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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: Franklin, John, 1786-1847
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea, in the years 1819-20-21-22, Volume 2" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

by the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions

Transcriber's notes:

There are several inconsistencies in spelling and punctuation in the
original. Some corrections have been made for obvious typographical
errors; they have been noted individually in the text. All changes made
by the transcriber are enumerated in braces, for example {1}; 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.

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

Text in italics in the original is shown between _underlines_. For this
text version, the oe-ligature (Unicode 0153) has been rendered as "oe".
Footnote 3 in chapter VIII contains several instances of [·0] as a
transliteration of the symbol for "Sun" (Unicode 2609).

       *       *       *       *       *





THE YEARS 1819-20-21-22.


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









     Transactions at Fort Enterprise--Mr. Back's Narrative of his
     Journey to Chipewyan, and Return                                  1


     Continuation of Proceedings at Fort Enterprise--Some Account
     of the Copper Indians--Preparations for the Journey to the
     Northward                                                        76


     Departure from Fort Enterprise--Navigation of the Copper-Mine
     River--Visit to the Copper Mountain--Interview with the
     Esquimaux--Departure of the Indian Hunters--Arrangements made
     with them for our Return                                        122


     Navigation of the Polar Sea, in two Canoes, as far as Cape
     Turnagain, to the Eastward, a distance exceeding Five Hundred
     and Fifty Miles--Observations on the probability of a
     North-West Passage                                              193


     Journey across the barren grounds--Difficulty and delay in
     crossing Copper-Mine River--Melancholy and fatal Results
     thereof--Extreme Misery of the whole Party--Murder of Mr.
     Hood--Death of several of the Canadians--Desolate State of
     Fort Enterprise--Distress suffered at that Place--Dr.
     Richardson's Narrative--Mr. Back's Narrative--Conclusion        237


       *       *       *       *       *


     Transactions at Fort Enterprise--Mr. Back's Narrative of his
     Journey to Chipewyan and Return.

1820. September.

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 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
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 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

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. 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 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 oestrus 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

  [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
      oestrus, 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 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

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 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 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.

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
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

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 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 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. 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 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 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 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 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{1} 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 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, 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
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
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, 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 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 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 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 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

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 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 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 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 [·0] upper limb was 2° 52' 51".
      Temperature of the air -45° 5'{2}. 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
      [·0] lower limb 2° 35' 20". [·0] 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 [·0] lower limb 4° 24' 57". [·0]
      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

      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_.

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{3} was observed round the candles, even in our bed-rooms; the
diameter of the halo increasing as the observer receded from the 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 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 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{4} 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.

1821, 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{5}, they had yesterday collected double the usual quantity of
fire-wood, and we anxiously expected the return of the men 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.

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 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
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,
Tattannoeuck and Hoeootoerock, (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 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
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.

Two great Chiefs, or _Ackhaiyoot_, have complete authority in directing
the movements of the party, and in distributing provisions. The
_Attoogawnoeuck_, 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 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 _Kannoeuck Kleenoeuck_. 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-kalingmoeoot_, or Stone-Kettle Esquimaux, reside
more to the westward; and the third, the _Kang-orr-moeoot_, 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-moeoot must reside near the mouth of the Anatessy, or River of

  [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 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 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



A. _Ablokeyt_, steps.
B. _Pahloeuk_, porch.
C. _Wadl-leek_, passage.
D. _Haddnoeweek_, for the reception of the sweepings of the house.
E. G. _Tokheuook_, antechamber, or passage.
F. _Annarroeartoweek._
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.{6}
N. _Eegloo_, house.
O. _Kattack_, door.
P. _Nattoeuck_, 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
Q. _Eegl-luck_, bed-place.
R. _Eegleeteoet_, bed-side or sitting-place.
S. bed-place, as on the other side.{7}
T. _Kietgn-nok_, small pantry.
U. _Hoergloack_, store-house{8} for provisions.

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, 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

"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
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 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.

