samandrè having volunteered to remain with Adam, I determined on setting out with Benoit and Augustus, intending to send them relief by the first party of Indians we should meet. My clothes were so much torn, as to be quite inadequate to screen me from the wind, and Peltier and Samandrè fearing that I might suffer on the journey in consequence, kindly exchanged with me parts of their dress, desiring me to send them skins in return by the Indians. Having patched up three pair of snow shoes, and singed a quantity of skin for the journey, we started on the morning of the 20th. Previous[Pg 319] to my departure, I packed up the journals of the officers, the charts, and some other documents, together with a letter addressed to the Under-Secretary of State, detailing the occurrences of the Expedition up to this period, which package was given in charge to Peltier and Samandrè with directions that it should be brought away by the Indians who might come to them. I also instructed them to send succour immediately on its arrival to our companions in the rear, which they solemnly promised to do, and I left a letter for my friends, Richardson and Hood, to be sent at the same time. I thought it necessary to admonish Peltier, Samandrè, and Adam, to eat two meals every day, in order to keep up their strength, which they promised me they would do. No language that I can use could adequately describe the parting scene. I shall only say there was far more calmness and resignation to the Divine will evinced by every one than could have been expected. We were all cheered by the hope that the Indians would be found by the one party, and relief sent to the other. Those who remained entreated us to make all the haste we could, and expressed their hope of seeing the Indians in ten or twelve days.

At first starting we were so feeble as scarcely to be able to move forwards, and the descent of[Pg 320] the bank of the river through the deep snow was a severe labour. When we came upon the ice, where the snow was less deep, we got on better, but after walking six hours we had only gained four miles, and were then compelled by fatigue to encamp on the borders of Round-Rock Lake. Augustus tried for fish here, but without success, so that our fare was skin and tea. Composing ourselves to rest, we lay close to each other for warmth. We found the night bitterly cold, and the wind pierced through our famished frames.

The next morning was mild and pleasant for travelling, and we set out after breakfast. We had not, however, gone many yards before I had the misfortune to break my snow shoes by falling between two rocks. This accident prevented me from keeping pace with Benoit and Augustus, and in the attempt I became quite exhausted. Feeling convinced that their being delayed on my account might prove of fatal consequence to the rest, I resolved on returning to the house, and letting them proceed alone in search of the Indians. I therefore halted them only whilst I wrote a note to Mr. Back, stating the reason of my return, and desiring he would send meat from Rein-Deer Lake by these men, if St. Germain should kill any animals there. If Benoit should miss Mr. Back, I directed him to proceed to Fort Providence,[Pg 321] and furnished him with a letter to the gentleman in charge of it, requesting that immediate supplies might be sent to us.

On my return to the house, I found Samandrè very dispirited, and too weak, as he said, to render any assistance to Peltier; upon whom the whole labour of getting wood and collecting the means of subsistence would have devolved. Conscious, too, that his strength would have been unequal to these tasks, they had determined upon taking only one meal each day; so that I felt my going back particularly fortunate, as I hoped to stimulate Samandrè to exertion, and at any rate could contribute some help to Peltier. I undertook the office of cooking, and insisted they should eat twice a day whenever food could be procured; but as I was too weak to pound the bones, Peltier agreed to do that in addition to his more fatiguing task of getting wood. We had a violent snow storm all the next day, and this gloomy weather increased the depression of spirits under which Adam and Samandrè were labouring. Neither of them would quit their beds, and they scarcely ceased from shedding tears all day; in vain did Peltier and myself endeavour to cheer them. We had even to use much entreaty before they would take the meals we had prepared for them.[Pg 322] Our situation was indeed distressing, but in comparison with that of our friends in the rear, we thought it happy. Their condition gave us unceasing solicitude, and was the principal subject of our conversation.

Though the weather was stormy on the 26th, Samandrè assisted me to gather tripe de roche. Adam, who was very ill, and could not now be prevailed upon to eat this weed, subsisted principally on bones, though he also partook of the soup. The tripe de roche had hitherto afforded us our chief support, and we naturally felt great uneasiness at the prospect of being deprived of it, by its being so frozen as to render it impossible for us to gather it.

We perceived our strength decline every day, and every exertion began to be irksome; when we were once seated the greatest effort was necessary in order to rise, and we had frequently to lift each other from our seats; but even in this pitiable condition we conversed cheerfully, being sanguine as to the speedy arrival of the Indians. We calculated indeed that if they should be near the situation where they had remained last winter, our men would have reached them by this day. Having expended all the wood which we could procure from our present dwelling, without danger of its fall, Peltier began this day to[Pg 323] pull down the partitions of the adjoining houses. Though these were only distant about twenty yards, yet the increase of labour in carrying the wood fatigued him so much, that by the evening he was exhausted. On the next day his weakness was such, especially in the arms, of which he chiefly complained, that he with difficulty lifted the hatchet; still he persevered, while Samandrè and I assisted him in bringing in the wood, but our united strength could only collect sufficient to replenish the fire four times in the course of the day. As the insides of our mouths had become sore from eating the bone-soup, we relinquished the use of it, and now boiled the skin, which mode of dressing we found more palatable than frying it, as we had hitherto done.

On the 29th, Peltier felt his pains more severe, and could only cut a few pieces of wood. Samandrè, who was still almost as weak, relieved him a little time, and I aided them in carrying in the wood. We endeavoured to pick some tripe de roche, but in vain, as it was entirely frozen. In turning up the snow, in searching for bones, I found several pieces of bark, which proved a valuable acquisition, as we were almost destitute of dry wood proper for kindling the fire. We saw a herd of rein-deer sporting on the river, about half a mile from the house; they[Pg 324] remained there a long time, but none of the party felt themselves strong enough to go after them, nor was there one of us who could have fired a gun without resting it.

Whilst we were seated round the fire this evening, discoursing about the anticipated relief, the conversation was suddenly interrupted by Peltier's exclaiming with joy, "Ah! le monde!" imagining that he heard the Indians in the other room; immediately afterwards, to his bitter disappointment, Dr. Richardson and Hepburn entered, each carrying his bundle. Peltier, however, soon recovered himself enough to express his delight at their safe arrival, and his regret that their companions were not with them. When I saw them alone my own mind was instantly filled with apprehensions respecting my friend Hood, and our other companions, which were immediately confirmed by the Doctor's melancholy communication, that Mr. Hood and Michel were dead. Perrault and Fontano had neither reached the tent, nor been heard of by them. This intelligence produced a melancholy despondency in the minds of my party, and on that account the particulars were deferred until another opportunity. We were all shocked at beholding the emaciated countenances of the Doctor and Hepburn, as they strongly evidenced their extremely[Pg 325] debilitated state. The alteration in our appearance was equally distressing to them, for since the swellings had subsided we were little more than skin and bone. The Doctor particularly remarked the sepulchral tone of our voices, which he requested us to make more cheerful if possible, unconscious that his own partook of the same key.

Hepburn having shot a partridge, which was brought to the house, the Doctor tore out the feathers, and having held it to the fire a few minutes divided it into six portions. I and my three companions ravenously devoured our shares, as it was the first morsel of flesh any of us had tasted for thirty-one days, unless, indeed the small gristly particles which we found occasionally adhering to the pounded bones may be termed flesh. Our spirits were revived by this small supply, and the Doctor endeavoured to raise them still higher by the prospect of Hepburn's being able to kill a deer next day, as they had seen, and even fired at, several near the house. He endeavoured, too, to rouse us into some attention to the comfort of our apartment, and particularly to roll up, in the day, our blankets, which (expressly for the convenience of Adam and Samandrè,) we had been in the habit of leaving by the fire where we lay on[Pg 326] them. The Doctor having brought his prayer-book and testament, some prayers and psalms, and portions of scripture, appropriate to our situation, were read, and we retired to bed.

Next morning the Doctor and Hepburn went out early in search of deer; but though they saw several herds and fired some shots, they were not so fortunate as to kill any, being too weak to hold their guns steadily. The cold compelled the former to return soon, but Hepburn persisted until late in the evening.

My occupation was to search for skins under the snow, it being now our object immediately to get all that we would, but I had not strength to drag in more than two of those which were within twenty yards of the house until the Doctor came and assisted me. We made up our stock to twenty-six, but several of them were putrid, and scarcely eatable, even by men suffering the extremity of famine. Peltier and Samandrè continued very weak and dispirited, and they were unable to cut fire-wood. Hepburn had in consequence that laborious task to perform after he came back. The Doctor having scarified the swelled parts of Adam's body, a large quantity of water flowed out, and he obtained some ease, but still kept his bed.

After our usual supper of singed skin and[Pg 327] bone soup, Dr. Richardson acquainted me with the afflicting circumstances attending the death of Mr. Hood and Michel, and detailed the occurrences subsequent to my departure from them, which I shall give from his journal, in his own words; but I must here be permitted to express the heart-felt sorrow with which I was overwhelmed at the loss of so many companions; especially of my friend Mr. Hood, to whose zealous and able co-operation I had been indebted for so much invaluable assistance during the Expedition, whilst the excellent qualities of his heart engaged my warmest regard. His scientific observations, together with his maps and drawings (a small part of which only appear in this work), evince a variety of talent, which, had his life been spared, must have rendered him a distinguished ornament to his profession, and which will cause his death to be felt as a loss to the service.

[Pg 328]


After Captain Franklin had bidden us farewell we remained seated by the fire-side as long as the willows the men had cut for us before they departed, lasted. We had no tripe de roche that day, but drank an infusion of the country tea-plant, which was grateful from its warmth, although it afforded no sustenance. We then retired to bed, where we remained all the next day, as the weather was stormy, and the snow-drift so heavy, as to destroy every prospect of success in our endeavours to light a fire with the green and frozen willows, which were our only fuel. Through the extreme kindness and forethought of a lady, the party, previous to leaving London, had been furnished with a small collection of religious books, of which we still retained two or three of the most portable, and they proved of incalculable benefit to us. We read portions of them to each other as we lay in bed, in addition to the morning and evening service, and found that they inspired us on each perusal with so[Pg 329] strong a sense of the omnipresence of a beneficent God, that our situation, even in these wilds, appeared no longer destitute; and we conversed, not only with calmness, but with cheerfulness, detailing with unrestrained confidence the past events of our lives, and dwelling with hope on our future prospects. Had my poor friend been spared to revisit his native land, I should look back to this period with unalloyed delight.

