BY BR. L.T. REICHEL, IN THE SUMMER OF THE YEAR 1876.
(FROM: PERIODICAL ACCOUNTS, 30/314(1877), 145-56; translated from the German version in MISSIONS-BLATT DER BRUEDERGEMEINE)
My first visitation of the Labrador mission took place in the year 1861. The second, having for its object mainly business connected with the arrangements of the barter trade with the Eskimoes, which provides for the greater part of the expense of this Mission, presents matter that will doubtless be new and interesting to many friends of our work. Naturally, frequent reference will be made to my previous report.
Leaving Berthelsdorf with Sr. Reichel on May 31st, we reached London on June 9th, and some days passed rapidly, which were largely devoted to preparatory conferences with the Committee of the Society for the Furtherance of the Gospel among the Heathen. On June 17th we embarked on board the Harmony, in company with Br. and Sr. Schneider and Br. Schulze, who were returning to their posts, and a goodly company of brethren and sisters, who accompanied us as far as Gravesend. It was Captain Linklater's sixteenth voyage with the present ship, and my tenth trip across the Atlantic, and it proved the most stormy and uncomfortable one in our experience. Very cheering to us among all the gales was the text of the day on which we sailed: "Fear not: believe only." Luke viii. 50.
The voyage to the Orkneys occupied less time than usual, as the harbour of Stromness was reached on the 21st of June. Although ready to sail again on the 26th, we were prevented from leaving port by the strong south-westerly breeze, which prevailed for three days. On the 30th, in spite of a head-wind, which alarmed the pilot, the anchor was raised, and we made our way to sea by many tacks, for which the minute local knowledge of the captain among his native islands stood us in good stead. For three weeks we had much violent head-wind with rough sea, which was a source of great discomfort to the passengers, alternating with calms and foggy weather. The fiercest gale was on July 13th: the wheel was firmly bound up for the space of twenty hours, and we scudded along through the wild waves with only three small sails set, the sea- sick sisters being all the while very uncomfortable in their berths, from which they were constantly in danger of being ejected by the rolling of the vessel. During these three weeks there were only three days on which the sisters could appear on deck for a few hours. But we were glad to be able to have services in the cabin every Sunday and occasionally in the week, which were attended by the crew. In the fourth week the weather improved, and we rejoiced in warm sunshine, as we approached the coast of Labrador, and came in sight of several ice-bergs of many forms and colours. Again there was a delay owing to fog and calm, but on July 31st we cast anchor /146/ in the bay of Hopedale, heartily thanking God for His preserving mercies on our trying voyage.
The Missionaries were soon on board, giving us a very hearty welcome, which was renewed on the part of the Eskimoes with the addition of singing, cheering, playing of the band, firing of guns, &c., when we went ashore about 6 p.m. We were grieved to hear at once of the death of Br. Guenther and Sr. Hlavatschek, which had occurred at Hebron in February and June of this year.
Here we spent fifteen busy days, with many meetings for conference and edification, visits among the natives, &c. The weather was mostly fine and warm, the thermometer rising to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Occasionally there were heavy storms, which quickly cooled the air, and rid us of all the troublesome mosquitoes. This station has considerably altered since my former visit. The new church is neat and friendly in appearance. The good organ is very fairly played by two Eskimoes, Ludolph and Ambrose. Benches without backs are provided for the natives, and the floor is strewn with sand of a dark grey colour. Four helpers of each sex occupy seats at the side, and perform the duties of chapel-servants.
A passage connects the church with the upper storey of the mission-house, in which accommodation was provided for ourselves and other brethren and sisters. In the lower storey is the dining- room, in which during our stay a company of sixteen adults (including Captain Linklater) and four children daily assembled for the noon-day meal, causing no little additional trouble to the good sisters of the house, as Eskimo "helps" are but little available in this department. Under the passage just mentioned a verandah has recently been erected, which serves admirably as a playground for the children in winter. The store-buildings have been greatly enlarged, but even now barely suffice for the requirements of the increasing fish-trade. From the rock in the bay, at which boats used to land passengers, leaving them to make their way to the houses by a very dangerous path over rough blocks of stone, a jetty two hundred feet long has now been erected, which leads right up to the houses. It is invariably infested by a goodly portion of the 132 dogs, which belong to Hopedale.
