The Project Gutenberg eBook of Journal of a Voyage from Okkak, on the Coast of Labrador, to Ungava Bay, Westward of Cape Chudleigh

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Title: Journal of a Voyage from Okkak, on the Coast of Labrador, to Ungava Bay, Westward of Cape Chudleigh

Author: B. G. Kohlmeister

Georg Kmoch

Release date: March 22, 2005 [eBook #15436]
Most recently updated: December 14, 2020

Language: English

Credits: E-text prepared by Wallace McLean, Cluny, and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team from page images generously made available by the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions (



E-text prepared by Wallace McLean, Cluny,
and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions


Note: Images of the original pages are available through the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions. See

Inconsistencies and irregularities in spelling in the original text have been retained. The table of contents was created for this eBook.












To explore the Coast, and visit the ESQUIMAUX in that unknown Region.








Printed by W. M’Dowall, Pemberton Row, Gough Square, Fleet Street,





&c. &c.


    Outfit. Opinions of the Esquimaux respecting the Voyage. Description of the Company. Departure from Okkak. Arrival at Nungorome.
    Departure from Nungorome Cove. Account of Solomon. Drift-ice. Cape Mugford. Waterfalls from the Kaumayok Mountains. Fruitless attempt to get out of the Ikkerasak, or Straits.
    Quit the Ikkerasak. Account of the Kaumayok Mountains, and of Kangertluksoak. Public Worship on Sunday. Saeglek and its Inhabitants described. The Missionaries visit the Esquimaux at Kikkertarsoak.
    Departure from Saeglek. Fruitless attempt to reach Nachvak. Retreat into Nullatartok Inlet. Slate Bay. Detention on account of the Ice. Arrive at Nachvak.
    Reception at Nachvak. Description of the bay. The Esquimaux manner of spearing salmon and trout. Christian deportment of the Okkak and Hopedale Esquimaux. Jonas’s address to the Heathen. Love of music general among these Indians. Departure from Nachvak. Danger in doubling the North Cape. Arrival at Sangmiyok bay.
    Pass Cape Nennoktok. Visit the Esquimaux families at Kummaktorvik and Amitok. Description of an Esquimaux travelling bed. Mountains seen at Ungava. Netsek seal described. Greenland houses. Danger of being shipwrecked near Kakkeviak.
    Arrival at Oppernavik. Account of Uttakiyok. His perseverance in waiting for the arrival of the Missionaries. Islands and bays between Kakkeviak and Killinek. Danger in the ice at Ammitok. Want of fuel supplied by robbing old graves.
    Departure from Oppernavik. Pass the Ikkerasak of Killinek. Whirlpools. The coast takes a southerly direction. Meeting with Esquimaux from the Ungava country, who had never seen an European. Anchor at Omanek. High tides. Drift-wood. Double Cape Uibvaksoak. Distant view of Akpatok.
    Chain of black mountains. The Dragon’s dwelling. Changes occasioned by rise and fall of the tides, and dangers attending them. Uttakiyok’s superstitious customs. Singular effect of the tide in the bay of Ittimnekoktok. Arrive at Kangertlualuksoak bay and river. Its situation. Transactions there.
    Further transactions in Kangertlualuksoak Bay. The Esquimaux women frightened by reports of Indians. Ceremony of taking possession of this new-explored country, as belonging to the King of England, and of naming the river George river. Leave the bay and proceed to Arvarvik. Whales caught by the Esquimaux in the shallows. Storm at Kernertut
    Doubts expressed by Jonathan and the other Esquimaux on the expediency of continuing the voyage. Consultations. Resolve to proceed. Thunder-storm at Pitsiolak. Account of Indians. Esquimaux cookery and hunting feasts. Arrival in the river Koksoak.
    Sail up the river Koksoak. Transactions in that region. Dangerous eddy. Meet Esquimaux. Address to them. Their joy and eagerness to have Missionaries, resident among them. Find a suitable situation for a settlement. Description of the country.
    Return to Okkak.
    The Northern Extremity of Labrador with Ungava Bay Explored by the Missionaries of the Unitas Fratrum in 1811.


FOR these many years past, a considerable number of Esquimaux have been in the annual practice of visiting the three missionary establishments of the United Brethren on the coast of Labrador, OKKAK, NAIN, and HOPEDALE, chiefly with a view to barter, or to see those of their friends and acquaintance, who had become obedient to the gospel, and lived together in Christian fellowship, enjoying the instruction of the Missionaries.

These people came mostly from the north, and some of them from a great distance. They reported, that the body of the Esquimaux nation lived near and beyond Cape Chudleigh, which they call Killinek, and having conceived much friendship for the Missionaries, never failed to request, that some of them would come to their country, and even urged the formation of a new settlement, considerably to the north of Okkak.

To these repeated and earnest applications the Missionaries were the more disposed to listen, as it had been discovered, not many years after the establishment of the Mission in 1771, that that part of the coast on which, by the encouragement of the British government, the first settlement was made, was very thinly inhabited, and that the aim of the Mission, to convert the Esquimaux to Christianity, would be better obtained, if access could be had to the main body of the Indians, from which the roving inhabitants appeared to be mere stragglers. Circumstances, however, prevented more extensive plans from being put in execution; and the Missionaries, having gained the confidence and esteem of the Esquimaux in their neighbourhood, remained stationary on that coast, and, by degrees, formed three settlements, OKKAK, to the north, and HOPEDALE, to the south of NAIN, their first place of residence.

In consequence of the abovementioned invitation, it became a subject of serious consideration, by what means a more correct idea of the extent and dwelling-places of the Esquimaux nation might be obtained, and a general wish was expressed, that one or more of the Missionaries would undertake the perilous task of visiting such places as were reported by the Esquimaux themselves to contain more inhabitants than the southern coast, but remained unknown to European navigators.

The Synodal Committee, appointed for the management of the Missions of the United Brethren, having given their consent to the measure, and agreed with Brother Kohlmeister, by occasion of a visit paid by him to his relations and friends in Germany, as to the mode of putting it into execution, he returned to Labrador in 1810, and prepared to undertake the voyage early in the spring of 1811.

For several years a correspondence had taken place between the Missionaries in Labrador and the Brethren’s Society for the Furtherance of the Gospel, established in London, relating to the manner in which the voyage should be performed. Opinions were various on the subject; but it was at length determined, that a steady intelligent Christian Esquimaux, possessing a shallop, with two masts, and of sufficient dimensions, should be appointed to accompany one or two Missionaries, for a liberal recompence; and that the travellers should spend the winter at Okkak, to be ready to proceed on the voyage, without loss of time, as soon as the state of the ice would permit of it. Brother Kohlmeister proposed, in this view, the Esquimaux Jonathan, of Hopedale, and the brig employed to convey the annual supply of necessaries to the three settlements, was ordered to proceed first to Hopedale, partly with a view to this negociation. She arrived safe with Brother Kohlmeister at this place, on the 22d July, 1810. On the same day, he proposed to Jonathan the intended expedition, laid before him the whole plan, with all its difficulties and advantages, and found him immediately willing to undertake the voyage, and to forward its object by every means in his power.

This was no small sacrifice on the part of Jonathan. An Esquimaux is naturally attached to the place of his birth; and, though he spends the summer, and indeed great part of the year, necessarily, and from inclination, in roving from one place to another in quest of food; yet in winter he settles, if possible, upon his native spot, where he is esteemed and beloved. This was eminently the case with Jonathan. He was a man of superior understanding and skill, possessed of uncommon presence of mind in difficulties and dangers, and at Hopedale considered as the principal person, or chief of his nation. But he was now ready to forsake all, and to go and reside at OKKAK, among strangers, having no authority or pre-eminence, and to undertake a voyage of unknown length and peril, from whence he could not be sure of a safe or speedy return, before the ice might set in, and confine him upon an unknown shore, during the whole of a second winter. There was, however, one consideration which outweighed every other in his mind, and made him, according to his own declaration, forget all difficulties and dangers. He hoped that the proposed voyage to visit his countrymen in the north would, in time, be a means of their becoming acquainted with the gospel of Christ, and partakers of the same blessings which he now enjoyed. This made him willing to accept of the call without any hesitation. Nor did he ever, during the whole voyage, forsake that generous principle, by which he was at first influenced, but his cheerful, firm, and faithful conduct proved, under all circumstances, most honourable to the character of a true convert to Christianity.

Brother KOHLMEISTER being, after seventeen years residence in Labrador, complete master of the Esquimaux language, and deservedly beloved and respected both by Christians and heathens, and possessing an invincible zeal to promote their temporal and spiritual welfare, was a man eminently qualified to undertake the commission, and to conciliate the affections of unknown heathen. He had also previously made himself acquainted with the use of the quadrant, and with other branches of science, useful on such an occasion.

Brother KMOCH, his companion, joined to other essential qualifications, great cheerfulness and intrepidity.

All the parties having met at Okkak, in the autumn of 1810, the winter was partly spent in preparations for the intended expedition, and Jonathan’s boat put into the best possible state of repair.


Outfit. Opinions of the Esquimaux respecting the Voyage. Description of the Company. Departure from Okkak. Arrival at Nungorome.

JUNE 16, 1811.—THE ice began to loosen in the bay of OKKAK, and to drive out to sea. On the 17th, the bay was quite cleared of it; but on the 18th, it returned, and seemed to preclude all possibility of setting out so soon as we intended. On the 19th, however, it left us entirely.

20th. We were employed in hauling the boat to the edge of the water, and being floated by the tide, she came to anchor at six, P.M. She had been purchased by Jonathan, at Chateau-bay, and was about 45 feet long, twelve broad, and five deep, with two masts. We had furnished her with a complete deck, and divided her into three parts. The centre was our own cabin, into which all our baggage was stowed: the two other divisions were occupied by the Esquimaux. A small boat, brought from Lewis, was taken in tow.

21st. We began to ship our provision and baggage: viz. six cwt. of ship’s biscuit, sixteen bushels of pease, one cwt. of salt pork and best beef, (of which but a small portion was consumed, as we were generally well supplied with fresh provisions, procured by shooting), a firkin of butter, half cwt. of captain’s biscuit, one cwt. of flour, two small barrels of gunpowder, one cwt. of large and small shot, half cwt. of tobacco, two eighteen-gallon barrels of ale, a few bottles of brandy, eighteen pounds of coffee, which was all consumed, coffee and biscuits being our usual repast; a case containing knives, wire, nails, &c. for barter, if necessary; kettles and other utensils. Besides that every man had his fowling-piece, we had four muskets in reserve. After bringing all on board, we had just room enough to sleep in our cabin.

22d, was spent in conferring with our brethren, on various subjects relating to the voyage.

23d. All the Esquimaux met at the chapel, and in the most affectionate manner, and with many tears, bid us and our company farewell. They were the more affected with grief on this occasion, as the greatest part of our own Esquimaux thought the voyage impracticable, and expected that we should all perish in doubling Cape Chudleigh, (Killinek) on account of the violence of the currents, setting round between the cape, and the many rocks and islands which stretch from it towards the north. Reports had likewise been circulated of the hostile disposition of the Esquimaux in the Ungava bay; and it was boldly asserted, that if we even got there alive, we should never return. An old conjuror, (Angekok), Atsugarsuk, had been particularly active in spreading these reports. We cannot deny but that they occasioned some apprehension in our own minds, but being fully determined to venture in the name of God, and trusting in His protection, we were thankful that they failed to produce the intended effect on Jonathan, our guide, and on the other Esquimaux, who were to go with us, and who all remained firm.

When Jonathan was told that the Ungava Esquimaux would kill him, he generally answered: “Well, we will try, and shall know better when we get there:” and once, conversing with us on the subject, expressed himself thus: “When I hear people talking about the danger of being killed, I think: Jesus went to death out of love to us, what great matter would it be, if we were to be put to death in His service, should that be His good pleasure concerning us.”

24th. Having commended ourselves in prayer to the grace and protecting care of God our Saviour, and to the kind remembrance of our dear fellow missionaries, we set sail at two P.M.

Our company consisted of four Esquimaux families: 1. Jonathan, and his wife Sybilla, both between fifty and sixty years old. He was esteemed one of the most skilful commanders on the whole coast of Labrador, and for many years has shown himself both able and willing to serve the missionaries in a variety of ways. The boat was his own property, and we considered him as the captain of the expedition. 2. Jonas, Jonathan’s son, and his wife Agnes, about thirty years of age, both intelligent, clever Esquimaux; they had their five children with them; Sophia, twelve years old, Susanna, Jonathan, Thamar, and Sybilla, the youngest but half a year old. 3. Paul, and his wife Mary, very agreeable, sensible people, about twenty years of age. Paul is Jonathan’s cousin, and a man of a very warm temper. In activity and skill, he was next to Jonathan. 4. David, and his mother Rachel, the first a hopeful young man of about twenty, and the latter a good-natured old woman, who had the care of our clothes and linen, and kept them clean and in good order. Besides these four families, we took with us a boy, Okkiksuk, an orphan, about sixteen, whom Jonathan had adopted, and who promised to reward the kindness of his guardian by his good behaviour. He was always ready to render us every service in his power.

We were attended on the voyage by a skin-boat (or woman’s boat) in which were Thukkekina and his wife, and their adopted child Mammak, a boy twelve years old. Their age is about forty. The skin-boat was intended as a refuge, in case of any accident happening to our own boat, and was useful in landing, as we never brought the large boat close in shore. The first four families belong to Hopedale, Thukkekina and his wife to Okkak. They considered it as a great favour conferred on them to be permitted to accompany us. Jonas and his family occupied the after-part, and the rest the fore-part of the boat. The wind was moderate, and due west. We lost sight of our habitations in about half an hour, behind the N.E. point of the island Okkak, called Sungolik.

At three, passed Cape Uivak, a cape on the continent, forming a moderately high headland, and the nearest place to Okkak, where Esquimaux spend the winter. Two or three winter-houses were standing.

The wind failing, we cast off the skin-boat, which rowed merrily a-head. Before us, between the islands to the east and the continent, we saw much drift-ice, and it required attention to avoid the large shoals, the wind coming round to the N.W. We cast anchor at NUNGOROME, a cove about ten English miles from Okkak, where we found several of our Esquimaux, who had here their summer-station. Several had come from Naujasiorvik and other places, on purpose to meet us, and once more to express their affection and best wishes for our safe voyage and return. Late in the evening, we met on a green spot, where Brother Kohlmeister delivered a short discourse and prayer, after which we retired to sleep on board the boat.


Departure from Nungorome Cove. Account of Solomon. Drift-ice. Cape Mugford. Waterfalls from the Kaumayok Mountains. Fruitless attempt to get out of the Ikkerasak, or Straits.

NUNGOROME is a cove on the south side of the Island Pacharvik. Between this island the main land is a narrow strait, so shallow that no whales can pass. The Esquimaux stretch their nets across, to catch seals, seeking shelter in it when the wind sets in from the open sea. They can only be taken in the night, and the greater part of those which frequent this coast are of the Kairolik kind, a middle-sized animal, and of the Ugsuk, the largest species of the seal tribe, weighing sometimes from five to six cwt.

The Esquimaux belonging to our congregation, who were at present stationed here, in tents, were Moses, Samuel, Thomas, Isaac, Bammiuk, and their families. Solomon, who has left our communion, was also here. He had formerly been a communicant member of Okkak congregation, but could not resist the temptation of going to the north to feast with the heathen Esquimaux, whenever they had caught a live, or found a dead whale. On such occasions he was seduced to commit many irregularities and sins, but always returned to us with a show of great contrition and repentance. After many relapses, he was informed, that this would do no longer, but that if he went again to these heathenish feasts, he would be excluded. He is a sensible, well-disposed man, and perceived the justice of the sentence; but his love of that species of amusement overcame all his good resolutions. He not only went again, but took also another wife; a step which, of course, excluded him from our fellowship. Yet he is very desirous that his children may receive a Christian education, and remain faithful to the precepts of the gospel.