On the morning of the 9th, the weather, although still cold, was clear, and I went out in quest of tripe de roche, leaving Hepburn to cut willows for a fire, and Mr. Hood in bed. I had no success, as yesterday's snow-drift was so frozen on the surface of the rocks that I could not collect any of the weed; but on my return to the tent, I found that Michel, the Iroquois, had come with a note from Mr. Franklin, which stated, that this man and Jean Baptiste Belanger being unable to proceed, were about to return to us, and that a mile beyond our present encampment there was a clump of pine-trees, to which he recommended us to remove the tent. Michel informed us that he quitted Mr. Franklin's party yesterday morning, but, that having missed his way, he had passed the night on the snow a mile or two to the northward of us. Belanger, he said,[Pg 330] being impatient, left the fire about two hours earlier, and, as he had not arrived, he supposed must have gone astray. It will be seen in the sequel, that we had more than sufficient reason to doubt the truth of this story.

Michel now produced a hare and a partridge which he had killed in the morning. This unexpected supply of provision was received by us with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty for his goodness, and we looked upon Michel as the instrument he had chosen to preserve all our lives. He complained of cold, and Mr. Hood offered to share his buffalo robe with him at night: I gave him one of two shirts which I wore, whilst Hepburn in the warmth of his heart, exclaimed, "How I shall love this man if I find that he does not tell lies like the others." Our meals being finished, we arranged that the greatest part of the things should be carried to the pines the next day; and, after reading the evening service retired to bed full of hope.

Early in the morning Hepburn, Michel, and myself, carried the ammunition, and most of the other heavy articles to the pines. Michel was our guide, and it did not occur to us at the time that his conducting us perfectly straight was incompatible with his story of having mistaken his[Pg 331] road in coming to us. He now informed us that he had, on his way to the tent, left on the hill above the pines a gun and forty-eight balls, which Perrault had given to him when with the rest of Mr. Franklin's party, he took leave of him. It will be seen, on a reference to Mr. Franklin's journal, that Perrault carried his gun and ammunition with him when they parted from Michel and Belanger. After we had made a fire, and drank a little of the country tea, Hepburn and I returned to the tent, where we arrived in the evening, much exhausted with our journey. Michel preferred sleeping where he was, and requested us to leave him the hatchet, which we did, after he had promised to come early in the morning to assist us in carrying the tent and bedding. Mr. Hood remained in bed all day. Seeing nothing of Belanger to-day, we gave him up for lost.

On the 11th, after waiting until late in the morning for Michel, who did not come, Hepburn and I loaded ourselves with the bedding, and, accompanied by Mr. Hood, set out for the pines. Mr. Hood was much affected with dimness of sight, giddiness, and other symptoms of extreme debility, which caused us to move very slowly, and to make frequent halts.

On arriving at the pines, we were much[Pg 332] alarmed to find that Michel was absent. We feared that he had lost his way in coming to us in the morning, although it was not easy to conjecture how that could have happened, as our footsteps of yesterday were very distinct. Hepburn went back for the tent, and returned with it after dusk, completely worn out with the fatigue of the day. Michel too arrived at the same time, and relieved our anxiety on his account. He reported that he had been in chase of some deer which passed near his sleeping-place in the morning, and although he did not come up with them, yet that he found a wolf which had been killed by the stroke of a deer's horn, and had brought a part of it. We implicitly believed this story then, but afterwards became convinced from circumstances, the detail of which may be spared, that it must have been a portion of the body of Belanger or Perrault. A question of moment here presents itself; namely, whether he actually murdered these men, or either of them, or whether he found the bodies in the snow. Captain Franklin, who is the best able to judge of this matter, from knowing their situation when he parted from them, suggested the former idea, and that both Belanger and Perrault had been sacrificed. When Perrault turned back, Captain Franklin watched him until he reached a small[Pg 333] group of willows, which was immediately adjoining to the fire, and concealed it from view, and at this time the smoke of fresh fuel was distinctly visible. Captain Franklin conjectures, that Michel having already destroyed Belanger, completed his crime by Perrault's death, in order to screen himself from detection. Although this opinion is founded only on circumstances, and is unsupported by direct evidence, it has been judged proper to mention it, especially as the subsequent conduct of the man shewed that he was capable of committing such a deed. The circumstances are very strong. It is not easy to assign any other adequate motive for his concealing from us that Perrault had turned back; while his request overnight that we should leave him the hatchet, and his cumbering himself with it when he went out in the morning, unlike a hunter who makes use only of his knife when he kills a deer, seem to indicate that he took it for the purpose of cutting up something that he knew to be frozen. These opinions, however, are the result of subsequent consideration. We passed this night in the open air.

On the following morning the tent was pitched; Michel went out early, refused my offer to accompany him, and remained out the whole day.[Pg 334] He would not sleep in the tent at night, but chose to lie at the fire-side.

On the 13th there was a heavy gale of wind, and we passed the day by the fire. Next day, about two P.M., the gale abating, Michel set out as he said to hunt, but returned unexpectedly in a very short time. This conduct surprised us, and his contradictory and evasory answers to our questions excited some suspicions, but they did not turn towards the truth.

October 15th.—In the course of this day Michel expressed much regret that he had stayed behind Mr. Franklin's party, and declared that he would set out for the house at once if he knew the way. We endeavoured to sooth him, and to raise his hopes of the Indians speedily coming to our relief, but without success. He refused to assist us in cutting wood, but about noon, after much solicitation, he set out to hunt. Hepburn gathered a kettleful of tripe de roche, but froze his fingers. Both Hepburn and I fatigued ourselves much to-day in pursuing a flock of partridges from one part to another of the group of willows, in which the hut was situated, but we were too weak to be able to approach them with sufficient caution. In the evening Michel returned, having met with no success.

[Pg 335] Next day he refused either to hunt or cut wood, spoke in a very surly manner, and threatened to leave us. Under these circumstances, Mr. Hood and I deemed it better to promise if he would hunt diligently for four days, that then we would give Hepburn a letter for Mr. Franklin, a compass, inform him what course to pursue, and let them proceed together to the fort. The non-arrival of the Indians to our relief, now led us to fear that some accident had happened to Mr. Franklin, and we placed no confidence in the exertions of the Canadians that accompanied him, but we had the fullest confidence in Hepburn's returning the moment he could obtain assistance.

On the 17th I went to conduct Michel to where Vaillant's blanket was left, and after walking about three miles, pointed out the hills to him at a distance, and returned to the hut, having gathered a bagful of tripe de roche on the way. It was easier to gather this weed on a march than at the tent, for the exercise of walking produced a glow of heat, which enabled us to withstand for a time the cold to which we were exposed in scraping the frozen surface of the rocks. On the contrary, when we left the fire, to collect it in the neighbourhood of the hut, we became chilled at once, and were obliged to return very quickly.

[Pg 336] Michel proposed to remain out all night, and to hunt next day on his way back. He returned in the afternoon of the 18th, having found the blanket, together with a bag containing two pistols, and some other things which had been left beside it. We had some tripe de roche in the evening, but Mr. Hood from the constant griping it produced, was unable to eat more than one or two spoonfuls. He was now so weak as to be scarcely able to sit up at the fire-side, and complained that the least breeze of wind seemed to blow through his frame. He also suffered much from cold during the night. We lay close to each other, but the heat of the body was no longer sufficient to thaw the frozen rime formed by our breaths on the blankets that covered him.

At this period we avoided as much as possible conversing upon the hopelessness of our situation, and generally endeavoured to lead the conversation towards our future prospects in life. The fact is, that with the decay of our strength, our minds decayed, and we were no longer able to bear the contemplation of the horrors that surrounded us. Each of us, if I may be allowed to judge from my own case, excused himself from so doing by a desire of not shocking the feelings of the others, for we were sensible of one another's weakness[Pg 337] of intellect though blind to our own. Yet we were calm and resigned to our fate, not a murmur escaped us, and we were punctual and fervent in our addresses to the Supreme Being.

On the 19th Michel refused to hunt, or even to assist in carrying a log of wood to the fire, which was too heavy for Hepburn's strength and mine. Mr. Hood endeavoured to point out to him the necessity and duty of exertion, and the cruelty of his quitting us without leaving something for our support; but the discourse, far from producing any beneficial effect, seemed only to excite his anger, and amongst other expressions, he made use of the following remarkable one: "It is no use hunting, there are no animals, you had better kill and eat me." At length, however, he went out, but returned very soon, with a report that he had seen three deer, which he was unable to follow from having wet his foot in a small stream of water thinly covered with ice, and being consequently obliged to come to the fire. The day was rather mild, and Hepburn and I gathered a large kettleful of tripe de roche; Michel slept in the tent this night.

Sunday, October 20.—In the morning we again urged Michel to go a hunting that he might if possible leave us some provision, to-morrow being the day appointed for his quitting us; but he[Pg 338] shewed great unwillingness to go out, and lingered about the fire, under the pretence of cleaning his gun. After we had read the morning service I went about noon to gather some tripe de roche, leaving Mr. Hood sitting before the tent at the fire-side arguing with Michel; Hepburn was employed cutting down a tree at a short distance from the tent, being desirous of accumulating a quantity of fire-wood before he left us. A short time after I went out, I heard the report of a gun, and about ten minutes afterwards Hepburn called to me in a voice of great alarm, to come directly. When I arrived I found poor Hood lying lifeless at the fire-side, a ball having apparently entered his forehead. I was at first horror-struck with the idea, that in a fit of despondency he had hurried himself into the presence of his Almighty Judge, by an act of his own hand; but the conduct of Michel soon gave rise to other thoughts, and excited suspicions which were confirmed, when upon examining the body, I discovered that the shot had entered the back part of the head, and passed out at the forehead, and that the muzzle of the gun had been applied so close as to set fire to the night-cap behind. The gun, which was of the longest kind supplied to the Indians, could not have been placed in a position to inflict such a wound, except by a second person.[Pg 339] Upon inquiring of Michel how it happened, he replied, that Mr. Hood had sent him into the tent for the short gun, and that during his absence the long gun had gone off, he did not know whether by accident or not. He held the short gun in his hand at the time he was speaking to me. Hepburn afterwards informed me that previous to the report of the gun Mr. Hood and Michel were speaking to each other in an elevated angry tone; that Mr. Hood being seated at the fire-side, was hid from him by intervening willows, but that on hearing the report he looked up and saw Michel rising up from before the tent-door, or just behind where Mr. Hood was seated, and then going into the tent. Thinking that the gun had been discharged for the purpose of cleaning it, he did not go to the fire at first; and when Michel called to him that Mr. Hood was dead, a considerable time had elapsed. Although I dared not openly to evince any suspicion that I thought Michel guilty of the deed, yet he repeatedly protested that he was incapable of committing such an act, kept constantly on his guard, and carefully avoided leaving Hepburn and me together. He was evidently afraid of permitting us to converse in private, and whenever Hepburn spoke, he inquired if he accused him of the murder. It is to be remarked, that he understood English[Pg 340] very imperfectly, yet sufficiently to render it unsafe for us to speak on the subject in his presence. We removed the body into a clump of willows behind the tent, and, returning to the fire, read the funeral service in addition to the evening prayers. The loss of a young officer, of such distinguished and varied talents and application, may be felt and duly appreciated by the eminent characters under whose command he had served; but the calmness with which he contemplated the probable termination of a life of uncommon promise; and the patience and fortitude with which he sustained, I may venture to say, unparalleled bodily sufferings, can only be known to the companions of his distresses. Owing to the effect that the tripe de roche invariably had, when he ventured to taste it, he undoubtedly suffered more than any of the survivors of the party. Bickersteth's Scripture Help was lying open beside the body, as if it had fallen from his hand, and it is probable, that he was reading it at the instant of his death. We passed the night in the tent together without rest, every one being on his guard. Next day, having determined on going to the Fort, we began to patch and prepare our clothes for the journey. We singed the hair off a part of the buffalo robe that belonged to Mr. Hood, and boiled and ate it. Michel tried to persuade me to go to the[Pg 341] woods on the Copper-Mine River, and hunt for deer instead of going to the Fort. In the afternoon a flock of partridges coming near the tent, he killed several which he shared with us.

