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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ILLUSTRATIONS

CHAPTER I:
A JOURNEY OF SENTIMENT


CHAPTER II:
THE FATAL ERROR


CHAPTER III:
DUTY FIRST


CHAPTER IV:
A MAN'S GAME


CHAPTER V:
A PERMANENT MEMORIAL


CHAPTER VI:
WILL THE ICE TURN US BACK?


CHAPTER VII:
STORMY VOYAGE


CHAPTER VIII:
RETURN TO NORTHWEST RIVER


CHAPTER IX:
A CHIEF VOYAGEUR


CHAPTER X:
THE BEAVER IS A BAD RIVER


CHAPTER XI:
SOUNDING THE BIG LAKE


CHAPTER XII:
BREAD WITHOUT BAKING POWDER MAKES ME SICK


CHAPTER XIII:
I NEVER TRAVELS ON SUNDAY


CHAPTER XIV:
VIRGIN AS GOD MADE IT


CHAPTER XV:
FIRST PORTAGE


CHAPTER XVI:
TRAIL COMPANIONS


CHAPTER XVII:
MURDOCK'S RAPID


CHAPTER XVIII:
TRACKING THROUGH BOULDERS


CHAPTER XIX:
MARCH TO YOUR FRONT LIKE A SOLDIER


CHAPTER XX:
IT'S ALWAYS BAD LUCK TO TRAVEL ON SUNDAY


CHAPTER XXI:
WORST COUNTRY FOR GAME I EVER SAW


CHAPTER XXII:
BACK TO GET THE BAKING POWDER


CHAPTER XXIII:
DISASTER IN THE RAPIDS


CHAPTER XXIV:
TAKING STOCK


CHAPTER XXV:
GRAPPLING


CHAPTER XXVI:
INDIANS HAVE PLENTY OF HARD TIMES


CHAPTER XXVII:
THIS RIVER IS LIKE A BAD WOMAN


CHAPTER XXVIII:
NO RELIEF FROM WADING


CHAPTER XXIX:
HELL AND TWENTY


CHAPTER XXX:
BACKPACKING TO THE SUSAN


CHAPTER XXXI:
VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH


CHAPTER XXXII:
THE MIND WORKS CURIOUSLY


CHAPTER XXXIII:
RELIVING THE PARTING


CHAPTER XXXIV:
MARKING HUBBARD'S BOULDER


CHAPTER XXXV:
A NEW DISASTER


CHAPTER XXXVI:
THE HARDEST BIT OF TRAVELING I EVER DONE


CHAPTER XXXVII:
SOMETHING WORTHWHILE UP THERE IN THE HILLS


NOTES

PHOTO GALLERY

COLOUR SLIDE GALLERY

ADDENDUM TO
THIRD EDITION

COMMENTS ON THE
NAMING COMPULSION


BACK TO THE LABRADOR WILDS

 I

A JOURNEY OF SENTIMENT

“Good bye and may God be with you.”

Ten years had passed since Hubbard bade me that last farewell.  I stood again beside the big rock, deep in the Labrador wilderness, against which his campfire burned that stormy October morning.  There at my feet lay the charred wood, where rain and snow had beaten out the fire, undisturbed during ten years.  There, too, was the bed of spruce boughs, withered and dry, upon which my dying comrade reclined when we said that farewell and we parted, and where death found and conquered him a few hours later.  There, just below the campground, was the spot where I stopped to look back, before the thick forest closed in upon the Indian and me, for a last glimpse of the rock and fire and little white tent.

The world was shocked when the first news came out of Labrador of the death, through starvation and exposure, on October 18, 1903, of the young explorer, Leonidas Hubbard, Jr.   I was Hubbard’s only white companion on that ill-fated expedition.  Together we sat by a hundred campfires, together we toiled and suffered in the wilderness, and together we recognized the shadow of impending tragedy cast upon our trail.  Hubbard and I were drawn very close to each other in those days, as only mutual hopes, mutual disappointments and mutual sufferings can draw one man to another.

As I stood there on our old camp ground this July day in 1913, time echoed back to me Hubbard’s farewell words, spoken a decade before—Good bye, and may God be with you”--, and I experienced again the awful depression of those tragic days—days that will ever remain with me a vivid and sad memory—when the gaunt spectre Starvation stalked by our side and leered at us, and grim Death reached out his hand to claim his prey; and I recalled, as one recalls a weird and horrid nightmare, days of wandering alone in the snow, vainly seeking this spot in the white-clad wilderness, and Hubbard.

The object of my return to Labrador in 1913 was to permanently mark the place where Hubbard met his tragic and heroic death.  It was indeed a journey of sentiment.  A portion of the route which our expedition of 1913 followed, however, was quite different from that followed by Hubbard in 1903.  It carried us through a wild region hitherto unexplored, and involved us in many adventures.

In order that the story of our experiences and what we accomplished may be fully understood, it will be necessary to summarize briefly pertinent incidents of Hubbard’s expedition, and to describe in outline the chief geographical features of the region in which we are interested.

If you turn to the map of North America you will find the peninsula of Labrador in the northeastern corner of the continent.  A little north of 54 degrees north latitude Hamilton Inlet will be seen penetrating eastern Labrador in a southwesterly direction. This arm of the sea extends inland one hundred and fifty miles.

Fifty miles from its mouth Hamilton Inlet contracts into what is known as “The Narrows”.  Here is situated Rigolet post of the Hudson’s Bay Company.  A few miles to the westward of Rigolet the inlet expands into a wide bay generally known as Groswater Bay, though on some maps designated as Lake Melville.  At the extreme head of the inlet is Goose Bay, into which flows the Grand River—sometimes called the Hamilton River—and Goose Bay River, the latter to this day a wholly unexplored stream.

Ninety miles inland from Rigolet the Northwest River flows into Groswater Bay from the northwest.  This river is but three miles in length—little more than a strait—connecting Grand Lake, a deep fresh water lake fifty miles in length, with Groswater Bay.

The Nascaupee and Crooked Rivers empty into a deep bay on the north side of Grand Lake, some six miles from its head.  The Beaver and Susan Rivers enter the lake at its extreme head.

It will readily be seen that Hamilton Inlet, with the numerous rivers flowing into it from the central plateau, forms a natural gateway to the interior.  It was this route that the Hubbard expedition and my own subsequent expeditions entered the country.

The Grand River is the largest river in western Labrador, and it was the only river of the eastern watershed that had been explored at the time Hubbard and I went into the country in 1903.  The territory lying north of the Grand River was at that time a veritable incognito.  This river is easily navigable for canoes, and many years previously had been thoroughly explored and well charted, though no explorer had passed beyond the confines of its narrow valley.    It has since become a well-traveled highway for trappers seeking the rich fur country at its headwaters.

But, as stated, the wide region lying to the northward of Grand River was wholly unknown in 1903.  All charts of this territory had been compiled from descriptions gleaned from Indians, and were totally wrong and misleading.  This virgin wilderness was chosen by Hubbard as the scene of his explorations.

Nascaupee and Mountaineer Indians, in passing between the interior plateau and the trading post at Northwest River, had followed the Nascaupee and the lakes of its basin.  For many years previous to 1903, however, this trail had been unused, for the Indians had ceased their trading excursions to this post.  It was this route that Hubbard proposed to follow, mapping as a pioneer the ancient Indian trail and the country through which it passed.


Donald Blake’s cabin at the head of Grand Lake
(
©Canadian Heritage Information Network)

 

Next: Chapter II: The Fatal Error