Page images

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 ncgociation. 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 wiK ling 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 inintended. 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 vogage 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 j 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


« PreviousContinue »