The Long Labrador Trail

Produced by Martin Schub


Frontispiece--The Perils of the Rapids

The
Long Labrador
Trail

by
Dillon Wallace
Author of “The Lure of the
Labrador Wild,” etc.

Illustrated

MCMXVII

TO THE
MEMORY OF MY WIFE

A drear and desolate shore! 
Where no tree unfolds its leaves,
And never the spring wind weaves
Green grass for the hunter’s tread;
A land forsaken and dead,
Where the ghostly icebergs go
And come with the ebb and flow…”

  Whittier’s “The Rock-tomb of Bradore.”

PREFACE

In the summer of 1903 when Leonidas Hubbard, Jr., went to Labrador to
explore a section of the unknown interior it was my privilege to
accompany him as his companion and friend.  The world has heard of the
disastrous ending of our little expedition, and how Hubbard, fighting
bravely and heroically to the last, finally succumbed to starvation.

Before his death I gave him my promise that should I survive I would
write and publish the story of the journey.  In “The Lure of The
Labrador Wild” that pledge was kept to the best of my ability.

While Hubbard and I were struggling inland over those desolate wastes,
where life was always uncertain, we entered into a compact that in
case one of us fall the other would carry to completion the
exploratory work that he had planned and begun.  Providence willed
that it should become my duty to fulfil this compact, and the
following pages are a record of how it was done.

Not I, but Hubbard, planned the journey of which this book tells, and
from him I received the inspiration and with him the training and
experience that enabled me to succeed.  It was his spirit that led me
on over the wearisome trails, and through the rushing rapids, and to
him and to his memory belong the credit and the honor of success.

D. W.
February, 1907.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

  1. THE VOICE OF THE WILDERNESS
  2. ON THE THRESHOLD OF THE UNKNOWN
  3. THE LAST OF CIVILIZATION
  4. ON THE OLD INDIAN TRAIL
  5. WE GO ASTRAY
  6. LAKE NIPISHISH IS REACHED
  7. SCOUTING FOR THE TRAIL
  8. SEAL LAKE AT LAST
  9. WE LOSE THE TRAIL
  10. “WE SEE MICHIKAMAU”
  11. THE PARTING AT MICHIKAMAU
  12. OVER THE NORTHERN DIVIDE
  13. DISASTER IN THE RAPIDS
  14. TIDE WATER AND THE POST
  15. OFF WITH THE ESKIMOS
  16. CAUGHT BY THE ARCTIC ICE
  17. TO WHALE RIVER AND FORT CHIMO
  18. THE INDIANS OF THE NORTH
  19. THE ESKIMOS OF LABRADOR
  20. THE SLEDGE JOURNEY BEGUN
  21. CROSSING THE BARRENS
  22. ON THE ATLANTIC ICE
  23. BACK TO NORTHWEST RIVER
  24. THE END OF THE LONG TRAIL

APPENDIX

ILLUSTRATIONS

The Perils of the Rapids (in color, from a painting by Oliver Kemp)
Ice Encountered Off the Labrador Coast
“The Time For Action Had Come”
“Camp Was Moved to the First Small Lake”
“We Found a Long-disused Log Cache of the Indians”
Below Lake Nipishish
Through Ponds and Marshes Northward Toward Otter Lake
“We Shall Call the River Babewendigash”
“Pete, Standing by the Prostrate Caribou, Was Grinning From Ear to Ear”
“A Network of Lakes and the Country as Level as a Table”
Michikamau
“Writing Letters to the Home Folks”
“Our Lonely Perilous Journey Toward the Dismal Wastes …Was Begun”
Abandoned Indian Camp On the Shore of Lake Michikamats
“One of the Wigwams Was a Large One and Oblong in Shape”
“At Last …We Saw the Post”
“A Miserable Little Log Shack”
A Group of Eskimo Women
A Labrador Type
Eskimo Children
A Snow Igloo
The Silence of the North (in color, from a painting by Frederic C. Stokes)
“Nachvak Post of the Hudson’s Bay Company”. 
“The Hills Grew Higher and Higher”
“We Turned Into a Pass Leading to the Northward”
The Moravian Mission at Ramah
“Plodding Southward Over the Endless Snow”
“Nain, the Moravian Headquarters in Labrador”
“The Indians Were Here”
Geological Specimens
Maps.

THE LONG LABRADOR TRAIL

CHAPTER I

THE VOICE OF THE WILDERNESS

“It’s always the way, Wallace!  When a fellow starts on the long trail, he’s never willing to quit.  It’ll be the same with you if you go with me to Labrador.  When you come home, you’ll hear the voice of the wilderness calling you to return, and it will lure you back again.”

It seems but yesterday that Hubbard uttered those prophetic words as he and I lay before our blazing camp fire in the snow-covered Shawangunk Mountains on that November night in the year 1901, and planned that fateful trip into the unexplored Labrador wilderness which was to cost my dear friend his life, and both of us indescribable sufferings and hardships.  And how true a prophecy it was!  You who have smelled the camp fire smoke; who have drunk in the pure forest air, laden with the smell of the fir tree; who have dipped your paddle into untamed waters, or climbed mountains, with the knowledge that none but the red man has been there before you; or have, perchance, had to fight the wilds and nature for your very existence; you of the wilderness brotherhood can understand how the fever of exploration gets into one’s blood and draws one back again to the forests and the barrens in spite of resolutions to “go no more.”

It was more than this, however, that lured me back to Labrador.  There was the vision of dear old Hubbard as I so often saw him during our struggle through that rugged northland wilderness, wasted in form and ragged in dress, but always hopeful and eager, his undying spirit and indomitable will focused in his words to me, and I can still see him as he looked when he said them: 

“The work must be done, Wallace, and if one of us falls before it is completed the other must finish it.”

I went back to Labrador to do the work he had undertaken, but which he was not permitted to accomplish.  His exhortation appealed to me as a command from my leader—­a call to duty.

Hubbard had planned to penetrate the Labrador peninsula from Groswater Bay, following the old northern trail of the Mountaineer Indians from Northwest River Post of the Hudson’s Bay Company, situated on Groswater Bay, one hundred and forty miles inland from the eastern coast, to Lake Michikamau, thence through the lake and northward over the divide, where he hoped to locate the headwaters of the George River.

It was his intention to pass down this river until he reached the hunting camps of the Nenenot or Nascaupee Indians, there witness the annual migration of the caribou to the eastern seacoast, which tradition said took place about the middle or latter part of September, and to be present at the “killing,” when the Indians, it was reported, secured their winter’s supply of provisions by spearing the caribou while the herds were swimming the river.  The caribou hunt over, he was to have returned across country to the St. Lawrence or retrace his steps to Northwest River Post, whichever might seem advisable.  Should the season, however, be too far advanced to permit of a safe return, he was to have proceeded down the river to its mouth, at Ungava Bay, and return to civilization in winter with dogs.

The country through which we were to have traveled was to be mapped so far as possible, and observations made of the geological formation and of the flora, and as many specimens collected as possible.

This, then, Hubbard’s plan, was the plan which I adopted and which I set out to accomplish, when, in March, 1905, I finally decided to return to Labrador.

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