FURTHER TRANSACTIONS IN KANGERTLUALUKSOAK BAY. THE ESQUIMAUX WOMEN FRIGHTENED BY REPORTS OF INDIANS. CEREMONY OF TAKING POSSESSION OF THIS NEW-EXPLORED COUNTRY, AS BELONGING TO THE KING OF ENGLAND, AND OF NAMING THE RIVER GEORGE RIVER. LEAVE THE BAY AND PROCEED TO ARVARVIK. WHALES CAUGHT BY THE ESQUIMAUX IN THE SHALLOWS. STORM AT KERNERTUT.
AUGUST 11th. We rose by break of day, and after breakfast, sailed across the bay, and landed at the second small inlet, with an intention of penetrating into the country, but the returning warmth of the weather by day, and the myriads of mosquitoes we had to contend with, rendered us unable to execute our purpose.
The Missionaries and Jonathan ascended a hill, from which a great tract of country might be overlooked. It was full of wood, as far as the eye could reach. Near the inlet some places seemed boggy, or covered with grass. From hence a valley stretched into the country, with a small lake in it, about two or three miles distant. Berries were everywhere in abundance. The summits of the hills had no wood upon them, but much reindeer-moss.
On our return, being about a mile from our landing-place, we saw our skin-boat in the middle of the bay, and fired a gun as a signal for it to come to us. The Esquimaux had five reindeer in the boat, which Uttakiyok had perceived on the opposite bank. He had followed them in his kayak, driven them into the water, and killed them there. When hard pressed, reindeer soon take to the water, and swim so well, that a four-oared boat can scarcely come up /57/ with them, but an Esquimaux, in his kayak will overtake them. They therefore, if possible, drive them into the water, being then sure of their game.
After dining on part of the venison, we returned to the great boat. On the passage, we thought we perceived at a considerable distance a black bear, and Uttakiyok, elated at his recent success, hoped to gain new laurels. He entered his kayak and proceeded as cautiously as possible along the shore, towards the spot, landed, climbed the hill, so as not to be observed, but when he had got just within gun-shot, perceived, that this bear was a black stone. This adventure furnished the company with merriment for the remainder of the voyage to the boat, which we reached about six P.M.
When we got on board the boat, we found that all the women had taken refuge in it, thinking that they had seen Indians on shore. The men therefore immediately landed, to take care of the forsaken tents. This was no doubt a false alarm, for we never discovered any traces of them during our stay. To the south of Hopedale the Indians and Esquimaux sometimes meet, but as the Hopedale Esquimaux seek to cultivate their friendship, quarrels and bloodshed seldom occur. In Ungava, however, though they often exchange tokens of friendship, they are apt to give way to their national jealousies; and provocations being aggravated, their meetings now and then terminate in murder. The Esquimaux are much afraid of the Indians, who are a more nimble and active race.
12th. Having finished reconnoitring the neighbourhood, and gathered all the information concerning it, which our means would permit, and likewise fixed upon the green slope or terrace above described, as the most suitable place for a settlement, on account of the abundance of wood in its neighbourhood, we made preparations to proceed. Uttakiyok, who had spent more than one winter in the Ungava country, assured us, that there was here an ample supply of /58/ provisions, both in summer and winter, which Jonathan also credited, from his own observation. The former likewise expressed himself convinced, that if we would form a settlement here, many Esquimaux would come to us from all parts. We ourselves were satisfied that Europeans might find the means of existence in this place, as it was accessible for ships, and had wood and water in plenty. As for Esquimaux, there appeared no want of those things upon which they live, the sea abounding with whitefish, seals, sea fowl, &c. and the land with reindeer, hares, bears, and other animals. The people from Killinek declared their intention of removing hither, if we would come and dwell among them, and are even now in the habit of visiting this place every summer. Our own company even expressed a wish to spend the winter here.
This being the day before our departure, we erected, on two opposite hills, at the entrance of the bay, high marks of stones, and on the declivity of a hill to the right, a board, into which we had cut an inscription, thus - :
In front, At the back. III. B. K. G. R. G. K. S. Aug. 7, U. F. 1811. Georgius III. Rex. Benjamin Kohlmeister, Societas George Kmoch. Unitatis Fratrum. Aug. 7, 1811. The day of our arrival.
We raised and fixed this tablet with some solemnity, in presence of Uttakiyok and his family, as representatives of the people of Ungava, and of our own company, and hoisted the British flag alongside of it, while another was displayed at the same time in the boat. We explained the cause of this ceremony to all present, to the following effect: /59/ "That we, on this day, raised this sign, in the name of our king, George III. the great monarch of all these territories, in testimony of our having explored it, and made choice of it, in case we or our Brethren should think proper to settle here. To which we called upon all present to bear witness." We then proclaimed the name of the Kangertlualuksoak to be henceforth GEORGE RIVER, upon which every man fired his piece three times, the vollies being answered from the boat.
