EXTRACTS FROM “A JOURNAL OF TRANSACTIONS AND EVENTS DURING A RESIDENCE OF NEARLY SIXTEEN YEARS ON THE COAST OF LABRADOR,”
BY GEORGE CARTWRIGHT. VOL. III, p. 231.
Vide Part XVI, p. 2641
NARRATIVE OF AN EXPEDITION INTO LABRADOR PENINSULA UNDERTAKEN BY WILLIAM HENDRY.
MOOSE FACTORY, SEPT. 1ST. 1828.
RECORDS, HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY.
I have pleasure at this time in having to communicate to you the success of the inland expedition so far as regards the ascertainment of the precise situation of the mouth of Canniappuscaw, otherwise distinguished by name of South River...I have to remark a circumstance occurring at this period which tended considerably to intimidate our Indians—while being engaged taking a Meridian Altitude of the Sun with the Indian Ouscucher present, Mr. Atkinson having ascended the hill with the other Indians to survey the Country—an Esquimaux Dog passed us on the beach which for the moment excited a little confusion—the Indian however seeing no Esquimaux near kept his station and the circumstance only occasioned us at present to trim and load guns & make preparation for sudden surprisal but subsequently together with other traces of Esquimaux inhabitants blighted occasionally every hope I had warmly cherished of being able to accomplish the primary object of the Expedition. At 3 p.m. encamped on the west side of the River in supposed latitude 57º 50´ N. at which place noticed some decayed poles of an Indian tent which evidently had been pitched there many years ago and it may be well to remark these were the last traces of
Indians tenting seen in our travels. At 7 a.m. on the 14th embarked & proceeded down the River with a strong current in favour, since leaving the encampment till noon long and narrow Islands were situated on each side of the River bearing wood chiefly of Juniper. At Noon put onshore and observed in Latitude 57. 56. 33 N. being the situation of two strong Ripples and the River since our entering it to this period having increased in width from ¼ to 1 ¼ mile. At 2 ½ p.m. the Indians put onshore and expressed their unwillingness to proceed further as the Country and River both at this period began to exhibit appearances of our approaching the Coast and they were evidently under fearful apprehensions of the Esquimaux—however at 4 ½ p.m. they were again prevailed upon to re-embark and at 6 passed two or three high and rocky islets which considerably straiten the channel of the River and upon which was seen a water mark several feet above the level of the River at the time of observation these Rocks are in supposed Latitude 58. 12 N. At 7 p.m. encamped on the East side of the River having since passing the above mentioned Rocks, seen Esquimaux piles of stones, Ducks, Deer horns with portions cut with the saw—a seal and several white whales which latter come into the river with the flood. Observed time of high water this night about ¼ to 12—rise not less than 14 feet to appearance. Water not salt probably in consequence of our being out of the way of current. At 7 a.m. on the morning of the 15th the Indians were prevailed on with much difficulty to embark—proceeding downwards passed several rocks. At 9 observed a strong flood tide to make. At 9 ½ water became brackish. At 10 quite Salt, and sea weed floating with the tide. At 11 ½ put onshore on the Eastern side of the River on some low rocky projections of the Main Shore. Observed in Latitude at Noon 58. 20. 15 North being about the situation where the vessel from the Labrador settlements in 1811 cast anchor as denoted by the Charts. Having communicated which to Mr. Atkinson and others all of us ascended a hill adjacent and were much gratified with a fair prospect of the Sea—the outlet of the River was distinctly seen at about a distance of several miles due North—the Eastern side of which appeared partly closed either by a point of Main land or a chain of rocks and on the western side a small bight in which could be discerned a stream of ice....
At 4 ½ p.m. date as above having made fruitless endeavour to induce the Indians to follow out the but few miles now seen before us, embarked—bound on return. At 6 p.m. seeing some Esquimaux workmanship laying upon the top of the rocks, exposed to view—disembarked to examine the nature of it—which proved to be the frame of an Esquimaux canoe—part of the skin was found laying near and probably had been torn away by the wolves—several implements consisting of arrows iron barbed after the manner of those of the East Main Indians—a lance made out of a large file—a fine British made clasp knife, ½ warn and the haft set with Mother of Pearl or imitation, a British made dart or harpoon after the Esquimaux fashion—a fish dart consisting of 5 or 6 iron prongs with alternate ones barbed and others indicative of the owner being deceased were also found & apparently
had not lain 12 months—the Indians were about to make a prize of the property but being dissuaded from such intentions re-embarked and proceeded until 1 a.m. on the 16th & encamped, at which place saw a quantity of wood chips and portions of deer horn,
Having entered the month of Natwakamee River about noon on the 17th and subsequently being favoured considerably both by winds and weather—arrived at Little Whale River at 4 p.m. on the 28th July—All well.
From what has already been stated there is not the least reason to doubt but that Esquimaux frequently resort to this part of the country & Metakartche relates that traces of them are more numerous up the river in the vicinity of the Falls and from which I suppose our Indians had no inclination to visit there as it was left optional to them.
Having seen no recent traces of Indians I cannot think there is any likelihood of a post near the mouth of the river being visited to advantage by this class of people in this part of the country the population cannot be so numerous as must have been imagined otherwise in some situation or other we must surely have met with greater proofs—Mr. Atkinson has frequently expressed that to his knowledge and the opportunity he has had of acquiring information Indians are scarce throughout the Country and believes there are very few but who either visit the Company's posts in person or send in their furs by others and such as do not are mostly superannuate for active labor. He also acquaints me that the Indians personally known to himself and who frequently resort to Nepeethjee and parts of the country south seldom now beyond the height of land to the eastward....
How a situation may hereafter be deemed eligible for erecting an establishment upon I cannot as yet tell having viewed no piece ground which under that distinction I should be inclined to recommend neither am I able to point out any particular place where the least hope might exist for a vessel laying up in safety during the winter....
Hoping these endeavours will meet your perfect satisfaction,
I am, Sir,
Your most obedient and faithful servant,