The Labrador Boundary


Privy Council Documents


Volume VIII
Contents




[1860.]

[1860.]

[1860.]

[1863.]

[1896.]

Hamilton Inlet.

Sandy Point.

Goose Bay.

Rise of Tide.



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No. 1466.

DESCRIPTIONS OF HAMILTON INLET.
BY NAVAL OFFICERS, TRAVELLERS AND GEOGRAPHERS.



“ EXTRACT FROM A DIARY OF THE VOYAGE ON BOARD H.M.S. BULLDOG*, BY G. C. WALLICH.”

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Aug. 28.—At 8 A.M. we arrived at Rigolette, a very picturesque little [1860.] station belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company, occupied at present by a couple of their employés. It is situated in an extensive reach, bounded by granitic hills, clothed with spruce-fir and white birch. The salmon-fishery is carried on here on a large scale, but, as already mentioned, is just over for the season. It appears that two large decked boats which passed us yesterday afternoon were conveying the salmon, and also the furs collected, to Indian Harbour, where they are shipped for their destination by the Company's Agent.
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On emerging from “ The Narrows,” we entered a large expanse of water stretching away to the westward as far as the eye could reach, and apparently about twelve or fifteen miles in breadth. When we anchored for the night, there was still no land visible above the waterline to the westward.†
The higher we advance up this magnificent arm of the sea, the greater is the distance reported to be between its eastern and western boundaries. At Indian Harbour we were informed that the extreme length was between ninety and a hundred miles. Today, at Rigolette, it is stated to be nearly 120. I mention the circumstance because, although it is by no means to be wondered at, that persons moving about from settlement to settlement should only possess a general knowledge of the geography of the country,

* The North-Atlantic Sea-Bed : comprising A Diary of the Voyage on board H.M.S. Bulldog, in 1 860 ; and Observations on the presence of Animal Life, and the Formation and Nature of Organic Deposits, at great depths in the Ocean. By G. C. WALLICH, M.D., F.L.S., F.G.S., Surgeon on the Retired List H.M. Indian Army ; Naturalist to the Expedition despatched in the above year, under Command of Sir F. L. M'Clintock, R.N., to survey the proposed North-Atlantic Telegraph Route between Great Britain and America. Published with the sanction of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.
† This extensive tract of water is noted in some charts as “ Melville Lake”; but none of the settlers along the inlet know it by that name. The Esquimaux name of Hamilton's Inlet is Ivuktok.

p. 3928

one would certainly expect to find the bearings of such an inlet as this correctly laid down in the most modern maps, and it seems almost incredible that, within a few hundred miles of our North American colonies and naval stations, an arm of the sea of sufficient extent to shelter the largest fleet in the world, possessing very extensive salmon-, cod-, and capelin-fisheries, the shores of whose tributaries are said to abound in timber of large size which might be floated down in rafts and shipped in deep water, and whose mineral resources are probably neglected solely because they have been undeveloped, should have remained up to the present day so partially explored.

Aug. 29.—Arrived at North-west River, the head of Hamilton's Inlet, and the principal settlement of the Hudson's Bay Company in this part of Labrador. Towards the upper extremity of the inlet, the shores converge somewhat, and become gradually flatter and more closely wooded. At this point the channel receives the waters of “ North-west ” and “ Hamilton's ” Rivers. The former, or more northerly branch as its name implies, debouches into the inlet by a narrow channel only about eighty yards in width—the settlement being on the northern shore, and situated on a small tract of flat land from which the forest has been cleared. The opposite shore is low, and densely wooded to the water's edge, but none of the trees are above 30 or 35 feet in height.
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Salmon and salmon-trout are taken in great quantity throughout the entire length of Hamilton's Inlet and the rivers that flow into it. Mr. Smith states that the pike also occurs, and a species of shark about 4 feet in length, quite distinct from the dog-fish. I was unable to procure specimens, however. Capelins and cod-fish are only taken near the mouth of the inlet and along the coast.
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Aug. 30.—Leaving North-west River at an early hour this morning, the 'Bulldog' commenced her return voyage down the inlet, and at noon anchored off the bluff headland known as “ Long Point,” in order to survey.
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The length of Hamilton's Inlet, from Indian Harbour to North-west River, is 118 miles. At its mouth the width is nearly fifteen miles. the deepest water at this part being about the central portion of the five miles intervening between George Island and the northern shore.
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EXTRACT FROM CAPTAIN HAMILTON'S REPORT TO THE ADMIRAL AND GOVERNOR, 1863.

(Extract from Journal of House of Assembly, 1864, Appendix,
page 470.)

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H.M.S. “ Vesuvius.”
St. John's.
Newfoundland

I have visited the Labrador Coast from Bradore Bay to North West River, at the head of Hamilton Inlet, or Gros Water Bay, as it is more commonly called by the fishermen.
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EXTRACTS FROM “ EXPLORATIONS IN THE INTERIOR OF THE LABRADOR PENINSULA.” BY HENRY YOULE HIND, M.A., F.R.G.S.