25th. Brother Kmoch rose at half past one in the morning, and suffering the rest to sleep on, got breakfast ready; he then fired his piece, by which Brother Kohlmeister and all the Esquimaux, young and old, were suddenly roused from their slumbers. Not one, however, regretted the unexpected interruption to their pleasant dreams, on beholding the sea quite free from ice, with a fine morning and fair wind; but after yawning, stretching, and shaking themselves as usual, the Esquimaux with great good humour got ready, and we set sail at half past three. Passed Pacharvik Island at four. Bammiuk and Solomon accompanied us as far as the North Ikkerasak (the Esquimaux name for a strait) between Cape Mugford Island, in 58° N. latitude, and the mountains of Kaumayok. Their being in company retarded our progress, but in the sequel proved no disadvantage.

About nine, we entered the straits, and perceiving at a distance much drift-ice a-head, cast anchor, and Brother Kmoch and Jonas landed on Cape Mugford Island. An Esquimaux, called Niakungetok, accompanied them to the top of an eminence, from whence the outer opening of the Ikkerasak was seen. They perceived the ice driving into it from the sea in such quantities as to threaten to close it up. Cape Mugford is an high island, extending far into the ocean, and the northern land-mark in steering for Okkak, Kiglapeit promontory bearing south, and the Saddle-island appearing right before the entrance of the bay. On their return to the boat, the wind veered to the north, and we steered for a dwelling-place of the Esquimaux, about twenty miles from Okkak, called Ukkuararsuk. To our great joy the ice began now to drive out again to sea, and we resolved to go with it. A gentle S.W. wind brought us to the place, where we had before anchored, but we were now beset with large fields of ice, among which we tacked, till we had nearly cleared the straits, when the great quantity of surrounding ice, pressing upon us, prevented our making further attempts, and we, were compelled to work our way back with oars and boat-hooks.

On Cape Mugford island we now discovered more Esquimaux, who by signs directed our course towards a convenient harbour, near their dwellings, which we reached in safety.

The Esquimaux pitched their tents on shore, but we slept on board.

The situation of this place is remarkably beautiful. The strait is about an English mile broad, and four or five in length. Both shores are lined with precipitous rocks, which in many places rise to a tremendous height, particularly on the Kaumayok side, from whence several waterfalls rush into the sea, with a roar, which quite fills the air. The singular appearance of these cataracts is greatly increased when illuminated by the rising sun, the spray, exhibiting the most beautiful prismatic colours. Below them huge masses of ice are formed, which seem to lean against the sides of the rocks, and to be continually increasing during the winter, but when melted by the power of a summer’s sun, and disengaged by their weight, are carried off by the tides, and help to form floating ice-mountains. The coast lies S.W. by N.E.

26th. Being detained here by the state of the ice, and the weather fine and warm, Brother Kmoch and Ogiksuk rowed across the straits to the nearest great cataract, and were able, notwithstanding the steepness of the ascent, to get pretty close to it. It falls fifty or sixty feet perpendicular, and the noise is terrible. The spray ascending from it, like the steam of a huge cauldron, wetted the travellers completely. They amused themselves some time by rolling large stones into the fall, which by its force were carried along towards the sea, down the sloping torrent below. Our people meanwhile caught three seals, and made a hearty meal, of which we also partook, hunger, on this occasion, overcoming our dislike to seal’s flesh. A sallad of scurvy-grass was made for supper.

27th. We left this harbour about four A.M. with a favourable wind at West, but as it soon died away, we took to our oars, and reached the north point of Kaumayok, at the northern extremity of the strait. By an observation taken by Brother Kohlmeister, this point is situated in 57° 59' N. latitude. Though calm, there was a great swell from the sea, and the rolling of the boat affected our brave captain not a little, to the diversion of the other Esquimaux. About two P.M. the wind shifted to the N.W. By tacking we got to Kupperlik, about the middle of Kaumayok, but having the skin-boat in tow, could not weather the point, and were at length obliged to return to our former anchorage in the strait.

28th. The wind being North we could not proceed. We therefore ascended the mountain of Cape Mugford. It is a barren rock, though here and there a solitary plant or a tuft of moss clings to its steep sides, and is difficult of access. The numerous waterfalls on the Kaumayok, which still rose above us, were full in view, and we now discovered several small lakes which supply them. Some of them fall from a great height perpendicularly into the sea.

We could here discern the island of Okkak, to the S.W. to the East, the boundless ocean, and to the N.E. three high, barren, and steep islands, called Nennoktuts by the Esquimaux, (White mountains.)


Quit the Ikkerasak. Account of the Kaumayok Mountains, and of Kangertluksoak. Public Worship on Sunday. Saeglek and its Inhabitants described. The Missionaries visit the Esquimaux at Kikkertarsoak.

JUNE 29th.—WE rose soon after two o’clock, and rowed out of the Ikkerasak, with a fair wind. The sea was perfectly calm and smooth. Brother Kmoch rowed in the small boat along the foot of the mountains of Kaumayok, sometimes going on shore, while the large boat was making but little way, keeping out at some distance, to avoid the rocks. The outline of this chain of mountains exhibits the most fanciful figures. At various points, the rocks descend abruptly into the sea, presenting horrid precipices. The strand is covered with a black sand. At the height of about fifty feet from the sea, the rocks have veins of red, yellow, and green stone, running horizontally and parallel; and sometimes in an undulated form. Above these, they present the appearance of a magnificent colonade, or rather of buttresses, supporting a gothic building, varying in height and thickness, and here and there intersected by wide and deep chasms and glens, running far inland between the mountains. Loose stones above, have in some places the appearance of statues, and the superior region exhibits all kind of grotesque shapes. It is by far the most singular and picturesque chain of mountains on this coast. To the highest part of it we gave the name of St. Pauls, as it is not unlike that cathedral when viewed at a distance, with its dome and two towers.

Before we left the Kaumayok, Brother Kohlmeister landed, and found the beach covered with blocks of stone, in colour white and grey, like statuary marble, but very hard. We now steered for Kangertluksoak, a winter-station of the Esquimaux, where several of our people had pitched their tents.

At noon, we were off an island, called Eingosiarsuk, (the Little Cup), opposite the Ittiplek, (a flat piece of ground joining two headlands) over which the northern Esquimaux pass in sledges to Okkak, round Kaumayok. Farther towards the N.W. lies Tuppertalik, a high ridge of mountains, which, from its appearance, we called the Table mountain, having nearly the shape of the mountain so called at the Cape of Good Hope.

To the north lies Nellekartok, the outermost island on leaving the Ikkerasak, and the first of the Kangertluksoak islands. Behind Tuppertalik, a bay opens called Nappartok (a wood), a winter-habitation, with a little wood higher up the country, about eight or ten hours drive from Okkak. A good harbour for large vessels is said to be here, called Umiakovitannak, (Broad boat-harbour). Before the entrance to Nappartok, lies an island, Naujartsit (the Little Sea-gull island). Seven or eight miles, north of Nappertok, a long flat point runs out, terminated by a small island. On approaching towards Kangertluksoak, a long island runs parallel with the coast called Illuektulik, (a burial-place), between which and the main land is a strait, affording good shelter for boats. Into this Jonathan intended to run, but the wind being favourable, we kept on our course, and passed two islands, Kingmiktok, (Dog island), and farther north, Kikkertarsoak a great island which defends the entrance into the harbour of Kangertluksoak, from the sea. At ten P.M. we came to an anchor in the harbour, and were received by our Esquimaux, of whom several families were stationed here, as well as by the other inhabitants, with demonstrations of great joy. Both the heathen who kept on the right side of the great bay, and our own Christian Esquimaux, on the left, fired numberless shots to welcome us. Several boats were here from Kittinek and Nachvak bound to Okkak.

Kangertluksoak lies about sixty miles north of Okkak, is an agreeable place, and has a good strand, and safe anchorage.

30th. Being Sunday, the Missionaries went on shore, and visited all the Christian families, by whom they were received with the most lively expressions of affection and gratitude. Many strangers from the opposite coast had joined them, and they all seated themselves in a large circle on the grass.

Nikupsuk’s wife, Louisa, who had long ago forsaken the believers, was here, and said, with much apparent contrition, that she was unworthy to be numbered with them. She then seated herself at a little distance from the rest.

The number of the congregation, including our boat’s company, amounted to about fifty. Brother Kohlmeister first addressed them, by greeting them from their brethren at Okkak, and expressing our joy at finding them well in health, and our hopes, that they were all walking worthy of their Christian profession, as a good example to their heathen neighbours. Then the Litany was read, and a spirit of true devotion pervaded the whole assembly.

Our very hearts rejoiced in this place, which had but lately been a den of murderers, dedicated, as it were, by the angekoks, or sorcerers, to the service of the devil, to hear the cheerful voices of converted heathen, most melodiously sounding forth the praises of God, and giving glory to the name of Jesus their Redeemer. Peace, and cheerful countenances dwelt in the tents of the believing Esquimaux.

Our people had caught a large white-fish, and pressed us much to be their guests, which we should have accepted of with pleasure, but we thought it prudent to avail ourselves of the favourable wind and weather, to proceed. Instead, therefore, of dining with them, we presented to each tent a quart of pease, which is considered by the Esquimaux as a great luxury, and was received with unbounded thankfulness.

About noon we set sail, with a brisk wind at S.E. for Saeglek. The coast presents here, moderately high, barren mountains, without bays or islands. The wind becoming more violent, the rope, by which we kept the skin-boat in tow, suddenly snapt, and set her adrift. She was frequently hid from our view by the height of the waves, but we were in no apprehension about her, as these kind of boats are much safer in a high sea, than a European one.

At seven P.M. we arrived at Saeglek, and were saluted by the firing of muskets and bonfires on the hills. The Esquimaux have their dwellings on a small flat island, between two of larger size, but the strand is bad, and full of sharp shingles. There are about five or six winter-houses at Saeglek, containing each about two or three families.

July 1st. Early, two Esquimaux men, Joas and Uiverunna, came in their kayaks to pay us a visit. They, with their families, inhabited some tents we had seen yesterday. Brother Kohlmeister spoke seriously to them on the necessity of conversion, especially to Joas, who had Christian parents, and as a child, was baptized at Okkak. He reminded him of his having been devoted to Jesus from his birth; that he therefore ought not to belong to the unbelievers, but to Him who had created and redeemed him; and that the greatest of all the sins he now committed, was his persisting in his determination not to return. He seemed to listen with some humility to the loving and earnest reproof and exhortations of the Missionary, but at last excused himself by laying the blame upon his mother, who kept him back, adding, that he still intended to be converted.

Our people had meanwhile made a fire, and put the pot on to boil pease; but the wind changing, Jonathan determined immediately to proceed. The pease had just begun to swell, and as the two Esquimaux had presented us with some fresh meat, they had been asked to partake of our meal; but finding themselves thus disappointed, they fell to, and having greedily devoured a quantity of the half-boiled pease, and filled their gloves with the rest, they took leave, and set sail about 11, A.M.

Hearing from some Esquimaux who made towards us in their kayaks, that the Saeglek people were all on the north side of the island of Kikkertarsoak, we proceeded thither, and having doubled the point, saw seven tents full of people. Two of them contained families from Killinek. But the violence of the wind was such, that we could not stay in this unsheltered place with safety. We therefore worked our way, with the help of the Esquimaux, round another point, into a roadstead, rather more sheltered than the former, though open to the sea. A little tobacco is the reward expected and given for such assistance.

The beach is composed of numberless black pebbles, polished by the sea, and each about the size of an hen’s egg.

Brother Kohlmeister immediately landed, and visited the Esquimaux in their tents. Many heathen were at this place, to whom he preached the gospel, and invited them to believe in Jesus, as the Saviour of men, who would deliver them from the love, power, and curse of sin, having shed His blood, and died on the cross, to redeem their souls. He was heard with great attention. A venerable old man, with hair as white as wool, particularly attracted our notice. He called Brother Kohlmeister by name, took hold of both his hands, and begged him to sit down by him. Brother Kohlmeister inquired, whether he knew him. The old man replied: “Thou art Benjamin, often have I heard thy name at Okkak. I therefore rejoice to see thee.” He seemed quite at a loss, what way to express his affection; and at length delivered a strap of seals’-leather to Mr. Kohlmeister, with these words: “I am poor, and have nothing else to give thee, yet I wish to give thee some token of my love.” Brother Kohlmeister accepted of his present, and inwardly cried to the Lord, to show mercy to this poor ignorant heathen. “You are old,” said he, “and have not much more time to live in this world, will you not turn to that Jesus, who has died for your sins also? It is not His desire that you should perish, and be lost in everlasting darkness, but that you should live with Him in the place of light and immortal bliss.” The old man replied: “What shall I do? thy words are very pleasant, and I would fain hear much more of Jesus. I do not wish to be lost in the place of darkness.” Brother Kohlmeister answered, that if he sincerely wished to be saved, and was troubled on account of his sinful life he should believe in, and call on the name of Jesus, who would certainly hear and reveal Himself unto him. Many people were present in the tent, who behaved with great decency, and whom Brother Kohlmeister earnestly addressed on the necessity of conversion. He wished to prolong the conversation especially with the old man, who promised, that he would never forget the words spoken to him, but it was growing late, and we returned to our cabin. The poor old man having sore legs, some medicine was left for him.

The passage from Kangertluksoak to Saeglek is about twenty English miles. Saeglek is a considerable promontory, open to the south.


Departure from Saeglek. Fruitless attempt to reach Nachvak. Retreat into Nullatartok Inlet. Slate Bay. Detention on account of the Ice. Arrive at Nachvak.

JULY 2d.—AT one A.M. we set sail, steering for Nachvak, a distance of about thirty miles. Here a chain of mountains runs north and south, nearly parallel with the coast. The coast itself is of moderate height, but very steep, and not being defended by any island, the approach to it as a lee-shore, is very dangerous. It runs generally in a pretty strait line about forty miles, when a wide bay opens, in which lies, towards the north, an island called Karngalersiorvik, where there is said to be a good harbour for boats. The rocks, of which the mountains are composed, are of a white grey colour, streaked almost perpendicularly with veins of black stone, about two feet broad. The intermediate strata may be about eight times as broad. We had hoped to reach Nachvak in the morning, by continuing our course through the following night, though the wind was weak and variable, but in the evening we got into drift-ice: yet as the shoals were not close together, we worked our way through them; and stood on with the little wind we had at S.E.

3d. At dawn of day, and being still four miles distant from Nachvak, we perceived both in the open sea, and all along the shore, that our passage was completely occupied with floating ice, which drove towards us, and forced us back. We then endeavoured to find shelter in a bay bounded by high mountains, but found none, the wind driving the ice after us into it, and soon filling it. Jonathan frequently cried out with a plaintive voice: “Alas, alas, we shall soon be without a boat!” We now hastened to the opposite shore to find some cove or inlet, but getting more and more entangled among the ice, were at last obliged, some to land, and haul the boat with ropes round the points, and others with boat-hooks and spars, to keep her off the rocks. Two or three times she stuck fast on sunken rocks, but by God’s mercy always got off again without damage. At length we discovered three narrow inlets, the middlemost forming a bay, being the estuary of a river, which runs W.S.W. about eight or ten miles up the country, and is called Nullatartok. Into this we pushed, when shortly after our entrance, the ice entirely filled up the passage, and we were compelled to retreat to the uppermost part, choosing the shallowest possible spot to anchor in. The bay itself is about two miles in breadth, and only in the middle deep enough to admit the larger fields of drift ice to float into it. The strand is broad, and slopes off gently. It is covered with large tables of slate. The mountains on each side are high, and seem to consist of ferruginous slate, the lamina or plates of which are of such immense size, that they might serve for entire walls. Towards the sea, there exudes from these rocks, a yellowish white substance, which has a strong sulphureous smell. It was so powerful, that if a drop fell on a piece of tinned iron, it removed the tin in a few minutes.

