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 Post subject: Re: TR: Back River, 2005
PostPosted: November 23rd, 2008, 11:02 am 
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Joined: October 18th, 2006, 9:39 am
Posts: 334
Location: Vermont
Goodness what a wonderful report etc. It makes what I do look like a walk in the park. I am impressed and envious of those of you that have done trips on this scale. I'm 57, generally broke, overweight, and out of shape. I've done a fair amount of tripping, some in the Arctic. I'm sorely tempted to plan something like this. I think I have the "on river" part in me. I'm pretty conservative on trips of this sort.

Its the daily work of setting up camp and cooking and the carries that really takes it out of me. I was exhausted after squeezing the Horton into 20 days and we only had one or two sections that slowed us down on that river - really just one - but we did have to make some river miles every day. I found that I could paddle forever but the other stuff really drained me. Maybe if I dropped 50Lbs and worked to get into some sort of semblance of fitness - maybe I could do it? I know I could benefit from simplifying my kit a bit as well. Anyway, this thread is inspirational for sure.



 Post subject: Re: TR: Back River, 2005
PostPosted: November 23rd, 2008, 4:59 pm 

Joined: January 22nd, 2005, 12:16 pm
Posts: 4044
Location: Toronto
Post 7, of 7.

Bloated blogged bibliography

aka Annotated Bibliography

I’m well in the dregs of my Back files; I can’t imagine that I’ll post any more from them.

Some of the following is out of date.
I deleted some incorrect statements but likely others remain.
In a few cases I have added comments, marked by [2008 comment … ].

Gerstein is the Gerstein Library of the University of Toronto.
Robarts is the Robarts Library of the University of Toronto.
ROM is the library at the Royal Ontario Museum.
TPL is the Toronto Public Library.

[Anderson] Journal of James Anderson, 1855; copies are published in [Barr] and
[Clarke]. This is a near must-have for Back paddlers.
Two canoes carried Chief Factor James Anderson, Chief Trader James Green Stewart (2nd in command) and 14 "men" ("3 of whom are lame", or were at the start): 5 "Half-breed"s, 3 "Iroquois", 3 "Muskekegon", 1 "Canadian", 1 "Highland" and 1 "Orkney": John Fidler, Henry Fidler, Edward Kipling, Donald McLeod, George Daniel; Baptiste Assaminton, Joseph Anarin, Ignace Montour; Thomas Mustegan, Paulet Papanakies, Jeremiah Johnson; Joseph Boucher (or Bouch'e); Murdoch (in [Barr], Murdock in [Clarke]) McLennan; Will Reid. Thomas Mistegan (Ojibwa) and Murdoch McLennan (Scottish highlander) travelled with John Rae in 1853 [McGoogan].
Different HBC officers often spelled the "men"'s names differently, or was it indifferently? For example, Baptiste Assaminton was also Jean Baptiste Assanayneton, Jean Baptiste Assanayunton, and Jean-Baptiste Assinienton [Barr]. Anderson himself refers to Mur. McLellan and then to Murdock (or Murdoch) McLennan [Barr, Clarke].
Some of the names Anderson gave to lakes/rivers were changed later, some for members of his party. On or near his "Mountain Portage" route from Great Slave Lake to Aylmer Lake lie Anarin Lake (for Joseph Anarin/Anariz/Anarise), MacLellan Lake (for Murdoch/Murdoch, McLellan/McLennan), Misteagun Lake (for Thomas Mustegan/Misteagan/Mistegun/Mistigan/Mustegon), Papanakies Lake (for Paulet Papanakies) and Montours Lake (for Ignace Montour?). And Fidler Lake (for John and Henry Fidler?) lies on a tributary to the upper Back, above Beechey Lake.
Note: [McInnes] pointed out that Misteagun Lake actually lies to the SW of the lake labelled "Ross (Misteagun) Lake" on [Barr]'s Plate VII, p 114; the latter is an extension of Beirnes Lake (named for a war casualty).
Most of the above information comes from [McInnes] and a private communication from him. I found the "Dictionary of Canadian Place Names" (Robarts F5008.R38 1997, in Reference section, fourth floor) not helpful here; for example, it lists neither Montour(s) Lake nor Beirnes Lake.
Anderson's party reached Sussex Lake on 12 July and Victoria Headland on 31 July (gasp). Before the trip, on 1 May 1855, Anderson wrote to Eden Colvile that "Canoes are certainly not the craft for navigating an ice-encumbered sea, but with our short notice we cannot do better." [Barr]; indeed, canoes were not suitable past the mouth. They started upstream on 13 August and entered Aylmer Lake on 31 August (Gasp).
Hendrik will try to get a copy of Anderson's journal from the Hudson's Bay Company archives in Winnipeg.
Anderson's "Mountain Portage" route started from Great Slave Lake at a point west of the mouth of the Barnston River, passed through Clarke Lake, joined the Barnston, proceeded to its source in Anarin Lake, and passed over the height of land to the Aylmer Lake watershed. I hadn't heard previously of this route; since we are looking for more exploratory trips these days, I posted a notice at the CCR site asking for information; within a few hours John McInnes informed me of his Nastawgan article (which I should have known about).

