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ENGRAVED BY E. H. DE L'ORME,
(FROM A PHOTOGRAPH.)
DRAWN BY HARRY FENN.
PART OF THE LOWER OR MUSKRAT FALLS OF THE GRAND RIVER. gun, the writer determined to essay the voyage. ing westward for ninety miles through the great Preparations for the journey were made in the interior basin known as Melville or Grossearly part of June, 1891. The various articles water Bay. of equipment were gotten together with some Northwest River Post, at the head of the bay, care, and included, among other things, a where we arrived on July 27, is the most inland Rushton canoe sixteen feet in length. An as- station of the Hudson Bay Company, and is sociate who entered with enthusiasm into the the chief trading-point of the Montagnais, or enterprise was found in Professor C. A. Kena- Mountaineer Indians, who make annual visits ston, of Washington, D. C., and on June 23 we to this post to meet the Roman Catholic missailed from New York on the steamship Portia sionary, and to exchange the outcome of their for St. John's, Newfoundland, where we ar- winter's trapping for supplies and ammunition. rived on the 29th of the same month. After an Many of the Indians had already visited the unexpected and vexatious delay here of over post and returned to the interior; but a numtwo weeks, we sailed from St. John's on the ber were still encamped in the neighborhood. small steamship Curlew, the boat engaged by A few half-breed "servants" here live in cabins, the Newfoundland Government to carry the which cluster about the ancient storehouse of mails on the Labrador coast during the summer. the Company. The Grand River flows into the After calling at several ports on the northeast- bay twenty-five miles from here, and at this ern coast of Newfoundland, our stanch little point preparations were made to ascend that craft turned north, and, steaming through the river. Marvelous tales anent the raging rapids dense fogs of the Strait of Belle Isle, soon re- and dangers of the river met us at the post ; vealed to our eyes the wild and desolate coast but by securing the aid of a number of Indians of Labrador. The four-days' sail along this and their canoes, we hoped to overcome all these coast proved to be most enjoyable, and formed difficulties of inland navigation and gradually an impressive introduction to the rugged north- to work our way up. A grievous disappointland which was to be the scene of our wander- ment as to this part of our plans was in store ings. On July 23, the Curlew landed us at for us. In addition to their natural disinclinaRigoulette, in Hamilton Inlet. This is the chief tion to engage in an undertaking involving so station of the Hudson Bay Company in Labra- much hard work, we found that a superstitious dor, and at the time of our visit was in charge dread of the Grand Falls obtained among the of Chief-factor Bell, a veteran officer of the Indians. They believe the place to be the haunt Company. A small schooner having been of evil spirits, and assert that death will soon placed at our disposal by Mr. Bell, the follow- overtake the venturesome mortal who dares to ing day we continued our journey inland, sail- look upon the mysterious cataract.
SCALE OF MILES
As is well known, the Eskimos of Labrador the lacustrine basins of the northern part of the dwell on the coast, and seldom venture far into peninsula, are closely allied to the Mountaineers the interior. Hamilton Inlet may be regarded in language and habits, but are a more hardy as the southern boundary of their habitat,which and primitive people. Their clothing is entirely stretches north to the shores of Hudson Strait. composed of reindeer-skins, and many have no Contact with civilization seems to lessen the intercourse whatever with white men. Numvitality of this interesting race, and the Mora-bers of them, however, make annual visits to
Fort Chimo, a station of the Hudson Bay ComBig Lake
pany near Ungava Bay, where, in exchange for
their pelts, they obtain flour, ammunition, and GRAND
a few other articles. We were informed, by one FALLS Height 316
who lived two years at this fort, that the savage Lögkout Me
Lake of Islands custom of killing the old and helpless still pre-
vails among the Nascopies. The victim is not
with sufficient food to last a few days, and is SKETCH MAP
then abandoned to a cruel death by starvation.
Thwarted in our project of Indian coöpera
tion, we nevertheless resolved to make the best GRAND RIVER
of the situation, and our party on starting up the LABRADOR
river comprised, besides Professor Kenaston
and the writer, John Montague (a strong young C.A.KENASTON, 1891
Scotchman, well acquainted with the lower part of the river, and the man who had accompanied Mr. Holme in 1887) and Geoffrey
Ban, a full-blooded Eskimo, whom we The figures show elevations above
had brought from the coast. Geoffrey the surface of the river in feet
was a typical specimen of his race,
strong and of stocky build, with a vian missionaries declare that, like the
swarthy, Tatar cast of features, Eskimos of Alaska, they are gradually Wanakolon kake
and a cheerfulness of disposidecreasing in numbers.
