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The boats were cut out of their icy prison, and com menced their re-ascent of the Coppermine on the 3d oi September. At its junction with the Kendal River they left their boats, and shouldering their packs, traversed the barren grounds, and arrived at their residence on the lake by the 14th of September.
The following season these persevering explorers commenced their third voyage. They reached the Bloody Fall on the 22d of June, 1839, and occupied themselves for a week in carefully examining Richardson's River, which was discovered in the previous year, and discharges itself in the head of Back's Inlet. On the 3d of July they reached Cape Barrow, and from its rocky heights were surprised to observe Coronation Guli almost clear of ice, while on their former visit it could have been crossed on foot.
They were at Cape Franklin a month earlier than Mr. Simpson reached it on foot the previous year, and doubled Cape Alexander, the northernmost cape in this quarter, on the 28th of July, after encountering a violent gale. They coasted the huge bay extending for about nine degrees eastward from this point, being favored with clear weather, and protected by the various islands they met from the crushing state of the ice drifted from seaward.
On the 10th of August they opened a strait abont ten miles wide at each extremity, but narrowing to four or five miles in the center. This strait, which divides the main-land from Boothia, has been called Simpson's Strait.
On the 13th of August they had passed Richardson's Point and doubled Point Ogle, the furthest point of Back's journey in 1834.
By the 16th they had reached Montreal Island in Back's Estuary, where they found a deposit of provisions which Captain Back had left there that day five years. The pemmican was unfit for use, but out of several pounds of chocolate half decayed the men contrived to pick sufficient to make a kettleful acceptable drink in honor of the occasion. There were also a tin case and a few fish-hooks, of which, observes Mr. Simpson," Mr. Dease and I took possession, as memorials of our having breakfasted on the very spot where the tent of our gallant, though less successful precursor stood that very day five years before.
By the 20th of August they had reached as far as Aberdeen Island to the eastward, from which they had a view of an apparently large gulf
, corresponding with that which had been so correctly described to Parry by the intelligent Esquimaux female as Akkolee.
From a mountainous ridge about three miles inland a view of land in the northeast was obtained supposed to be one of the southern promontories of Boothia. High and distant islands stretching from E. to E. N. E. (probably some in Committee Bay) were seen, and two considerable ones were noted far out in the offing. Remembering the length and difficulty of their return route, the explorers now retraced their steps. On their return voyage they traced sixty miles of the south coast of Boothia, wliere at one time they were not more than ninety miles from the site of the magnetic pole, as determined by Captain Sir James C. Ross. On the 25th of August they erected a high cairn at their farthest point, near Cape Herschel.
About 150 miles of the high, bold shores of Victoria Land, as far as Cape Parry, were also examined; Wellington, Cambridge, and Byron Bays being surveyed and accurately laid down. They then stretched across Coronation Gulf, and re-entered the Coppermine River on the 16th of September.
Abandoning here one of their boats, with the remains of their useless stores and other articles not required, they ascended the river and reached Fort Confidence on the 24th of September, after one of the longest and most successful boat voyages ever performed on the Polar Sea, having traversed more than 1600 miles of sea.
In 1838, before the intelligence of this last trip had been received, Mr. Simpson was presented by the Royal Geographical Society of London with the
Founder's Gold Medal, for discovering and tracing in 1837 and 1838 about 300 miles of the arctic shores; but the voyage which I have just recorded has added greatly to the laurels which he and his bold companions have achieved.
DR. JOHN RAE's LAND EXPEDITION, 1846-47. ALTHOUGH a little out of its chronological order,
I give Dr. Rae's exploring trip before I proceed to notice Franklin's last voyage, and the different relief expeditions that have been sent out during the past two years.
In 1846 the Hudson's Company dispatched an expedition of thirteen persons, under the command of Dr. John Rae, for the purpose of surveying the unexplored portion of the arctic coast at the northeastern angle of the American continent between Dease and Simpson's farthest, and the Strait of the Fury and Hecla.