[Back] Narrative of the Arctic land expedition to the mouth of the Great Fish River, and along the shores of the Arctic Ocean, in the years 1833, 1834 and 1835; George Back; A and W Calignani, Paris, 1836.
This is a must-have for any Back paddler.
The CD version is sold at ; Gene has a copy.
Robarts has an on-line electronic version with 354 "images" (aka copied pages); I downloaded pages 148 through 231, each about 10 MB. Robarts has also a 1970 edition (I didn't look at it) and an original (stored in the Rare Book Library).
Back (then Captain, RN) travelled with "Mr. Richard King, the Surgeon" and eight "men" (James McKay, George Sinclair, Charles McKenzie, Peter Taylor, James Spence, John Ross, William Malley and Hugh Carron; 3 "Highlander"s, 2 "Half-breed"s, 1 "Orkney", 1 "Lancashire" and 1 "Irish"). They reached Sussex Lake on 28 June 1834 and Chantrey Inlet on 29 July; after exploring the coast, they started upstream on 21 August and reached Sandhill Bay on 17 September. The weather in the summer and fall of 1834 was atypically cold and wet, at least in the Sussex-Muskox region.

[Barr] Searching for Franklin; The Land Arctic Searching Expedition: James Anderson's and James Stewart's expedition via the Back River, 1855; edited by William Barr; Hakluyt Society (London), 1999.
The entire University of Toronto Library system has not a single copy (shame!).
I used the ROM copy (call number P.S. Ha 110 ser 3 no 1). I didn't look at the TPL copy (call number 910.6 H12 ser 3 no 1, REF-STACKS Request-N-MR).
[2008 Comment: I don’t know the difference between the RN and the Admiralty]
In 1854, even though 21 major relief/rescue/recovery expeditions (most by the RN, several funded by Lady Franklin, at least one by the HBC, even two by the US N) had already gone out in search of Franklin's party [Beattie-Geiger], and though any reasonable hope of finding survivors had long since vanished, pressure continued on the Admiralty to mount more expeditions. But, as [Barr] describes, it was in a tough spot:
(a) The RN had lost not only HMSs Erebus and Terror and 129 men, but also HMSs Breadalbane (Beechey Island, 1853), Investigator (Banks Island, 1854), Resolute, Intrepid, Assistance and Pioneer, and yet more men; courts-martial of Edward Belcher, Henry Kellett, Robert McClure and George Richards in respect to the loss of the latter five ships were in progress.
(b) The RN was currently engaged in the Baltic, the White Sea and the Pacific, and at Sevastopol.
In short, the Admiralty had more pressing claims on its ships and manpower [Barr] than to mount another hazardous expedition to find more remains of the Franklin expedition and to learn more of how its members had died. Instead, it requested the HBC to send a party down the Back River to search the neighbourhood of Chantrey Inlet.
I recommend Barr's book highly to those interested in the history of northern Canada. Of its 300 or so pages, fewer than 41 are taken up by Anderson's journal, maybe only 20 if you exclude maps, footnotes and references. More interesting to me than his journal were accounts of events leading up to the expedition and the reaction to its results, short biographies of the major players, and letters to and from, and excerpts from journals written by, the following:
Lady Jane Franklin and her niece Sophia Cracroft;
the HBC's William Anderson (Chief Trader, Churchill), John Ballenden (Chief Factor), Alexander Barclay (Secretary), George Barnston (Chief Factor, Norway House), John Bell (Chief Trader), James Bissett (Clerk, Lachine), Robert Campbell (Chief Factor, the "Campbell of the Yukon" by Clifford Wilson), Lawrence Clarke (in charge of the post at Fort Rae), Andrew Colvile (member of the Committee of the HBC), Eden Colvile (Governor of Rupert's Land, based at Fort Garry), George Deschambault (Chief Trader, Isle-`a-la-Crosse), Thomas Fraser (Secretary), William Lucas Hardisty (in charge of the post at Fort Yukon), Edward M Hopkins (of Lachine, forwarded first reports of Anderson's findings), Alexander Kennedy Isbister (with HBC for four years or less, then implacable critic of the Company as regards its dealings with the Indians [Barr]), James Lockhart (Clerk, Fort Garry), William MacTavish (Chief Factor, York Factory), John Rae (MD, Chief Factor, needs no further comment), John Shepherd (Esq, Deputy Governor), George Simpson (Sir, Governor-in-chief, North America), William Sinclair (Chief Factor, Saskatchewan district), William G Smith (Secretary);
the Admiralty's George Back (Sir by 1854), John Barrow, Francis Beaufort (Hydrographer), R M Bromley (Accountant General), Thomas Collings, H Corrie, James Graham (Sir, First Lord), W A B Hamilton (Secretary), Richard King (Surgeon with Back in 1834, a complex person with both nasty and kind sides [Cundy], [Barr]), Sherard Osborn (Captain), Thomas Phinn, John Richardson (Sir by then, needs no further comment), W G Romaine, and John Washington (Captain); and Joseph Burr Tyrrell (needs no comment at all).
The positions are those at the time (mid 1854 to late 1855, later in a few cases) as given by [Barr]. I give all these names partly because a good many of them are to be found on maps of Canada, partly to suggest the scale of the effort that went into planning the expedition and partly to indicate the importance that the Admiralty and the HBC attached to it.