"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 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, 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 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' 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. 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

"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 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 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

"_November 18_.--We observed two mock moons 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

"_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

"_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

"The night was fine, with a faint Aurora Borealis. 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 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{9} 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{10} 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 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,{11} 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{12} to proceed to the Athabasca Lake, and ascertain
the 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 some
high pines on the banks of the river, having had several snow-showers
during the day, which considerably{13} 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. 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 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 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.
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.

1821. 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 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 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.'

"_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 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
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."


     Continuation of Proceedings at Fort Enterprise--Some Account of the
     Copper Indians--Preparations for the Journey to the Northward.

1821. March 18.

I shall now give a brief account of the Copper Indians, termed by the
Chipewyans, Tantsawhot-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, 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

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
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 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 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

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. 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

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 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

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 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
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 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, "are you not ashamed to quarrel with your
little brother?" The dogs appear to understand the reproof, and sneak

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 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 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 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 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

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 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 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 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, 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 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 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
our residence and formed a topic of conversation for the rest of the

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
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 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 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

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 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

Afterwards, in the course of a long conference, he enumerated many other
grounds of dissatisfaction; 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
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.{14} Being told, however, that this was impossible,{15} 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 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 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

  [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; Annoethai-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.

Annoethai-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, 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 Annoethai-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, 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 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 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, 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
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

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 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{16} 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.
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.

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

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

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 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 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{17} a 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 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 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

On the 10th the dip of the magnetic needle being observed, shewed a
decrease of 22' 44" 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,
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.


  [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 Enterprise--Navigation of the Copper-Mine
     River--Visit to the Copper Mountain--Interview with the
     Esquimaux--Departure of the Indian Hunters--Arrangements made with
     them for our return.

1821. 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 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°.

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 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 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. 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 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 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
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 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 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°.

_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

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. 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 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.

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

We continued our journey at the usual hour next morning. At noon the
variation was observed to be 47° east. Our attention was afterwards
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 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 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

_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, 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 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 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 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, 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 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 a
herd of musk oxen, we encamped, having come twenty-four miles and a

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 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

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 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

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 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

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 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
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 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 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

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

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 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 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 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 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
any large fires, lest they should alarm straggling parties of the

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{18}; and a party
of twenty-one persons, consisting of the officers, some of the voyagers,
and all the Indians, set{19} off on that excursion. We travelled for
nine hours over a considerable space of ground, but found 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 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{20} 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 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 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. 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 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{21} 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 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 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{22} 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 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. 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 the encampment its rays gilded the tops of the hills.

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

_July{23} 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Terregannoeuck, or
the White Fox; and that his tribe denominated themselves
Nagge-ook-tormoeoot, 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 Terregannoeuck proposed going down to his
baggage, and we then perceived, he was too infirm to walk without the
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 Terregannoeuck, 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

The countenance of Terregannoeuck was oval, with a sufficiently
prominent nose, and had nothing very different from a European face,
except in the smallness of his{24} 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 Terregannoeuck
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 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, 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
Terregannoeuck 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 Terregannoeuck had promised us.
He returned at midnight with the information, that none of the Esquimaux
had yet ventured to come near Terregannoeuck 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. Terregannoeuck
being unable to walk to the place where the meat was concealed, 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
Terregannoeuck's wife were remarkable for roundness and flatness; her
face was much tattooed{25}, and her{26} 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, 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
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 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 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

On the morning of the 19th, Dr. Richardson, accompanied by Augustus,
paid another visit to Terregannoeuck, to see if he could obtain any
additional information respecting the country to the eastward; but he
was disappointed at finding that his affrighted family had not yet
rejoined him, and the old man could add nothing to his former
communication. The Doctor remarked that Terregannoeuck 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, 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. 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.{27}

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

The situation of our encampment was ascertained to be, latitude 67° 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 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.