Thick snowy weather and a head wind prevented us from starting the following day, but on the morning of the 23d we set out, carrying with us the remainder of the singed robe. Hepburn and Michel had each a gun, and I carried a small pistol which Hepburn had loaded for me. In the course of the march Michel alarmed us much by his gestures and conduct, was constantly muttering to himself, expressed an unwillingness to go the Fort, and tried to persuade me to go to the southward to the woods, where he said he could maintain himself all the winter by killing deer. In consequence of this behaviour, and the expression of his countenance, I requested him to leave us, and to go to the southward by himself. This proposal increased his ill-nature, he threw out some obscure hints of freeing himself from all restraint on the morrow; and I overheard him muttering threats against Hepburn, whom he openly accused of having told stories against him. He also, for the first time, assumed such a tone of superiority in addressing me, as evinced that he considered us to be completely in his power, and he gave vent to several expressions of hatred[Pg 342] towards the white people, or as he termed us in the idiom of the voyagers, the French, some of whom, he said, had killed and eaten his uncle and two of his relations. In short, taking every circumstance of his conduct into consideration, I came to the conclusion that he would attempt to destroy us on the first opportunity that offered, and that he had hitherto abstained from doing so from his ignorance of his way to the Fort, but that he would never suffer us to go thither in company with him. In the course of the day he had several times remarked that we were pursuing the same course that Mr. Franklin was doing when he left him, and that by keeping towards the setting sun he could find his way himself. Hepburn and I were not in a condition to resist even an open attack, nor could we by any device escape from him. Our united strength was far inferior to his, and, beside his gun, he was armed with two pistols, an Indian bayonet and a knife. In the afternoon, coming to a rock on which there was some tripe de roche, he halted, and said he would gather it whilst we went on, and that he would soon overtake us. Hepburn and I were now left together for the first time since Mr. Hood's death, and he acquainted me with several material circumstances which he had observed of Michel's behaviour, and which confirmed me in the[Pg 343] opinion that there was no safety for us except in his death, and he offered to be the instrument of it. I determined, however, as I was thoroughly convinced of the necessity of such a dreadful act, to take the whole responsibility upon myself; and immediately upon Michel's coming up, I put an end to his life by shooting him through the head with a pistol. Had my own life alone been threatened, I would not have purchased it by such a measure; but I considered myself as intrusted also with the protection of Hepburn's, a man, who, by his humane attentions and devotedness, had so endeared himself to me, that I felt more anxiety for his safety than for my own. Michel had gathered no tripe de roche, and it was evident to us that he had halted for the purpose of putting his gun in order, with the intention of attacking us, perhaps, whilst we were in the act of encamping.

I have dwelt in the preceding part of the narrative upon many circumstances of Michel's conduct, not for the purpose of aggravating his crime, but to put the reader in possession of the reasons that influenced me in depriving a fellow-creature of life. Up to the period of his return to the tent, his conduct had been good and respectful to the officers, and in a conversation between Captain Franklin, Mr. Hood, and myself,[Pg 344] at Obstruction Rapid, it had been proposed to give him a reward upon our arrival at a post. His principles, however, unsupported by a belief in the divine truths of Christianity, were unable to withstand the pressure of severe distress. His countrymen, the Iroquois, are generally Christians, but he was totally uninstructed and ignorant of the duties inculcated by Christianity; and from his long residence in the Indian country, seems to have imbibed, or retained the rules of conduct which the southern Indians prescribe to themselves.

On the two following days we had mild but thick snowy weather, and as the view was too limited to enable us to preserve a straight course, we remained encamped amongst a few willows and dwarf pines, about five miles from the tent. We found a species of cornicularia, a kind of lichen, that was good to eat when moistened and toasted over the fire; and we had a good many pieces of singed buffalo hide remaining.

On the 26th, the weather being clear and extremely cold, we resumed our march which was very painful from the depth of the snow, particularly on the margins of the small lakes that lay in our route. We frequently sunk under the load of our blankets, and were obliged to assist each other in getting up. After walking about three[Pg 345] miles and a half, however, we were cheered by the sight of a large herd of rein-deer, and Hepburn went in pursuit of them; but his hand being unsteady through weakness he missed. He was so exhausted by this fruitless attempt that we were obliged to encamp upon the spot, although it was a very unfavourable one.

Next day, we had fine and clear, but cold, weather. We set out early, and, in crossing a hill, found a considerable quantity of tripe de roche. About noon we fell upon Little Marten Lake, having walked about two miles. The sight of a place that we knew, inspired us with fresh vigour, and there being comparatively little snow on the ice, we advanced at a pace to which we had lately been unaccustomed. In the afternoon we crossed a recent track of a wolverene, which, from a parallel mark in the snow, appeared to have been dragging something. Hepburn traced it, and upon the borders of the lake found the spine of a deer, that it had dropped. It was clean picked, and at least one season old; but we extracted the spinal marrow from it, which, even in its frozen state, was so acrid as to excoriate the lips. We encamped within sight of the Dog-rib Rock, and from the coldness of the night and the want of fuel, rested very ill.

On the 28th we rose at day-break, but from the[Pg 346] want of the small fire, that we usually made in the mornings to warm our fingers, a very long time was spent in making up our bundles. This task fell to Hepburn's share, as I suffered so much from the cold as to be unable to take my hands out of my mittens. We kept a straight course for the Dog-rib Rock, but, owing to the depth of the snow in the valleys we had to cross, did not reach it until late in the afternoon. We would have encamped, but did not like to pass a second night without fire; and though scarcely able to drag our limbs after us, we pushed on to a clump of pines, about a mile to the southward of the rock, and arrived at them in the dusk of the evening. During the last few hundred yards of our march, our track lay over some large stones, amongst which I fell down upwards of twenty times, and became at length so exhausted that I was unable to stand. If Hepburn had not exerted himself far beyond his strength, and speedily made the encampment and kindled a fire, I must have perished on the spot. This night we had plenty of dry wood.

On the 29th we had clear and fine weather. We set out at sunrise, and hurried on in our anxiety to reach the house, but our progress was much impeded by the great depth of the snow in the valleys. Although every spot of ground over[Pg 347] which we travelled to-day, had been repeatedly trodden by us, yet we got bewildered in a small lake. We took it for Marten Lake, which was three times its size, and fancied that we saw the rapids and the grounds about the Fort, although they were still far distant. Our disappointment when this illusion was dispelled, by our reaching the end of the lake, so operated on our feeble minds as to exhaust our strength, and we decided upon encamping; but upon ascending a small eminence to look for a clump of wood, we caught a glimpse of the Big Stone, a well-known rock upon the summit of a hill opposite to the Fort, and determined upon proceeding. In the evening we saw several large herds of rein-deer, but Hepburn, who used to be considered a good marksman, was now unable to hold the gun straight, and although he got near them all his efforts proved fruitless. In passing through a small clump of pines we saw a flock of partridges, and he succeeded in killing one after firing several shots. We came in sight of the Fort at dusk, and it is impossible to describe our sensations, when on attaining the eminence that overlooks it, we beheld the smoke issuing from one of the chimneys. From not having met with any footsteps in the snow, as we drew nigh our once cheerful residence, we had been agitated by[Pg 348] many melancholy forebodings. Upon entering the now desolate building, we had the satisfaction of embracing Captain Franklin, but no words can convey an idea of the filth and wretchedness that met our eyes on looking around. Our own misery had stolen upon us by degrees, and we were accustomed to the contemplation of each others emaciated figures, but the ghastly countenances, dilated eye-balls, and sepulchral voices of Captain Franklin and those with him were more than we could at first bear.

Conclusion of Dr. Richardson's Narrative.

[Pg 349]

The morning of the 31st was very cold, the wind being strong from the north. Hepburn went again in quest of deer, and the Doctor endeavoured to kill some partridges: both were unsuccessful. A large herd of deer passed close to the house, the Doctor fired once at them, but was unable to pursue them. Adam was easier this day, and left his bed. Peltier and Samandrè were much weaker, and could not assist in the labours of the day. Both complained of soreness in the throat, and Samandrè suffered much from cramps in his fingers. The Doctor and Hepburn began this day to cut the wood, and also brought it to the house. Being too weak to aid in these laborious tasks, I was employed in searching for bones, and cooking, and attending to our more weakly companions.

In the evening Peltier, complaining much of cold, requested of me a portion of a blanket to repair his shirt and drawers. The mending of these articles occupied him and Samandrè until past one A.M., and their spirits were so much revived by the employment, that they conversed even cheerfully the whole time. Adam sat up with them. The Doctor, Hepburn, and myself,[Pg 350] went to bed. We were afterwards agreeably surprised to see Peltier and Samandrè carry three or four logs of wood across the room to replenish the fire, which induced us to hope they still possessed more strength than we had supposed.

November 1.—This day was fine and mild. Hepburn went hunting, but was as usual unsuccessful. As his strength was rapidly declining, we advised him to desist from the pursuit of deer; and only to go out for a short time, and endeavour to kill a few partridges for Peltier and Samandrè. The Doctor obtained a little tripe de roche, but Peltier could not eat any of it, and Samandrè only a few spoonfuls, owing to the soreness of their throats. In the afternoon Peltier was so much exhausted, that he sat up with difficulty, and looked piteously; at length he slided from his stool upon his bed, as we supposed to sleep, and in this composed state he remained upwards of two hours, without our apprehending any danger. We were then alarmed by hearing a rattling in his throat, and on the Doctor's examining him, he was found to be speechless. He died in the course of the night. Samandrè sat up the greater part of the day, and even assisted in pounding some bones; but on witnessing the melancholy state of Peltier, he became very low, and began to complain of cold[Pg 351] and stiffness of the joints. Being unable to keep up a sufficient fire to warm him, we laid him down and covered him with several blankets. He did not, however, appear to get better, and I deeply lament to add he also died before daylight. We removed the bodies of the deceased into the opposite part of the house, but our united strength was inadequate to the task of interring them, or even carrying them down to the river.