[Beattie-Geiger] Frozen in Time, subtitle The Fate of the Franklin Expedition; Owen Beattie and John Geiger; Greystone Books, Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver/Toronto/Berkeley; 2004. ; ; ; ISBN 1-55365-060-3.
The cause of the disaster was not incompetence on the part of Franklin or anyone else on board, and not failure to adopt the ways of the native people (Stefansson was quite wrong about this). The cause was rather lead poisoning from the soldered food tins was the cause, though some would add botulism.

[Clarke] Chief Factor James Anderson's Back River Journal of 1855. The Canadian Field-Naturalist. Vol LIV; pp 63-67, 84-89, 107-109, 125-126 and 134-136 (Sep-Dec 1940). Vol LV; pp 9-11, 21-26 and 38-44 (Jan-Mar 1941).
The first two pages contain an introduction by the editor, C H D Clarke [McInnes], including a discussion of the journal's provenance. BTW, the editor refers to the Mountain Portage as one of the most difficult in Canada. The text of the journal is heavily annotated, with over 200 footnotes and references. The last 4.5 pages consist of letters from Anderson to various parties. The Gerstein copy (in the "3 Below" new part) lacks pages 87 & 88 of Vol LIV.

[Coleman] Gary Coleman, email exchanges. His Hayes group had planned to paddle to Gjoa Haven but got windbound and hired an Innu from Gjoa to boat over and pick them up.

[Cundy] Beacon Six; Robert Cundy; Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1970, 253 p.
Robarts: F5905.C8 1970. TPL: 917.12 CU and 917.129 C78.
The stated goal of the trip was to examine the cairn ("Beacon Six") built by Thomas Simpson, Peter Dease and the members of their HBC party in the summer of 1839 [Simpson]. I don't know how the cairn acquired this title; [Simpson]'s report of his 1839 expedition doesn't use the name, nor does it count cairns.
It was thought possible that members of the Franklin expedition had left material at the cairn, which is located at Cape Brittania (near the east headland at the end of Chantrey Inlet). Cundy's party found nothing, as had another party two years previously. The book provides much historical background on the Franklin expedition, but it was written before analysis demonstrated lead poisoning in Franklin's party [Beattie-Geiger].
Robert Cundy, Robin Challis, David Gordon-Dean and Russell Polden landed on Beechey Lake. They started downstream on 19 July 1962 in three tandem kayaks. They reached Hawk on day 12 (maybe 13), Pelly Lk on day 16, mission island on day 18, Buliard Lk on day 22, Rock on day 25?, Escape on day 31, Hermann on day 35, and Franklin Falls on day 41 (26 August).
They sailed a lot, were windbound a lot, got rained on a lot, and had hail and snow several times. Cundy refers to some bad rapids but the location of most is unclear. Hawk wasn't bad, the rapids at the end of Buliard were difficult (sheared off 2 rudder blades), Rock was a disaster (they went left, totalled one boat and severely damaged another), Sinclair was Ped left, Escape was Ped, Wolf was OK and Franklin Falls was Ped.
Let us hope that our group dynamics (what a stupid term) improves on theirs; but then they followed the tradition of Back vs King, Anderson vs Stewart and Anderson vs Back.
Polden removed a skull from a grave and took it with him; the others didn't object, even the devout Christian in the group. Would they have so desecrated a Christian grave?