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

1821. 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 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,{28} in their opinion, no disgrace to be detected in pilfering

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 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

Having encamped on the main shore, after a run of thirty-seven miles, we
set up a pole to ascertain the rise and fall of the water, which was
repeated at every halting-place, and Hepburn was ordered to attend to
the result. We found the coast well covered with vegetation, of moderate
height, even in its outline, and easy of approach. The islands are rocky
and barren, presenting high cliffs of a columnar structure. I have named
the westernmost group of those we passed "Berens' Isles," in honour of
the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company; and the easternmost{29}, "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

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

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

We obtained the following observations during our stay; latitude 67° 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 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 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.{30} 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 was unabated. We kept as close as we could to the main
shore, but having to cross some bays, it became a matter of doubt
whether we had not left the main, and were running along an island. Just
as we were endeavouring to double a bold cape, the fog partially cleared
away, and allowed us an imperfect view of a chain of islands on the
outside, and of much heavy ice which was pressing down upon us. The
coast near us was so steep and rugged that no landing of the cargoes
could be effected, and we were preserved only by some men jumping on the
rocks, and thrusting the ice off with poles. There was no alternative
but to continue along this dreary shore, seeking a channel between the
different masses of ice which had accumulated at the various points. In
this operation both the canoes were in imminent danger of being crushed
by the ice, which was now tossed about by the waves that the gale had
excited. We effected a passage, however, and keeping close to the shore,
landed at the entrance of Detention Harbour, at nine P.M., having come
twenty-eight miles. An old Esquimaux encampment was traced on this spot;
and an ice chisel, a copper knife, and a small iron knife were found
under the turf. I named this cape after Mr. Barrow of the Admiralty, to
whose exertions are mainly owing the discoveries recently made in
Arctic geography. An opening on its eastern side received the
appellation of Inman Harbour, after my friend the Professor at the Royal
Naval College, Portsmouth; and to a group of islands to seaward of it,
we gave the name of Jameson, in honour of the distinguished Professor of
Mineralogy at Edinburgh.

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

From the accounts of Black-meat{31} 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.

Our stock of provision being now reduced to eight days' consumption, it
had become a matter of the first importance to obtain a supply; and as
we had learned from Terregannoeuck that the Esquimaux frequent the
rivers at this season, I determined on seeking a communication with them
here, in the hope of obtaining relief for our present wants, or even
shelter for the winter if the season should prevent us from returning
either to the Hook's party, or Fort Enterprise; and I was the more
induced to take this step at this time, as several deer had been seen
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 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. 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 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 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
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 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 angmaggoeük 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

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

  [11] From subsequent conversation with the Copper Indians, we were
       inclined to suppose this may be the Thlueetessy{32}, described by
       Black-meat, mentioned in a former part of the narrative.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We got again into the main inlet, and paddled along its eastern shore
until forty minutes after eight A.M. when we encamped in a small cove.
We found a single log of 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
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 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 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 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

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 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 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 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 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{33} the want of provision might compel us to put a period to our

I must now mention that many concurrent circumstances had caused me,
during the few last days, to meditate on the approach of this painful
necessity. The strong breezes we had encountered for some days, led me
to fear that the season was breaking up, and severe weather would soon
ensue, which we could not sustain in a country destitute of fuel. Our
stock of provision was now reduced to a quantity of pemmican only
sufficient for three days' consumption, and the prospect of increasing
it was not encouraging, for though 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 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 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 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'

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

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 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 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 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 post, which we
erected on the 26th August at the mouth of Hood's River, which is
nearly, as will appear hereafter, in that longitude, with a flag upon
it, and a letter at the foot of it, which may convey to him some useful
information. It is possible, however, that he may keep outside of the
range of islands which skirt this part of the coast.


     Journey across the barren grounds--Difficulty and delay in crossing
     Copper-Mine River--Melancholy and fatal Results thereof--Extreme
     Misery of the whole Party--Murder of Mr. Hood--Death of several of
     the Canadians--Desolate State of Fort Enterprise--Distress suffered
     at that Place--Dr. Richardson's Narrative--Mr. Back's

1821. 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 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

_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 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

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 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{34}
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, 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; 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 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 such numbers on the islands nearest to the
coast, we conjectured that they were about to retire to the main shore.
Those we saw were generally females with their young, and all of them
very lean.