The texts of scripture appointed for this day were then read, and we remarked how encouraging they were, as relating to the purpose, for which we visited these unknown regions:
FROM THE RISING OF THE SUN, EVEN TO THE GOING DOWN OF THE SAME, MY NAME SHALL BE GREAT AMONG THE GENTILES, SAITH THE LORD OF HOSTS! Mal. 11,1.
AT THE NAME OF JESUS EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW, OF THINGS IN HEAVEN, AND THINGS ON EARTH, AND THINGS UNDER THE EARTH; AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL CONFESS, THAT JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, TO THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER! Philippians, 2, 10, 11.
After the ceremony was over, we distributed some pease, bread, and beer among the Esquimaux, which enabled them to make a splendid feast, and the day was spent in the most agreeable manner.
13th. We set sail, about six A.M. with a gentle breeze, which however soon fell away entirely, and obliged us to take to our oars. Near the mouth of the bay, we met several kayaks, coming towards us. They were Esquimaux from Killinek, who expressed regret at not having sooner heard of our being here: some came on board, and traded with our people. We presented them with a little tobacco, for which they were very thankful.
In order to get well out of the bay, we first steered North, and then passed to the S.W. between a peninsula NAUYAT, lying to the left of the entrance, and seven small islands and /60/ rocks on the right, towards the island of ARVARVIK, about six or seven miles distant, where we were obliged to cast anchor in an exposed situation, the wind having become contrary. There was a strong swell during the night, which violently agitated our boat.
ARVARVIK is about five miles in circumference. It is covered with the bones of whales, which the Esquimaux catch here in their kayaks. The coast is surrounded by a great number of small low islands, with deep pools between them. Into these the whales stray at high water, and at the ebbing of the tide, are prevented finding their way back again. The Esquimaux then pursue and kill them with harpoons. In the island are ponds of fresh water, and some low hills, overgrown with moss. A great number of seafowl, and also reindeer, are found upon it.
On the shore we found great quantities of a red jasper, or iron-stone, the same which occurs throughout the coast, from KILLINEK to South river, not as a stratum, but in lumps, and generally below high water mark.
The Esquimaux who landed on the continent reported, that about two miles inland, there was much low wood.
14th. We left our unpleasant anchorage, and returned to a place where the skin-boat had lain during the night, as it was sheltered from the South wind, which had risen considerably.
15th. Our people went out to hunt reindeer, and returned in the evening with two. The wind shifted to the west, and blew with violence. We spent again an uneasy night.
16th. Brother Kmoch went on shore and returned with a parcel of stones for examination. We now began to feel some anxiety on account of the great loss of time we were suffering here by contrary winds.
17th. About eight o'clock we set sail, the wind having come round to the S.E. with a cloudy sky. We passed /61/ several nameless islands, at the distance of about a mile from the shore. In the afternoon, it began to rain hard, and after having sailed about twelve miles, we cast anchor near a long point of land, called KERNERTUT, by which we were sheltered from the wind, which had again turned to the South-west. The sky however was clear, and the beginning of the night pleasant, with beautiful appearances of the Aurora Borealis. Most of our people, and with them Uttakiyok, had gone in the skin-boat higher up the bay, but it was too shallow to admit of our following them. Only Jonas and his children, and the two boys Okkiksuk and Mammak, were left with us on board.
During the night the wind veered round to the N.E. and blew a gale, which increased in violence till day-break.
18th. The sea now rose to a tremendous height, such as we had never before experienced, and by the change of wind, we were exposed to the whole of its fury. The rain fell in torrents. We lay at three anchors, and the boat was tossed about terribly, the sea frequently breaking quite over her, insomuch that we expected every moment to be swallowed up in the abyss. With much difficulty we succeeded in lowering our after-mast. Jonathan and the rest of our company on shore, were obliged to be passive spectators of the dreadful scene, waiting the event in silent anguish. They quitted their tents, and came forward to some eminences near the beach, where, by lifting up their hands, and other gestures, they expressed terror, bordering on despair. Frequently the boat was hid from their view by the waves, which ran mountains high. They expected every moment that we should break loose from our anchors, and the boat be driven on the rocks. The length of our cables was here of the greatest advantage to us. About noon, the rope by which the small boat was fastened, broke. She was immediately carried up the bay, and thrown, by the violence of the surf, on the top of a rock, where she stuck fast, keel upwards. It /62/ was impossible to render us any assistance, till the tide turned, when the raging of the sea, and the wind, began to abate. As soon as it was practicable, Jonathan and the other men came to us in the skin- boat. He seemed quite overcome with joy, and, not able to utter a word, held out his hand, and shed tears of gratitude that he met us again alive, for he had given us up for lost.
We now endeavoured to bring the great boat closer to the shore, landed, pitched our tent, and gave thanks to God for the merciful deliverance we had just experienced. Indeed all our people most fervently joined in praise to Him for the preservation of our lives. A warm dinner was soon prepared, by which we were much refreshed.
As soon as the tide had ebbed sufficiently for it, our people went to the rock, on which the small boat lay, and got her into the water. To our great surprise we found, that she had received no material injury.