[Drought] We had several email messages from George Drought. In January he met for four hours with Marilyn, Bob, Stephen and Allan at his house; he went over his topos (spending a lot of time on rapids), showed slides, showed the [Drought-Burton video] and commented on it, etc. Some information he provided is scattered here and there in this write-up, and some follows:
1. The rapids below Muskox Lake are very shallow (he saw them from both shore and air); he recommended that we start at Jim Magrum Lake.
2. He recommended that we take a shotgun, with slugs for ammunition.
3. He recommended that we take heavy-duty pain killers.
4. Malley Rapids is not located properly on the topos? Compare the description in Back's journal with the rapids labelled Malley on the topo (D 110 km) and the rapids 15 km downstream (D 125 km). BTW, in confirmation, [Mellenthin] says that the Malley Rapids of the topo is much easier than the unnamed rapids.
5. There's no need to filter water (no one did on either of his 2000 or 2003 Back trips, and no one got sick).
6. He loaned Bob his copy of Beacon Six, with signatures of all 8 members of the two 1962 parties.
7. The photo on page 40 of [McCreadie] isn't of any falls on the Back?
8. He recommended the Eureka K2X2T tent (2 people plus gear), Keen water boots, Knudsen packs, that we take the tundra tunnel, and that we buy summer sausage in Mennonite country; he is not fond of high boots like LL Bean's.
9. A possible landing spot for Boris is the long beach where George camped on 23 July 2003 (66I/2 043/297 NAD83; D 864 km), above the unmarked rapids.
10. Don't even think of lining or running the cascades below Beechey Lake.
11. When weather permits, paddle at least 35 km per day on the upper Back.
12. In 2000, with low water, none of the rapids between Mount Meadowbank and the Hermann presented much of a problem. The water was higher in 2003 and those same rapids were considerably more challenging; the rapid 15 km below Mount Meadowbank took all their skill to negotiate.
13. Drought-Burton trip of 2000: All charter flights originated in Yellowknife and returned there; the total charter cost of $38,000 was divided equally among the 17 paddlers (5 upper only, 5 lower only, 7 both).
2 July: Two Twin Otter flights landed 12 people at Jim Magrum Lake (D 51 km).
23 July: A Twin Otter flight brought five people and fresh supplies to Pelly Lake (D 511 km) and took five people back.
12 August: Two Twin Otter flights picked up 12 people from the camp site across from Mount Meadowbank (D 847 km); both out and back flights required refuelling stops at Bathurst Inlet Lodge?
13. They did 80 rapids with one portage; the ww abilities of paddlers ranged widely. The weather seems to have been good overall, nothing like that described by [Klein].
14. Drought-Burton trip of 2003: A party of six flew in to the headwaters of the Meadowbank and paddled down to the Back, reaching the campsite opposite Mount Meadowbank (D 847 km) on 20 July; they finished on 29 July near the mouth of the Hermann River (D 898 km). Boris picked them up at the sandy area to the south (near 66I/1 297/459 NAD83).
15. Drought-Burton trip of 2005: A party of six will paddle the Back from the Hermann to the Hayes. [2008 Comment: The party had almost reached the Hayes when the stove exploded, badly burning both Barbara and George.]

[Drought-Burton video]: The video 42 Days ... Back River 2000 by George Drought and Barbara Burton is recommended for Back paddlers. It shows people in shorts and short-sleeved shirts, plus a fair share of bugs. Doug & Daniela and Allan have copies; most of us have seen it. An update to include footage from their 2003 trip and other material is in preparation.

[Gaskin] Fred Gaskin, Lyle Malcolm, George Dobbie and Jack Purchase; Sussex Lake (16 July 1972) to Chantrey Inlet (10 August).
Their pace rivals that of Anderson and Back; in 26 days, they went farther we did in 42.
Ted Mellenthin obtained this unpublished trip report (three pages plus a coarse map) from Travel Arctic. It gives campsites and 67 other points of interest (including rapids); the locations of those points are marked on topos that are however not available to me. Gaskin describes briefly many rapids but most locations are unclear without his topos; Wolf is called "non-existant". His party may have been windbound above Muskox, but not it seems for even one day below. They found firewood at an abandoned diamond drilling camp one day below the Contwoyto (and above Malley Rapids) and also at an abandoned geodetic camp one day above the Beechey portage. They had a food cache two days above Hawk Rapids.
Without giving a source, Gaskin identifies the Bromley-Calder site as his point #49, below Sandhill and just above Wolf, clearly the rapids at D 805 km, about 260 km above Chantrey Inlet.

[Hodgins-Hoyle] Canoeing North into the Unknown; Bruce W Hodgins and Gwyneth Hoyle; Natural Heritage / Natural History, 1994; ISBN 0-920474-93-4.
I have the original.
The book describes the recorded history of travel on the Back River, from the Back and Anderson expeditions of 1834 and 1855 until well into the recreational canoeing period. It includes a summary of the Bromley-Calder obituary published in [Polar]. At the 2005 WCA symposium, I expressed my surprise to Gwyneth that they had found the obituary; she replied that she had read all issues of Polar Record (and, I expect, all other possible sources) in preparing the book.

