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Overland to Starvation Cove

Overland to Starvation Cove: With the Inuit in Search of Franklin, 1878-1880

Translated and edited by WILLIAM BARR
Copyright Date: 1987
https://doi.org/10.3138/9781442678187
Pages: 261
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442678187
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  • Book Info
    Overland to Starvation Cove
    Book Description:

    In May 1845 Sir John Franklin sailed westward from England in search of the Northwest Passage and was never seen again. Some thirty-five years later, Heinrich Klutschak of Prague, artist and surveyor on a small expedition led by Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka of the 3rd US Cavalry Regiment, stumbled upon the grisly remains at Starvation Cove of the last survivors among Franklin's men.

    Overland to Starvation Cove is the first English translation of Klutschak's account. A significant contribution to Canadian exploration history, it is also an important anthropological document, providing some of the earliest reliable descriptions of the Aivilingmiut, the Utkuhikhalingmiut, and the Netsilingmiut. But above all, it is a fascinating story of arctic adventure.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7818-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xxxi)
    William Barr

    At 10:30 A.M. on 19 May 1845 the barque-rigged bomb vessels HMS Erebus and Terror (370 and 340 tons, respectively) sailed from Greenhithe on the River Thames. Their combined crews totalled 134 officers and men, under the command of Captain Sir John Franklin. objective was to sail through the Northwest Passage; having emerged from the Arctic Ocean via Bering Strait they were ordered to proceed to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) and return home via Cape Horn (Cyriax, i939:55). While in hindsight these instructions may appear to have been ludicrously over-optimistic, on the face of it the task Franklin was being...

  5. Maps
    (pp. xxxii-1)
  6. [Illustration]
    (pp. 2-2)
  7. Preface
    (pp. 3-4)
  8. The Search for Franklin
    (pp. 5-11)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Schwatka’s Franklin Search Party, 1878, 1879, and 1880
    (pp. 12-16)

    A major part of the success of an arctic expeditionn in general lies its proper organization and equipment. The party’s aim and intention of travelling with sledges hauled by dogs as the sole motivee forc determined that the number of participants on the trip could only be very small, and that Inuit had to be taken along to perform the necessary work, other than that involving the areas of science and research, that is, as hunters and dog drivers. Naturally, such an expedition could consist only of men with a certain inner drive who, on the one hand, possessed a...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Sojourn in Hudson Bay from August 1878 to 1 April 1879 as an Acclimatization Period
    (pp. 17-39)

    A sea voyage in a small sailing ship has little new to offer. We were shaken out of the monotonous daily routine of seamen’s activities, in which we gladly took part in order to alleviate the boredom, at least as long as we had nothing special to do, by the sight of the first iceberg. This year it hove into view long after we had passed the usual ice belt, which extends far southward to the Grand Banks off the coast of America. It was sketched and discussed, but to our great discomfiture Captain Barry was a man who considered...

  11. CHAPTER THREE The Trek to the Arctic Ocean Watershed, 1 April–4 May 1879
    (pp. 40-57)

    1 April had been set as the date of our departure for King William’s Land and by 11:00. A.M all preparations were complete and was ready for the departure. The heavily laden sledges, whose load amounted to 4500-5000 Ibs, the dogs harnessed in front of them, and the figures dressed in heavy fur clothing all combined to form a group full of life, such as is rarely to be seen in these regions. Standing around the travellers, and dressed in lighter clothing, were the Inuit of the Aivilik group who had spent the winter in our company; at our departure...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR From the Area of the Back River to King William’s Land, 5 May–12 June 1879
    (pp. 58-77)

    By comparison with the areas we had been travelling across in late April and early May, we were now in a real paradise, which completely met all the demands we could possibly make of any landscape. were ponds and lakes in abundance, caribou in great numbers, while to economize on our diminishing reserves of oil for possible later needs, we used as fuel the dry hair-moss*¹ (tingaujak) which grew profusely on the snow-free hill tops.

    Due to the higher temperatures the snow was becoming softer and softer around noon, making travel difficult; the icing on the sledge runners was no...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE From Cape Herschel to Cape Felix, 12 June–3 July 1879
    (pp. 78-88)

    In the history of polar travels Cape Herschel is famous for the cairn which the polar explorers Dease and Simpson erected on 25 August 1839 to mark the most northerly point they reached.¹ The cairn had been partially demolished by the Inuit, certainly, yet a suffficiently large part had survived to indicate its location. Although Cape Herschel had never been reported, eithery by the Inuit or by earlier searchers, as a point specially associated with the Franklin expedition, such an idea was provoked by some twelve or fifteen cairns which stood in the immediate vicinity of the abovementioned cairn, and...

  14. CHAPTER SIX The Main Search and Its Results, 6 July–6 August 1879
    (pp. 89-101)

    Some 15–20 miles north-northwest and seaward of Cape Felix is the location where on 12 September 1846 Sir John Franklin’s ships were permanently prevented by the ice from further progress. During a captivity lasting twenty months their distance off the coast between Cape Felix and Irving Bay remained approximately the same. Here, the fine hopes of the Franklin expedition collapsed; here began its inactivity, the start of every ill; here death demanded numerous victims in the persons of Sir John Franklin, Lieutenant Graham Gore, and a further seven officers and fifteen crew members; here the men were obliged to...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN The Divided Search, 6 August to the End of September 1879
    (pp. 102-116)

    On the morning of 6 August we split into two parties. Lieutenant Schwatka and Gilder stayed on the same spot in order to complete the search in the western part of King William”s Land while Melms and I had a double task. On our march we were to cover the coast to the southeast, cross Simpson Strait if our Inuit were not on the island itself, then continue the search on Adelaide Peninsula. Tulugaq, who was to accompany our party, was to return to Terror, Bay with a reinforced number of dogs and with renewed supplies of ammunition, tobacco, and...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT In Permanent Camp, October 1879
    (pp. 117-128)

    In the fall the southeastern part of King William’s Land may justifiably be called a caribou hunter’s Eldorado; during a four-year sojourn within and on the borders of the Arctic Circle I have never seen more game at one time than here. The hill on which our tent stood, amid a small Netsilik encampment, provided a panorama with a radius ofe five or six miles, and during the period from 10 A.M. until 5 P.M. there was not single moment when we could not count caribou in their hundreds. I have already noted earlier that during the summer they make...