The gardens took us by surprise, as vegetation in them was more advanced than we had anticipated: during our stay they improved very perceptibly with the warm weather and occasional heavy rain. Salad and cucumbers in the forcing frames require great care and trouble, which are, however, well repaid. In the little larch plantation stretching away in the direction of Ship- hill I found the trees considerably grown, and the ground copiously sprinkled with pretty flowers, among which the Linnaea was particularly striking.
Native houses, built without any regularity amongst the rocks, line the road to the burial-ground; they are forty in number, and there are besides three houses of settlers, and one guest-house for the use of visiting members and officials of the Hudson's Bay Company on their occasional trips past this place. The dwellings are /147/ much better than I found them fifteen years ago. You see no more genuine Eskimo huts, with windows of seal-bladder. European block-houses are now substituted for the former hovels, some of them having a bed of carrots and cabbages on the roof of the porch out of reach of the dogs. Most have glass windows, an iron stove in the centre, curtains to the beds, on which blankets now take the place of reindeer-skins. The walls are papered with bright colours and adorned with pictures, and each house has its clock, mirror, and petroleum-lamp. Few chairs are to be seen, as boxes can be used for this purpose or the table. The clothing, too, has become more European. Only at the celebration of the Holy Communion the men all wear the white attichet (or smock), and the women the white sillapak (a garment like the smock, only with a tail-like appendage at the back) embroidered in colours, which suits them very well.
This change as to their dwellings and clothing is the result of the altered mode of life now prevailing in this part of Labrador. In a land of rocks and swamps agriculture is impossible. The inhabitants, whether European or Eskimo, if they do not wish to starve, must take to hunting or fishing. In earlier days the former pursuit was invariably chosen by the Eskimo, and hunting the seal was his main occupation, and the chief source whence he drew his supplies of the few necessaries of life, which sufficed for him. Only women took to fishing a little, as is now the case among the heathen in the far north. Of late years that change has taken place with the Eskimoes which is always observed when savage tribes attain by means of Christian influences to a higher state of civilization, their requirements have largely increased. At the same time the produce of the chase has perceptibly decreased; the number of seals annually visiting the coast has greatly fallen off, while foxes and reindeer have become more scarce, in consequence of the absence of any fixed "close time," and the apparently irresistible tendency of the Eskimo to shoot whatever wild animal may cross his path. Traders from the South have created and fostered the desire for many articles, of which the natives formerly knew nothing, and for which the furs procured on the chase no longer provide sufficient payment. They see, too, that the hitherto disregarded wealth of their own rivers and seas entices an increasing number of fishing schooners from Newfoundland to their shores. Hence they have become fishermen. Here at Hopedale this change is most apparent: you see it in the fact that now the natives have a fleet of 27 fishing smacks, besides 29 smaller boats, while the number of kayaks for sealing has since my last visit dwindled down from 49 to 22. Not a few work hard at their new calling, and are able to pay off the debts at the stores, which are a natural feature of the present transition state of this community. I was present one day when an Eskimo brought a boat- load of fish, which enabled him at one stroke to pay off one half of his debt of 21 pounds. All promised me to do their utmost to free themselves from their burden of debts.
The internal condition, too, shows progress. Although their unfortunate financial difficulties occasionally produce an estrangement, it is evident from the good attendance at the services and the /148/ value attached to the means of grace that the natives love their church, and -- as many of them assured me -- "could not live without their teachers." In the majority of the numerous cases of death, which occurred during last autumn, there were very cheering indications of trust in the full merits of our Saviour. It was very pleasant to me to meet with many who remembered my former visit, and to renew my intercourse with them in many calls which they paid me.