[Jacobs] Site of the Bromley-Calder tragedy.
[2008 Comment: Both the [Polar] and [Gaskin] sites, respectively 130 km and 260 km above Chantrey Inlet, are incorrect. See the thread viewtopic.php?f=13&t=12422 ]
Ted Mellenthin, who spoke with Robert Bromley while in Yellowknife, said that the obituary is wrong but gave no specifics.
The RCMP detachments in Baker Lake and Yellowknife didn't reply to my letter asking about Bromley and Calder, whether I could see records, and about other paddling deaths on the Back. I'll try to drop in on both when I'm up there.
[2008 Comment: I didn’t do either.]

[Klein] Cold Summer Wind; Clayton Klein; Wilderness Adventure Books, 1983, ISBN 0-9611596-0-X.
I have the original. Chapters 16 through 21 describe his 1978 Back trip with son Darrell. They started on 2 July from just below Muskox Rapids (must be Jim Magrum Lake but the elevation given in the book doesn't match that on my topo); Glowworm, Muskox and other lakes were still frozen.
They reached the Meadowbank River on 31 July, having covered 456 miles, with ice and snow in sight every day. They ascended the Meadowbank to the lake at its source where they accepted an offer to fly out to Baker Lake. The weather was cold and wet nearly all the time on the Back, prompting them to pledge never to return to the North (the father did return); well, at least they didn't have bugs on the Back.
Their Kazan trip (recorded in the same book) also had very difficult conditions.
Thanks to Klein for the considerable service he did us in collecting and publishing information on Father Buliard.
The bibliography, extensive, cites many Beaver articles. More information on the death of Father Buliard is given in [Pelly 2005].
[2008 Comment: I still haven’t checked out Klein’s bibliography.]

[Lange] Will Lange, conversations. His group paddled a large part of the Hayes, flying in and out with Ptarmigan (still active in the region?); they did not reach the Back.

[Lentz] John Lentz, articles in Che-Mun,, Outfits 100 and 101 (Spring and Summer 2000 issues, pages 6, 7, 8 & 11 in both).
I have originals of both articles, which are mostly of archival interest. Party of four (Austin Hoyt, Kit Gregg, Tracy Perry and John Lentz) started from Aylmer Lake on 12 July 1962 and finished at Chantrey Inlet on 27 August. Dumped in Malley, wrapped a boat below Beechey and dumped below Escape.

[Luste] In private talks and emails, George Luste too suggested that we avoid the stretch below Sussex Lake. He provided also information on the Meadowbank route from the Back to the Thelon.

[McCreadie] Canoeing Canada's Northwest Territories: A Paddler's Guide; Mary McCreadie (editor); Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association, 1995, ISBN 1-895465-09-5, pp 36-42.
I have the original.
No paddler's residence is a home without this one; it is the place to start your research on the Back.
As usual, her description is excellent but necessarily brief. The Back Bibliography cites personal communications from Kristen Oleson and Robert Perkins, plus [Back], [Perkins book], [Perkins video] and [Pelly]. The falls shown on page 40 is not on the Back? [2008 note: It is not on the Back; no one responded to my CCR post with a better location.]

[McGoogan] Fatal Passage, Kenneth McGoogan, Harper Perennial Canada, , ISBN 0-00-638659-8, 2001.
A biography of John Rae, enthralling.

[McInnes] Mr. Anderson's Portage, Between Great Slave Lake and the Barrens; John McInnes; Nastawgan, Summer 2000, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp 1-11.
A well written and informative account of a solo 1999 trip from Anarin Lake to McLeod Bay of Great Slave Lake, Anderson's "Mountain Portage" route reversed. His source for Anderson's journal was [Clarke]; he did not have [Barr], which was published in 1999 (the year of his trip). The bibliography contains also five descriptions of land and portage routes in the vicinity of McLeod Bay, plus a short biography of Anderson.
McInnes describes why Anderson chose this route to Aylmer Lake rather the easier, more traditional one through Artillery.
After reading McInnes's article and [Clarke], and looking at the topos, somehow I lost all enthusiasm, and then some, for retracing this part of Anderson's route to the Arctic; Mountain Portage RIP. A dream on a cold winter evening: maybe do Margaret to Aylmer as the first stage of a trip to Kugluktuk?

[McPheeters] Martha McPheeters, email exchanges. Party of six flew in to Healey Lake on 21 June 1991, paddled down the Baillie, stopped to do a five-day backpacking trip away from the river, paddled the Back (she stopped for a three-day solo experience) and then paddled up the western shore of Chantrey Inlet where they were windbound for ten days before giving up and calling in for motorboat pickup. They arrived in Gjoa Haven on 18 August but were grounded there by snow and ice for another five days.