The vallies in the neighbourhood were green and full of flowers.

Not far from the spot where we had pitched our tents, (which rested upon a carpet of potentilla aurea, in full bloom, bringing to our minds the European meadows, full of butter-cups), the river, which is of considerable breadth, falls into the bay. It abounds with fine salmon-trout. Farther to the westward, two other rivers flow into it, one of which is much broader than the other, and has a large cataract at some distance from its mouth. The upper parts of the mountains are covered partly with moss, and partly with low brush-wood, birch, and alder, and many berry-bearing shrubs and plants, but no high trees. We found here both arnica and colts-foot in great plenty. Brother Kohlmeister gathered and dried a quantity of each, as they are used in medical cases, and the former cannot be procured from England.

The slate is extremely shivery, and is found in slabs, either lying or standing upright from four to eight feet square, most easily splitting into thin plates. Ascending the mountain, they are soon dislodged, by the tread of a man’s foot, and glide down towards the beach with a rattling, tinkling noise. At low water, we noticed a bed of stone resembling cast iron, of a reddish hue, and polished by the friction of the water. After supping on salmon-trout, caught in the first-mentioned river, we retired to rest; but had some fears even here for the safety of our boat, the ice pushing in towards us, and our people being employed day and night in warding off the large shoals with their boat-hooks.

4th. The weather being fair, Brother Kmoch ascended to the top of the highest part of the mountain near us, from whence he could see nothing but drift-ice, powerfully in motion towards the bay. Four of our Esquimaux went up the country to hunt reindeer; saw eight head and two fawns; but got none.

Perceiving that our abode in this place might be of some duration, we for the first time pitched our tents on shore. Our morning and evening devotion was attended by the whole party; and on Sundays we read the Litany, and conducted the service in the usual way, which proved to us and our Esquimaux of great comfort and encouragement in all difficulties. We were detained here, by the ice, from the 3d to the 15th, and our faith and patience were frequently put to the trial. Meanwhile we found much pleasure in walking up the declivities of the hills, and into the fine green and flowery vallies around us.

5th. We went up the western extremity of the bay, but found nothing worth notice. Here the rocks appeared to be of a species of freestone.

6th. In the evening we met in Jonathan’s tent. Brother Kohlmeister addressed the company, and reminded them, that to-day the holy communion would be celebrated in our congregations, which we could not do in this place, under present circumstances. Then kneeling down, he offered up a fervent prayer, entreating the Lord not to forget us in this wilderness, but to give us to feel His all-reviving presence, and to feed our hungry and thirsty souls, out of the fulness of His grace. A comfortable sense of His love and peace filled all our hearts on this occasion.

In the evening, Paul began to read out of the Harmony of the four Evangelists, which we shall continue as often as circumstances will admit of it. Jonathan and Jonas generally conduct the daily morning and evening worship.

7th. We were so hard pressed by the ice driving towards us, that we were obliged in part to unload the boat, to be able to bring it into a safer situation in shallow water; and took our turns, three relieving three, to watch and guard off the larger shoals with boat-hooks, by day and night. We were glad to have reached a place, sheltered on all sides from the wind.

8th. Our people went out to look for reindeer, and no prospect of our proceeding to sea appearing, they resolved to stay out all night.

9th. Jonas returned and reported, that they had seen reindeer, but were not able to shoot any. Paul and Thukkekina went to-day to the western mountains, and staid over night.

10th. Brother Kmoch went to the westward to look for birds. He saw a large flight of sea-fowl, but they were extremely shy, and would not permit him to get near them. From the hills around us, we perceived that the entrance into the bay was completely blocked up with ice; and towards the sea, nothing but one continued field of ice appeared. We sighed and prayed to the Lord to help us in this time of need. Jonas went out in his kayak, and shot an ugsuk, not far from our tent. Towards evening, we saw a fire made by our reindeer-hunters, at the western extremity of the bay, and they fired their pieces to give us notice, that they had got some game, and that we should fetch it with the small boat.

Okkiksuk therefore went, and found them completely overcome with fatigue, having dragged their game, across the mountains for a considerable distance. The Esquimaux are indeed able to carry burdens up and down hill, under which most Europeans would sink, but when they kill a deer far inland, it is hard-earned food, by the trouble of carrying it home. Paul had shot two reindeer, of which we received a portion. Brother Kohlmeister had been on the other side of the bay, and returned with a large parcel of plants and flowers, the examination of which afforded him much amusement.

The Esquimaux now boiled a large kettle full of seal’s flesh, of which we were invited to partake. This we did, and thought it a very palatable mess, particularly as we had tasted no fresh meat since we had left the North Ikkerasak. The prejudice of the Europeans against seal’s flesh, consists mostly in imagination. The dirty kettle in which the Esquimaux boil it, is indeed not calculated to excite an appetite, but the meat, when eaten fresh, tastes much like beef; when cold, it acquires an oily taste; nor durst a person, not accustomed to it from his childhood, make a practice of eating it, as it is of a very heating nature, and would soon bring on serious disorders. It generally prevents sleep, if eaten at supper.

12th. The wind became West, and cleared the bay of the ice. Brother Kmoch and Jonathan went to the opposite shore and found winter-houses, one of which had been inhabited last winter; two others were in ruins. They climbed the highest eminence towards Nachvak, but saw nothing but drift-ice, covering the sea, with but few spots of open water, to the north.

13th. It blew hard from the West. David and Okkiksuk crossed the bay to explore the state of the ice from the hills. In the evening they returned with intelligence, that the sea was cleared of ice to the northward. David had caught a netsek, (a small species of seal), and we had taken a good draught of trout in the net before our tent.

14th. Jonathan roused us at four in the morning, the wind being in our favour, and we immediately made preparations to depart. After breakfast, as we were praying the Litany, a sudden storm arose. We were assembled in Jonathan’s tent, and the stones and pegs, with which it had been fastened down to the ground, being already removed, the tent-skins were soon blown about our heads by the violence of the wind, and we were now obliged patiently to wait till the storm abated. In the midst of our deliberations, accompanied with expressions of our disappointment, Thukkekina gravely observed, that we might very likely get away this summer, and need not be dismayed. Towards evening, it fell calm, and the musquitoes teazed us unmercifully. We supped on fresh salmon, filled our tents with smoke, to keep off our winged tormentors, shut ourselves in, and forgot our grievances and Thukkekina’s consolations in sound sleep.

15th. In the morning at three o’clock, we took a final leave of Nullatartok bay, and got under way with a favourable, though rather boisterous wind at S.W. having been detained here for twelve days by the ice. After about an hour’s sail, we were near the entrance of the inlet, when a sudden gust from the mountains carried away our after-top-mast, with sail and tackle. It fell with great noise on the deck, and into the sea. By God’s mercy no one was hurt, and we were more particularly thankful, that of the five children on board, none were just then on deck.

It once happened, that the main-yard fell down, and but narrowly missed striking two children, who with a third were sitting and playing together. They must inevitably have lost their lives, had it fallen upon them. We praised God for their preservation during the whole voyage. By the above-mentioned disaster, we were obliged to run into a small cove, where we repaired the mast with all speed, and proceeded with a gentle wind towards Nachvak, A calm ensued, and as there is no anchorage between Nullatartok and Nachvak, we rowed all night, and felt the advantage of the great length of days, at this season of the year.

16th. The view we had of the magnificent mountains of Nachvak, especially about sun-rise, afforded us and our Esquimaux great gratification. Their south-east extremity much resembles Saddle island near Okkak, being high, steep, and of singular shape. These mountains in general are not unlike those of Kaumayok for picturesque outline. In one place, tremendous precipices form a vast amphitheatre, surmounted by a ledge of green sod, which seemed to be the resort of an immense number of sea-gulls and other fowls, never interrupted by the intrusion of man. They flew with loud screams backwards and forwards over our heads, as if to warn off such unwelcome visitors. In another place, a narrow chasm opens into the mountain, widening into a lagoon, the surrounding rocks resembling the ruins of a large Gothic building, with the green ocean for its pavement, and the sky for its dome. The weather being fine, and the sun cheering us with his bright rays, after a cold and sleepless night, we seemed to acquire new vigour, by the contemplation of the grand features of nature around us. We now perceived some Esquimaux with a woman’s boat, in a small bay, preparing to steer for Nachvak. They fired their pieces, and called to us to join them, as they had discovered a stranded whale. Going on shore to survey the remains of this huge animal, we found it by no means a pleasant sight. It lay upon the rocks, occupying a space about thirty feet in diameter, but was much shattered, and in a decaying state. Our people, however, cut off a quantity of blubber from its lips. The greater part of the blubber of this fish was lost, as the Esquimaux had no means of conveying it to Okkak.

The Esquimaux stationed here showed great willingness to assist us; and as our party was much fatigued with rowing all night, they towed us into Nachvak, where we arrived about 2 P.M. Old Kayaluk and a young man, Parnguna, and his wife, were here. The latter called on Brother Kohlmeister, and thanked him for having saved her life. He had forgotten that he had once given her medicine at Okkak in a dangerous illness, but her gratitude was still unbounded.


Reception at Nachvak. Description of the bay. The Esquimaux manner of spearing salmon and trout. Christian deportment of the Okkak and Hopedale Esquimaux. Jonas’s address to the Heathen. Love of music general among these Indians. Departure from Nachvak. Danger in doubling the North Cape. Arrival at Sangmiyok bay.

JULY 16th.—AFTER two or three hours sleep in our cabin, we went on shore. The Esquimaux, who had here a temporary station, about fifty in number, received us with every mark of attention. Loud shouts of joy resounded from all quarters, and muskets were fired in every direction. They could scarcely wait with patience for our landing, and when we pitched our tent, were all eager to assist; thus we were soon at home among them. Seven tents were standing on the strand, and we found the people here differing much in their manners from the people at Saeglek. Their behaviour was modest and rather bashful, nor were we assailed by beggars and importunate intruders, as at the latter place, where beggary seemed quite the fashion, and proved very troublesome to us. But we had no instance of stealing. Thieves are considered by the Esquimaux in general with abhorrence, and with a thief no one is willing to trade. We have discovered, however, that that propensity is not altogether wanting in the northern Esquimaux, who, now and then, if they think that they can do it without detection, will make a little free with their neighbour’s property.

The Esquimaux not only gave us a most hearty welcome, but attended our morning and evening prayers with great silence and apparent devotion. Indeed, to our great surprise, they behaved altogether with uncommon decorum and regularity during our stay.

17th. Being detained with drift-ice at the mouth of the bay, we pitched our tent on shore. We examined the bay more minutely. It extends to the West to a considerable depth, and is not protected by any islands, except a few rocks, at some distance in the sea. The surrounding mountains are very high, steep, and barren, and verdure is found only in the vallies. Here the arnica montana, which the Missionaries have found of great use among the Esquimaux, grows in great abundance. Salmon-trout are caught in every creek and inlet.

Like the salmon, they remain in the rivers and fresh-water lakes during the winter, and return to the sea in spring. The Esquimaux about Okkak and Saeglek, catch them in winter under the ice by spearing. For this purpose, they make two holes in the ice, about eight inches in diameter, and six feet asunder, in a direction from north to south. The northern hole they screen from the sun, by a bank of snow about four feet in height, raised in a semicircle round its southern edge, and form another similar bank on the north-side of the southern hole, sloped in such a manner as to reflect the rays of the sun into it. The Esquimaux then lies down, with his face close to the northern aperture, beneath which the water is strongly illuminated by the sunbeams entering at the southern. In his left hand he holds a red string, with which he plays in the water, to allure the fish, and in his right a spear, ready to strike them as they approach. In this manner they soon take as many as they want.

The salmon-trout on this coast are from twelve to eighteen inches long, and in August and September so fat, that the Esquimaux collect from them a sufficient quantity of oil for their lamps. The immense abundance of these fish on all parts of the coast, would almost at any time save the Esquimaux from starving with hunger; but as seals furnish them both with food and clothing, it is of most consequence to them to attend to this branch of supply. At Hopedale and Nain, however, salmon-trout are caught only in the summer.

We were much pleased with the behaviour of our own Esquimaux, during their stay at Nachvak. In every respect they conducted themselves, in word and deed, as true Christian people. Their conversation with their heathen countrymen, was free and unreserved, and “to the use of edifying.” Jonathan and Jonas in particular, gave us great satisfaction.

The people having assembled in Jonathan’s tent, those who had no room in it, standing without and listening with great order and stillness, Brother Kohlmeister addressed them, explaining the aim of our voyage; that we were going, out of love to their nation, to the northern Esquimaux, and to those of Ungava bay, to make known to them the love of God our Saviour; and, by the gospel, to point out to them the way to obtain life everlasting. We knew that they were heathen, who, being ignorant of the way to God, were in bondage to the devil, and would be lost for ever, unless God had mercy upon them and sent them his word, to lead them to Jesus Christ their only Saviour, who shed His blood, and died on the cross to redeem their souls.

They received the discourses and exhortations of the Missionary with reverential attention, but those of their own countrymen, with still greater eagerness, and we hope not without benefit. Jonas once addressed them thus; “We were but lately as ignorant as you are now: we were long unable to understand the comfortable words of the gospel: we had neither ears to hear, nor hearts to receive them, till Jesus, by his power, opened our hearts and ears. Now we know what Jesus has done for us, and how great the happiness of those souls is, who come unto Him, love Him as their Saviour, and know, that they shall not be lost, when this life is past. Without this we live in constant fear of death. You will enjoy the same happiness, if you turn to and believe in Jesus. We are not surprised that you do not yet understand us. We were once like you, but now thank Jesus our Redeemer, with tears of joy, that He has revealed Himself unto us,” Thus, with cheerful countenances and great energy, did these Christian Esquimaux praise and glorify the name of Christ our Saviour, and declare, what he had done for their souls, exhorting the heathen likewise to believe.

The above address seemed to make a deep impression on the minds of all present. One of their leaders, or captains, exclaimed with great eagerness, in presence of them all: “I am determined to be converted to Jesus.” His name is Onalik. He afterwards called upon Brother Kohlmeister, and inquired, whether it was the same, to which of the three settlements he removed, as it was his firm determination to become a true believer. Brother Kohlmeister answered: “That it was indifferent where he lived, if he were only converted and became a child of God, and an heir of life eternal.” Another, named Tullugaksoak, made the same declaration, and added: “That he would no longer live among the heathen.”

Though the very fickle disposition of the heathen Esquimaux, might cause some doubts to arise in our minds, as to their putting these good resolutions into practice, yet we hope, that the seed of the word of God, sown in this place, may not have altogether fallen upon barren ground.