It may be worthy of remark that poor Peltier, from the time of Benoit's departure, had fixed on the first of November as the time when he should cease to expect any relief from the Indians, and had repeatedly said that if they did not arrive by that day, he should not survive.

Peltier had endeared himself to each of us by his cheerfulness, his unceasing activity, and affectionate care and attentions, ever since our arrival at this place. He had nursed Adam with the tenderest solicitude the whole time. Poor Samandrè was willing to have taken his share in the labours of the party, had he not been wholly incapacitated by his weakness and low spirits. The severe shock occasioned by the sudden dissolution of our two companions rendered us very melancholy. Adam became low and despondent, a change which we lamented the more, as we had perceived he had been gaining strength and spirits[Pg 352] for the two preceding days. I was particularly distressed by the thought that the labour of collecting wood must now devolve upon Dr. Richardson and Hepburn, and that my debility would disable me from affording them any material assistance; indeed both of them most kindly urged me not to make the attempt. They were occupied the whole of the next day in tearing down the logs of which the store-house was built, but the mud plastered between them was so hard frozen that the labour of separation exceeded their strength, and they were completely exhausted by bringing in wood sufficient for less than twelve hours' consumption.

I found it necessary in their absence, to remain constantly near Adam, and to converse with him, in order to prevent his reflecting on our condition, and to keep up his spirits as far as possible. I also lay by his side at night.

On the 3d the weather was very cold, though the atmosphere was cloudy. This morning Hepburn was affected with swelling in his limbs, his strength as well as that of the Doctor, was rapidly declining; they continued, however, to be full of hope. Their utmost exertions could only supply wood, to renew the fire thrice, and on making it up the last time we went to bed. Adam was in rather better spirits, but he could not bear to be left alone. Our stock of bones[Pg 353] was exhausted by a small quantity of soup we made this evening. The toil of separating the hair from the skins, which in fact were our chief support, had now become so wearisome as to prevent us from eating as much as we should otherwise have done.

November 4.—Calm and comparatively mild weather. The Doctor and Hepburn, exclusive of their usual occupation, gathered some tripe de roche. I went a few yards from the house in search of bones, and returned quite fatigued, having found but three. The Doctor again made incisions in Adam's leg, which discharged a considerable quantity of water, and gave him great relief. We read prayers and a portion of the New Testament in the morning and evening, as had been our practice since Dr. Richardson's arrival; and I may remark that the performance of these duties always afforded us the greatest consolation, serving to re-animate our hope in the mercy of the Omnipotent, who alone could save and deliver us.

On the 5th the breezes were light, with dark cloudy weather, and some snow. The Doctor and Hepburn were getting much weaker, and the limbs of the latter were now greatly swelled. They came into the house frequently in the course of the day to rest themselves, and when once[Pg 354] seated, were unable to rise without the help of one another, or of a stick. Adam was for the most part in the same low state as yesterday, but sometimes he surprised us by getting up and walking with an appearance of increased strength. His looks were now wild and ghastly, and his conversation was often incoherent.

The next day was fine, but very cold. The swellings in Adam's limbs having subsided, he was free from pain, and arose this morning in much better spirits, and spoke of cleaning his gun ready for shooting partridges, or any animals that might appear near the house, but his tone entirely changed before the day was half over; he became again dejected, and could scarcely be prevailed upon to eat. The Doctor and Hepburn were almost exhausted. The cutting of one log of wood occupied the latter half an hour; and the other took as much time to drag it into the house, though the distance did not exceed thirty yards. I endeavoured to help the Doctor, but my assistance was very trifling. Yet it was evident that, in a day or two, if their strength should continue to decline at the same rate, I should be the strongest of the party.

I may here remark that owing to our loss of flesh, the hardness of the floor, from which we were only protected by a blanket, produced soreness[Pg 355] over the body, and especially those parts on which the weight rested in lying, yet to turn ourselves for relief was a matter of toil and difficulty. However, during this period, and indeed all along after the acute pains of hunger, which lasted but three or four days, had subsided, we generally enjoyed the comfort of a few hours' sleep. The dreams which for the most part, but not always accompanied it, were usually (though not invariably,) of a pleasant character, being very often about the enjoyments of feasting. In the day-time we fell into the practice of conversing on common and light subjects, although we sometimes discussed with seriousness and earnestness topics connected with religion. We generally avoided speaking directly of our present sufferings, or even of the prospect of relief. I observed, that in proportion as our strength decayed, our minds exhibited symptoms of weakness, evinced by a kind of unreasonable pettishness with each other. Each of us thought the other weaker in intellect than himself, and more in need of advice and assistance. So trifling a circumstance as a change of place, recommended by one as being warmer and more comfortable, and refused by the other from a dread of motion, frequently called forth fretful expressions which were no sooner uttered than atoned for, to be repeated[Pg 356] perhaps in the course of a few minutes. The same thing often occurred when we endeavoured to assist each other in carrying wood to the fire; none of us were willing to receive assistance, although the task was disproportioned to our strength. On one of these occasions, Hepburn was so convinced of this waywardness that he exclaimed, "Dear me, if we are spared to return to England, I wonder if we shall recover our understandings."

November 7.—Adam had passed a restless night, being disquieted by gloomy apprehensions of approaching death, which we tried in vain to dispel. He was so low in the morning as to be scarcely able to speak. I remained in bed by his side to cheer him as much as possible. The Doctor and Hepburn went to cut wood. They had hardly begun their labour, when they were amazed at hearing the report of a musket. They could scarcely believe that there was really any one near, until they heard a shout, and immediately espied three Indians close to the house. Adam and I heard the latter noise, and I was fearful that a part of the house had fallen upon one of my companions, a disaster which had in fact been thought not unlikely. My alarm was only momentary, Dr. Richardson came in to communicate the joyful intelligence that relief had[Pg 357] arrived. He and myself immediately addressed thanksgivings to the throne of mercy for this deliverance, but poor Adam was in so low a state that he could scarcely comprehend the information. When the Indians entered, he attempted to rise but sank down again. But for this seasonable interposition of Providence, his existence must have terminated in a few hours, and that of the rest probably in not many days.

The Indians had left Akaitcho's encampment on the 5th November, having been sent by Mr. Back with all possible expedition, after he had arrived at their tents. They brought but a small supply of provision that they might travel quickly. It consisted of dried deer's meat, some fat, and a few tongues. Dr. Richardson, Hepburn, and I eagerly devoured the food, which they imprudently presented to us, in too great abundance, and in consequence we suffered dreadfully from indigestion, and had no rest the whole night. Adam being unable to feed himself, was more judiciously treated by them, and suffered less; his spirits revived hourly. The circumstance of our eating more food than was proper in our present condition, was another striking proof of the debility of our minds. We were perfectly aware of the danger, and Dr. Richardson repeatedly cautioned us to be moderate; but he was himself[Pg 358] unable to practise the caution he so judiciously recommended.

Boudel-kell, the youngest of the Indians, after resting about an hour, returned to Akaitcho with the intelligence of our situation, and he conveyed a note from me to Mr. Back, requesting another supply of meat as soon as possible. The two others, "Crooked-Foot and the Rat," remained to take care of us, until we should be able to move forward.

The note received by the Indians from Mr. Back, communicated a tale of distress, with regard to himself and his party, as painful as that which we had suffered; as will be seen hereafter, by his own narrative.

November 8.—The Indians this morning requested us to remove to an encampment on the banks of the river, as they were unwilling to remain in the house where the bodies of our deceased companions were lying exposed to view. We agreed, but the day proved too stormy, and Dr. Richardson and Hepburn having dragged the bodies to a short distance, and covered them with snow, the objections of the Indians to remain in the house were dissipated, and they began to clear our room of the accumulation of dirt, and fragments of pounded bones. The improved state of our apartment,[Pg 359] and the large and cheerful fires they kept up, produced in us a sensation of comfort to which we had long been strangers. In the evening they brought in a pile of dried wood, which was lying on the river-side, and towards which we had often cast a wishful eye, being unable to drag it up the bank. The Indians set about every thing with an activity that amazed us. Indeed, contrasted with our emaciated figures and extreme debility, their frames appeared to us gigantic, and their strength supernatural. These kind creatures next turned their attention to our personal appearance, and prevailed upon us to shave and wash ourselves. The beards of the Doctor and Hepburn had been untouched since they left the sea-coast, and were become of a hideous length, and peculiarly offensive to the Indians. The Doctor and I suffered extremely from distention, and therefore ate sparingly[15]. Hepburn was getting better, and Adam recovered his strength with amazing rapidity.

[15] The first alvine discharges after we received food, were, as Hearne remarks on a similar occasion, attended with excessive pain. Previous to the arrival of the Indians the urinary secretion was extremely abundant, and we were obliged to rise from bed in consequence upwards of ten times in a night. This was an extreme annoyance in our reduced state. It may, perhaps, be attributed to the quantity of the country tea that we drank.

[Pg 360] November 9.—This morning was pleasantly fine. Crooked-Foot caught four large trout in Winter Lake, which were very much prized, especially by the Doctor and myself, who had taken a dislike to meat, in consequence of our sufferings from repletion, which rendered us almost incapable of moving. Adam and Hepburn in a good measure escaped this pain. Though the night was stormy, and our apartment freely admitted the wind, we felt no inconvenience, the Indians were so very careful in covering us up, and in keeping a good fire; and our plentiful cheer gave such power of resisting the cold, that we could scarcely believe otherwise than that the season had become milder.

On the 13th, the weather was stormy, with constant snow. The Indians became desponding at the non-arrival of the supply, and would neither go to hunt nor fish. They frequently expressed their fears of some misfortune having befallen Boudel-kell; and, in the evening, went off suddenly, without apprizing us of their intention, having first given to each of us a handful of pounded meat, which they had reserved. Their departure, at first, gave rise to a suspicion of their having deserted us, not meaning to return, especially as the explanations of Adam, who appeared[Pg 361] to be in their secret, were very unsatisfactory. At length, by interrogations, we got from him the information, that they designed to march night and day, until they should reach Akaitcho's encampment, whence they would send us aid. As we had combated their fears about Boudel-kell, they, perhaps, apprehended that we should oppose their determination, and therefore concealed it. We were now left a second time without food, and with appetites recovered, and strongly excited by recent indulgence.