[Mellenthin] Freda Mellenthin, Wind on the Back River, unpublished report of 2002 trip with husband Ted. They landed at Sussex Lake on 2 July; their planned landing point (Warburton Bay of MacKay Lake), the Lockhart River and their backup landing point (Outram Lake) were all still frozen. They reached Muskox Lake on 6 July after five portages and much wading and dragging; Muskox Rapids were messy. They reached Jim Magrum Lake on 8 July, Beechey Lake on 13 July, Hawk Rapids on 19 July, Pelly Lake on 22 July, Buliard Lake on 25 July, Rock Rapids on 27 July, Escape on 29 July, Sandhill on 2 August, Franklin Lake on 6 August, Chantrey Inlet on 8 August, and Gjoa Haven on 13 August.
They spent five full days windbound; wind forced late starts or early pull-ins several other days; they got up very early several days trying to beat the wind, often failing to do so; several times they pulled over, napped, got back into the boat and continued. They ran most of the 67 rapids with the occasional short lift-over or lining job. They had [Gaskin] and [Struzik].
[2008 Comment: This report is now posted in CCR’s Routes.]

[Pelly] Expedition: an Arctic journey through history on George Back's River; David F Pelly; Betelgeuse Books, 1981, xiii, 172 p, 16 pages of plates; ISBN 0-9690783-0-7; Robarts call number F5903.P35.
Now out of print [Source: email message from Betelgeuse]; the net has used copies for $US75 and up.
Peter Dion, Tom Mawhinney, Brian Pelly and David Pelly started from Aylmer Lake on 21 July 1977; they reached Pelly Lake on 9 August and erected a cairn.
This book is the only source known to me for some of Back's sketches; the National Archives has them but they are not available on line.

[Pelly 2005] David F Pelly, The Disappearance of Father Buliard, Above & Beyond, July/August 2005, pp 29-34:
Discusses at length facts and "theories" related to the disappearance and death of Father Buliard.
To my mind, those who claim that he was murdered by local Inuit are the moral descendants of persons (notably Charles Dickens and Charles Patrick Daly, see the [Simpson] entry below) who accused the Inuit of having murdered the members of Franklin's expedition a century before [McGoogan].

[Perkins book] Into the great solitude: an Arctic journey; Robert F Perkins; Henry Holt and Company, New York, c1991, xi, 219 p.; Fitzhenry & Whiteside Ltd, Markham, Ontario; the ISBN is not given as such in the Robarts copy (call number F5905.P47); published as paperback by Dell in 1992.
Thoughtful, highly introspective and not so informative. Gene has the original.
The review cited at Robarts is plain mean-spirited and small-minded. His solo trip went from Sussex Lake on 21 June 1987 (the planned starting point of Artillery Lake was iced up) to Franklin Lake on 5 September; the author remarks that he could have paddled it in half the time. The pickup was arranged with the fisherfolk at the mouth; the pickup point is unclear.

[Perkins video] Into the great solitude, Robert F Perkins, colour video of his 1987 trip, made for the PBS Adventure program, 57 minutes; New Film Company ( It is available in VHS or DVD format from
I saw it on PBS but don't have access to a copy. As the book, so the video.

[Polar] Polar Record, Vol 14, No 90, September 1968, p 361. The Robarts call number is G575.P6; TPL lists it as on the 4th floor.
The article is an obituary for two paddlers who died on the lower Back on 27 August 1967.
Graham Peter Bromley (b 1926 in Alberta) owned a hardware business in Yellowknife. He keenly felt the pioneering spirit, and generously devoted much effort to community affairs and to improving social and economic conditions in northern Canada.
Ian David Calder (b 1935 in England) emigrated to Canada in 1964. His dental practice, based in Yellowknife, covered more than a million square miles. Under government contract, he gave dental care to Eskimo settlements through the Western and Central Canadian Arctic, as well as to Indian villages in the vicinity of Great Slave Lake.
Both Calder and Bromley were expert canoemen, with considerable experience of northern rivers. They had studied the works of earlier explorers and delighted in retracing their canoe routes. In 1966, they accomplished a difficult journey from Fort Rae on Great Slave Lake northward to Great Bear Lake. In 1967, following closely the journals of George Back (1834) and James Anderson (1855), their only predecessors along the entire Back River, they set out from its source in Muskox Lake. After twenty-seven days of travel, some 130 km above the river's estuary in Chantrey Inlet on the Arctic Ocean, their canoe capsized in rapids and both drowned. Ten days later, the third member of the party, Bromley's 16-year-old son Robert, was rescued by an air search party. He had survived with food and equipment washed ashore after the accident.
The Government of Canada, in recognition of the public services and adventurous spirit of these two men, has undertaken to name two lakes in the vicinity in their memory.
The article contains two glaring errors:
1. The [Lentz] and [Cundy] parties paddled the Back in 1962, before the Bromley-Calder trip, and
2. Sussex Lake (not Muskox) is the source of the Back.
These errors render suspect other statements in the article, and in fact the site given for the tragedy is also wrong [Jacobs].
At least the statement regarding the naming of lakes is correct. Our government kept its promise, for topo 66I ("IAN CALDER LAKE") shows Bromley Lake and Ian Calder Lake; they lie on the Montresor watershed, 40 to 60 km north of Wolf Rapids and northwest of Mount Meadowbank.

