HOME

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

 VI

WILL THE ICE TURN US BACK?

In the old days, when the Virginia Lake was the only link connecting eastern Labrador with civilization, the service was uncertain, and one never knew how long one would have to wait in St. John’s for her return from the north.  She was invariably “down north” when the New York steamer docked, and her schedule was a moving one, governed by the amount of ice she encountered, and the conditions of fog and weather.  But the Virginia Lake was pinched too tightly between the floes one day, as she was sure to sooner or later, and that was the end of her.  These ships of the north rarely die a natural death, on the junk heap.

Now there are two mail boats in the service, with the regular weekly sailings.  One—the Kyle—is as stanch and well-appointed a little ship as ever ploughed the seas.  She was built to contend with ice, and can charge her way through floes—when they are not too solid.  The other is the Invermore, which once plied the English Channel as the Dromedary She is a good old ship, but was never intended to battle with ice, and is supposed to retreat upon the first appearance of the pack.

Judge Malone and I were destined to Northwest River, where our canoe journey was to begin. Rigolet, the Hudson’s Bay Company’s post at “the narrows”, in Hamilton Inlet, was our nearest port of call, for neither of the small steamers enters the narrows.  The Kyle was scheduled to stop at Rigolet going north, the Invermore going south only.  We intended, therefore, taking our passage on the Kyle.

When we arrived in St. John’s, however, we learned that the Invermore was at her wharf, preparing to sail the following day, Friday, June 27.  Upon inquiry, the Postmaster General of Newfoundland informed us that a small auxiliary schooner, the Yale, owned by the Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, had been chartered for the summer by the government, to connect with the Invermore at Indian Harbor and carry her mails directly to Northwest River, and that we could certainly secure a passage on her.

Indian Harbor is a small fisherman’s settlement lying fifty miles outside of Rigolet, and at the northern side of the entrance to Hamilton Inlet.  Here is situated the most northerly hospital and mission station of the Deep Sea Mission.  It is only during the summer, when the Newfoundland fishermen, for whose benefit it is chiefly maintained, are on the coast.

The Kyle was not scheduled to sail until a week later than the Invermore, and with the prospect of a prompt connection at Indian Harbor, we booked our passage on the Invermore in the hope that we would thus be enabled to enter the wilderness a week earlier that by awaiting the Kyle.  We could not estimate the time that would be required to accomplish our mission, and should later delays or disappointments arise, a week would provide a decided advantage, for the Labrador summer is all too short.

The Invermore had not yet been north of the Straits of Belle Isle, for the ice pack, still hanging on the coast, had blocked her passage.  Captain Jacob Kean, her master, was first officer of the Virginia Lake when Hubbard and I went north in 1903.  He recalled the fact, and also that we left the Virginia Lake at Indian Harbor, and he was much interested in the new undertaking of Judge Malone and myself.

“Is the ice likely to turn us back before we reach Indian Harbor?” I asked.

“ I don’t know,” he cautiously answered.  “There’s been plenty of ice down north all spring, and plenty reported on the coast yet.”

“It is necessary for us to get into the country as soon as possible,” said I, “and I hope there’ll be no ice to interfere.”

“Well, if it is at all possible to get through I’ll put you in at Indian Harbor,” promised the Captain.  “Nothing will turn us back, unless the safety of the ship compels it.”

And I felt confident Captain Kean would do it, for I knew him and his reputation for putting his ship through in the face of obstacles. 

The bronze plate was not crated, and we were constantly apprehensive of injury befalling it.  Though it was unwieldy and heavy, we carried it to our room in the hotel in St. John’s to avoid risk of its being marred if we left our general outfit on the wharf.  On the ship, however, we feared that it would have to go with the general baggage in the hold, for it was too wide to stow beneath the stateroom berth.

Fortunately upon going aboard the chief steward met me, reminded me that he was the former steward of the Virginia Lake, greeted me with the cordiality of an old ship mate, and asked me if there was any courtesy he could offer.  I asked that we be permitted to keep the package containing the bronze tablet in our room.  He not only consented to this, but transferred Judge Malone and me from the room to which we had been assigned, to a double room on deck, which was of ample size to accommodate the tablet as well as our usual hand baggage, but also several other packages of outfit, which we wished to overhaul.

 

Next: Chapter VII: Stormy Voyage