On the following day the Doctor and Hepburn resumed their former occupation of collecting wood, and I was able to assist a little in bringing it into the house. Adam, whose expectation of the arrival of the Indians had been raised by the fineness of the weather, became, towards night, very desponding, and refused to eat the singed skin. The night was stormy, and there was a heavy fall of snow. The next day he became still more dejected. About eleven, Hepburn, who had gone out for the wood, came in with the intelligence that a party appeared upon the river. The room was instantly swept, and in compliance with the prejudices of the Indians, every scrap of skin was carefully removed out of sight: for these simple people imagine, that burning deer-skin renders them unsuccessful in hunting. The party[Pg 362] proved to be Crooked-Foot, Thooee-yorre, and the Fop, with the wives of the two latter dragging provisions. They were accompanied by Benoit, one of our own men.

We were rejoiced to learn, by a note from Mr. Back, dated November 11, that he and his companions had so recruited their strength that they were preparing to proceed to Fort Providence. Adam recovered his spirits on the arrival of the Indians and even walked about the room with an appearance of strength and activity that surprised us all. As it was of consequence to get amongst the rein-deer before our present supply should fail we made preparations for quitting Fort Enterprise the next day; and, accordingly, at an early hour, on the 16th, having united in thanksgiving and prayer, the whole party left the house after breakfast. Our feelings on quitting the Fort where we had formerly enjoyed much comfort if not happiness, and, latterly, experienced a degree of misery scarcely to be paralleled, may be more easily conceived than described. The Indians treated us with the utmost tenderness, gave us their snow-shoes, and walked without themselves, keeping by our sides, that they might lift us when we fell. We descended Winter River, and, about noon, crossed the head of Round-Rock Lake, distant about three miles[Pg 363] from the house, where we were obliged to halt, as Dr. Richardson was unable to proceed. The swellings in his limbs rendered him by much the weakest of the party. The Indians prepared our encampment, cooked for us, and fed us as if we had been children; evincing humanity that would have done honour to the most civilized people. The night was mild, and fatigue made us sleep soundly.

From this period to the 26th of November, we gradually improved, through their kindness and attention; and on that day arrived in safety at the abode of our chief and companion Akaitcho. We were received by the party assembled in the leader's tent, with looks of compassion, and profound silence, which lasted about a quarter of an hour, and by which they meant to express their condolence for our sufferings. The conversation did not begin until we had tasted food. The Chief, Akaitcho, shewed us the most friendly hospitality, and all sorts of personal attention, even to cooking for us with his own hands, an office which he never performs for himself. Annœthai-yazzeh and Humpy, the Chief's two brothers, and several of our hunters, with their families, were encamped here, together with a number of old men and women. In the[Pg 364] course of the day we were visited by every person of the band, not merely from curiosity, but a desire to evince their tender sympathy in our late distress. We learned that Mr. Back, with St. Germain and Belanger, had gone to Fort Providence; and that, previous to his departure he had left a letter in a cache of pounded meat, which we had missed two days ago. As we supposed that this letter might acquaint us with his intentions more fully than we could gather from the Indians, through our imperfect knowledge of their language, Augustus, the Esquimaux, whom we found here in perfect health, and an Indian lad, were despatched to bring it.

We found several of the Indian families in great affliction, for the loss of three of their relatives who had been drowned in the August preceding, by the upsetting of a canoe near Fort Enterprise. They bewailed the melancholy accident every morning and evening, by repeating the names of the persons in a loud singing tone, which was frequently interrupted by bursts of tears. One woman was so affected by the loss of her only son, that she seemed deprived of reason, and wandered about the tents the whole day, crying and singing out his name.

[Pg 365] On the 1st of December we removed with the Indians to the southward.

On the 4th we again set off after the Indians about noon, and soon overtook them, as they had halted, to drag from the water, and cut up and share a moose-deer, that had been drowned in a rapid part of the river, partially covered with ice. These operations detained us a long time, which was the more disagreeable, as the weather was extremely unpleasant from cold low fogs. We were all much fatigued at the hour of encampment, which was after dark, though the day's journey did not exceed four miles. At every halt the elderly men of the tribe made holes in the ice and put in their lines. One of them shared the produce of his fishery with us this evening.

In the afternoon of the 6th, Belanger, and another Canadian, arrived from Fort Providence, sent by Mr. Weeks with two trains of dogs, some spirits and tobacco for the Indians, a change of dress for ourselves, and a little tea and sugar. They also brought letters for us from England, and from Mr. Back, and Mr. Wentzel. By the former we received the gratifying intelligence of the successful termination of Captain Parry's voyage; and were informed of the promotion of[Pg 366] myself and Mr. Back, and of poor Hood, our grief for whose loss was renewed by this intelligence.

The letter from Mr. Back stated, that the rival Companies in the fur trade had united; but that, owing to some cause which had not been explained to him, the goods intended as rewards to Akaitcho and his band, which we had demanded in the spring from the North-West Company, were not sent. There were, however some stores lying for us at Moose-deer Island, which had been ordered for the equipment of our voyagers; and Mr. Back had gone across to that establishment, to make a selection of the articles we could spare for a temporary present to the Indians. The disappointment at the non-arrival of the goods was seriously felt by us, as we had looked forward with pleasure to the time when we should be enabled to recompense our kind Indian friends, for their tender sympathy in our distresses, and the assistance they had so cheerfully and promptly rendered. I now regretted to find, that Mr. Wentzel and his party, in their return from the sea, had suffered severely on their march along the Copper-Mine River, having on one occasion, as he mentioned, had no food but tripe de roche for eleven days.

[Pg 367] All the Indians flocked to our encampment to learn the news, and to receive the articles brought for them. Having got some spirits and tobacco, they withdrew to the tent of the Chief, and passed the greater part of the night in singing. We had now the indescribable gratification of changing our linen, which had been worn ever since our departure from the sea-coast.

December 8.—After a long conference with Akaitcho, we took leave of him and his kind companions, and set out with two sledges heavily laden with provision and bedding, drawn by the dogs, and conducted by Belanger and the Canadian sent by Mr. Weeks. Hepburn and Augustus jointly dragged a smaller sledge, laden principally with their own bedding. Adam and Benoit were left to follow with the Indians. We encamped on the Grassy-Lake Portage, having walked about nine miles, principally on the Yellow Knife River. It was open at the rapids, and in these places we had to ascend its banks, and walk through the woods for some distance, which was very fatiguing, especially to Dr. Richardson, whose feet were severely galled in consequence of some defect in his snow-shoes.

On the 11th, however, we arrived at the Fort, which was still under the charge of Mr. Weeks.[Pg 368] He welcomed us in the most kind manner, immediately gave us changes of dress, and did every thing in his power to make us comfortable.

Our sensations on being once more in a comfortable dwelling, after the series of hardships and miseries we had experienced, may be imagined. Our first act was again to return our grateful praises to the Almighty for the manifold instances of his mercy towards us. Having found here some articles which Mr. Back had sent across from Moose-deer Island, I determined on awaiting the arrival of Akaitcho and his party, in order to present these to them, and to assure them of the promised reward, as soon as it could possibly be procured.

In the afternoon of the 14th, Akaitcho, with his whole band came to the Fort. He smoked his customary pipe, and made an address to Mr. Weeks in the hall previous to his coming into the room in which Dr. Richardson and I were. We discovered at the commencement of his speech to us, that he had been informed that our expected supplies had not come. He spoke of this circumstance as a disappointment, indeed, sufficiently severe to himself, to whom his band looked up for the protection of their interests, but without attaching any blame to us. "The world[Pg 369] goes badly," he said, "all are poor; you are poor, the traders appear to be poor, I and my party, are poor likewise; and since the goods have not come in, we cannot have them. I do not regret having supplied you with provisions, for a Copper Indian can never permit white men to suffer from want of food on his lands, without flying to their aid. I trust, however, that we shall, as you say, receive what is due next autumn; and at all events," he added, in a tone of good-humour, "it is the first time that the white people have been indebted to the Copper Indians." We assured him the supplies should certainly be sent to him by the autumn, if not before. He then cheerfully received the small present we made to himself; and, although, we could give a few things only to those who had been most active in our service, the others, who, perhaps, thought themselves equally deserving, did not murmur at being left out in the distribution. Akaitcho afterwards expressed a strong desire, that we should represent the character of his nation in a favourable light to our countrymen. "I know," he said, "you write down every occurrence in your books; but probably you have only noticed the bad things we have said and done, and have omitted the good." In the course of the desultory conversation which ensued, he said, that[Pg 370] he had been always told by us, to consider the traders in the same light as ourselves; and that, for his part, he looked upon both as equally respectable. This assurance, made in the presence of Mr. Weeks, was particularly gratifying to us, as it completely disproved the defence that had been set up, respecting the injurious reports circulated against us amongst the Indians in the spring; namely, that they were in retaliation for our endeavours to lower the traders in the eyes of the Indians. I take this opportunity of stating my opinion, that Mr. Weeks, in spreading these reports, was actuated by a mistaken idea that he was serving the interest of his employers. On the present occasion, we felt indebted to him for the sympathy he displayed for our distresses, and the kindness with which he administered to our personal wants. After this conference, such Indians as were indebted to the Company were paid for the provision they had given us, by deducting a corresponding sum from their debts; in the same way we gave a reward of sixteen skins of beaver to each of the persons who had come to our relief at Fort Enterprise. As the debts of Akaitcho and his hunters had been effaced at the time of his engagement with us, we placed a sum equal to the amount of provision they had recently supplied, to their[Pg 371] credit on the Company's Books. These things being, through the moderation of the Indians, adjusted with an unexpected facility, we gave them a keg of mixed liquors, (five parts water,) and distributed among them several fathoms of tobacco, and they retired to their tents to spend the night in merriment.

Adam, our interpreter, being desirous of uniting himself with the Copper Indians, applied to me for his discharge, which I granted, and gave him a bill on the Hudson's Bay Company for the amount of his wages. These arrangements being completed, we prepared to cross the lake.

Mr. Weeks provided Dr. Richardson and I with a cariole each, and we set out at eleven A.M., on the 15th, for Moose-deer Island. Our party consisted of Belanger, who had charge of a sledge laden with the bedding, and drawn by two dogs, our two cariole men, Benoit, and Augustus. Previous to our departure, we had another conference with Akaitcho, who, as well as the rest of his party, bade us farewell, with a warmth of manner rare among the Indians.

The badness of Belanger's dogs, and the roughness of the ice, impeded our progress very much, and obliged us to encamp early. We had a good fire made of the drift wood, which lines[Pg 372] the shores of this lake in great quantities. The next day was very cold. We began the journey at nine A.M., and encamped at the Big Cape, having made another short march, in consequence of the roughness of the ice.