  17. CHAPTER NINE From King William’s Land to the Dangerous Rapids on the Great Fish River, 1 November–12 December 1879
    (pp. 129-148)

    The long-awaited occasion of our departure for Hudson’s Bay had arrived and the party again divided into two detachments, travelling in different directions. Lieutenant Schwatka, accompanied by Gilder, Tulugaq, Eskimo Joe, and their respective families, were to travel westward around Adelaide Peninsula with only one sledge and were to survey a deep inlet which existed there according to the natives’ reports, but which was not marked on the maps. Meanwhile the remainder of the party was to head directly for the Great Fish River with three sledges, visit Starvation Cove, erect a monument and deposit a document there, and wait...

  18. CHAPTER TEN On the Back River, 12–31 December 1879
    (pp. 149-158)

    The Back, Mackenzie, and Coppermine rivers are the three great arteries that drain the northernmost part of the American continent to the Arctic Ocean, having their sources in the vast lakes region of the interior. The first of the abovementioned rivers flows out of Sussex Lake at about 64°N, 109°W from Greenwich, and feeding a large number of large and small lakes along the way follows an occasionally northeasterly and occasionally easterly course. Lieutenant Back of the Royal Navy travelled its entire length during an expedition in 1833–5 and mapped it. Particularly its lower course between 66° and 67°N,...

  19. CHAPTER ELEVEN The Overland March from 31 December 1879 until 27 February 1880
    (pp. 159-173)

    It had long been a puzzle to the natives as to why we were following the river in a south-southwesterly direction when Pitsiulak (Depot Island), their main abode in Hudson Bay, lay southeast of us. Today, on the last day of the year, as we headed off in this latter direction they all seemed to be happier. Altogether the mood along our entire column of march was better as we left the river at 9 in the morning and slowly headed up the heights along the river. Our route lay over an even, undulating hilly area, and we continued almost...

  20. CHAPTER TWELVE The Final Stretch to Marble Island, 28 February–23 March 1880
    (pp. 174-185)

    According to Asedlak we could reach the Hudson Bay coast with light sledges in two days; encouraged by this information we began the continuation of our journey on 28 February 1880, with an air temperature of -55°C. All the baggage we could leave behind was stored in a snow house over which water was then poured so that an ice formed over the entire thing in a few moments. This would present an impenetrable obstacle to the wolves even if the Inuk, who had undertaken to watch our things, were to leave the spot before we subsequently retrieved them. Asedlak...

  21. CHAPTER THIRTEEN The Last Months in Hudson Bay, April–August 1880
    (pp. 186-198)

    It would be pointless to try to draw parallels between thee life of our own party on the journey which we had just finished and that on board the ship among the comforts of civilization. Even if it cost us no particular difficulties to live as civilized people again, our long accustomedness to privation and abstinence often made itself noticeable. The same stomach complaints and minor problems which had manifested themselves during the slow transition from a civilized diet to an exclusively meat diet now repeated themselves, this time all the more striking since in the case of the earlier...

  22. CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Inuit of the American North
    (pp. 199-206)

    The demarcation line of the treeline across the American also coincides with the boundary which separates the inhabitants of the American North into two groups. All the groups of people living north of this line are Inuit; all those south of it are Indians. A fairly significant difference, visible in the physical make-up of the people, may be observed only between bands living at great distances from each other; even the Netsilingmiut, with their reddish skin tone, are reminiscent of Indians, while the cast of their eyes and other facial features belong incontestably to the Mongolian race. With regard to...

  23. Postscript
    (pp. 207-220)
    William Barr

    Over the years quite an appreciable number of expeditions have visited the area of King William Island since the Schwatka expedition completed its search, many of them looking specifically for relics or documents, despite Klutschak’s assertion that such searches would be futile. The first of these expeditions, Amundsen’s, had no direct interest in the fate of the Franklin expedition; despite thiss it is quite surprising how little he managed to collect either in terms of oral accounts or material remains. During his pioneer voyage aboardGjΦa, Amundsen wintered twice (1903-5) at GjΦa Haven on the southeast coast of King William...

  24. Afterword
    (pp. 221-224)
    Owen Beattie

    My own involvement with the investigation of the third Franklin expedition (and, by extension, the Schwatka search) began in the spring of 1981 when archaeologist James Savelle suggested a collaborative project involving a resurvey of the coast of King William Island. I say a “resurvey” as the King William Island area has been extensively searched from the early 18505 right through to the present. We anticipated that we would be following closely in the tracks of the two most important searches of the nineteenth century: ’Clintock’s of 1859, and Schwatka’s of 1879. The primary goal of our project was to...

  25. Notes
    (pp. 225-238)
  26. References
    (pp. 239-246)
  27. Index
    (pp. 247-261)