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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

 II

THE FATAL ERROR

With ample means and experience one may go anywhere in any wilderness with reasonable safety.  Hubbard was by no means inexperienced as a wilderness traveler, but he had very limited means at his disposal.  He had the means, in fact, to employ but one professional voyageur to assist him, and George Elson, a half-breed Cree Indian, was engaged for this service.

I had volunteered my services, supplying my own outfit and agreeing to share with Hubbard the work of the voyageur.  I had hunted and traveled the woods to some extent all my life, but in the exploration of virgin wilderness I was at that time inexperienced.

We three could manage but one canoe.  Our facilities for the transportation of equipment and supplies thus restricted we were compelled to travel exceedingly light.  Under the circumstances it was impossible to carry sufficient provisions for the journey, and we were forced to depend upon the wilderness itself to provide us with the greater part of our food.

On July 15, 1903, we turned our backs upon the trading post at Northwest River, the last inhabited outpost of civilization.

Native trappers whom we met at the post told us that the Nascaupee River entered Grand Lake at its head.  Depending upon this information we paddled directly to the head of the lake, passing the Nascaupee, whose mouth was marked by an island, several miles below.  In thus passing the Nascaupee and the old Indian trail we made a fatal error.

No mention had been made by the trappers of any other than the Nascaupee flowing into Grand Lake, and also failing to observe the Beaver River we turned into the Susan River, believing it to be the Nascaupee.  In this Hubbard was never undeceived.

In “The Lure of the Labrador Wild”, I have told the story of our trying and tragic experiences during the succeeding months.  It will be necessary now to refer only to those points or those incidents which have a particular bearing upon our present narrative.

The Susan proved a shallow, turbulent stream, and as we fought our way up its hill-enclosed valley we were compelled to carry our canoe and outfit upon our backs or wade waste-deep in the water, two of us hauling and lifting the loaded canoe over the rocks while the third towed it with a rope.

Fifty miles above Grand Lake a tributary enters the Susan from the south.  It is narrow and deep, like a canal.  The main stream had become so shallow that further progress upon it was impossible, so we portaged around a fall into the tributary, and named the new stream Goose Creek.

We followed Goose Creek to its source, and then portaging through a series of lakes, in a southwesterly direction, fell upon another and larger river than the Susan.  This was the Beaver, though at times we believed it to be Goose Bay River, a previously mentioned unexplored river emptying into Goose Bay, at the head of Hamilton Inlet.

We were now in a region, and in our westward journey continued in a region that no white man, no native trapper other than the Indians, and no Hudson’s Bay voyageur had ever entered before us.  It is a region than none, save the Indians and the members of our own party, has ever seen to this day.

On August 12 Hubbard killed a caribou.  We stripped the meat from the bones and dried it, Indian fashion.  This was the only caribou or bog game killed by any of us.  We had fallen upon a season when game was scarce.

We pushed our way to the source of the Beaver River, over mountain ranges, across many lakes, through forests and barrens and swamps, until at last we reached a point high on the plateau, far from civilization.

At the time that we portaged from Goose Creek into the Beaver River our flour was so nearly gone that each man’s ration was reduced to a small wedge of bannock at each meal.  From that time forward we lived chiefly on fish, varied by the dried caribou meat and an occasional bird.  Fortunately we had plenty of tea, but long before we reached the farthest point of our interior journey, our sugar and salt were exhausted. 

Game became more rare and difficult to kill, and with the raw winds of autumn fish refused to rise to any lure we offered them.  These had been our main reliance, and when they failed us we found ourselves in a serious position.

We were ragged and gaunt when at last we turned back toward civilization.  I had tightened my own belt thirteen inches since leaving Northwest River, and Hubbard had not withstood the hardships as well as I.  Through weakness resulting from insufficient diet, none of us was able to carry the canoe alone, though formerly one had portaged it.  Our retreat was, indeed, a race for life.

We should have turned back long before we did, but Hubbard felt himself obliged to do the work he had set out to do.  He believed that when we reached the higher plateau game would be more plentiful.  Elson and I shared his optimism in this respect.  Hubbard felt that in taking a chance that this would prove the case he was only doing his duty.  The pity of it is, as I proved two years later, that had we gone on instead of turning back when we did, another week’s travel would have carried us into a region where caribou and other game was abundant, and where we should have met the Indians.  But this was something that from our standpoint no man could guess.

 

Next: Chapter III: Duty First