Hopedale Bay presents at times a very lively aspect. On August 6th, Sunday, besides the Harmony and Meta, there were five Newfoundland schooners and twenty-six Eskimo fishing-smacks lying at anchor. At the English service, which Br. Ritter conducts every Sunday afternoon during the two summer months, there were about fifty weather-beaten sailors, and some of their wives, all listening attentively to Litany and sermon. Some of these attend here regularly every Sunday, while they are on this part of the coast, occasionally coming from a considerable distance for this purpose.
On August 13th we enjoyed a day of blessing and much edification. At 10 a.m. in a solemn service I ordained Br. Ritter a deacon of our Brethren's Church. Br. Bourquin translating my address into Eskimo, while the doxology was sung by the missionaries present. In the evening we met at the Lord's table. In one service the native choir performed a piece of music with accompaniment on the organ and a quartet of stringed instruments in a very creditable manner, and the brass band gave us real pleasure during the day by playing a variety of chorales and arias in the open air.
The next day I was ready to proceed on my tour, but was prevented by contrary wind, which continued to the 17th. This detention afforded us an opportunity for an excursion to the charming Ussurenict Lakes, and a sail in the Meta with Captain W. Ford and five Eskimo sailors to the large island of Igloksoaktaliksoak, where the brethren collected a good supply of grass for their goats.
On the 17th we left Hopedale, the brethren and sisters Bourquin and Bindschedler being our fellow-passengers. The light S.W. wind just sufficed to bring us between the islands out to sea, where we had a view of about sixty ice-bergs: then it fell away, and contrary wind came on, obliging us to tack up and down outside Takpangayok Bay, often in close proximity to the promontories which form its entrance, and preventing us from reaching the second station before the 19th.
Zoar was entirely new to me, having been commenced as one of the consequences of my visit in 1861. The station lies on a small, narrow inlet of the peninsula formed by the Takpangayok Bay, which bears the name Kikkertaujaluk-kangerdlunga, or the bay of the great peninsula. The beauty of the situation is very striking. On landing, you follow a footpath up a slight ascent to the Eskimo village, in which the houses are all built in a line, and numbered. At the last house, which was Br. Elsner's first home here, a gravel-walk begins, leading past a pretty wood of fir and alder trees, in which you see the high willow-weed, (EPILOBIUM /149/ LATIFOLIUM) with its red flowers, and small white Alpine plants in abundance. The whole is a park-like picture. To the left there is the bay with many boats of the Eskimoes. About 150 yards along this path you pass in front of the church, and stand before the mission-premises, at the corner of which the English flag is hoisted. Just outside the mission-house are two flower-beds, in which with the thermometer at 80 degrees Fahrenheit hardy flowers, as china-asters, stocks, mignionette, were thriving beautifully.
The house was too small to accommodate so large an influx of guests, and the garden-house proved a welcome resort for some meals and for conferences. A passage from the second storey of the missionaries' dwelling leads into the neat little church, for which we had brought a small organ. Both buildings are mainly the work of Br. Elsner. Nearer the landing-place are the store-buildings. The garden was in a flourishing condition, providing very good potatoes and salad for our table.
The day of our arrival was devoted in part to conferences with the brethren. Then we strolled to the little God's acre in which already sixty bodies are laid to rest. Behind it is a rocky plateau, from which you command a fine view of the east and west bays, which from this point appear quite surrounded by mountains, like inland lakes: with stretches of wood along the ridges, and here and there patches of snow. The scene could not fail to recall to one's mind very similar views in Switzerland. The mosquitoes are a terrible plague on a warm day, and still more a species of small fly, from whose bites I suffered very severely. Boils which troubled me for several days were the unpleasant result of their attacks. In the evening the display of the aurora borealis was magnificent, the first of many of the kind, which we witnessed, endlessly varied in form and colour.
On Sunday, August 20th, I delivered several addresses to the congregation and at the men's meeting, to which some of the Eskimoes responded, giving every assurance of thankful appreciation on their part of the blessings of the Gospel which they enjoy. The next day we paid visits to the Eskimoes at their own homes. The houses here are all built of wood. Nathan, the chief helper, whose house is often used as a place of meeting for the men, has adorned his with a chandelier of wood, made by himself. Andrew, one of the oldest inhabitants of the place, clings to the fashions of his fathers, and his cottage was not distinguished by cleanliness.