On the 17th, we encamped on the most southerly of the Rein-deer Islands. This night was very stormy, but the wind abating in the morning, we proceeded, and by sunset reached the fishing-huts of the Company at Stony Point. Here we found Mr. Andrews, a clerk of the Hudson's Bay Company, who regaled us with a supper of excellent white fish, for which this part of Slave Lake is particularly celebrated. Two men with sledges arrived soon afterwards, sent by Mr. McVicar, who expected us about this time. We set off in the morning before day break, with several companions, and arrived at Moose-deer Island about one P.M. Here we were received with the utmost hospitality by Mr. McVicar, the chief trader of the Hudson's Bay Company in this district, as well as by his assistant Mr. McAuley. We had also the happiness of joining our friend, Mr. Back; our feelings on this occasion can be well imagined, and we were deeply impressed with gratitude to him for his exertions in sending the supply of food to Fort Enterprise, to which,[Pg 373] under Divine Providence, we felt the preservation of our lives to be owing. He gave us an affecting detail of the proceedings of his party since our separation; the substance of which I shall convey to the reader, by the following extracts from his Journal.

[Pg 374]


October 4.

Captain Franklin having directed me to proceed with St. Germain, Belanger, and Beauparlant, to Fort Enterprise, in the hope of obtaining relief for the party, I took leave of my companions, and set out on my journey, through a very swampy country, which with the cloudy state of the weather and a keen north-east wind, accompanied by frequent snow showers, retarded us so much, that we scarcely got more than four miles before we halted for the night, and made a meal of tripe de roche and some old leather.

On the 5th we set out early, amidst extremely deep snow, sinking frequently in it up to the thighs, a labour in our enfeebled and almost worn out state, that nothing but the cheering hopes of reaching the house and affording relief to our friends, could have enabled us to support. As we advanced we found to our mortification, that the tripe de roche, hitherto our sole dependence, began to be scarce, so that we could only collect sufficient to make half a kettleful, which, with the addition of a partridge each, that St. Germain had killed, yielded a tolerable meal; during this[Pg 375] day I felt very weak and sore in the joints, particularly between the shoulders. At eight we encamped among a small clump of willows.

On the 6th we set out at an early hour, pursuing our route over a range of hills at the foot of one of which we saw several large pines, and a great quantity of willows; a sight that encouraged us to quicken our pace, as we were now certain we could not be far from the woods. Indeed we were making considerable progress, when Belanger unfortunately broke through the ice, and sank up to the hips. The weather being cold, he was in danger of freezing, but some brushwood on the borders of the lake enabled us to make a fire to dry him. At the same time we took the opportunity of refreshing ourselves with a kettle of swamp tea.

My increasing debility had for some time obliged me to use a stick for the purpose of extending my arms; the pain in my shoulders being so acute, that I could not bear them to remain in the usual position for two minutes together. We halted at five among some small brushwood, and made a sorry meal of an old pair of leather trowsers, and some swamp tea.

The night was cold with a hard frost, and though two persons slept together, yet we could not by any means keep ourselves warm, but[Pg 376] remained trembling the whole time. The following morning we crossed several lakes, occasionally seeing the recent tracks of deer, and at noon we fell upon Marten Lake; it happened to be at the exact spot where we had been the last year with the canoes, yet though I immediately recognised the place, the men would not believe it to be the same; at length, by pointing out several marks, and relating circumstances connected with them, they recovered their memory, and a simultaneous expression of "Mon Dieu, nous sommes sauvés," broke from the whole. Contrary to our expectations the lake was frozen sufficiently to bear us, so that we were excused from making the tours of the different bays. This circumstance seemed to impart fresh vigour to us, and we walked as fast as the extreme smoothness of the ice would permit, intending to reach the Slave Rock that night; but an unforeseen and almost fatal accident prevented the prosecution of our plan: Belanger (who seemed the victim of misfortune) again broke through the ice, in a deep part near the head of the rapid, but was timely saved by our fastening our worsted belts together, and pulling him out. By urging him forwards as quick as his icy garments would admit, to prevent his freezing, we reached a few pines, and kindled a fire; but it was late before he even felt[Pg 377] warm, though he was so near the flame as to burn his hair twice; and to add to our distress, (since we could not pursue them,) three wolves crossed the lake close to us.

The night of the 7th was extremely stormy, and about ten the following morning, on attempting to go on, we found it totally impossible, being too feeble to oppose the wind and drift, which frequently blew us over, and on attempting to cross a small lake that lay in our way, drove us faster backwards, than with every effort, we could get forwards; we therefore encamped under the shelter of a small clump of pines, secure from the south-west storm that was raging around us. In the evening, there being no tripe de roche, we were compelled to satisfy, or rather allay the cravings of hunger, by eating a gun cover and a pair of old shoes; at this time I had scarcely strength to get on my legs.

The wind did not in the least abate during the night, but in the morning of the 9th it changed to north-east and became moderate. We took advantage of this circumstance, and rising with great difficulty, set out; though had it not been for the hope of reaching the house, I am certain, from the excessive faintness which almost overpowered me, that I must have remained where I was. We passed the Slave Rock, and making frequent halts, arrived within a short distance of[Pg 378] Fort Enterprise; but as we perceived neither any marks of Indians, nor even of animals, the men began absolutely to despair: on a nearer approach, however, the tracks of large herds of deer, which had only passed a few hours, tended a little to revive their spirits, and shortly after we crossed the ruinous threshold of the long-sought spot; but what was our surprise, what our sensations, at beholding every thing in the most desolate and neglected state; the doors and windows of that room in which we expected to find provision, had been thrown down and the wild animals of the woods had resorted there as to a place of shelter and retreat. Mr. Wentzel had taken away the trunks and papers, but had left no note to guide us to the Indians. This was to us the most grievous disappointment: without the assistance of the Indians, bereft of every resource, we felt ourselves reduced to the most miserable state, which was rendered still worse, from the recollection that our friends in the rear were as miserable as ourselves. For the moment, however, hunger prevailed, and each began to gnaw the scraps of putrid and frozen meat that were lying about, without waiting to prepare them. A fire, however, was made, and the neck and bones of a deer, found in the house, were boiled and devoured.

[Pg 379] I determined to remain a day here to repose; then to go in search of the Indians, and in the event of missing them, to proceed to the first trading establishment, which was distant about one hundred and thirty miles, and from thence to send succour to my companions. This indeed I should have done immediately, as the most certain manner of executing my purpose, had there been any probability of the river and lakes being frozen to the southward, or had we possessed sufficient strength to have clambered over the rocks and mountains which impeded the direct way; but as we were aware of our inability to do so, I listened to St. Germain's proposal, which was, to follow the deer into the woods, (so long as they did not lead us out of our route to the Indians,) and if possible to collect sufficient food to carry us to Fort Providence. We now set about making mittens and snow shoes, whilst Belanger searched under the snow, and collected a mass of old bones, which when burned and used with a little salt we found palatable enough, and made a tolerable meal. At night St. Germain returned, having seen plenty of tracks, but no animals; the day was cloudy, with fresh breezes, and the river was frozen at the borders.

On the 11th we prepared for our journey,[Pg 380] having first collected a few old skins of deer, to serve us as food; and written a note to be left for our commander, to apprize him of our intentions. We pursued the course of the river to the lower lake, when St. Germain fell in, which obliged us to encamp directly to prevent his being frozen; indeed we were all glad to rest, for in our meagre and reduced state it was impossible to resist the weather, which at any other time would have been thought fine; my toes were frozen, and although wrapped up in a blanket I could not keep my hands warm.

The 12th was excessively cold with fresh breezes. Our meal at night consisted of scraps of old deer skins and swamp tea, and the men complained greatly of their increasing debility. The following morning I sent St. Germain to hunt, intending to go some distance down the lake, but the weather becoming exceedingly thick with snow storms, we were prevented from moving. He returned without success, not having seen any animals. We had nothing to eat.

In the morning of the 14th the part of the lake before us was quite frozen. There was so much uncertainty in St. Germain's answers as to the chance of any Indians being in the direction we were then going, (although he had previously said that the leader had told him he should be[Pg 381] there) and he gave me so much dissatisfaction in his hunting excursions, that I was induced to send a note to the Commander, whom I supposed to be by this time at Fort Enterprise, to inform him of our situation; not that I imagined for a moment he could amend it, but that by all returning to the fort we might, perhaps, have better success in hunting; with this view I despatched Belanger, much against his inclination, and told him to return as quickly as possible to a place about four miles further on, where we intended to fish, and to await his arrival. The men were so weak this day, that I could get neither of them to move from the encampment; and it was only necessity that compelled them to cut wood for fuel, in performing which operation Beauparlant's face became so dreadfully swelled that he could scarcely see; I myself lost my temper on the most trivial circumstances, and was become very peevish; the day was fine but cold, with a freezing north-east wind. We had nothing to eat.

October 15.—The night was calm and clear, but it was not before two in the afternoon that we set out; and the one was so weak, and the other so full of complaints, that we did not get more than three-quarters of a mile from our last encampment, before we were obliged to put up; but in this distance we were fortunate enough to[Pg 382] kill a partridge, the bones of which were eaten, and the remainder reserved for baits to fish with. We, however, collected sufficient tripe de roche to make a meal: and I anxiously awaited Belanger's return, to know what course to take. I was now so much reduced, that my shoulders were as if they would fall from my body, my legs seemed unable to support me, and in the disposition in which I then found myself, had it not been for the remembrance of my friends behind, who relied on me for relief, as well as the persons of whom I had charge, I certainly should have preferred remaining where I was, to the miserable pain of attempting to move.

October 16.—We waited until two in the afternoon for Belanger; but not seeing any thing of him on the lake, we set out, purposing to encamp at the Narrows, the place which was said to be so good for fishing, and where, according to St. Germain's account, the Indians never failed to catch plenty; its distance at most could not be more than two miles. We had not proceeded far before Beauparlant began to complain of increasing weakness; but this was so usual with us that no particular notice was taken of it, for in fact there was little difference, all being alike feeble: among other things, he said whilst we were resting, that he should never get beyond the next[Pg 383] encampment, for his strength had quite failed him. I endeavoured to encourage him by explaining the mercy of the Supreme Being, who ever beholds with an eye of pity those that seek his aid. This passed as common discourse, when he inquired where we were to put up; St. Germain pointed to a small clump of pines near us, the only place indeed that offered for fuel. "Well," replied the poor man, "take your axe Mr. Back, and I will follow at my leisure, I shall join you by the time the encampment is made." This is a usual practice of the country, and St. Germain and myself went on towards the spot; it was five o'clock and not very cold, but rather milder than we had experienced it for some time, when on leaving the ice, we saw a number of crows perched on the top of some high pines near us. St. Germain immediately said there must be some dead animal thereabouts, and proceeded to search, when we saw several heads of deer half buried in the snow and ice, without eyes or tongues: the previous severity of the weather having obliged the wolves and other animals to abandon them. An expression of "Oh merciful God! we are saved," broke from us both; and with feelings more easily imagined than described, we shook hands, not knowing what to say for joy. It was twilight, and a fog was rapidly darkening[Pg 384] the surface of the lake, when St. Germain commenced making the encampment; the task was too laborious for me to render him any assistance, and had we not thus providentially found provision, I feel convinced that the next twenty-four hours would have terminated my existence. But this good fortune in some measure renovated me for the moment, and putting out my whole strength I contrived to collect a few heads, and with incredible difficulty carried them singly about thirty paces to the fire.