Depth 406R tion which the vicissitudes of The great wilderness of the interior is the home of the Indians. These belong to the Cree nation of the Northwest, and are divided into two families: the Montagnais, or Mountaineers, Mouni Rapids_200 who are found as far west as Lake St. John, in the province of Quebec; and the Nascopies, a
about 41° West less numerous tribe, who dwell on the barren grounds extending to the far north.
travel selAll the Indians who resort to the trading- dom ruffled. post are nominally Roman Catholics; but as the A strong river ministrations of the priest extend over a period boat, eighteen of only three weeks each year,— during which feet in length, was all marriages and baptisms are solemnized, - obtained for the trip, there is time in the long interval for many of and in this were the precepts of the Church to be forgotten, and placed the supplies, Minnipi R for inherent superstition to assert itself. The instruments, and heathen element is exemplified in the survival other necessary lugof the native medicine-men, or “conjurers” as gage. The canoe,
Minnipi River they are termed, who undoubtedly wield much which contained the tent and a few smaller influence over their followers. The priest exerts articles, was tied to the stern. himself to lessen the authority of this savage On August 3, our little company of four bade hierarchy; but it is well known that, away from adieu to friends at Northwest River, and we his watchful care, the old barbaric incantations turned our faces toward the wilderness. For two and prophecies are still practised. As a result days a favoring wind filled our sail, and on the of their almost complete isolation, these Lab- third day we reached the lower falls of the Grand rador Indians show but few evidences of con- River, which are called Muskrat Falls by the tact with white men, and their mode of life and trappers, and are twenty-five miles from the customs present many aspects of interest to the mouth of the river. Parallel chains of hills here ethnologist. The Nascopies, who dwell about encroach on the bed of the river, contracting
the channel and presenting a granite bulwark undermined the banks, and where numbers of through which the stream has forced its way. trees, stumps, and underbrush littered the shore There are two steps in the descent, and the to- and formed chevaux-de-frise of the most fortal drop is seventy feet. To go around this fall, midable character. a long and steep“ carry was necessary. The The popular impression that Labrador posunwieldy character of our boat, which weighed sesses a climate which even in summer is too 500 pounds, was here a serious disadvantage. rigorous for the enjoyment of open-air life was By meaņs of a block and tackle, and with much not verified on this trip. The temperature durlaborious lifting and pulling, we dragged it up ing the day was found to be delightful — just the precipitous banks. This operation and the cool enough to be stimulating; while the averpacking occupied a day and a half
. During the age minimum temperature registered during subsequent advance of 175 miles up the river, the forty-two nights of the journey was asceroars and paddles were, for the most part, of lit- tained to be but 420 Fahrenheit. Nor was vertle use, owing to the swiftness of the current. dure lacking in this subarctic landscape, for The method employed was what is technically dense growths of spruce and fir extended back known as “tracking"—that is, a strong rope, for miles into the blue distance, and even where about the thickness of a clothes-line, was tied fire had blackened the slopes of adjacent hills, to the gunwale of the boat just aft of the bow. the somber aspect of the scene was much reTo the shore end broad leather straps were at- lieved by a second growth, which showed the tached. With these across their shoulders, three delicate green of its leaves among the charred of the party tugged along the rocky bank, while remains of the original forest. Game and fish the fourth man, with an oar lashed in the stern, proved to be fairly abundant, and two fine steered a devious course among the rocks and black bears were killed by members of the shallows of the river.