In the evening, our people met in Jonathan’s tent, and sang hymns. Almost all the inhabitants were present. They afterwards spent a long time in pleasant and edifying conversation. It may here be observed, that the Esquimaux delight in singing and music. As to national songs, they have nothing deserving of that name; and the various collectors of these precious morsels in our day, would find their labour lost in endeavouring to harmonize the incantations of their sorcerers and witches, which more resemble the howlings of wolves and growlings of bears, than any thing human. But though the hymn and psalm-tunes of the Brethren’s Church are mostly of antient construction, and, though rich in harmony, have no airy melodies to make them easily understood by unmusical ears, yet the Esquimaux soon learn to sing them correctly; and the voices of the women are remarkably sweet and well-tuned. Brother Kohlmeister having given one of the children a toy-flute, Paul took it, and immediately picked out the proper stops in playing several psalm-tunes upon it, as well as the imperfect state of the instrument would admit. Brother Kmoch having taken a violin with him, the same Esquimaux likewise took it up, and it was not long before he found out the manner of producing the different notes.

18th. At 8 A.M. Brother Kohlmeister having delivered a farewell-discourse to the Esquimaux, (during which they were much affected), we took leave of these goodnatured people, and set sail with a fair and strong West-wind, but met with much drift-ice at the entrance of the bay. It made less way than our boat, and the wind becoming more violent, we found ourselves in an unpleasant situation. After tacking all day, and a great part of the night, the ice preventing our proceeding, and the wind, our returning to our former station, we were obliged to make for the Eastern point of the bay, where we at length succeeded in gaining a small cove, and cast anchor.

Our situation was singular; the rocks rose in a semicircle around us, towering perpendicularly to an amazing height, like an immense wall.

After a few hours stay, two Nachvak Esquimaux joined us, and prevailed on Jonathan to return to the tents, but we had scarcely reached the centre of the bay, before the violence of the wind drove us out to sea, and we were compelled to push for the northern promontory, from which all the ice had now retreated. Under the mountains we found shelter from the wind, which had by this time risen to a storm. It was late, and as it appeared dangerous to remain here, we rowed towards the point, but there beheld, with terror, the raging of the sea and dashing of the waves against the rocks, the spray flying like clouds into the air, and returned into smooth water, where, however, we were long in finding a place to anchor in. The night was spent quietly under shelter of the high rocks. They form the base of mountains higher than the Kiglapeyd, rise perpendicularly, in some places impending, with fragments, apparently loose, hanging over their edge, and forming all kinds of grotesque figures.

19th. At sun-rise we still saw and heard the storm which threatened us with destruction, if we ventured to double the cape.

At nine the wind abated, and we set sail, got safe round the point, and glided, with a gentle wind, into a broad, shallow bay, called Sangmiyok, full both of hidden and visible rocks, in which we cast anchor about five P.M. While Brother Kmoch superintended the concerns of the kitchen, Brother Kohlmeister and Jonathan went on shore, and to the highest mountain on the promontory. From the top of this mountain they could plainly discern the four principal headlands between Cape Mugford and Cape Chudleigh. The former situated in latitude 58° N. the latter in 61°. Between these are four promontories, in a line from S.E. to N.W. The first is Uivak, at the entrance into Saeglek Bay, outside of which a small island lies, in form of a pyramid or sugar-loaf. Next follow the two forming Nachvak Bay, another Uivak to the south of Nennoktok, upon which we stood. The fourth is Kakkeviak, not far from Killinek, or Cape Chudleigh, in form of a tent, called in the charts Blackhead. Nennoktok is called False Blackhead.


Pass Cape Nennoktok. Visit the Esquimaux families at Kummaktorvik and Amitok. Description of an Esquimaux travelling bed. Mountains seen at Ungava. Netsek seal described. Greenland houses. Danger of being shipwrecked near Kakkeviak.

JULY 20th.—WE proceeded with little or no wind, and taking to our oars, doubled the great Cape of Nennoktok. Here a strong swell from the sea met us, and tossed our boat violently about, and, having no wind, it drove us nearer to the shore than was perfectly safe. We remained about an hour in this unpleasant situation, when a breeze sprung up, which carried us out to the open sea among islands. It now began to rain very hard, and the wind rose. While Brother Kmoch was assisting the people on deck, Brother Kohlmeister had enough to do below, to keep peace among the furniture of our cabin, and sometimes found himself defeated in his attempts, pots and pans, and boxes, and every thing that was not a fixture, tumbling upon him. Several of our people were in the skin-boat, and the fury of the wind and sea would not permit them to come to our assistance. The weather also became so thick and foggy between the islands, that we were unable to see to any distance. Jonathan was therefore glad to have been yesterday on shore, when from the mountain he discovered the situation of the promontory, the coast, and the islands before us, and now contrived to steer in the proper direction. We soon found ourselves in smoother water, and among islands, where a vast number of seals and birds made their appearance. At six in the evening we reached Kummaktorvik, and came to an anchor.

Having landed, Brother Kmoch shot a hare, close to the beach. These creatures are white in winter, and grey in summer, and in winter so numerous, that though, when roasted, they are excellent food, we were almost tired of them last year at Okkak.

The rain continuing during the whole of the night and forenoon of the 21st, we found it necessary by sufficient rest to strengthen ourselves for future watchfulness.

An Esquimaux travelling bed consists of a large bag of reindeer-skin, with the hair turned inward, covered with seal-skin, the hair turned outward. It is furnished with a broad flap to cover the mouth, and a strap to fasten down the flap. This bag comprehends the whole apparatus and furniture of an Esquimaux bed-room. Having undressed, the traveller creeps into it, and a kind neighbour having shut him up close by fastening the strap, he leaves him to sleep on till morning, when he helps him out again. In summer the flap is dispensed with. The invention, however, is of European origin, and a luxury introduced by the Missionaries; for an Esquimaux lies down in his clothes, without further preparation.

In the morning we landed, and had the usual Sunday’s service with our people on shore; after which Brother Kohlmeister visited the Esquimaux in their tents, and had some religious conversation with them, to which they seemed to pay attention. Afterwards Kuttaktok, John, Nukkapiak, and Kajulik, with their wives, came to see us on board. They are the winter inhabitants of this bay. John was baptized in infancy at Okkak, but afterwards left the settlement, and not only associates with the heathen Esquimaux, but has even been guilty of murder. All of them, however, come occasionally to Okkak. They had two tents about four miles from our landing place.

22d. The contrary wind forbidding our departure, Brother Kohlmeister, accompanied by Jonathan, Jonas, and Thukkekina, walked across the country to the N.W. bay, to return their visit. When they saw them coming at a distance, they fired their pieces, to direct them to the tents, and came joyfully to meet the Missionary and his party. Nothing could exceed the cordiality with which they received them. A kettle was immediately put on the fire to cook salmon-trout, and all were invited to partake, which was the more readily accepted, as the length of the walk had created an appetite, the keenness of which overcame all squeamishness. To do these good people justice, their kettle was rather cleaner than usual, the dogs having licked it well, and the fish were fresh and well dressed. To honour the Missionary, a box was placed for him to sit upon, and the fish were served up to each upon a flat stone instead of a plate. After dinner, Brother Kohlmeister, in acknowledgment for their civility, gave to each of the women two needles, and a small portion of tobacco to each man, with which they were highly delighted.

All of them being seated, a very lively and unreserved conversation took place concerning the only way of salvation, through Jesus Christ, and the necessity of conversion. With John and his mother Mary, Brother Kohlmeister spoke very seriously, and represented to them the danger of their state, as apostates from the faith; but they seem blinded by Satan, and determined to persist in their heathenish life. The Esquimaux now offered to convey the party across the bay in their skin-boat, which was accepted. Almost all of them accompanied the boat, and met with a very friendly reception from our boat’s company. In the evening, after some hymns had been sung by our people, Jonas addressed them and the heathen Esquimaux in a short, nervous discourse, on the blessedness of being reconciled unto God.

Kummaktorvik bay runs N.E. and S.W. and is defended by some islands from the sea. It is about four or five miles long, and surrounded by high mountains, with some pleasant plains at their foot, covered with verdure. It’s distance from Nachvak is about twelve miles. This chain of mountains, as will be hereafter mentioned, may be seen from Kangertlualuksoak, in Ungava Bay, which is a collateral proof, that the neck of land, terminated to the N. by Cape Chudleigh, is of no great width. Both the Nain and Okkak Esquimaux frequently penetrate far enough inland to find the rivers taking a westerly direction, consequently towards the Ungava country. They even now and then have reached the woods skirting the estuaries of George and South rivers.

23d. We set sail at sun-rise, but the wind being too high to suffer us to proceed with safety, we again anchored in a commodious harbour in Amitok island. Our people were here busily employed in repairing the damaged rigging and sails. Towards evening Jonas caught a seal, to the great gratification of our party. It was dressed immediately, and we joined them in their repast with a good appetite.

The Netsek is the only species of seal which remains during the winter under the ice. They form in it large caverns, in which they bring forth their young, two at a time, in March. More than one cavern belongs to one seal, that he may, if disturbed in the first, take shelter in the second. No other kind of seal is caught in winter by the Esquimaux.

24th. Brother Kmoch rose at two, and went on shore to examine the island more minutely. The morning was beautiful, and the sun rose with great splendour. Amitok lies N.W. from Kummaktorvik, is of an oblong shape, and stretches out pretty far towards the sea. The hills are of moderate height, the land is in many places flat, but in general destitute of grass. On the other side are some ruins of Greenland houses.

The Esquimaux have a tradition, that the Greenlanders came originally from Canada, and settled on the outermost islands of this coast, but never penetrated into the country, before they were driven eastward to Greenland. This report gains some credit, from the state in which the abovementioned ruins are found. They consist in remains of walls and graves, with a low stone enclosure round the tomb, covered with a slab of the same material. They have been discovered on islands near Nain, and though sparingly, all along the whole eastern coast, but we saw none in Ungava bay. The rocks on Amitok contain large masses of a crumbly, semi-transparent garnet, of a reddish hue. (From some specimens sent out, it rather appears to be a rose red quartz, or beryllite).

As it appeared as if we should be detained here, Brother Kmoch had made a fire, and was leisurely cooking a savoury mess of birds for breakfast, when Jonathan returned from the hills, with intelligence that the wind was abating in violence, and he therefore would proceed. The tent was struck, and all hurried on board: yet we had long to combat both an unfavourable wind and a strong current, which compelled us to double the East point of the island, and seek shelter among some small islands, steering for Niakungu point. From hence we got the first sight of Tikkerarsuk, (the Esquimaux name for a low point stretching from the continent into the sea), of the island Aulatzevik, and the high promontory of Kakkeviak. The whole country to the west of Niakungu is called Serliarutsit. It fell calm as we doubled the point, and we took to our oars, and came to an anchor in an open bay, south of Tikkerarsuk.

25th. At 6 P.M. we got under weigh with a fine S.E. wind, and made for the island of Aulatzevik, which is about the same size as an island of the same name, near Kiglapeyd. The passage between the island and the main is too shallow for an European boat like ours. The wind rising we sailed towards Kakkeviak at a great rate. To the right lay a chain of small islands called by the Esquimaux Pikkiulits, (the habitation of young eider-ducks). Having nearly doubled Kakkeviak cape, we perceived two tents on shore, which occasioned loud rejoicings on board. They belonged to Kumiganna of Saeglek, with his party, who being bound to Killinek, had promised to accompany us thither. The wind was very high, and the Cape encircled with numerous visible and invisible rocks, but there was a clear passage to the shore, keeping outside of the breakers. But whether from the violence of the wind, or from the eagerness with which our trusty captain wished soon to join his countrymen, he steered right through the midst of them, when suddenly the boat struck with great violence upon a sunken rock. The shock was so great, that all on board were thrown down, and every thing tumbled about. Poor Agnes, Jonas’s wife, got a severe wound in her head. We immediately took in all our sails, and after hard labour, succeeded in pushing the boat off the rock. On examination we found that all was safe, and thanked God, with hearts filled with humble acknowledgments of His mercy, for preserving us from danger and death. The boat had struck in such a manner, that the keel, which was new and strong, being constructed of one solid piece of timber, sustained the whole shock. Had she taken the rock with her bottom, she would most likely have bilged, or upset, and it is a great question, whether our lives, but particularly the lives of the little children, could have been saved, the sea running very high. The skin-boat was thrown right over the rocks on shore, by the violence of the surf.

Kumiganna soon came off in his kayak, and advised us to steer for the land right before us, where he thought we should find Uttakiyok; nor was there any safe anchorage in this place. We therefore took a young Esquimaux on board as pilot, and steered between the main land and the islands, for Oppernavik, twenty English miles off. Having left the skin-boat to follow us, we cut swiftly through the water, and soon reached the place of our destination.


Arrival at Oppernavik. Account of Uttakiyok. His perseverance in waiting for the arrival of the Missionaries. Islands and bays between Kakkeviak and Killinek. Danger in the ice at Ammitok. Want of fuel supplied by robbing old graves.

WHEN we arrived at Oppernavik, we found Uttakiyok, with his two wives and youngest brother, waiting to receive us. He and his family are from the Ungava bay, and had been upon the watch in this place during the whole spring. They welcomed us with shouts of joy, and firing of their pieces, and we had indeed the greatest reason to thank God, that he had sent us this man, to conduct us on our way to an unknown country, and through unfrequented seas.

For this service Uttakiyok was eminently qualified, and without such a steady, faithful guide, we should have been wandering in the most painful and dangerous uncertainty in the desert regions to the West of Cape Chudleigh, where, on a coast of 100 miles in length, we did not meet with a single inhabitant. He was so anxiously intent upon meeting us, that he had erected signals on all the heights surrounding his tent, to prevent our missing him. Among his countrymen he is much respected, on account of his superior sense, and skill in all Esquimaux arts, and possesses great influence among them.

Uttakiyok was one of the two Esquimaux, from whom, in the year 1800, we received the first distinct information respecting the Ungava country and its inhabitants, by which the desire, excited both at home and here in Labrador, to visit the northern Esquimaux, was greatly strengthened, and led to a resolution, if possible, to take early steps to accomplish this object, (See page 3).

Two years ago, he had been on a trading voyage to Okkak, from Killinek, where he then dwelt, and intended to return, in the summer following, to Ungava, his native country, but an illness, which befel his son, detained him. This intelligence was received at Okkak during last winter, when we sent him word, that as we purposed paying his countrymen a visit, we wished him to wait for us, that he might conduct us through the straits of Killinek. But having heard nothing further concerning him, we remained in uncertainty respecting his intentions. We were the more thankful to God, who had disposed the heart of this man cheerfully to accept of the commission, and wait to be our guide, an office which he performed with a degree of faithfulness and disinterested kindness, which claims our admiration and gratitude.

While we were here waiting for a favourable opportunity to pass the straits, which were yet filled with ice, he behaved in the kindest manner to us and our Esquimaux. Though a heathen, he regularly attended our morning and evening worship, and declared to Jonathan, that he also intended to be converted to Jesus, and if we would form a settlement in his country, would come and live with us, and was sure, that many of his countrymen would do the same.

Around his tent, a considerable extent of rock was covered with seal’s flesh, and in the hollows were pools of oil. Ten bags of blubber were standing ready for sale; and with a view to shew him our good-will, Brother Kohlmeister bartered with him for three of them, which were hid under the stones, to take them with us, if practicable, on our return.

26th. We put up our three tents; Uttakiyok’s people had three more. Wind N.W. We were now near the entrance into the Ikkerasak, (or straits), which separate the island of Killinek and two or three other large islands from the continent. They stretch to the N. to the distance of about 12 or 15 English miles, the outer one forming Cape Chudleigh. To the N.W. of the cape lie some other small islands, called by the Esquimaux Tutsaets, and N.N.E. of these, the great island Resolution, called Igloarsuk, on which, as we were informed, many Esquimaux reside. The Tutsaets were discernible from this place, but not the latter, which however, as the Esquimaux say, may be seen from the Tutsaets. We guessed at its situation, from the clouds hanging over it in the North quarter. The weather was, as might be expected on the northern coast of America, foggy, rainy, and cold, and our small stove, which we brought into the tent, was of great use to us during our stay in this place.