[Simpson] Thomas Simpson. Narrative of the discoveries of the north coast of America; effected by the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company during the years 1836-39; published by Richard Bentley, London, 1843.
Robarts has a microfiche (#40724 in the AV department, Media Commons, room 3001, third floor); the Rare Book Library has an original.
Simpson was a cousin of Sir George, HBC Governor. His journal is preceded by a memoir from his brother Alexander, also a Bay man, who shared a suite with John Rae at Moose Factory for five years.
The 1839 expedition (pages 342 to 388, Bloody Falls to Bloody Falls) was led by Peter Warren-Dease, Alex says only nominally. The "crew" of the two boats Castor and Pollux consisted of: two steersmen James McKay and George Sinclair (both members of the 1834 Back party: McKay Peak and Sinclair Falls); two bowmen Laurent Cartier and James Hope; and eight middlemen, Ooligbuck (Inuk interpreter), George Flett, Charles Begg, William McDonald, John McKey, John Norquay, Larocque and Maccaconce. Besides the steersmen, we had, in fact, but two Europeans in each boat, entitled to the name; the remaining six, comprising a Canadian, an Iroquois, a Cree, two Hare Indians and an Esquimaux ... .
BTW, CCR has a Castor and Pollux thread: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=14654&hilit=Pollux
Both Thomas's text and Alex's memoir contain statements far worse than "entitled to the name" . Not surprisingly, Thomas had bad relations with the native people and the M'etis; likely those attitudes played a role in his death.
After wintering at Fort Confidence on Great Bear Lake, on 15 June 1839 they set out on foot for the Coppermine River. They passed Bloody Falls on 22 June, passed the Ellice River on 31 July, discovered what is now known as Simpson Strait, reached Back's Point Ogle and continued eastward past the Back estuary to Cape Brittania, finding on a rocky summit a ponderous stone slab erected by the Inuit. About three miles farther east, they erected a conical pile of ponderous stones, fourteen feet high, and placed a sealed bottle inside. This is what Cundy calls Beacon Six. They continued east about another 40 miles, on 20 August reaching the Castor and Pollux River nine miles past Cape Selkirk; they erected another monument and walked three miles farther east before turning for home.
On their return trip, they erected another cairn at Cape Herschel; this is the large and conspicuous cairn on the south-west coast of King William Island at Point John Herschel [Barr].
They reached Bloody Falls again on 16 September and returned up the Coppermine to Fort Confidence; they gave up the "fort" and Simpson returned to Fort Garry, arriving on 2 February.
Simpson died in June 1840, not yet 32, on his way from Red River Settlement toward St Peter's on the Mississippi; Alex clearly believes that he was murdered by companions of two men whom he had shot the previous day.
The Simpson brothers seem to have been not atypical in their attitudes toward those not full-blooded Europeans.
But they and others were products of their times, just as we are products of our times. I recognize that the following passages from [McGoogan] may hurt some people, and for that I apologize in advance. I quote these passages not so much to shed light on those times and attitudes as to suggest that we reflect on ours.
When John Rae, after extensive interviews with the Inuit, reported of the fate of the Franklin expedition that it is evident that our wretched countrymen had been driven to the last resource--cannibalism--as a means of prolonging existence, the Times wrote the following of the Inuit: Like all savages they are liars ... they might have been tempted by the emaciation and weakness of the white men to attack them [McGoogan].
Charles Dickens, recruited by the formidable Lady Jane Franklin and her niece Sophia Cracroft*, wrote [Nobody can rationally affirm] that this sad remnant of Franklin's gallant band were not set upon and slain by the Esquimaux themselves ... We believe every savage to be in his heart covetous, treacherous and cruel [McGoogan].
Later, Dickens refers to the Inuit reports of cannibalism as ... the chatter of a gross handful of uncivilized people, with a domesticity of blood and blubber ... . [McGoogan].
[2008 Comment: A descendant of Dickens recently apologized for these remarks]
*I haven't looked for a connection with Cracroft Bay which lies to the east of Parry Peninsula, east of the mouth of the Horton.
In 1854, Britain had practised slavery up to 22 years before, the Irish famine had been in full swing less than a decade before, Norfolk Island had just closed (or was about to close), transportation to Australia would continue for another 14 years [Robert Hughes, The Fatal Shore], and Dickens labelled the Inuit cruel and uncivilized.
The US Chief Justice Charles Patrick Daly joined in, making explicit Dickens' thinly veiled suggestion by claiming that Franklin had been murdered by the Indians [Beattie-Geiger]. One might have expected better from someone in such a position, especially since he was also President of the American Geographical Society and so might have been more respectful of other cultures; he might have been expected to know also the difference between "Indians" and Inuit. In his country, slavery would continue for another ten years and lynchings for a hundred.
And in Canada like-minded men were sowing the seeds of the Red River rebellion.
It is all too easy to call these people racists and drop the matter, but Simpson, Dickens and others were so manifestly estimable in other respects that they deserve consideration beyond knee-jerk name-calling. Their beliefs, so reprehensible to civilized people of our age, were common not only in those times; in the lifetimes of many of us, they existed in a European country that considered itself to stand at the apex of civilization.
Can we be confident that others in 150 years will not consider some of our beliefs and practices equally abhorrent? How about "Those people ate meat!"
But in the final analysis, even though such opinions were widespread, what other word but “racist” is appropriate? Victim scarcely qualifies.
At least one European of note thought differently. John Rae (born 1813 in Stromness, Orkney) was a committed egalitarian. A few examples: unlike others in similar positions, he recorded the names of native people and M'etis in his journals; he insisted that they be treated fairly; he recognized the mongrel connotation of the term "half-breed" and apologized for using it; and in September 1853, he held a vote on whether the party he led should winter on the barrens or retreat to York Factory. And, according to [McGoogan], his commitment to the truth cost him credit for the discovery of the fate of Franklin's party, credit for the discovery of the "missing link" (Rae Strait) in the Northwest Passage, and a knighthood.