The English settlers give this congregation its peculiar stamp. Merrifield was not at home; his daughter is nurse-girl in Br. Wirth's family, speaks Eskimo and English, and understands some German. Richelieu, the son of a French father and Indian mother, was brought up among his mother's tribe, but has long since settled in this neighbourhood with an Eskimo wife: he is a humble Christian, and his house strikingly clean and tidy. Amos Voisy paid me several calls to speak with me on spiritual subjects: he is a decided Christian, and a faithful helper of the missionaries. He, with Ford and Lane, were among the first Europeans who came to /150/ settle in this part of the coast about the year 1830. Their number has considerably increased, and they with their Eskimo-wives will continue to form an important portion of our sphere of labour in Labrador. Would that all to whom we bring the Word of Life, might, like Voisy, lay hold on it to the saving of their souls!
On the 23rd our voyage was resumed, although the wind was so unfavourable as to render it a matter of some difficulty for the Harmony to get out of the bay. Nain might have been reached the same day, if the wind had been propitious; instead of this, it became quite contrary, or died away altogether, so that we made very slow progress, having to anchor three times amongst the islands. On the 26th, thirteen Eskimoes in three boats towed our ship for about ten miles, while the sea was as smooth as a mirror, and at length brought us to the station, at which the usual noisy welcome was experienced, firing of guns, &c. The very short jetty here makes a landing a matter of not a little inconvenience to those who are unaccustomed to its peculiarities, as you have to scramble for some distance over rough and slippery rocks and wet sands; for this work and for climbing the rocky mountains Eskimo seal-skin boots with their soft pliable soles are very needful.
The large mission-house, erected in the year 1831, affords accommodation in the upper storey for the brethren Bourquin and Dam with their families (where also are rooms for visitors, carpenter's shop, drug-store, and archive-room), and in the lower for the brethren Drexler and Bindschedler, the latter of whom is general superintendent of the trade of the coast, and warden for this whole mission. The church, now 63 years old, is narrow and low, but spacious enough for the congregation. The store has been enlarged to meet the requirements of the fish-trade, and contains a large supply of fox-traps, and various implements of the chase, commonly used by the Eskimoes. A cooper from St. John's, Newfoundland, is engaged here in making annually some 600 to 700 barrels, which are used for sending home the fish-produce of the streams. The Meta conveys the needful supply of casks and salt to the other stations.
Meetings with the congregation occupied a good part of Sunday, 29th: the people made a decidedly favourable impression upon us, as they listened with great attention to what was said, and took our exhortations in very good part. In the week-day we visited the people in their own homes. Wherever we called, the dogs had invariably to be ejected from the porch, before we could enter. Of these animals there are 196 at present belonging to Nain. J., a native helper, who had to be dismissed from this office some years ago, in consequence of his sad conduct in connection with fanatical excesses which occurred at this station, received us with some embarrassment, but soon became free and confidential. His house is one of the best in the place, and is provided with a store-room under the roof: he is not only entirely free from debt, but has a stock of provisions ready against the coming winter, and a small sum standing to his credit at the store. He made us a present of some reindeer-meat, and a capital hare. Many houses here are /151/ still roofed with sods, and become partial ruins during the summer, as not a few, when paying short visits to the station during the summer, prefer to live in tents.
Judging from the expressions of many with whom we conversed, we conclude that they are by no means without spiritual knowledge and life.
On the 29th, the whole company of missionaries took a walk to the Stein mountain, where we had a fine view for a considerable distance inland. The thermometer indicating only 36 degrees Fahrenheit, there was a welcome absence of mosquitoes. We returned along another valley, in which in the spring a large herd of reindeer had been taken by the Eskimoes, until we entered the "Park," which has been much improved and enlarged, and now glories in its "Wilhelmsruh," in honour of the Emperor of Germany, and its "Visitators-Bank" (visitor's seat).