27th. Rain and wind violent, and prevented our proceeding. We caught some Pitsiolaks, (awks), and a brace of young puffins, which, with the addition of some salt meat, made excellent broth.

28th. The weather was fair, but the wind still blowing hard at N.W. Brother Kmoch went to Uttakiyok’s tent, and sitting down with him at the point of Oppernavik, and looking down the coast as far as Kakkeviak, got him to name all the bays, points, and islands, from Kakkeviak to Oppernavik, of which he made minutes. The distance between the two points or headlands may be guessed at, by the time of sailing with a strong leading wind, namely three hours and a half. Coming up from Kakkeviak, to the E. lie three islands, Kikkertorsoak, Imilialuk, rather less in view, and Nessetservik. Having passed these, there follows a chain of small, naked islands, not very high, stretching towards Killinek. To the W. near Kakkeviak lies Uglek; then a bay, Nulluk, and farther to the left another bay, Tellek, (right arm). The country along these bays is called Attanarsuk. Now follow the bay Ikkorliarsuk, the lower point of Tikkerarsuk, the bay Annivagtok, and Kakkeviak, a high promontory, (not to be confounded with the other Kakkeviak, where we struck on the rock. This promontory is only about four miles from Oppernavik to the S.E.). Then follow two small bays, Anniovariktok and Sangmiyok, then the promontory Ukkuliakartok, (meaning a headland between two bays), and the bay Tunnusuksoak. Next, the last point on the continent, forming the south entrance to the Ikkerasak. The abovementioned chain of barren islands is called by the Esquimaux Naviarutsit, and besides them some low rocks, Nuvurutsit. The island of Killinek is about nine miles long, and five broad, high, and forming the north side of the straits. Another Ikkerasak, (or strait), divides it from an island called Kikkertorsoak, (a common name for an island), of considerable height, but not so long as Killinek: one, or perhaps more islands follow, narrowing E. and W. and forming Cape Chudleigh.

To-day there was much ice both in the strait and at sea. We went to the nearest island, where Brother Kohlmeister took an observation, and found our situation to be 60° 16'.

30th. It blew a hard gale from the N.E., rained hard, and as the ice now began to enter our harbour, we were busily engaged in keeping it off the boat.

31st. Imagining to-day that the straits would be free from ice, we resolved to attempt to pass them, and set sail. But it soon became evident, that there was still plenty of ice in the neighbourhood, and the wind setting to the N.E. with fogs, we were obliged to return. Suspecting also that the easterly wind would again drive the ice into our former harbour at Oppernavik, we ran into a short pass, between that and a small island called Ammitok, where we anchored under shelter of the island. The sequel proved, that we had for once acted with sound judgment and foresight, for our former anchoring-ground was soon filled with ice; and during the night large flakes entered even into our present place of refuge.

August 1st. At day break we found ourselves completely surrounded by floating ice, a strong N.W. wind driving the large shoals from the W. side of the little pass in which we lay, with much force towards us, insomuch that our boat was in the greatest danger of being crushed to pieces by them. We were all day long hard at work with poles, boat-hooks, and hatchets, to ward off the larger shoals, but when the tide fell, they hung upon our cables and anchors, of which we had three out, closing in also on all sides of the boat, so that we were every moment in fearful expectation of her being carried away, and our anchors lost, which would have reduced us to the most distressing situation. Indeed we all cried to the Lord to help us in this dangerous situation, and not to suffer us to perish here, but by His almighty aid, to save us and our boat. With great and unremitting exertions we had laboured all day, from the morning early, till seven in the evening, when the Lord heard our prayers, and sent relief. We now succeeded in working the boat out of the ice, the rising of the tide having opened a passage through it, just as we were almost exhausted with fatigue. It also became quite calm, and we felt as if we had passed from death to life.

Having anchored again on the opposite side of the little pass or strait, we gave thanks to God, for the deliverance we had experienced through His mercy, in which our Esquimaux, young and old, most fervently joined.

During our stay at Oppernavik, our whole stock of fire-wood was expended, and we were obliged to purchase of our companions, what they had to spare. We likewise robbed some old Esquimaux graves of the wooden utensils, which it is the superstitious practice of the heathen to lay beside the corpses of their owners, with old tent-poles, &c. and thus obtained fuel sufficient for our cookery.

Wood will not decay by mere exposure to the air in Labrador, but wastes away gradually; and after forty or more years, the wood found at the graves is still fit for use.


Departure from Oppernavik. Pass the Ikkerasak of Killinek. Whirlpools. The coast takes a southerly direction. Meeting with Esquimaux from the Ungava country, who had never seen an European. Anchor at Omanek. High tides. Drift-wood. Double Cape Uibvaksoak. Distant view of Akpatok.

AUGUST 2d.—HAVING made all needful preparations for the voyage, a gentle but favourable wind, and occasional rowing, brought us, about nine in the morning, to the entrance of the much dreaded Ikkerasak. The weather was pleasant and warm, not a flake of ice was to be seen, and all our fear and anxiety had subsided. Our minds were attuned to praise and thanksgiving for the providential preservation we had experienced yesterday. We performed our morning devotions on deck, and all joined in a joyful hallelujah to God our Saviour, which was sweetly repeated by echoes among the mountains and precipices on either side. The scripture-text appointed in the Church of the United Brethren for this day being read, it seemed as if addressed particularly to us, separated as we felt ourselves, in these lonely regions, from the rest of the inhabitants of the earth: “See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no God with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal.” Deut. 32, 39. We rejoiced, that we were in the hands of a gracious and merciful God and Father, who would not forsake us, but deal with us according to his wonted mercy and favour.

The Ikkerasak, (or strait), is about ten miles in length; the land on each side high and rocky, and in some places precipitous, but there appeared no rocks in the strait itself. The water is deep and clear. Its mouth is wide, and soon after entering, a bay opens to the left, which by an inlet only just wide enough to admit a boat, communicates with a lagoon of considerable magnitude, in which lies an island on its western bank. Beyond this bay, the passage narrows and consequently the stream, always setting from N. to S. grows more rapid. Here the mountains on both sides rise to a great height. Having proceeded for two miles in a narrow channel, the strait opens again, but afterwards contracts to about 1000 yards across; immediately beyond which, the left coast turns to the south. As the tide ebbs regularly with the current from N. to S. along the whole coast of Labrador, the current through the strait is most violent during its fall, and less, when resisted by its influx on rising.

We were taught to expect much danger in passing certain eddies or whirlpools in the narrow parts of the straits, and were therefore continually upon the look-out for them. When we passed the first narrow channel, at 12 P.M. it being low water, no whirlpool was perceptible. Having sailed on for little more than half an hour, with wind and tide in our favour, we reached the second. Here, indeed, we discovered a whirlpool, but of no great magnitude at this state of the tide. Near the north-shore the water was, indeed, whirled round in the manner of a boiling cauldron of ten or twelve feet diameter, with considerable noise and much foam; but we passed without the smallest inconvenience, within thirty or forty feet of the outer circle. Our skin-boat, however, which we had in tow, with a man in it, was seized by the vortex, and received a rapid twist; but as the towing-rope did not break, she was immediately rescued from danger by the swiftness of our course, and the affair afforded us more diversion than anxiety. The motion of the water in these eddies is so great, that they never freeze in the severest winter. The ice being drawn towards them with great force, the largest shoals are carried under water, and thrown up again, broken into numerous fragments. The Ikkerasak is at that season utterly impassable for boats. The Killinek people inhabit an island to the right, after leaving the strait.

When we quitted the Ikkerasak, and entered the ocean on the western side of Cape Chudleigh, it seemed as if we were transported to a new world. Hitherto the coast to our left had always taken a northerly direction. It now turned to the S.S.W. and is low, with gently sloping hills, the sea being full of small islands, abounding in sea-fowl.

To the N. and N.W. we saw the open sea in Hudson’s Straits, which, compared to the turbulent Atlantic, seemed calm and peaceful. We sailed briskly amidst the islands, and overtook the inhabitants of Saeglek, whom we had seen at Kakkeviak, where they had got the start of us. The wind being favourable, we did not hail them, but kept on our course. We now saw with pleasure the Ungava country to the South before us, but had first to pass the low point of Uivarsuk, the bay of Arvavik, in which the people from Saeglek had their summer stations, and the mountain Omanek, of moderate height, and surrounded by many small islets, called by the Esquimaux Erngavinget, (bowels). We now discovered three skin-boats full of people standing towards us from the shore. They were inhabitants of Ungava, and welcomed our approach with loud shouts of joy and firing their pieces, which was answered by our party. They followed us to Omanek, a round island rising like a loaf among the rest, where they pitched their tents on shore.

Some of them had formerly dwelt in different places north of Okkak, and were known to the Missionaries in former times, the rest were perfect strangers. They declared their intention of coming over to the North of Okkak, to remain some time in that country, for the sake of trade. It has been mentioned, that some of the Ungava people have come to Okkak, and carry on a trade between their countrymen and that place. They are a kind of middle men, bring fox and bear-skins, and exchange them for European goods. These they carry back, and sell at a very advanced price in the Ungava country. They spend two years on such a trading voyage.

Brother Kohlmeister visited the people in their tents. They were about fifty in number, men, women, and children. He informed them, that nothing could induce the Missionaries to come into this country, but love to the poor heathen, and an ardent desire to make them acquainted with their Creator and Redeemer, that through Him they might attain to happiness in time and eternity. Some seemed to listen with great attention, but the greater part understood nothing of what was said. This, of course, did not surprise us, as most of them were quite ignorant heathen, who had never before seen an European. They, however, raised a shout of joy, when we informed them, that we would come and visit them in their own country. Many were not satisfied with viewing us on every side with marks of great astonishment, but came close up to us, and pawed us all over. At taking leave we presented them with a few trifles, which excited among them the greatest pleasure and thankfulness.

We recommend these heathen to the mercy of God, and pray, that the day may soon dawn, when the light of the saving gospel of Jesus may shine into their hearts.

3d. Several of them came on board, once more to see us, and, in their way, to express their regard and gratitude. They also got some useful articles from our people, in exchange for their goods. We now set sail, passed a point called Oglarvik, and the bay Takpangayok, and arrived at Tuktusiovik, (a place where reindeer are seen), where we cast anchor for the night. Already at Omanek we had discovered a great difference between the rise and fall of the tides there and about Killinek. In the latter place it rose to four fathoms, but here still higher. The country looked pleasant, with many berry-bearing plants and bushes. There was, likewise, plenty of drift-wood all along the coast; not the large Greenland timber, but small trees and roots, evidently carried out of the great rivers of the Ungava by the ice. We had, of course, fire-wood enough, without robbing the graves of their superstitious furniture. Our Esquimaux pitched their tent on shore, and we supped with them on a mess of seal’s flesh and eider-ducks. The musquitoes were extremely troublesome during our repast, after which we retired to sleep on board the boat.

4th. Wind fair. We passed numerous low rocks; a point, by name unknown to Uttakiyok; the bay Ikpigitok, two miles broad, and the cape called Uibvaksoak, the northern boundary of the great bay or gulf of Abloriak. This cape is surrounded by many bare and sunken rocks, which caused us to stand out pretty far to the westward. While we were off the point, we descried, at a very great distance to the N.W. a large island, called by the Esquimaux Akpatok. They say, that it encloses the whole bay or gulf towards the sea, and consists of high land: also, that it is connected with the western continent at low water by an isthmus. The north coast of this island appears to be the line laid down in maps and charts as the coast of America, to the south of Hudson’s Straits. But the district of Ungava is separated from the island by a large inland bay, extending southward to the 58° N.L. North of Akpatok, the Esquimaux speak of islands well peopled by their countrymen, who have never seen Europeans.

Having safely doubled the point or cape of Uibvaksoak, we came to an anchor near a small island to the south, where we spent the night.

5th. Calm weather, and proceeded gently. About 9 A.M. the wind turned against us, and we ran into a small bay, about five miles from our former anchoring-place. Here we found the Andromeda tetragona growing in tolerable quantity, on the banks of a lagoon of fresh water. The face of the country was unpleasant, with many steep rocks. On a precipice behind our tent we perceived nests of birds of prey. The naked rocks had singular shapes, and presented to the imagination the ruins of a destroyed town. In the vallies we saw many small lagoons, but little grass, and the excrements of geese. It was about full moon, and the tide rising here five or six fathom, occasioned the most strange alterations in the prospect towards the sea, which, being smooth and clear of rocks at high water, exhibited, after its fall, an archipelago of rugged islands and black flats.


Chain of black mountains. The Dragon’s dwelling. Changes occasioned by rise and fall of the tides, and dangers attending them. Uttakiyok’s superstitious customs. Singular effect of the tide in the bay of Ittimnekoktok. Arrive at Kangertlualuksoak bay and river. Its situation. Transactions there.

AUGUST 6th.—WE crossed the bay Abloriak, which is large and wide, with many small islands and rocks towards the sea, and high black mountains inland, called Torngaets. Uttakiyok, who was always very eager to make us attentive to every object and its name, shewed us here a wide and deep cavern, in shape like the gable end of an house, situated at the top of a precipice, in a black mountain, of a very horrid and dark appearance. This, he informed us, was the dwelling place of Torngak, the evil spirit. The scenery was, indeed, extremely wild and terrible, and the beforementioned prospect of the rocks and islands at low water gave to the whole country a most singularly gloomy character. Nor is this change, occasioned by the tide in the state of the sea, merely in appearance terrific, it is so in reality: for we never durst cast anchor in less than eight or nine fathoms water, lest at ebb-tide we should find ourselves aground, or even high and dry.

The cavern just spoken of, connected with the chain of black mountains in which it is situated, we called the Dragon’s dwelling, but had no time to examine the place, though it did not appear inaccessible. Whether Uttakiyok would have ventured to accompany us into it, is another question, for he was, with all his good sense, strongly attached to the superstitious notions and ceremonies of his countrymen. Thus, on passing dangerous places he always hung the claw of a raven to his breast, and carried the blown paunch of a seal upon a tent-pole fixed to one side of his boat. The latter is a common practice among the northern Esquimaux, and probably considered by them all as a very efficient charm.

We passed Sioralik, and many small and flat rocky islands: the bay Issorkitok, (a grassy place), a nameless headland; and the larger bay Nappartolik, (a woody country). The wood is said to commence at the interior point of this bay, and to continue throughout the whole of the Ungava country, which, as we afterwards discovered, extends to a considerable distance to the southward. Then follows Tunnuyalik, a point, or perhaps an island, on which lies a huge white stone, twenty or thirty feet high, by which it is distinguished from other similar headlands. A chain of low, flat islands, runs out into the sea to a considerable distance, and appearing at a distance as continued land, they are mistaken for a cape. Farther on is the bay Ittimnekoktok, where it grew dark before we found a suitable anchorage. The wind was high, and some of our company went on shore in the skin-boat, in order to pitch their tent, and spend the night.