The shores of Hamilton Inlet have already been described, with their wall-like boundary formed by the Mealy Mountains on the south side of the inlet. The most important river draining the vast table-land of the Peninsula falls into the bay. The Ashwanipi or Hamilton River, rising in the rear of Seven Islands, near the head waters of the east branch of the Moisie, is the great river of Labrador. It is nearly a mile and a half broad at its mouth, which is situated at the head of the inlet, and twenty-five miles up the river its breadth varies from a quarter of a mile to one-eighth of a mile, from which dimensions it does not change to any great extent as far as it has been examined. About one hundred miles from its mouth the great falls and rapids occur, which extend over twenty miles and involve fifteen portages. The Hudson's Bay Company's barges were taken as far as the foot of these rapids ; the remaining part of the river, up to the now abandoned Fort Nasquapee, is traversed in canoes. The river above the grand falls is tranquil and easily navigable. In 1839, Mr. McLean descended the Ashwanipi from Fort Nasquapee to its mouth. He reached the fort from Ungava Bay, after enduring many hardships and privations.
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As we proceed in a north-westerly direction along a very rugged line of coast, with deep bays and indents, the Great Inlet, called Esquimaux Bay, Invertoke Bay or Hamilton Inlet opens to view. It is situated 250 miles beyond the Straits of Belle Isle, the entrance being in lat. 54° 23' N., long. 57° 25' W.
It is by far the largest of the many inlets which indent that part of the coast. At its entrance it is upwards of thirty miles in breadth, thence decreasing, until at the Port of Rigolette, about fifty miles from the sea, it is reduced to about a mile in width, after which it again expands, and about

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ninety miles from the sea forms a magnificent salt-water lake upwards of twenty miles in breadth, and fully thirty in length. At the western extremity of the lake, it again contracts to a narrow width for a short distance, above which it forms another lake about seven miles wide and twenty long, when the head of the inlet is reached. Its total length may be taken at 150 miles, and its mean breadth about fifteen miles, exclusive of two large arms that join it in the neighbourhood of Rigolette, the one running to the south-east about forty miles, and the other having a course nearly parallel to the main bay, and a length of sixty miles. Including these arms, the surface covered by its waters may be taken at about 1,700 miles.



EXTRACT FROM LETTRE DU REV. PÈRE ARNAUD, OBLAT DE MARIE À SES SUPÉRIEURS. (See also Vol. VI. p. 3017.)

Rivière de Naskapis, 6 Août, 1871.
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Il y a plusieurs de ces établissements dans la Baie des Esquimaux. Cette baie est immensément profonde et très-large a l'entrée ; elle va se retrécissant jusqu'à Rigolet : ensuite elle s'élargit de nouveau et forme une petite mer intérieure, jusqu'à l'endroit oû elle reçoit la décharge de la grande rivière de Naskapis.



EXTRACT FROM “A JOURNEY IN THE INTERIOR OF LABRADOR, JULY TO OCTOBER 1887,” BY RANDLE F. HOLME.

[Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society—Read at the evening meeting, February 15th 1888.]
[15th Feb. 1888.]
We started to sail up the inlet in a small schooner belonging to the Company . . . A sail of two days brought us to the post at North West River, at the head of the inlet.
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Mr. Duff and I explored all the Rivers that flow into the Head of the Bay, ascending them in most cases as far as they are navigable. They are as follows :—

[He mentions Gudders Bight, Kenamish, Kenamon, Travespines, North West and Grand Rivers.]
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While on the subject of the Map of Labrador, it may be remarked that the settlement called Southbrook, generally marked on the head of Hamilton Inlet by the mouth of the Kenamon River, may, in future Maps be omitted, as the sea has very largely encroached, and some years ago, the last vestige of the village was obliterated.
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There are small kitchen gardens at North-West River, Rigolet and other places on the shores of Hamilton Inlet, which meet with very fair success.



EXTRACT FROM “REPORT ON EXPLORATIONS IN THE LABRADOR PENINSULABY A. P. LOW, 1836.

Hamilton Inlet.
Hamilton Inlet, Invuktoke, or Esquirnaux Bay is the largest and most important of the many long, narrow fiords or inlets that indent the Atlantic coast of Labrador and Newfoundland. Its greatest length, from Indian Harbour to the mouth of the Hamilton River at its head, is slightly over one hundred and fifty miles, while its average breadth is about fourteen miles.
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From the mouth of the North-West River, the shore trends southward nine miles to the end of Sandy Point, a low, broad expanse of sand stretching Sandy Point. this distance out from the north side, evidently the remains of drift brought down by the Hamilton River. Opposite Sandy Point the Bay is only three miles and a half wide, and shoal water, caused by an extension of the point, continues to the south side, with only eighteen feet of water at the deepest part, where the channel is less than a half mile wide.
Beyond the point, the shore again trends northward, forming Goose Bay, Goose Bay. which averages nine miles in width and is nearly twenty miles long, to the head of Terrington Basin, where Goose Bay River flows in. This is a shallow stream, draining a considerable area of country between the Grand and Northwest rivers. Goose Bay is in most places quite shallow, being filled up with sand brought down by the Grand or Hamilton River, which flows in on the south side, nine miles above Sandy Point. A low sandy point, about five miles wide, separates the river from the upper part of Goose Bay.
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At Indian Harbour the tide rises seven feet at springs ; at the lower end of the narrows the rise is four feet, while above the narrows the rise is only about two feet and continues the same to the head of the inlet, where the rise and fall of the tide is much modified by the direction and strength of the wind. Below the narrows, there is a strong current formed by the ebb and flow of the tide ; while through the narrows the rising and falling water

[1927lab]



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