Darkness stole on us apace, and I became extremely anxious about Beauparlant; several guns were fired, to each of which he answered. We then called out, and again heard his responses though faintly, when I told St. Germain to go and look for him, as I had not strength myself, being quite exhausted. He said, that he had already placed a pine branch on the ice, and he could then scarcely find his way back, but if he went now he should certainly be lost. In this situation I could only hope that as Beauparlant had my blanket, and every thing requisite to light a fire, he might have encamped at a little distance from us.

October 17.—The night was cold and clear, but we could not sleep at all, from the pains of having eaten. We suffered the most excruciating[Pg 385] torments, though I in particular did not eat a quarter of what would have satisfied me; it might have been from using a quantity of raw or frozen sinews of the legs of deer, which neither of us could avoid doing, so great was our hunger. In the morning, being much agitated for the safety of Beauparlant, I desired St. Germain to go in search of him, and to return with him as quick as possible, when I would have something prepared for them to eat.

It was, however, late when he arrived, with a small bundle which Beauparlant was accustomed to carry, and with tears in his eyes, told me that he had found our poor companion dead. Dead! I could not believe him. "It is so, Sir," said St. Germain; "after hallooing and calling his name to no purpose, I went towards our last encampment, about three quarters of a mile, and found him stretched upon his back on a sand bank frozen to death, his limbs all extended and swelled enormously, and as hard as the ice that was near him; his bundle was behind him, as if it had rolled away when he fell, and the blanket which he wore around his neck and shoulders thrown on one side. Seeing that there was no longer life in him, I threw your covering over him, and placed his snow-shoes on the top of it."

I had not even thought of so serious an occurrence[Pg 386] in our little party, and for a short time was obliged to give vent to my grief. Left with one person and both of us weak, no appearance of Belanger, a likelihood that great calamity had taken place amongst our other companions, still upwards of seventeen days' march from the nearest Establishment, and myself unable to carry a burden; all these things pressed heavy on me; and how to get to the Indians or to the fort I did not know; but that I might not depress St. Germain's spirits, I suppressed the feelings to which these thoughts gave rise, and made some arrangements for the journey to Fort Providence.

October 18.—While we were this day occupied in scraping together the remains of some deer's meat, we observed Belanger coming round a point apparently scarcely moving. I went to meet him, and made immediate inquiries about my friends. Five, with the Captain, he said, were at the house, the rest were left near the river, unable to proceed; but he was too weak to relate the whole. He was conducted to the encampment, and paid every attention to, and by degrees we heard the remainder of his tragic tale, at which the interpreter could not avoid crying. He then gave me a letter from my friend the Commander, which indeed was truly afflicting. The simple story of[Pg 387] Belanger I could hear, but when I read it in another language, mingled with the pious resignation of a good man, I could not sustain it any longer. The poor man was much affected at the death of our lamented companion, but his appetite prevailed over every other feeling; and, had I permitted it, he would have done himself an injury; for after two hours' eating, principally skin and sinews, he complained of hunger. The day was cloudy, with snow and fresh breezes from the north-east by east.

The last evening, as well as this morning, the 19th, I mentioned my wishes to the men, that we should proceed towards Rein-Deer Lake, but this proposal met with a direct refusal. Belanger stated his inability to move, and St. Germain used similar language; adding, for the first time, that he did not know the route, and that it was of no use to go in the direction I mentioned, which was the one agreed upon between the Commander and myself. I then insisted that we should go by the known route, and join the Commander, but they would not hear of it; they would remain where they were until they had regained their strength; they said I wanted to expose them again to death (faire perir). In vain did I use every argument to the contrary, for they were equally heedless to all. Thus[Pg 388] situated I was compelled to remain; and from this time to the 25th we employed ourselves in looking about for the remnants of the deer and pieces of skin, which even the wolves had left; and by pounding the bones, we were enabled to make a sort of soup, which strengthened us greatly, though each still complained of weakness. It was not without the greatest difficulty that I could restrain the men from eating every scrap they found, though they were well aware of the necessity there was of being economical in our present situation, and to save whatever they could for our journey; yet they could not resist the temptation, and whenever my back was turned they seldom failed to snatch at the nearest piece to them, whether cooked or raw.

We had set fishing-lines, but without any success; and we often saw large herds of deer crossing the lake at full speed, and wolves pursuing them.

The night of the 25th was cold with hard frost. Early the next morning I sent the men to cover the body of our departed companion Beauparlant with the trunks and branches of trees, which they did; and shortly after their return I opened his bundle, and found it contained two papers of vermilion, several strings of beads, some fire-steels, flints, awls, fish-hooks, rings,[Pg 389] linen, and the glass of an artificial horizon. My two men began to recover a little as well as myself, though I was by far the weakest of the three; the soles of my feet were cracked all over, and the other parts were as hard as horn, from constant walking. I again urged the necessity of advancing to join the Commander's party, but they said, they were not sufficiently strong.

On the 27th we discovered the remains of a deer, on which we feasted. The night was unusually cold, and ice formed in a pint-pot within two feet of the fire. The coruscations of the Aurora were beautifully brilliant; they served to shew us eight wolves, which we had some trouble to frighten away from our collection of deer's bones; and, between their howling and the constant cracking of the ice, we did not get much rest.

Having collected with great care, and by self-denial, two small packets of dried meat or sinews, sufficient (for men who knew what it was to fast) to last for eight days, at the rate of one indifferent meal per day, we prepared to set out on the 30th. I calculated that we should be about fourteen days in reaching Fort Providence; and allowing that we neither killed deer nor found Indians, we could but be unprovided with food six days, and this we heeded not whilst the prospect of obtaining[Pg 390] full relief was before us. Accordingly we set out against a keen north-east wind, in order to gain the known route to Fort Providence. We saw a number of wolves and some crows on the middle of the lake, and supposing such an assembly was not met idly, we made for them and came in for a share of a deer which they had killed a short time before, and thus added a couple of meals to our stock. By four P.M. we gained the head of the lake, or the direct road to Fort Providence, and some dry wood being at hand, we encamped; by accident it was the same place where the Commander's party had slept on the 19th, the day on which I supposed they had left Fort Enterprise; but the encampment was so small, that we feared great mortality had taken place amongst them; and I am sorry to say the stubborn resolution of my men, not to go to the house, prevented me from determining this most anxious point, so that I now almost dreaded passing their encampments, lest I should see some of our unfortunate friends dead at each spot. Our fire was hardly kindled when a fine herd of deer passed close to us. St. Germain pursued them a short distance, but with his usual want of success, so that we made a meal off the muscles and sinews we had dried, though they were so tough that we could scarcely cut them. My hands were[Pg 391] benumbed throughout the march, and we were all stiff and fatigued. The marching of two days weakened us all very much, and the more so on account of our exertion to follow the tracks of our Commander's party; but we lost them, and concluded that they were not before us. Though the weather was not cold, I was frozen in the face and was so reduced and affected by these constant calamities, as well in mind as in body, that I found much difficulty in proceeding even with the advantages I had enjoyed.

November 3.—We set out before day, though, in fact, we were all much fitter to remain, from the excessive pain which we suffered in our joints, and proceeded till one P.M., without halting, when Belanger, who was before, stopped, and cried out, "Footsteps of Indians." It is needless to mention the joy that brightened the countenances of each at this unlooked-for sight; we knew relief must be at hand, and considered our sufferings at an end. St. Germain inspected the tracks, and said that three persons had passed the day before; and that he knew the remainder must be advancing to the southward, as was customary with these Indians, when they sent to the trading establishment on the first ice. On this information we encamped, and being too weak to walk myself, I sent St. Germain to follow the[Pg 392] tracks, with instructions to the chief of the Indians to provide immediate assistance for such of our friends as might be at Fort Enterprise, as well as for ourselves, and to lose no time in returning to me. I was now so exhausted, that had we not seen the tracks this day, I must have remained at the next encampment, until the men could have sent aid from Fort Providence. We had finished our small portion of sinews, and were preparing for rest, when an Indian boy made his appearance with meat. St. Germain had arrived before sunset at the tents of Akaitcho, whom he found at the spot where he had wintered last year; but imagine my surprise when he gave me a note from the Commander, and said that Benoit and Augustus, two of the men, had just joined them. The note was so confused, by the pencil marks being partly rubbed out, that I could not decipher it clearly; but it informed me, that he had attempted to come with the two men, but finding his strength inadequate to the task, he relinquished his design, and returned to Fort Enterprise, to await relief with the others. There was another note for the gentleman in charge of Fort Providence, desiring him to send meat, blankets, shoes, and tobacco. Akaitcho wished me to join him on the ensuing day, at a place which the boy knew, where they[Pg 393] were going to fish; and I was the more anxious to do so, on account of my companions: but particularly that I might hear a full relation of what had happened, and of the Commander's true situation, which I suspected to be much worse than he had described.

In the afternoon I joined the Indians, and repeated to Akaitcho what St. Germain had told him; he seemed much affected, and said, he would have sent relief directly, though I had not been there; indeed, his conduct was generous and humane. The next morning, at an early hour, three Indians, with loaded sledges of meat, skins, shoes, and a blanket, set out for Fort Enterprise; one of them was to return directly with an answer from Captain Franklin, to whom I wrote; but in the event of his death, he was to bring away all the papers he could find; and he promised to travel with such haste, as to be able to return to us on the fourth day. I was now somewhat more at ease, having done all in my power to succour my unfortunate companions; but was very anxious for the return of the messenger. The Indians brought me meat in small quantities, though sufficient for our daily consumption; and, as we had a little ammunition, many were paid on the spot for what they gave.

On the 9th I had the satisfaction of seeing the[Pg 394] Indian arrive from Fort Enterprise. At first he said they were all dead, but shortly after he gave me a note, which was from the Commander, and then I learned all the fatal particulars which had befallen them. I now proposed that the Chief should immediately send three sledges, loaded with meat, to Fort Enterprise, should make a cache of provision at our present encampment, and also, that he should here await the arrival of the Commander. By noon two large trains, laden with meat, were sent off for Fort Enterprise. The next day we proceeded on our journey, and arrived at Fort Providence on the 21st of November.

Conclusion of Mr. Back's Narrative.