7th. On rising, to our great surprise, we found ourselves left by the tide in a shallow pool of water, surrounded by rocky hills; nor could we at all discover the situation of our skin-boat, till after the water had begun to rise, and raised us above the banks of our watery dungeon, when, with great astonishment, not having been able to find it on the surface of the sea, and accidentally directing our eyes upwards, we saw it perched upon the top of a considerable eminence, and apparently on shore. We then landed, and ascending a rising ground, beheld with some terror, the wonderful changes occasioned by the tides. Our course was visible to the extent of two or three English miles, but the sea had left it, and we were obliged to remain in this dismal place, till about noon, before the water had risen sufficiently to carry us out. We now began to entertain fears, lest we might not always be able to find proper harbours, so as to avoid being left high and dry at low water; for having anchored in nine fathoms last night, we were left in one and a half this morning. Uttakiyok and Thukkekina were with us on shore. The eminence on which we stood was overgrown with vaccinia and other plants, and we saw among them marks of its being visited by hares. Near the summit was a spot, covered with red sand, which stained one’s fingers, and among it were fragments of a substance resembling cast iron. We seemed here to stand on a peninsula connected by an isthmus with another island, or with the continent; but probably at high water it may be a separate island.

As soon as the tide would permit, we set out, and proceeded towards a cape called Kattaktok, surrounded by small islands. Between the cape and our anchoring place, we passed, on the left, the following objects; Keglo, a broad deep bay; Katarusialik, a headland, probably of the continent; Ukkasiksalik, (meaning a place where soap stone is found), a peninsula; and to the right of the latter place, an island, Kikkertarsoak, which lies at the entrance of the Great Bay, or estuary of the great river Kangertlualuksoak. We sailed with a strong, but favourable wind, with some rain, between the peninsula and the island; and not trusting to the depth of the water at ebb-tide, sent two kayaks forward to sound. They soon brought us into a good harbour, where we cast anchor about half past five P.M.

Kangertlualuksoak river was the spot to which we had principally directed our views. It lies about 140 miles S.S.W. of Cape Chudleigh. By an observation at its mouth its latitude appeared to be 58° 57'. But we had no means of finding the longitude. At its entrance the bay runs rather S.S.E. for about ten or twelve English miles, then turns due S.E. for six or eight more, and after that S.W. At the second turn towards the S.E. there is the greatest quantity of wood, chiefly Larch, but of moderate size. We particularly noticed a fine slope facing the south, which appeared the most pleasant part of the bay, to which a vessel might approach and anchor with convenience, there being from 24 to 30 fathoms water. We also imagined that the entrance from the sea would be free from obstructions, as no islands are seen in that direction. Uttakiyok likewise declared, that there was no bar or sunken rocks near the mouth of the bay.

We found no inhabitants on our arrival, but on the 13th, a whole company of people from Killinek joined us.

Our transactions in the bay of Kangertlualuksoak, from the 7th, are here noticed more in detail.

August 8th. We landed, and went in search of our people, who had spent the night in tents on shore. Okkiksuk accompanied us to the top of a hill, overlooking the bay Ittimnekoktok, where we had anchored the day before. We saw it quite dry, and full of large fragments of rock. Turning towards the land, we discovered some wood at a distance. The weather being calm and warm, the musquitoes were excessively troublesome. The vallies here are overgrown with verdure, and the hills pretty well clothed with moss, and berry-bearing plants; but we could not continue our walk, on account of the musquitoes, which persecuted us unmercifully, and drove us back to our tents. All our men were out, two on that side on which we had landed, and the others having crossed the bay in their kayaks, were employed in hunting reindeer. Jonathan only remained at home. In the afternoon he accompanied us in the small boat, to a hill, situated to the South of our station, at about two miles distant, where we landed, and went up the country, but found nothing much worth notice. We observed, that round the headland near us, the water was very rough, with eddies and whirlpools, occasioned by the rising of the high tides. On returning to our little boat, we found it aground. We therefore gathered some drift-wood, of which there was plenty, and made a good fire, at which we sat down and regaled ourselves with some biscuit and beer. Having pushed the boat into the water, we set out, but owing to the violence of the current had hard work to get to the great boat, and did not arrive till dark. Jonas saluted us from on board, by firing off his piece in token of success, and we found that he had got two, and his companion three reindeer, and a small black bear. The carcases were left at the tents, where part was cooked, and a mess brought to us on board, which proved an agreeable repast after our fatigue. Jonas and his family spent the night on board, the rest of the Esquimaux in their tents on shore.

9th. Jonas having found a good harbour on the other side of the bay, and the current being here very strong, we sailed across and anchored there. The strand was even, and full of smooth rocks, above high water mark. The bottom of the bay is mud, and a slimy substance, covering all the stones and pebbles, left by the tide, makes walking very troublesome.

The land is not high, but pleasant, covered with moss, with many small ponds, and marks of being frequented by reindeer.

10th. We went farther up the bay in the skin-boat, with Jonathan, Uttakiyok, Thukkekina, Paul, David, and Okkiksuk. At a short distance from the place where we had landed yesterday, we came to a fine green terrace, overgrown with low shrubs and bushes, which delighted us much. From hence, a woody valley, extending to the left, seemed to invite us to take that course into the country, but we would not waste our time by examining it. On sailing farther up the bay, and turning round the abovementioned terrace, we came to a small inlet, dry at low water, on the left shore. Its banks were pleasantly covered with low bushes, interspersed with higher trees, and the place seemed to us very suitable for a settlement. From hence we perceived, at a short distance, on the opposite coast, a cape or headland, over which the tops of trees made their appearance. We sailed towards it, and found behind it a tract covered with low wood, chiefly larch and pine: on landing we saw the tracks of rein-deer, which had just left the spot. Jonathan, in an instant, ran like a young man for his gun, and with it into the wood. We followed him for two or three miles, but saw nothing but the track of the deer. The country inland seems in general level, with some low hills, and many ponds; without wood, but overgrown with rein-deer moss. No success attended our huntsman, and in the evening we met again in the boat. Brother Kmoch had kept up with Jonathan, and saw, among the bushes, the same kind of large partridge, or American wild pheasant, which is found about Okkak, but seems only to live in woods. It was a hen, with a covey of young birds, one of which which he caught, examined, and let go again, nor would he take or shoot the hen, out of compassion to the young brood.

Brother Kohlmeister had meanwhile gone farther up the bay, and thought he had discovered the entrance of the river, but no fresh water appearing, we must still have been a great way off its influx into the bay.

We now lighted a fire, boiled coffee, and cooked a dish of reindeer venison. The weather was warm, and the night fine and clear, but frosty. Having brought our travelling-beds with us on shore, (see page 34), we crept into them, and spent the night at the fire-side, the Esquimaux lying down anywhere about us. In the morning, the whole country was covered with hoar-frost, and the straw we had lain upon was frozen fast to the ground.


Further transactions in Kangertlualuksoak Bay. The Esquimaux women frightened by reports of Indians. Ceremony of taking possession of this new-explored country, as belonging to the King of England, and of naming the river George river. Leave the bay and proceed to Arvarvik. Whales caught by the Esquimaux in the shallows. Storm at Kernertut.

AUGUST 11th.—WE rose by break of day, and after breakfast, sailed across the bay, and landed at the second small inlet, with an intention of penetrating into the country, but the returning warmth of the weather by day, and the myriads of musquitoes we had to contend with, rendered us unable to execute our purpose.

The Missionaries and Jonathan ascended a hill, from which a great tract of country might be overlooked. It was full of wood, as far as the eye could reach. Near the inlet some places seemed boggy, or covered with grass. From hence a valley stretched into the country, with a small lake in it, about two or three miles distant. Berries were every where in abundance. The summits of the hills had no wood upon them, but much reindeer-moss.

On our return, being about a mile from our landing-place, we saw our skin-boat in the middle of the bay, and fired a gun as a signal for it to come to us. The Esquimaux had five rein-deer in the boat, which Uttakiyok had perceived on the opposite bank. He had followed them in his kayak, driven them into the water, and killed them there. When hard pressed, reindeer soon take to the water, and swim so well, that a four-oared boat can scarcely come up with them, but an Esquimaux, in his kayak will overtake them. They therefore, if possible, drive them into the water, being then sure of their game.

After dining on part of the venison, we returned to the great boat. On the passage, we thought we perceived at a considerable distance a black bear, and Uttakiyok, elated with his recent success, hoped to gain new laurels. He entered his kayak and proceeded as cautiously as possible along the shore, towards the spot, landed, climbed the hill, so as not to be observed, but when he had got just within gun-shot, perceived, that his bear was a black stone. This adventure furnished the company with merriment for the remainder of the voyage to the boat, which we reached about six P.M.

When we got on board the boat, we found that all the women had taken refuge in it, thinking that they had seen Indians onshore. The men therefore immediately landed, to take care of the forsaken tents. This was no doubt a false alarm, for we never discovered any traces of them during our stay. To the south of Hopedale the Indians and Esquimaux sometimes meet, but as the Hopedale Esquimaux seek to cultivate their friendship, quarrels and bloodshed seldom occur. In Ungava, however, though they often exchange tokens of friendship, they are apt to give way to their national jealousies; and provocations being aggravated, their meetings now and then terminate in murder. The Esquimaux are much afraid of the Indians, who are a more nimble and active race.

12th. Having finished reconnoitring the neighbourhood, and gathered all the information concerning it, which our means would permit, and likewise fixed upon the green slope or terrace above described, as the most suitable place for a settlement, on account of the abundance of wood in its neighbourhood, we made preparations to proceed. Uttakiyok, who had spent more than one winter in the Ungava country, assured us, that there was here an ample supply of provisions, both in summer and winter, which Jonathan also credited, from his own observation. The former likewise expressed himself convinced, that if we would form a settlement here, many Esquimaux would come to us from all parts. We ourselves were satisfied that Europeans might find the means of existence in this place, as it was accessible for ships, and had wood and water in plenty. As for Esquimaux, there appeared no want of those things upon which they live, the sea abounding with whitefish, seals, sea fowl, &c. and the land with reindeer, hares, bears, and other animals. The people from Killinek declared their intention of removing hither, if we would come and dwell among them, and are even now in the habit of visiting this place every summer. Our own company even expressed a wish to spend the winter here.

This being the day before our departure, we erected, on two opposite hills, at the entrance of the bay, high marks of stones, and on the declivity of a hill to the right, a board, into which we had cut an inscription, thus—

In front,   At the back.
Tablet front   Tablet back
Georgius III. Rex.
Unitatis Fratrum.
  Benjamin Kohlmeister,
George Kmoch,
Aug. 7, 1811.
The day of our arrival.

We raised and fixed this tablet with some solemnity, in presence of Uttakiyok and his family, as representatives of the people of Ungava, and of our own company, and hoisted the British flag alongside of it, while another was displayed at the same time in the boat. We explained the cause of this ceremony to all present, to the following effect—

“That we, on this day, raised this sign, in the name of our king, George III. the great monarch of all these territories, in testimony of our having explored it, and made choice of it, in case we or our Brethren should think proper to settle here. To which we called upon all present to bear witness.” We then proclaimed the name of the Kangertlualuksoak to be henceforth George River, upon which every man fired his piece three times, the vollies being answered from the boat.

The texts of scripture appointed for this day were then read, and we remarked how encouraging they were, as relating to the purpose, for which we visited these unknown regions:

From the rising of the sun, even to the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of Hosts! Mal. 11, 1.

At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and every tongue shall confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father! Philippians, 2, 10, 11.

After the ceremony was over, we distributed some pease, bread, and beer among the Esquimaux, which enabled them to make a splendid feast, and the day was spent in the most agreeable manner.

13th. We set sail, about six A.M. with a gentle breeze, which however soon fell away entirely, and obliged us to take to our oars. Near the mouth of the bay, we met several kayaks, coming towards us. They were Esquimaux from Killinek, who expressed regret at not having sooner heard of our being here; some came on board, and traded with our people. We presented them with a little tobacco, for which they were very thankful.

In order to get well out of the bay, we first steered North, and then passed to the S.W. between a peninsula Nauyat, lying to the left of the entrance, and seven small islands and rocks on the right, towards the island of Arvarvik, about six or seven miles distant, where we were obliged to cast anchor in an exposed situation, the wind having become contrary. There was a strong swell during the night, which violently agitated our boat.

Arvarvik is about five miles in circumference. It is covered with the bones of whales, which the Esquimaux catch here in their kayaks. The coast is surrounded by a great number of small low islands, with deep pools between them. Into these the whales stray at high water, and at the ebbing of the tide, are prevented finding their way back again. The Esquimaux then pursue and kill them with harpoons. In the island are ponds of fresh water, and some low hills, overgrown with moss. A great number of sea-fowl, and also reindeer, are found upon it.

On the shore we found great quantities of a red jasper, or iron-stone, the same which occurs throughout the coast, from Killinek to South river, not as a stratum, but in lumps, and generally below high water mark.

The Esquimaux who landed on the continent reported, that about two miles inland, there was much low wood.

14th. We left our unpleasant anchorage, and returned to a place where the skin-boat had lain during the night, as it was sheltered from the South wind, which had risen considerably.

15th. Our people went out to hunt reindeer, and returned in the evening with two. The wind shifted to the west, and blew with violence. We spent again an uneasy night.

16th. Brother Kmoch went on shore and returned with a parcel of stones for examination. We now began to feel some anxiety on account of the great loss of time we were suffering here by contrary winds.

17th. About eight o’clock we set sail, the wind having come round to the S.E. with a cloudy sky. We passed several nameless islands, at the distance of about a mile from the shore. In the afternoon, it began to rain hard, and after having sailed about twelve miles, we cast anchor near a long point of land, called Kernertut, by which we were sheltered from the wind, which had again turned to the South-west. The sky however was clear, and the beginning of the night pleasant, with beautiful appearances of the Aurora Borealis. Most of our people, and with them Uttakiyok, had gone in the skin-boat higher up the bay, but it was too shallow to admit of our following them. Only Jonas and his children, and the two boys Okkiksuk and Mammak, were left with us on board.

During the night the wind veered round to the N.E. and blew a gale, which increased in violence till day-break.

18th. The sea now rose to a tremendous height, such as we had never before experienced, and by the change of wind, we were exposed to the whole of its fury. The rain fell in torrents. We lay at three anchors, and the boat was tossed about terribly, the sea frequently breaking quite over her, insomuch that we expected every moment to be swallowed up in the abyss. With much difficulty we succeeded in lowering our after-mast. Jonathan and the rest of our company on shore, were obliged to be passive spectators of the dreadful scene, waiting the event in silent anguish. They quitted their tents, and came forward to some eminences near the beach, where, by lifting up their hands, and other gestures, they expressed terror, bordering on despair. Frequently the boat was hid from their view by the waves, which ran mountains high. They expected every moment that we should break loose from our anchors, and the boat be driven on the rocks. The length of our cables was here of the greatest advantage to us. About noon, the rope by which the small boat was fastened, broke. She was immediately carried up the bay, and thrown, by the violence of the surf, on the top of a rock, where she stuck fast, keel upwards. It was impossible to render us any assistance, till the tide turned, when the raging of the sea, and the wind, began to abate. As soon as it was practicable, Jonathan and the other men came to us in the skin-boat. He seemed quite overcome with joy, and, not able to utter a word, held out his hand, and shed tears of gratitude that he met us again alive, for he had given us up for lost.

We now endeavoured to bring the great boat closer to the shore, landed, pitched our tent, and gave thanks to God for the merciful deliverance we had just experienced. Indeed all our people most fervently joined in praise to Him for the preservation of our lives. A warm dinner was soon prepared, by which we were much refreshed.

As soon as the tide had ebbed sufficiently for it, our people went to the rock, on which the small boat lay, and got her into the water. To our great surprize we found, that she had received no material injury.


Doubts expressed by Jonathan and the other Esquimaux on the expediency of continuing the voyage. Consultations. Resolve to proceed. Thunder-storm at Pitsiolak. Account of Indians. Esquimaux cookery and hunting feasts. Arrival in the river Koksoak.