The expedition left Fort Churchill, in Hudson's Bay, on the 5th of July, 1846, and returned in safety to York Factory on the 6th September in the following year, after having, by traveling over ice and snow in the spring, traced the coast all the way from the Lord Mayor's Bay of Sir John Ross to within eight or ten miles of the Fury and Hecla Strait, thus proving that eminent navigator to have been correct in stating Boothia to be a peninsula.
On the 15th of July the boats first fell in with the ice, about ten miles north of Cape Fullerton, and it was so heavy and closely packed that they were obliged to take shelter in a deep and narrow inlet that opportunely presented itself, where they were closed up two days.
On the 22d the party reached the most southerly opening of Wager River or Bay, but were detained the whole day by the immense quantities of heavy ice driving in and out with the flood and ebb of the tide, which ran at the rate of eight miles an hour, forcing up the ice and grinding it against the rocks with a noise like thunder. On the night of the 24th the boats anchored at the head of the Repulse Bay. The following day they anchored in Gibson's Cove, on the banks of which they met with a small party of Esquimaux; several of the women wore beads round their wrists, which they had obtained from Captain Parry's ship when at Igloolik and Winter Island. But they had neither heard nor seen anything of Sir John Franklin.
Learning from a chart drawn by one of the natives, that the isthmus of Melville peninsula was only about forty miles across, and that of this, owing to a number of large lakes, but five miles of land would have to be passed over, Dr. Rae determined to make his way over this neck in preference to proceeding by Fox's Channel through the Fury and Hecla Strait.
One boat was therefore laid up with her cargo in security, and with the other the party set out, assisted by three Esquimaux. After traversing several large lakes, and crossing over six “portages," on the 2d of August they got into the salt water, in Committee Bay, but being able to make but little progress to the northwest, in consequence of heavy gales and closely packed ice, he returned to his starting point, and made preparations for wintering, it being found impossible to proceed with the survey at that time. The other boat was brought across the isthmus, and all hands were set to work in making preparations for a long and cold winter.
As no wood was to be had, stones were collected to build a house, which was finished by the 2d of September. Its dimensions were twenty feet by fourteen, and about eight feet high. The roof was formed of oil-cloths and morse-skin coverings, the masts and oars of the boats serving as rafters, while the door was made of parchment skins stretched over a wooden frame.
The deer had already commenced migrating southward, but whenever he had leisure, Dr. Rae shouldered his rifle, and had frequently good success, shooting on one day seven deer within two miles of their encampment.
On the 16th of October, the thermometer fell to zero, and the greater part of the reindeer had passed; but the party had by this time shot 130, and during the remainder of October, and in November, thirtytwo more were kilied, so that with 200 partridges and a few salmon, their snow-built larder was pretty well stocked.
Sufficient fuel had been collected to last, with economy, for cooking, until the spring; and a couple of seals which had been shot produced oil enough for their lamps. By nets set in the lakes under the
ice, a few salmon were also caught.
After passing a very stormy winter, with the temperature occasionally 47° below freezing point, and often an allowance of but one meal a day, toward the end of February preparations for resuming their surveys in the spring were made. Sleds, similar to those used by the natives, were constructed. In the beginning of March the reindeer began to migrate northward, but were very shy. One was shot on the 11th. Dr. Rae set out on the 5th of April, in company with three men and two Esquimaux as interpreters, their provisions and bedding being drawn on sleds by four dogs. Nothing worthy of notice occurs in this exploratory trip, till on the 18th Rae came in sight of Lord Mayor's Bay, and the group of islands with which it is studded. The isthmus which connects the land to the northward with Boothia, he found to be only about a mile broad. On their return the party fortunately fell in with four Esquimaux, from whom they obtained a quantity of seal's blubber for fuel and dog's food, and some of the flesh and blood for their own use, enough to maintain them for six days on half allowance.
All the party were more or less affected with snow blindness, but arrived at their winter quarters in Repulse Bay on the 5th of May, all safe and well, but as black as negroes, from the combined effects of frostbites and oil smoke.