party. The fresh meat thus obtained, together In this laborious fashion the advance con- with the trout captured from time to time, tinued for three weeks. With the exception of a made welcome variations in the dietary of the smooth stretch, which Montague called “slack expedition. water," the current was almost uniformly swift The declining sun of August 20 beheld our and the "tracking" of the most arduous char- small craft glide into thesmooth waters of Lake acter. Sandy terraces, and extended reaches Wanockalow. The first view of the lake was covered with glacial boulders, characterized beautiful, and most grateful to our eyes after the the lower portion of the river, while farther long struggle with the rapids. Even Geoffrey up-stream great numbers of smaller boulders, and John, usually indifferent to scenic effects, insecurely lodged on the precipitous sandy could not conceal their admiration as we glided banks, presented a precarious footing to those by towering cliffs and wooded headlands, and trudging along the rocky “tow-path.” When beheld at intervals cascades leaping from the a combination of this “rubble” and a trouble- rocks into the lake, their silvery outlines glissome rapid occurred, it was only by the most tening in the sun and contrasting distinctly with
exertion, and no end of slipping and the environment of dark evergreen foliage. sliding, that the tension of the tow-line could be This romantic sheet of water stretches in a maintained on the treacherous ground. Then northeasterly and southwesterly direction for again, stretches of steep rocky bank, where no about thirty-five miles, and has an elevation "tracking” was possible, often necessitated scal- above sea level, according to the aneroid obing the rugged cliffs and passing the line from servations secured, of 473 feet. Low mountains
one to another over various obstacles. Wad- of granite and gneiss rise on each side, and the ing through the water was frequently the only average width of the lake is less than one mile. resource. This was always in order when a place A sounding taken near the middle showed a was encountered where the spring freshets had depth of 406 feet. This narrow elevated basin
is undoubtedly of glacial origin, the presence of Falls. Our plan was to follow this old trail for
camp on the river, the rest of us took the canoe Four days after passing Lake Wanockalow, and a week's provisions, and began the ascent a wide shallow rapid was encountered, over of the steep path which led to the edge of the which it was impossible to drag the boat. Find- elevated plateau, which here approaches the ing no possible channel in the river, we judged river. In three days six lakes and the interwe were in the neighborhood of the “Big Hill," vening portages were crossed. Arriving at the the head of canoe navigation, and the point sixth lake, which was larger than the others, where, in the old days, when the Hudson Bay we turned aside from the dim trail and paddled Company sent crews to their inland post, the to its northwestern extremity, where we drew Indian voyageurs left the river. From an Indian out the canoe and prepared for the tramp we had learned that the old trail, long disused, toward the river. Arrayed in heavy marching led from this point on the river to a chain of order, and carrying almost all that remained lakes on the table-land. By following these of the provisions, we were soon advancing in lakes and crossing the intervening “carries," a westerly direction. We were now on the tablethe rapid water which extends for twenty-five land of the Labrador interior, and the country miles below the Falls could be avoided, and we were passing through was of the most desothe traveler be brought finally to the waters late character, denuded of trees, the surface of the Grand River many miles above Grand covered with caribou-moss, Labrador tea
plants, blueberry-bushes, and thousands of of falling waters was borne to our ears with boulders. By keeping to the ridges, fair pro- growing distinctness. After what seemed an gress was made; but when compelled to leave intolerable length of time, — so great was our the higher ground and skirt the borders of the eagerness, - a space of light in the trees ahead lakes, dense thickets of alders and willows were made known the presence of the river. Quickencountered, and these greatly impeded our ening our steps, we pushed on, and with beatadvance. The desolation of this upland land- ing hearts emerged from the forest near the scape is indescribable. No living thing was en- spot where the river plunged into the chasm countered, and the silence of primordial time with a deafening roar. reigned supreme. Just before sunset we went A single glance showed that we had before into camp on a hillside near a large lake, and us one of the greatest waterfalls in the world. soon after, from the top of a high rock, beheld Standing on the rocky brink of the chasm, a great column of mist rising like smoke against a wild and tumultuous scene lay before us, a the western sky. This, we knew, marked the scene possessing elements of sublimity, and position of the Falls, and, needless to say, our with details not to be apprehended in the first spirits rose - oblivious of our bleak surround- moments of wondering contemplation. Far upings — as we contemplated the near attainment stream one beheld the surging, fleecy waters of our journey's end. During the night the and tempestuous billows, dashing high their thermometer registered a minimum tempera- crests of foam, all forced onward with resistless
ture of 410, and we were treated to a superb power toward the steep rock whence they took display of northern lights.
their wild leap into the deep pool below. TurnSeptember 2 was a memorable day, as it ing to the very brink and looking over, we marked the date of our arrival at Grand Falls. gazed into a world of mists and mighty reA rough march over the rocks and bogs inter- verberations. Here the exquisite colors of the vened. As we approached the river, spruce rainbow fascinated the eye, and majestic sounds forests of a heavier growth appeared, and press- of falling waters continued the pæan of the ing on through these, although we could no ages. Below and beyond the seething caldron longer see the overhanging mist, the deep roar the river appeared, pursuing its turbulent ca