JONATHAN and Jonas now became more and more anxious about our situation. They represented to us, that, if we attempted to proceed farther, we might probably be compelled to remain here the whole winter, as the stormy season was fast approaching. They added, that to them, it would be of little consequence, but that they were concerned on our account.

Though we had not said any thing as yet that might tend to shake the confidence of our party, yet we felt no small degree of perplexity concerning present appearances. During the six days since we left George’s River, we had made little more than fourteen or fifteen miles, and were at least, as far as we could judge, seventy or eighty from the river Koksoak, which we had fixed upon as the final object of the voyage, being the outermost western boundary of the Ungava country. Insurmountable difficulties seemed now to present themselves, owing partly to contrary winds and cold weather, and partly to loss of time, for we had been already two months on the voyage, and had not yet obtained our aim: so that our return might be unseasonably late, if we proceeded. We could not possibly make up our minds to spend the winter here, as we had not a sufficient supply of provisions, and knew what distress it would occasion to our Brethren at Okkak.

We felt quite at a loss what to do in this dilemma, and our path seemed enveloped in obscurity. We remembered, that “to the upright there ariseth a light in the darkness,” (Ps. 112, 4): that is, to them who fear and trust in the Lord, and sincerely desire to know and do His will, He will reveal it. In His name we had entered upon this voyage, the only ultimate object of which was, the conversion of a benighted, neglected nation, in one of the remotest corners of the earth. We were, therefore, sure that He would not forsake us, nor leave us in uncertainty as to His will concerning us, but that He, “whose eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards Him,” (2 Chron. 16, 9.) was, even in this desolate region, present with us, and would hear and answer our prayers. Many comfortable texts of scripture occurred to our minds on this occasion, filling us with an extraordinary degree of faith and confidence in Him, particularly such as, “He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when He shall hear it, He will answer thee,” Isa. 30, 19. Also, Dan. 10, 19; Jer. 16, 21; Isa. 43, 2, &c. The mercies, also, which we had already experienced, excited within us a sense of the deepest gratitude and most firm trust; and we therefore told our people, that we indeed participated in their concern, would take the subject into serious consideration, and acquaint them with our determination on the morrow.

19th. In the morning we met in our tent, where we were safe from the intrusion of the Esquimaux, to confer together upon this most important subject. We weighed all the circumstances connected with it, maturely and impartially, as in the presence of God, and, not being able to come to any decision, where reasons for and against the question seemed to hold such an even balance, we determined to commit our case to Him, who has promised, that “if two of His people shall agree on earth, as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them,” (Matth. 18, 19.) and, kneeling down, entreated Him to hear our prayers and supplications in this our distressed and embarrassing situation, and to make known to us His will concerning our future proceedings, whether we should persevere in fulfilling the whole aim of our voyage, or, prevented by circumstances, give up a part, and return home from this place.

The peace of God which filled our hearts on this memorable occasion, and the strong conviction wrought in us both, that we should persevere, in His name, to fulfil the whole of our commission, relying without fear on His help and preservation, no words can describe; but those who believe in the fulfilment of the gracious promises of Jesus, given to His poor followers and disciples, will understand us, when we declare, that we were assured, that it was the will of God our Saviour, that we should not now return and leave our work unfinished, but proceed to the end of our proposed voyage. Each of us communicated to his brother the conviction of his heart, all fears and doubts vanished, and we were filled anew with courage and willingness to act in obedience to it, in the strength of the Lord. O that all men knew the comfort and happiness of a mind devoted unto, and firmly trusting in God in all things!

When we made known our determination to Jonathan and his son Jonas, and told them, that we had maturely considered the subject committed by them to us, and that, in answer to our prayers, the Lord had convinced us, that, not having obtained the aim of our voyage, we should proceed, Jonas, at first, seemed not quite satisfied, but our excellent captain, Jonathan, without hesitation replied: “Yes, that is also my conviction! We will go whither Jesus directs us. He will bring us safe to our journey’s end, and safe home again.” We were, indeed, glad and thankful that the Lord had inclined the heart of this man, who but yesterday seemed to be quite dispirited, to take this resolution, for much depended upon him, and the rest followed him without difficulty. Indeed they all submitted to our determination with a willing mind, and their expressions of resignation affected us much.

During the day, the men had been out a-hunting, when Uttakiyok killed three reindeer, which occasioned great rejoicing, and helped to make our people forget the frightful scenes of yesterday. The country is full of black looking rocks, between which reindeer-moss and berries grow in plenty. The shore exhibited still many marks of the violence of the storm.

20th. We proceeded with a favourable wind at N.E. Our course lay S.W. across a broad bay, then, after doubling a point, across another bay of about the same breadth, to an island Allukpaluk, which we passed on the right, and on the left, another island, Nipkotok. At a considerable distance a-head lay the islands Pitsiolak, opposite a headland of the continent called Tuktutok.

The sky had been from the morning cloudy, the wind became unfavourable and violent, and about noon heavy rain came on. Not being well able to proceed, on account of the violence of the wind, we cast anchor on the west side of Pitsiolak, about 2 P.M. but perceiving a thunderstorm rising from the western horizon, with very black clouds, threatening to drive us on shore if we remained at this anchorage, we weighed as quickly as possible, and endeavoured to get to the other side of the island.

Meanwhile a most tremendous storm of thunder, lightning, and rain overtook us. The claps of thunder followed the flashes without interval, and the lightning seemed to strike into the water close to our boat, while the wind carried the spray into the air like smoke. Providentially we had doubled the northern point before the worst came on, and got to an anchor under shelter of the land. The storm passed by swiftly, it grew calm, the sun broke out, and the weather became uncommonly fine with us, though at a distance we saw the black clouds, and heard the hollow murmuring of the thunder for a long time.

We now expected to have a comfortable night’s rest, but it grew intensely cold, and again began to blow violently from the west. The strong current and heavy swell brought us into some danger, and the poor people, who were obliged to remain on deck all night, suffered much from cold and wet. When the tide was full, about midnight, the island we had seen to the west nearly vanished, the greater part being covered with water.

21st. In the morning we again saw the skin-boat lying upon a pretty high rock, and a tent pitched close to it. The weather was calm, but the wind contrary. Our Esquimaux made good use of this respite to refresh themselves after the fatigues of the night with a hearty meal and a sound nap.

In the afternoon we landed. The island Pitsiolak, which forms two at high water, is low and flat, overgrown with Empetrum and Rubus Chamœmorus, (Akpik-berries). Quantities of driftwood float about the shores. The jasper occurred here again. This island may be about four or five miles long, and, at low water, is connected with other islands to the north. By the help of our glasses we could perceive woods on the continent, and the Esquimaux thought they discovered the smoke of Indian fires. They are much afraid of meeting these people. Bloody encounters occasionally occur between them. The Indians come from the interior, and from Hudson’s Bay, and are frequently seen near the two principal rivers, George river and South river, towards which we were going; but we met with none. Brother Kohlmeister rather wished for it, as some of them are said to understand English, and he was desirous of endeavouring to bring them to a more peaceable disposition towards the Esquimaux, by friendly conversation.

22d. We found the skin-boat a great hindrance to us. Without being obliged to take that in tow, we might have kept at a greater distance from the shore, which would have enabled us to get on more rapidly, and with greater safety. On shore we found a great quantity of cubical pyrites in a grey matrix. The Esquimaux are attentive to this mineral, and have before now brought it to Okkak.

23d. We proceeded at 6 A.M. and steered for the island of Saeglorsoak. The islands called Nocharutsit lay on our left. They are a group of numerous small islands, many of which are overflowed at high water, extending W. and E. towards the entrance of South river. Between these islands and Akpatok, the sea is said to be clear of rocks, and the water of sufficient depth for any ship entering from Hudson’s Straits, and bound to the Koksoak, or South river; but no ship durst, in our opinion, venture to approach the coast of Ungava within twenty or thirty miles.

In the afternoon, the tide turning against us, and the wind unfavourable, we were obliged to come to an anchor among the islands. We had left the skin-boat behind, with Thukkekina, Uttakiyok’s brother Annoray, and one of his wives, to whom he had given his baggage in charge. The Esquimaux wives are very punctilious, the first always maintains the highest dignity, regulates the housekeeping, distributes the provisions, and directs everything, as mistress of the family.

Jonas went out in his kayak, and shot a seal. We saw many, and fired at them, but got none. Whitefish were likewise seen at a distance. Uttakiyok and David were out in their kayaks, and joined us in the evening loaded with geese.

On the turn of the tide we proceeded, and at ten P.M. cast anchor among the Nocharutsits, under a pretty high island, about three or four miles in circumference. All our people remained on board during the night, which was calm and pleasant.

24th. David roused us about five o’clock, by firing at a seal, which he killed. The women went on shore to cook it with some geese. When they returned, we all breakfasted on the contents of their pot.

The Esquimaux want no books of cookery to manage their kitchen affairs. The meat is boiled with the blood in it, and the addition of some water. When it is sufficiently done, that is, according the Ungava custom, when half warm, the women take it out of the pot, and serve it up on a piece of stone, if on shore, and on a piece of board, if at sea. Then the person, who has caught the seal or game, proclaims with great vociferation, that the men may come and sit down to eat. Such exertion of voice, however, seems hardly necessary, as the Esquimaux are very acute at hearing, when they are invited to dinner. When the men have done, the women sit down, having taken good care, beforehand, that their share is secured. The Esquimaux customs never permit men and women to sit down together at a meal.

It sometimes happens among the heathen Esquimaux, that several having had good success, one huntsman’s feast is hardly over, before another proclaims the invitation to his banquet. This is never suffered to pass unnoticed, while the power of cramming down another morsel remains. Thus they will continue eating, till they are scarcely able to breathe, and then lie down to sleep off the effects of their gluttony. Indeed their excessive voraciousness on such occasions produces, especially after long fasting, all the symptoms of drunkenness. They forget, under its sensual influence, all moderation, and abandon themselves to the most disgusting abominations.

In the afternoon we steered W. by N. (wind N.E.), for the cape of Kernerauyak, at the east side of the entrance of the river Koksoak, (Sand river). Before we arrived at the cape, we left some islands to the South, the largest of which is again called Kikkertarsoak. Saeglorsoak, is a large flat island, about eight or ten miles long, and its neighbourhood very dangerous, on account of many sunken rocks. The continent hereabouts is well wooded, and Indians are said to be frequently seen in the interior. The mouth of the Koksoak is seven or eight English miles broad: its shores steep, but the rocks in general low, and covered with moss. The Esquimaux say, that in the middle there is water enough for any large ship, though the tides prevent any near approach to the land. At sunset we came to an anchor at the mouth of the river.


Sail up the river Koksoak. Transactions in that region. Dangerous eddy. Meet Esquimaux. Address to them. Their joy and eagerness to have Missionaries, resident among them. Find a suitable situation for a settlement. Description of the country.

AUGUST 25th.—THIS was the joyful day on which at last we saw our hopes realized, and the principal aim of our journey obtained. The sun rose beautifully, and announced a delightful day. We were obliged to wait till seven A.M. for the turn of the tide, before we could proceed up the river. The estuary of the Koksoak lies, according to an observation taken, in 58° 36' N. latitude, nearly the same as Okkak. To the west the country is called by the Esquimaux Assokak, the coast turning again W.N.W. This river, therefore, seems to be at the most southern point of the coast, George’s river entering the sea at 58° 52', consequently more North.

The Koksoak appeared to us to be about as broad as the Thames at Gravesend, or the Elbe near Hamburg, and the whole river, with its various windings, much resembles the Thames for twenty-four miles upwards. Its depth is sufficient for a ship thus far. Its general direction is from the South. We reckoned it to be about 600 or 700 miles from Okkak, and Killinek or Cape Chudleigh half way.

Having proceeded five or six miles up the river, we came to a small island, which we left on our right.

We saw several sacks of blubber, a sledge, and some other, articles lying on the beach, and Jonathan and Brother Kmoch went in the small boat to discover the proprietors, but found nobody there, to guard the goods.

A little farther on is a point of land running out into nearly the middle of the stream. The current sets very rapidly round it, so as to form a dangerous eddy. Our boat was seized, and twice turned quite round; the small boat was whirled about several times, as she pushed through it. The women on board our boat, on seeing this, set up a loud scream; but Jonathan only laughed at their fears, and we afterwards saw kayaks passing the eddy in perfect safety.

Having doubled the point, we perceived several kayaks approaching. The people in them shouted aloud for joy, exclaiming, Innuit, Innuit! Men, Men! Some guns were also fired in the boat, which were soon answered by some fowling-pieces from the shore.

We now saw three tents pitched on the bank, and hoisted our colours, when we were incessantly hailed by the inhabitants. There was a general cry of Kuvè, Kuvè, Kablunaet, Kablunaet! Europeans, Europeans! from the men in the kayaks, who, by all manner of gesticulations, expressed their pleasure, brandishing their pautiks, (oars), and shouting continually as they rowed alongside the boat. The women on shore answered with loud acclamations.

About one P.M. we cast anchor close to their habitations. Fourteen families were here, among whom were some from a distant district, called Eivektok. These had pitched their tents farther up the river. Arnauyak was with them, a man, with whom Brother Kohlmeister had become acquainted some years ago, exceedingly regretted, that he had but a few days ago left the place, to hunt reindeer on George’s river. The children expressed their joy by running to and fro on the strand, like wild creatures.

At first, the people in the tents appeared rather shy, but after accepting of some trifling presents, they became quite communicative, and gave us some of their toys in exchange; then walking round us, surveyed us narrowly, as if we were a new species of animals. Most of them had never before seen an European. Uttakiyok’s brother had joined them, and already informed them of our arrival, without which they would probably have been yet more alarmed at seeing strangers, and hearing the report of fire-arms.

They now invited all our people to dine with them, and having heard that Brother Kohlmeister would like to taste the flesh of a whitefish, a kettle was immediately placed on the fire, and a large piece put in to boil. Brother Kmoch meanwhile cooked a savoury soup of birds, and reindeer-flesh, more fit for an European stomach. While dinner was preparing, Brother Kohlmeister took a walk up the bank of the river, and across some hills. As the families belonging to Eivektok had their summer dwelling in that neighbourhood, the Esquimaux, on perceiving that he had walked in that direction, and fearing that the Eivektok people, seeing him alone, might mistake him for an Indian, and shoot at him, dispatched two men to bring him back. They missed him, and he returned before them. He found our people very pleasantly conversing with the heathen concerning the aim of our journey, and the way of salvation. Even Uttakiyok was thus engaged, explaining, as well as he could, the cause of our living in Labrador: he exclaimed, “let us, my friends, all be converted to Jesus.” He was heard with peculiar attention, being considered as a captain among them. In the evening we sang hymns in Jonathan’s tent. The people all came and listened with much seriousness.

26th. To-day the Eivektok families came in a skin-boat down the river, to see us. They were full of astonishment, but soon took courage, and handled us, to discover whether we were made of the same materials with themselves. An old man, Netsiak, addressed Brother Kohlmeister: “Are you Benjamin? I have never seen you with my eyes, but at Eivektok have heard your name often mentioned.” He seemed to be a sensible man, and a captain among his tribe.

We could not help remarking the difference between these Esquimaux and their countrymen living on the same coasts with our settlements. The former are very poor, and miserably equipped, whereas the latter, by their intercourse with us and other Europeans, have acquired many conveniences, and are, by barter, well provided with what they want.