[Pg 395]

I have little now to add to the melancholy detail into which I felt it proper to enter; but I cannot omit to state, that the unremitting care and attentions of our kind friends, Mr. McVicar and Mr. McAuley, united with our improved diet, to promote to the restoration of our health; so that, by the end of February, the swellings of our limbs, which had returned upon us, entirely subsided, and we were able to walk to any part of the island. Our appetites gradually moderated, and we nearly regained our ordinary state of body before the spring. Hepburn alone suffered from a severe attack of rheumatism, which confined him to his bed for some weeks. The usual symptoms of spring having appeared, on the 25th of May we prepared to embark for Fort Chipewyan. Fortunately, on the following morning, a canoe arrived from that place with the whole of the stores which we required for the payment of Akaitcho and the hunters. It was extremely gratifying to us to be thus enabled, previous to our departure, to make arrangements respecting the requital of our late Indian companions; and the more so, as we had recently discovered that Akaitcho, and the whole of his tribe, in consequence of the death of the leader's mother, and the wife of our[Pg 396] old guide Keskarrah, had broken and destroyed every useful article belonging to them, and were in the greatest distress. It was an additional pleasure to find our stock of ammunition more than sufficient to pay them what was due, and that we could make a considerable present of this most essential article to every individual that had been attached to the Expedition.

We quitted Moose-deer Island at five P.M., on the 26th, accompanied by Mr. McVicar, and Mr. McAuley, and nearly all the voyagers at the establishment, having resided there about five months, not a day of which had passed without our having cause of gratitude, for the kind and unvaried attentions of Mr. McVicar and Mr. McAuley. These gentlemen accompanied us as far as Fort Chipewyan, where we arrived on the 2d of June; here we met Mr. Wentzel, and the four men, who had been sent with him from the mouth of the Copper-Mine River; and I think it due to that gentleman, to give his own explanation of the unfortunate circumstances which prevented him from fulfilling my instructions, respecting the provisions to have been left for us at Fort Enterprise[16].

[16] "After you sent me back from the mouth of the Copper-Mine River, and I had overtaken the Leader, Guides, and Hunters, on[Pg 397] the fifth day, leaving the sea-coast, as well as our journey up the River, they always expressed the same desire of fulfilling their promises, although somewhat dissatisfied at being exposed to privation while on our return, from a scarcity of animals; for, as I have already stated in my first communication from Moose-Deer Island, we had been eleven days with no other food but tripe de roche. In the course of this time an Indian, with his wife and child, who were travelling in company with us, were left in the rear, and are since supposed to have perished through want, as no intelligence had been received of them at Fort Providence in December last. On the seventh day after I had joined the Leader, &c. &c., and journeying on together, all the Indians, excepting Petit Pied and Bald-Head, left me to seek their families, and crossed Point Lake at the Crow's Nest, where Humpy had promised to meet his brother Ekehcho[16a] with the families, but did not fulfil, nor did any of my party of Indians know where to find them; for we had frequently made fires to apprize them of our approach, yet none appeared in return as answers. This disappointment, as might be expected, served to increase the ill-humour of the Leader and party, the brooding of which (agreeably to Indian custom) was liberally discharged on me, in bitter reproach for having led them from their families, and exposed them to dangers and hardships, which but for my influence, they said, they might have spared themselves. Nevertheless, they still continued to profess the sincerest desire of meeting your wishes in making caches of provisions, and remaining until a late season on the road that leads from Fort Enterprise to Fort Providence, through which the Expedition-men had travelled so often the year before—remarking, however, at the same time, that they had not the least hopes of ever seeing one person return from the Expedition. These alarming fears I never could persuade them to dismiss from their minds; they always sneered at what they called 'my credulity.'—'If,' said the Gros Pied[16b], 'the Great Chief (meaning Captain Franklin), or any of his party, should pass at my tents, he or they shall be welcome to all my provisions, or any thing else that I may have.' And I am sincerely happy to understand,[Pg 398] by your communication, that in this he had kept his word—in sending you with such promptitude and liberality the assistance your truly dreadful situation required. But the party of Indians, on whom I had placed the utmost confidence and dependance, was Humpy and the White Capot Guide, with their sons, and several of the discharged hunters from the Expedition. This party was well-disposed, and readily promised to collect provisions for the possible return of the Expedition, provided they could get a supply of ammunition from Fort Providence; for when I came up with them they were actually starving, and converting old axes into ball, having no other substitute—this was unlucky. Yet they were well inclined, and I expected to find means at Fort Providence to send them a supply, in which I was, however, disappointed, for I found that establishment quite destitute of necessaries; and then, shortly after I had left them, they had the misfortune of losing three of their hunters, who were drowned in Marten Lake: this accident was, of all others, the most fatal that could have happened—a truth which no one, who has the least knowledge of the Indian character, will deny; and as they were nearly connected by relationship to the Leader, Humpy, and White Capot Guide, the three leading men of this part of the Copper Indian Tribe, it had the effect of unhinging (if I may use the expression) the minds of all these families, and finally destroying all the fond hopes I had so sanguinely conceived of their assisting the Expedition, should it come back by the Anna-dessé River, of which they were not certain.

[16a] Akaitcho the Leader.

[16b] Also Akaitcho.

"As to my not leaving a letter at Fort Enterprise, it was because, by some mischance, you had forgot to give me paper when we parted[16c].

[16c] I certainly offered Mr. Wentzel some paper when he quitted us, but he declined it, having then a note-book; and Mr. Back gave him a pencil.

"I, however, wrote this news on a plank, in pencil, and placed it in the top of your former bedstead, where I left it. Since it has not been found there, some Indians must have gone to the house after my departure, and destroyed it. These details, Sir, I have been induced to enter into (rather unexpectedly) in justification of myself, and hope it will be satisfactory."

In a subsequent conversation he stated to me, that the two Indians, who were actually with him at Fort Enterprise, whilst he remained there altering his canoe, were prevented from hunting;[Pg 399] one by an accidental lameness, the other by the fear of meeting alone some of the Dog-Rib Indians.

We were here furnished with a canoe by Mr. Smith, and a bowman, to act as our guide; and having left Fort Chipewyan on the 5th, we arrived, on the 4th of July, at Norway House. Finding at this place, that canoes were about to go down to Montreal, I gave all our Canadian voyagers their discharges, and sent them by those vessels, furnishing them with orders on the Agent of the Hudson's Bay Company, for the amount of their wages. We carried Augustus down to York Factory, where we arrived on the 14th of July, and were received with every mark of attention and kindness by Mr. Simpson, the Governor, Mr. McTavish, and, indeed, by all the officers of the United Companies. And thus terminated our long, fatiguing, and disastrous travels in North America, having journeyed by water and by land (including our navigation of the Polar Sea,) five thousand five hundred and fifty miles.


Route of the Expedition from York Factory to Cumberland House

Route of the Expedition from York Factory to Cumberland House

Route of the Expedition from Isle à la Crosse to Fort Providence

Route of the Expedition from Isle à la Crosse to Fort Providence

A Chart of the Discoveries & Route of the Norther Land Expedition
under the command of Captain Franklin, R. N. in the years 1820/21.

A Chart of the Discoveries & Route of the Norther Land Expedition under the command of Captain Franklin, R. N. in the years 1820/21.


Transcriber's corrections and comments: To Top

1. Original had "throngh"; corrected to "through".

2. Assume -45° 5' means -45.5°, but possibly this could also be -45-5/60°

3. Original had "phenemenon"; corrected to "phenomenon".

4. The context of soap making indicates that "ley" is most likely a misprint for "lye".

5. Original had "holyday"; corrected to "holiday" (as in 2nd edition).

6. Original list order was "M., L."; changed to "L., M." for consistency.

7. Original list order was "S., R."; changed to "R., S." for consistency.

8. Original had "storehouse"; changed to "store-house" to be consistent with other occurrences in the text.

9. Original had "An"; corrected to "At".

10. Original had "McAulay"; changed to "McAuley" to be consisten with other occurrences in the text.

11. Added comma missing after "tobacco" in original.

12. Original had "determine"; corrected to "determined".

13. Original had "considerally"; corrected to "considerably" (as in 2nd edition).

14. Original had comma after "him"; corrected to period.

15. Original had period after "impossible"; corrected to comma.

16. Added "a" missing before "medal" in original.

17. Assume "Akaiyazzeh" is the same as "Akaiyazza" in chapter VIII.

18. Original had "Instructions"; corrected to "instructions".

19. Original had "et"; corrected to "set".

20. Original had "June", which doesn't fit into the sequence; corrected to "July".

21. Original had "good-nature" at line break; corrected to "good nature".

22. Original had "looses and"; corrected to "loose sand".

23. Original had "June", which doesn't fit into the sequence; corrected to "July".

24. Original had "this"; corrected to "his".

25. Original had "tattoed"; corrected to "tattooed".

26. Original had "her and"; corrected to "her".

27. Added period missing after "house" in original.

28. Added comma missing after "being" in original.

29. Original had "easernmost"; corrected to "easternmost".

30. Added period missing after "Academy" in original.

31. Original had "Blackmeat"; changed to "Black-meat" to be consistent with other occurrences in this text and in the first volume.

32. Alternative spellings for "Thlueetessy" in the first volume are "Thlouee-tessy" and "Thloueea-tessy".

33. Original had "tha"; corrected to "that".

34. Original had "Slate-Clay"; changed to "Slate-clay" to be consistent with occurrence in chapter XI.

35. Original had "sandstone"; changed to "sand-stone" to be consistent with other occurrences in the text.

36. Original had "philanthrophist"; corrected to "philanthropist".

37. Original had "brush-wood"; changed to "brushwood" to be consistent with other occurrences in the text.

38. Original had "port-folio"; changed to "portfolio" to be consistent with spelling in footnote 6 in chapter X.

39. Original had "daybreak"; changed to "day-break" to be consistent with other occurrences in the text.

40. Original had "amongt"; corrected to "amongst".

41. Original had "Rein-deer"; changed to "Rein-Deer" to be consistent with other occurrences in the text.

42. Original had "signed"; corrected to "singed".

43. Original had "goiug"; corrected to "going".

44. Original had superfluous comma after "companions"; deleted.

45. Added comma missing in original after "hunting".

46. Original had "firewood"; changed to "fire-wood" to be consistent with other occurrences in the text.

47. Original had "morrrow"; corrected to "morrow".

48. Added word "be" missing in phrase "used to considered" in original.

49. Original had "Semandrè"; corrected this and all further instances to "Samandrè" to be consistent with the spelling used earlier in this text and in the first volume.

50. Original had "w"; corrected to "we".

51. Original had "combatted"; corrected to "combated" (as in 2nd edition and elsewhere in the text).

52. Original had "exited"; corrected to "excited".

53. Original had "sauvès"; corrected to "sauvés".

54. Superfluous "as" in original; deleted.

55. Added period missing after "meal" in original.

56. Original had superfluous comma after "said"; deleted.

57. Original had "scacrely"; corrected to "scarcely".

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Narrative of a Journey to the Shores
of the Polar Sea, in the years 1819-, by John Franklin


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