The swamp behind the houses has been drained and levelled, and now forms a field, which is sown with oats and barley. When we saw it the crop looked promising, but it is not likely that it will ripen. Here a sledge-trip was improvised for my wife, which quite sufficed to illustrate some of the drawbacks connected with this mode of travelling, especially when the dogs follow the bent of their semi-wolfish nature, and attack one another, instead of doing their duty as draught-animals. The Eskimo is ready and skilful in hitting the chief transgressor with his long whip and restoring order to his team.
The gardens looked well, but late potatoes were already on the 30th injured by frost.
On the 31st, my official work here being completed, Br. and Sr. Bourquin, with little Bertha, went with us on board the Harmony to proceed to Ramah. Fog, rain, and storm set in, however, and we had to remain at Nain till September 6th, when we awoke to find ourselves making good way, and already passing through the "turnpikes," two rocky masses, between which is a passage, which can never be made but under favourable circumstances. By boldly taking a short cut through a channel, which had only once previously been traversed by our ship, we gained several hours; by the afternoon we had passed the Kiglapeit range, and after sighting some fine ice-bergs, saw the islands about Okak and Cape Mugford the same evening. Then came fog and calm, and we made slow progress until on the 11th of September it became doubtful whether we could reach Ramah at all, especially as the captain was unable to ascertain his position in consequence of the continuance of thick weather. He had just resolved after the next tack to turn back in a southerly direction in hopes of reaching Hebron at all events, when some black lines on the grey rock showed that we were just at the entrance of Ramah Bay. The tidings that we might be at the station in half an hour gave us a joyous surprise.
the most northerly station makes more than any other the impression of a real mission among the heathen. Of the thirty- three Eskimoes residing here, all except Gottlob, the faithful /152/ helper and his family, have come from the heathen population further north, and eighteen are still unbaptized. But all are so fondly attached to Br. and Sr. Weitz, that they would not hesitate to follow them to Saeglek, or any other locality to which the missionary might remove. This is the Jubilee-station, founded in the year 1871. It lies on Nullatatok Bay, which extends about four miles inland, and is surrounded by high rocky mountains, some of them with strikingly romantic outlines, and patches of snow here and there. A beach about 500 yards long by 300 wide has been made by the gradual accumulation of deposits from the slate formation peculiar to this region: this is the only available site for a dwelling, its suitability being shown by the existence of remains of former Eskimo huts at the same spot.
The present mission-house, which was put up in a single day, and has since 1871 been the residence of Br. and Sr. Weitz, resembles at first sight a large booth at a fair: it is twenty feet long by thirteen broad, nine feet high in front, and only five at the back. This room served as church, also, until another house was transferred hither from Nackvak and located to the left of the mission-house, the intervening space forming accommodation, when needful, for an unmarried missionary. The little church, which is also used as a school room by Nicoline, Gottlob's daughter, is exceedingly plain and primitive. Planks resting on blocks of wood, serve as benches, and opening out from the porch is the carpenter's shop.
In front of the house is a small garden, which naturally produces much less than those further south, and close to the entrance the bell is hung, now unfortunately of little use, as it is cracked, and requires replacing by a new one. About 200 yards to the rear of the buildings is the burial-ground, fifteen yards square, marked by four posts: at each corner is a grave; three of those whose remains there await Judgment-day were members of Philip's family, who was for some years a useful helper here, and now lives at Hebron. To the left of the mission-premises is the Eskimo village, consisting of five tents in the summer: adjoining are the four winter-huts of sods, now standing empty, and likely to require considerable repairs before they again become inhabitable. Upon the side of the Ship-hill are store-houses of the Eskimoes, built of slate, and the powder magazine, to reach which you have to cross by stepping-stones a little stream, which, in the spring, forms a torrent with a fine waterfall. The missionary's pantry or meat-safe, invaluable for preserving their supplies of reindeer- flesh in the summer, is a cave, which retains some of the winter- snow, but has the drawback that it becomes inaccessible, when there is a swell landwards.