27th. We proceeded farther up the river, accompanied by most of the men, and some women, in their skin-boat, and arrived at a bay, which, by the winding of the stream, appears like a lake, surrounded on all sides with gently rising grounds, well planted with wood of moderate size, chiefly larch. Behind the wood are some low hills. We named this place Unity’s Bay. There is here a very good place for a Missionary settlement. A fine slope extends for about half an English mile, bounded on each extremity by a hill, on each of which we erected high signals. The land is even and dry. Juniper, currants, and other berries, grow here in abundance, and rivulets run out of the wood at a distance of a few hundred paces from each other. The slope faces the S.S.E. and we named it Pilgerruh, (Pilgrim’s rest). Brother Kohlmeister made drawings of the situation.

From our first arrival we had improved every opportunity of making the Esquimaux acquainted with the chief aim of our visit to this country, and addressed them both singly and in companies. Nor were Jonathan and Jonas remiss in conversing with them about the concerns of their immortal souls, declaring to them the love of God our Saviour towards them. We once met with Sybilla, Jonathan’s wife, seated with a company of women, under the shadow of a skin-boat, set on edge, exhorting them, with great simplicity and fervour, to hear and believe the gospel.

28th. Brother Kmoch landed with Jonathan, and spent some hours in examining the banks of the river. On ascending the first eminence, the view of the interior is in general flat, with a few low hills, and ponds in some places, full of wild geese. The timber in the woods hereabouts is not large: we found none fit for masts. The largest trees were not more than eight inches in diameter, and fifteen or twenty feet high. They are chiefly larch and pines. In some places we found them burnt or withered, and were informed by the Esquimaux, that it was the effect of the Indian’s fires. Indeed we saw several places where the Indians had put up huts, and left sufficient vestiges of their abode. Berries grow everywhere, and between the river and the wood, the plain is chiefly covered with willows, high grass growing between them, but these and the various shrubs are so low, that a man can easily look over them. In all directions we saw the tracks of reindeer, and there is every appearance of its being a place much frequented by these animals. Deeper in the wood, we found great quantities of sorrel and other European plants. The woods appeared very thick, and extended as far as the eye could reach, often coming down to the edge of the river. The Esquimaux say, that higher up, large timber is found. On our return to the skin-boat we found ourselves pretty much fatigued, and ready to partake of a supper, cooked by the Esquimaux, consisting of ship’s biscuit, dried fish, and raw whitefish blubber. The Esquimaux prevailed upon Brother Kmoch to taste the latter, and he reported, that having once overcome his aversion to it, its taste was sweet, like the kernel of a nut, but heated his stomach like a hot posset.

29th. Changeable and rainy weather prevented us from going out much.

30th. Our people, and with them the strange Esquimaux, met for public worship. Brother Kohlmeister once more explained to them our intention in coming thus far to visit them. He addressed them to the following effect: “That already, many years ago, many excellent people in the country beyond the great ocean, had thought of them with much love, and felt desirous that the inhabitants of the Ungava country also might hear the comfortable word of God, and be instructed in it: for they had heard that the Esquimaux here were heathen, who, through ignorance, served the Torngak, or evil spirit, and were led by him into the commission of all manner of sin, that they might hereafter be lost, and go to the place of eternal darkness and misery. Out of love, therefore,” continued the missionary, “they have sent us to you, and out of love we have come to you, to tell you how you may be saved, and become happy, peaceful children of God, being delivered from the fear of death, which is now upon you all, and have the prospect of everlasting joy and peace hereafter, even by receiving the gospel, and turning to Jesus, who is the only Creator and Saviour of all men. He died for your sins, for our sins, and for the sins of all mankind, as our surety, suffering the punishment we deserved, that you, by receiving Him, and believing on Him, might be saved, and not go to the place of eternal darkness and pain, but to the place of bliss and eternal rest. You cannot yet understand these comfortable words of the gospel, but if it is your sincere wish to know the truth of them, Jesus will open your ears and hearts, to hear and understand them. These my companions were as ignorant as you, but they now thank God, that they know Jesus as their Saviour, and are assured that through His death they shall inherit everlasting life.”

During this address all were silent and very attentive. Some exclaimed: “O we desire to hear more about it!” Old Netsiak, from Eivektok, said: “I am indeed old, but if you come to live here, I will certainly remove hither also; and live with you and be converted.”

When we put the question to them, whether they were willing, that we should come and dwell with them, and instruct them, they all answered with a loud and cheerful voice. “Kaititse tok, Kaititse tok! O do come soon, and live with us, we will all gladly be converted, and live with you.” Jonathan and Jonas also bore ample testimony to the truth of what we had spoken, and their words seemed to make a deep impression on all their countrymen. Uttakiyok was above others eager to express his wish that we might soon make a settlement in the Ungava country. Five of the fourteen families who mean to reside here next winter, are from Eivektok.

Farther inland, the river Koksoak widens considerably, but consequently grows more shallow. The country is pleasant, with wood, grassy plains, and gentle hills.

31st. Having finished all our observations here, we dropped down the stream to the place, where we had discovered the first tents.

In descending, as well as ascending the river, we saw a great number of whitefish, and many seals. Reindeer are numerous on both shores, both in summer and winter. All the Esquimaux declared, that this was the best provision-place in the whole country, and they consequently flock to it from all parts every summer, frequently protracting their stay during the winter. The greater number of those we found here, purposed spending next winter in this neighbourhood. The Esquimaux are prevented from making this place their constant residence by their fear of the land-Indians, which cause them to quit it sooner than they otherwise would wish to do.

We spared no pains to collect all the information we possibly could obtain, on every subject relating to this situation, both as to itself, and in reference to the possibility of approaching it with a ship, as likewise respecting the inhabitants of the Ungava country in general. It appeared evident, that the place above described is the most eligible for forming a missionary-settlement.

We found it unnecessary to proceed to the Westward, by the account given us by our worthy conductor Uttakiyok, whose information hitherto we had always found correct, and confidently to be relied on.

He reported: 1. That farther West no wood is to be found on the coast.

2. That besides the two rivers Kangertlualuksoak and Koksoak, they knew of no place where a ship might with safety approach the land.

3. That at this time we should probably find no inhabitants, as they had all gone into the interior to hunt reindeer.

We therefore now considered the business committed to us to be accomplished, and determined to return to Okkak, thankful to God our Saviour for the many proofs of His favour, and protection, experienced in the execution of our commission.


Return to Okkak.

SEPTEMBER 1st.—AT ten A.M. we fell down the river with the ebb-tide, and about noon anchored near its mouth. The Esquimaux showed great attachment to us, and could hardly resolve to take a final leave. They called after us, “Come soon again, we shall always be wishing for you.” Several of them, and among them our friend Uttakiyok, followed us in their kayaks to the mouth of the river.

We erected here, on the promontory Kernerauyak, a board with an inscription similar to that put up at George river, but with the day of our departure inserted, viz. Sept. 1st, instead of the day of our arrival, Aug. 7th. The same solemnities took place as on the former occasion. Our faithful pilot Uttakiyok, who had rendered us such important and essential services, now took leave of us, as he intends to spend the winter in this neighbourhood. He repeated his assurance, that if we settled here, he would be the first to join us, and to turn with his whole heart to God. Not willing to be any longer incumbered with the skin-boat, we added it to other useful articles given to Uttakiyok, as a reward for his faithful attention to us. He was very highly gratified, and thankful for this species of remuneration.

2d. Left the Koksoak, called by us, South river, and steered to the N. of Kernerauyak and Kikkertorsoak. In the evening we cast anchor in an open road, among the Nachorutsit islands, with fine weather.

3d. Set sail at sun-rise, wind and tide in our favour, and proceeded rapidly. About noon, however, a fog came on, which obliged us to come to an anchor at Pitsiolak. When it cleared up, we proceeded, steering between Allukpalak and Nipkotok, and cast anchor in the open sea, near Kernertut, where, on our first arrival, we encountered such a tremendous storm. The night proved quite calm and fair.

4th. A gentle breeze brought us pleasantly as far as the island Nauyet, at the mouth of the Kangertlualuksoak, where we cast anchor, having performed the same voyage in three days, which took us twelve on our former passage. The distance may be about 100 English miles.

5th. Landed, and erected a species of landmark, on the highest point of Nauyet, as a ship entering the river must keep near this island, the shore on the other side being very foul. Contrary winds now obliged us to enter the bay, and cast anchor in the same place where we had lain on the 9th of August.

6th. Storm and rain prevented our proceeding. The Esquimaux went on shore, and pitched their tent. Of late they generally spent the night on board the boat.

7th. Wind at W. but a heavy swell from the sea prevented our sailing. Our men went out to hunt, and Paul returned in the evening with a deer.

8th. Snow had fallen during the night, and the whole country had the appearance of the middle of winter. We dropped down with the ebb-tide, but were obliged to anchor again near the entrance of the bay. When the tide turned we proceeded, and, leaving Kikkertorsoak to the right, made for cape Kattaktok, where we spent the night at anchor among some low islands. The night was clear, and a comet appeared N. by W.

9th. Wind favourable and strong. We set sail at sun-rise, and steered for Uibvaksoak, and so rapidly did our boat make way through the waves, that we arrived there already at four in the afternoon, passing swiftly by the Dragon’s dwelling, (Torngets). A thunder-storm was approaching. The wind, which felt quite warm, was in our rear, and violent gusts assailed us now and then, which made us shorten sail; yet the boat seemed to fly from island to island. We were unable to find a safe anchorage till 8 P.M. when it was already dark. We had sailed, in fourteen hours, about 100 English miles, and were all completely wet with the spray of the sea and frequent showers. Our Esquimaux were obliged, in this condition, to lie down either on deck or on shore.

10th. Reached Omanek, about 40 or 50 miles sail.

11th. Wind contrary, with much rain. We were confined to our narrow cabin, and shut in all day, with a lamp burning.

12th. Clear weather: set sail at noon. In the afternoon we were saluted by some shots from Killinek Esquimaux, who were halting not far from the Ikkerasak, or straits, at the entrance of which we cast anchor about 7 P.M.

13th. Though we wished to have some conversation with the Killinek people, as they cannot often come to Okkak, yet we thought it adviseable to lose no time, and, with the ebb-tide, passed through the Ikkerasak in perfect safety. When, about 1 P.M. the tide turned, we ran into a cove on the south side, and at 5 P.M. anchored in the lagoon above described, (See page 43), the entrance to which will only admit a boat.

14th. Reached Oppernavik, where we first met Uttakiyok.

15th. Set sail with a gentle breeze, which permitted us to have our Sunday’s service on deck. The wind, however, soon turning against us, we were compelled to return to our former anchorage.

16th and 17th. We were unpleasantly detained by wind and rain, and on the latter day much snow fell.

18th. Reached Kikkertarsoak about 1 P.M. Our men went out in their kayaks, and returned in the evening with three seals. The night was fair, with beautiful appearances of the Aurora Borealis.

19th. The morning was calm: some indications of approaching storm made us anxious to proceed. We set out early; but a fog coming on, we came again to an anchor off a barren island. After staying here two hours, hoping for a favourable change, Jonathan proposed to proceed, and steered S.W. not knowing rightly where we were. On this occasion, we could not help admiring the composure of the Esquimaux. But having last night made a hearty meal of the provisions they had acquired, they seemed to take things easy, and thought it would all be right in the end. So it turned out; for by and by we saw the continent, and kept along shore, till we got to the promontory Kakkeviak, where, on our passage, we had nearly suffered shipwreck. (See page 38). Here we cast anchor in a wide shallow bay, and spent a quiet night.

20th. The fog had dispersed, and the wind was favourable, though shifting from W. to N.W.N. and N.E. At 7 P.M. we reached Kumaktorvik and found good anchorage close to the Esquimaux winter-houses; but we were disappointed by finding them empty, the people being probably out on the reindeer-hunt. There were four houses standing, apparently not old, and the traces of eight others, situated on a low point of land, well covered with grass, and surrounded by high mountains.

21st. Wind N.W. set sail by break of day; reached Nennoktok about noon, and steered across Sangmiyok bay, for the northern promontory in Nachvak bay. Sangmiyok bay is full of breakers, and the sea running pretty high, they appeared very distinctly. The wind dying away in the afternoon, we got no farther than the steep rocks under which we had spent the night of July the 18th, where we came to an anchor. A heavy swell from the sea, and violent gusts of wind assailing us in all directions from the mountains gave us much uneasiness; but, by the protecting care of God, we suffered no harm.

22d. It blew hard from the N.W. and prevented our running into Nachvak bay. Our situation being highly dangerous, and the wind favouring our proceeding, we determined to pass by Nachvak. But having sailed across the bay, our captain found it impossible to proceed, and thought proper to come to an anchor. The truth was, that he had left some articles here in a cove, which he wished to secure. We therefore went on shore, and found many fragments of the bones of whales, whence we inferred that whales are sometimes cast on shore in this place.

23d. A heavy storm came on from the N.W. To-day we caught the first cod-fish, which proved a very acceptable change of diet for us and our people.

24th. The morning was calm. Wind E. left the cove and steered for Nachvak, and came, accidentally, to the very place where Jonathan’s goods were deposited. Not perceiving any Esquimaux on shore, Jonathan and Thukkekina went up the bay in their kayaks in search of them. Meanwhile we landed, and on the declivity of a hill found a great quantity of green soapstone. In the evening Jonathan and Thukkekina returned with ten other Equimaux, who rejoiced to see us again.

25th. Brother Kohlmeister was engaged all day with the Esquimaux. Brother Kmoch went up the mountain, and brought some fine specimens of steatite.

26th. Wind strong at N.W. we set sail; but the wind failing, we could not reach Saeglek, as proposed, but spent the night in the open sea. It passed, however, without any unpleasant occurrences.

27th. The want of wind prevented our getting to-day as far as the Saeglek islands. Having passed through a very narrow Ikkerasak, with hardly sufficient depth of water for so large a boat, we cast anchor near our former station at Kikkertarsoak.

28th. Wind cold and changeable, and towards evening stormy.

29th. Set sail about 6 A.M. with a strong wind at W. and in the evening had reached Kangertluksoak islands.

30th. It blew hard, with snow, and we were obliged to spend the day shut up in our small cabin by lamp-light. The land was covered with snow. We were detained here very unpleasantly for three days, by the violence of the wind and weather.

October 3d. We steered for the promontory of Kaumayok; but the wind dying away, and at length turning to the South, we could not gain any safe harbour, and were obliged to tack about all night in the open sea. The weather, however, was mild, and we had the advantage of moon-light.

4th. At 7 A.M. we succeeded in passing the Northern Ikkerasak near cape Mugford with the tide, and the wind becoming fair, soon brought us among the Okkak islands. About noon we doubled cape Uivak, and perceived Esquimaux on shore, who ran up the hills, shouted for joy, and gave us by signs to understand, that the ship (the brig Jemima, sent annually with provisions to the settlements) was still at Okkak.

We cannot describe the inexpressible pleasure and gratitude to God our Saviour which we felt, when we again beheld the neighbourhood of Okkak, after an absence of fifteen weeks. As soon as the captain descried our boat approaching, he hoisted his colours, and fired some guns to give notice of our arrival. As we were obliged to tack, to gain the entrance to the harbour, he came to meet us in the ship’s boat, and about one o’clock we landed. The Missionaries and the Esquimaux met us with tears of joy and thankfulness, when we all joined in praise to God, who had so wonderfully kept His protecting hand over us during this perilous voyage, and granted us to return home in safety.

Our voyage lasted from the 24th of June to the 4th of October, and we calculated it to be a distance of from 1200 to 1300 miles.


Map: The Northern Extremity of LABRADOR with UNGAVA BAY Explored by the MISSIONARIES of the Unitas Fratrum in 1811