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

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

It may be deserving of notice that the extremes in temperature of the
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

Embarking at eight A.M. we proceeded up the river which is full of sandy
shoals, but sufficiently deep for canoes in the channels. It is from
one hundred to two hundred yards wide, and is bounded by high and steep
banks of clay. We encamped at a cascade of eighteen or twenty feet high,
which is produced by a ridge of rock crossing the river, and the nets
were set. A mile below this cascade Hood's River is joined by a stream
half its own size, which I have called James' Branch. Bear and deer
tracks had been numerous on the banks of the river when we were here
before, but not a single recent one was to be seen at this time. 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 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{35}. 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{36} and christian. Messrs.
Back and Hood took beautiful sketches of this majestic scene.

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

The leather which had been preserved for making shoes was equally
divided among the men, two pairs of flannel socks were given to each
person, and such articles of warm clothing as remained, were issued to
those who most required them. They were also furnished with one of the
officers' tents. This being done, I communicated to the men my intention
of proceeding in as direct a course as possible to the part of Point
Lake, opposite our spring encampment, which was only distant one hundred
and forty-nine miles in a straight line. They received the communication
cheerfully, considered the journey to be short, and left me in high
spirits, to arrange their own packages. The stores, books, _&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.

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{37} 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

On the morning of the 1st of September a fall of snow took place; the
canoes became a cause of delay, from the difficulty of carrying them in
a high wind, and they sustained much damage through the falls of those
who had charge of them. The face of the country was broken by hills of
moderate elevation, but the ground was plentifully strewed with small
stones, which, to men bearing heavy burdens, and whose feet were
protected only by soft moose skin shoes, occasioned great pain. At the
end of eleven miles we encamped, and sent for a musk-ox and a deer,
which St. Germain and Augustus had killed. The day was extremely cold,
the thermometer varying between 34° and 36°. 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

Having ascertained from the summit of the highest hill near the tents,
that the river continued to preserve a west course; and fearing that by
pursuing it 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 surface of the earth being thinly covered
in the moister places with a few grasses, and on the drier spots with

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
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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{38},
containing my journal from Fort Enterprise, together with all the
astronomical and 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 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

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 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 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.

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 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

On the 20th we got into a hilly country, and the marching became much
more laborious, even 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 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

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 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 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 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 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, 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

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 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 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 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 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 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 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
of Junius. We set out about an hour after day-break{39}, 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, 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 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; 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 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 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{40} 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. 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 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. 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 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 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 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, 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 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 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.

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 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 _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 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 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
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 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, 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 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

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 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 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, 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 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 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
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{41} 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 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 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 oedematous 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{42} a quantity of skin
for the journey, we started on the morning of the 20th. Previous 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 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, 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{43} 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. 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 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
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{44}
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
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 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 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.


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 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, 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 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

On arriving at the pines, we were much 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 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. 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

_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.

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.

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 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,{45}
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 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{46} 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. 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 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 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{47}; 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 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
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, 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 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

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 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 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{48} 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 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

_Conclusion of Dr. Richardson's Narrative._

       *       *       *       *       *

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{49} 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, 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 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 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 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 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{50} were only protected by a blanket, produced
soreness 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 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 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 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, 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

  [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.

_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 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{51} 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{52} 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 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
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. Annoethai-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 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.

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 myself and Mr.
Back, and of poor Hood, our grief for whose loss was renewed by this

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

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. 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 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 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 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 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, 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.


1821. 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 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

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
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{53}," 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 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 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{54} 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.

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.{55} 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, 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 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 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 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 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
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 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 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{56} 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 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

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, 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
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{57} cut them. My hands were 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 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 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 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._

       *       *       *       *       *

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 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 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, 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; one by an accidental
lameness, the other by the fear of meeting alone some of the Dog-Rib

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.


[Illustration: Route from York Factory]

[Illustration: Route from Isle à la Crosse]

[Illustration: Route from Slave Lake]

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's corrections and comments:

  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

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

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

  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

  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

  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 this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea, in the years 1819-20-21-22, Volume 2" ***

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