On the summit of the Ship-hill there is a very fine view of the open sea, and the narrow entrance of Nullatatok Bay between lofty walls of rock. The south side of the entrance is prominently marked with black stripes in the grey rock. From the windows of the mission-house some of the crags with the expanse of blue water before them remind one of the Lake of Geneva. /153/ Our three days' stay here gave us ample opportunity of becoming well acquainted with the peculiar features of the station, and with the people, whom we were glad to address on several occasions. Gottlob expressed in the name of all the natives their hearty thanks for my visit.
We left on the 14th, Br. Weitz signalling his farewells by a bonfire on Ship-hill, which our captain responded to by a display of Bengal lights.
On the 16th we anchored in the Great Bay (Kangerdluksoak), in which lay the remains of a huge iceberg, which had grounded and been frozen fast there during the past winter: its circumference was 700 yards. Soon after landing, we had a meeting for the missionaries, at which we renewed our covenant to serve our Saviour with renewed zeal and faithfulness. Then we walked out to visit the graves of the missionary brother and sister who had departed this life here a few months before.
I was very glad to see this station in its autumnal dress, instead of the winter-robes which it had already assumed when I was last here. The absence of trees is to some extent compensated for by the profusion of bilberry, cranberry, and other similar plants, which in their brilliant dark yellow, or bright red hues, mingling with white lichens and mosses of various kinds cover every rocky crevice, and produce a very pleasing effect. Our enjoyment was greatly enhanced by magnificent autumnal weather with a complete absence of wind, -- a most rare event at stormy Hebron.
Here I observed a considerable improvement in the aspect of the Eskimo village. The swamp has given place to a dry road, and most of the dwellings have been rebuilt and considerably enlarged. The Eskimoes were still living in their tents, but were busily engaged in repairing the huts for their winter-quarters, putting in new windows, laying on fresh sods, restoring the porches, and as a finish putting on the inside wall new and bright paper. European houses there are none here, nor would their introduction be desirable, as it is no easy matter to procure wood for building purposes from Napartok Bay. The largest and most commodious house belongs to the young helper James, whose father at his death had attained the age of seventy years, which is considered a very long life for an Eskimo. He is said to be the best man at the station as regards his external possessions and prosperity.
We received many calls from the natives, who would generally come two at a time, and occupy a certain bench in the room, specially set apart for such callers: they were much interested with my maps and sketches, and Dinah, the kitchen-maid, showed striking topographical knowledge and general intelligence. A visit from a settler named Metcalf, who is in the employ of Captain Norman on the Napartok Bay gave me considerable insight into the life and position of these settlers, which are in not a few cases more deplorable by far than those of the Eskimoes.
Old Zipporah pleased me greatly with her imposing appearance and bright, cheerful disposition, founded on full confidence in /154/ Jesus as her Saviour. Her husband is cooper at this station. Although totally blind for the past eleven years, she still makes her own clothes and displays much intelligence. She was particularly warm in commissioning me to thank the "great teachers" for sending me to visit them.
On returning from one of our walks we passed a spot, where several heathen graves are to be seen: they are common in this neighbourhood, and are generally buildings of rough stones and rocks, irregular in shape, and full of human bones. How different the aspect of a Christian burial-ground: even in Labrador it is not without its flowers.
OKAK. -- After leaving Hebron on the 22nd of September, we were delayed by calms off Cape Mugford, and only reached Okak on the 25th. This station lies on an island of considerable extent. Here, too, the weather was splendid, and the autumnal colouring of the hills with their abundance of dwarf-birch-trees (BETULA NANA), and many varieties of the bilberry was more striking than anything of the kind I ever witnessed. The thermometer showed only 8 degrees above the freezing point, but the sun shone warm and bright.
The houses near the beach are now all block-houses, while on the hill-side the old style of sod-hut still prevails. Of the six stations on the coast this is the most populous: indeed the population is too large, in proportion to the means for gaining a living; hence the number of those who are dependent on charity for their support is considerable.