[Steele] The man who mapped the Arctic: the intrepid life of George Back; David Steele; Raincoast Books, Vancouver, (, 2003; ISBN 1-55192-648-2.
Marilyn and I have originals. This biography of George Back provides a useful complement to Back's journal for those whose interests go beyond putting a paddle in the water. The title is over the top though.

[Struzik] Ed Struzik, Canoeing in the Northwest Territories; the Back River; unpublished report of 1993 trip; seems to have been written for distribution by some government agency. Describes major rapids, many in detail, but locations of many are unclear. Portaged several times.

[Templeman] Bill Templeman, Captain Back's Route, Canoe Journal, pp 40-43, 2004, special issue of Canoe & Kayak .
I have the original; it is useful but necessarily brief.
Peter Morgan, Daniel Vokey, Rod Taylor, Bill Templeman and two others started from Muskox Lake (neither date nor year given), in three 17' ABS canoes; they reached Chantrey Inlet on 13 August. They had planned to be picked up by boat from Gjoa Haven but it couldn't get through the ice; they had to phone in to get picked up and flown to Yellowknife. They had no lake ice on the entire trip; they had T-shirt weather for the first two weeks, followed by bitter, windswept days for the rest. The bulk of the article makes a thoughtful comparison of conditions endured by Back's party with those experienced by modern paddlers. The "several drownings" are those of Bromley and Calder I guess.

[Tester-Kulchyski] Frank James Tester and Peter Kulchyski, Tammarniit (Mistakes); Inuit Relocation in the Eastern Arctic, 1939-63, University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver, 1994.
Back paddlers who read Chapter 6 (The Garry Lake Famine), and other chapters too, will gain another perspective on the river, those who once lived there and what they left behind.

[van Peenan] Paul van Peenan, one-page article, Outfit 100, Che-Mun (Spring 2000, page 9). I have the original; it is mostly of archival interest. Party of four (John Dunn, Ian King, Dave Read and Paul van Peenan) started from Fort Reliance on 9 June 1999, reached the start of Muskox Lake (frozen) on 29 June (?) and finished at Chantrey Inlet on 9 August. En route, they met George Luste, Robert Perkins and partner Bailey, and an Ely Minnesota YMCA group.

Other sources:
[2008 Comment: All that follows is from early 2005.]
Canadian Canoe Routes ( is the most active of the web sites dealing with our northern riverr.
1. Folder "Routes / Nunavut" has little useful on the Back as such.
2. Folder "Forums / Nunavut Canoe Routes" has good stuff; look at "Baker Lake Charters", "Back River", "Back River Info" and "Baker Lake".
3. Folder "Forums / Nunavut Canoe Routes / Hayes River with outlet in Chantrey Inlet" gave me [Coleman] and [Lange].
CRCA ( ), Adventure Exchange
( ), and Out There ( ) had nothing useful on the Back as such.


A literal mind is a little mind. If it's not worth doing to excess, it's not worth doing at all. Good enough isn't.  None are so blind as those who choose not to see. (AJ)

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