Last winter enormous masses of snow fell, completely burying the Esquimaux houses in the lower village, and necessitating the formation of long passages through the snow from door to door. We were told of an Eskimo returning from sealing and finding his house meantime so covered with snow, that he had to dig some time before he could find a trace of it. The season was unproductive, illness came thick and fast, carrying off thirty-five persons since New Year. Visiting among the people, we were thankful to find from the tone of great earnestness which generally prevailed, that the season of trial was bringing forth, as far as the eye of man could discern, "the peaceable fruits of righteousness."
Among several natives whose acquaintance we were pleased to make or renew, was Levi, the youngest brother, the son of a heathen, who came from Kangiva in the year 1811, in company of the great Boaz, who brought him up; he has generally orphans or poor dependents in his large house, for whom he cares: during the summer he fishes, in order to have a supply of food, when the time of scarcity comes on in May.
On the 27th we made a charming excursion to the summit of the /155/ Sonnenkoppe (Sun-Peak), which is 1200 feet high, and commands fine views in all directions. The name has arisen from the circumstance that it prevents the sun for six weeks in winter from casting a single ray into the mission-house. All the greater is the joy, when after this long privation the sun is again felt with its reviving beams.
Sunday, October 1st, was our last day in Labrador, and a day of blessing it proved for our souls. Br. Bourquin preached in the morning; after the afternoon service, John, the chief helper, delivered an address of considerable power, in which he promised on behalf of himself and his fellows, that they would remember the exhortations they had received with regard to their external affairs and spiritual life, to which there was a unanimous response of Ahaila (Yes). Others spoke in the same spirit. In the evening we met around the Lord's-table.
"What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me." Ps. cxvi. 12. This word of the Psalmist was the language of my heart, when concluding my visit to Labrador. How graciously had the Lord helped through all my duties, especially in the meetings with the Eskimo men for discussing trade matters, at which unpleasantness, if not difficulties, had been anticipated. Travelling from place to place had been prosperous, even the delays, though for the time undesirable, proving useful as affording time for mental relaxation, and work with pen and pencil. Everywhere the finest autumnal weather, such as is scarcely ever enjoyed at the end of September.
On the 2nd the Harmony sailed for Okak, having as passengers on board, besides ourselves, Br. and Sr. Hirt: at the same time the Meta left, taking Br. and Sr. Bourquin and Br. Heller to Nain: the latter steered close in shore, we in due Easterly direction out into the Atlantic, which I now crossed for the eleventh time. We had again a rough passage. Between the 7th and 8th of October the barometer fell very rapidly, and we experienced a revolving gale, or hurricane, possibly the one which devastated part of Central America, including the Moskito Coast, in the night of October 2nd. At first the wind blew for twelve hours fiercely from the South East; then came a lull, during which the ship rolled very much: for twenty-two hours the wheel was securely lashed. Then followed a rapid rise of the barometer, and a storm from the North West, which drove us rapidly along in the right direction with very rough sea.
By the 20th we had reached the entrance of the English Channel and hoped in a few days to reach London. But the East wind retarded our course to such an extent, that by the 28th we had only arrived half way, off the Isle of Wight. On Sunday, the 29th, I conducted service on board for the last time; the next day a favourable breeze sprang up, and by 10 p.m. in the evening of Monday, October 30th, the Harmony was safely moored in the West India Dock, and we landed, glad of heart and thankful for many great mercies from the good hand of our God. /156/ The following detailed statistics, collected by Br. L.T. Reichel, will no doubt interest some of our readers.
Station Total Number of Persons in Charge Communicants Hopedale 283 86 Zoar 128 59 Nain 270 121 Okak 349 136 Hebron 214 71 Rama 28 8
making a total of 1272 persons, of whom 127 are settlers and their families.
In 1861 there were 128 Eskimo houses, now there are 189, showing that the natives are ceasing to live together under one roof in such numbers as in former times. There are in addition 7 settlers' houses at Hopedale and Zoar, and one house for guests at Hopedale.
The striking change in the external circumstances of the Eskimoes, which is referred to in the above report, is evident from the following figures: in 1861 there were 117 wooden boats, large and small, now there are 237: the skin boats have fallen from 14 to 4, kayaks from 214 to 154: the number of tents has remained unchanged, 119: the dogs have increased from 222 to 716.