« EdellinenJatka »
might have got to some Indian wigwams in White Bear Bay, but he did not like to attempt reaching that bay. * *
· Wednesday, 8.—This morning, on finding the weather still thick, I divided the bread-dust and crumbs, all which now remained of our provisions, not amounting altogether to more than two biscuits, into three parts, and gave a part to each of my guides, reserving a like share for myself; and, as I had not the patent apparatus with me for extracting bread from saw-dust, though I saw the danger which must attend our moving in such thick weather, and blind as we all were, I perceived that we must either make an effort to return, or must starve where we were. I proposed, therefore, to the Indian pilot, that we should try to return to the spot where we had left so much venison buried. At first he hesitated; but at length he agreed that we should attempt it. A black gauze veil, which I had kept over my eyes when the sun was at its height, and the resolution to which I had adhered of not rubbing my eyes, had me, perhaps, from suffering so much from sunblindness as my companions. Maurice Louis, the Indian, would open his eyes now and then to look at my compass; we could not see for fog more than 100 yards; he would fix on some object as far as the eye could reach, and then shut his eyes again, when I would lead him up to it. On reaching it he would open his eyes again, and we would, in the same
a fresh departure. * By forced marches,—the snow now being soft, and nearly the entire distance to be travelled in rackets, in conse
quence of which we could not make the same expedition which we did as we came along,—we were providentially enabled to reach by seven or eight P.M. the same places at which we had halted at four each day on our outward march. Thus, a degree of labour, that of digging and clearing, to which we were now quite unequal, was spared us on our way back. The small quantity of biscuit to which we were now reduced, led me to advise my companions not to eat any quantity at a time, but to take a piece of the size of a nutmeg when hunger was most craving. We did, indeed, gather each day on our return, about as many partridge berries as would fill a wine-glass a-piece. These we found very refreshing and nutritive. Having been ripened in the fall of last year, and been sheltered under the snow all the winter, they were, now that the snow had melted away from them, like preserved fruit in flavour, and resembled a rich clarety grape.'
On the coast of Labrador the winter is extremely severe, the thermometer often falling 30° below the freezing point, and although the houses of the Moravian Missionaries are heated by large cast iron stoves, the windows and walls are all the winter covered with ice, and the bed clothes freeze to the walls; rum is frozen in the air as rapidly as water, and rectified spirits soon become thick like oil. From December to June the sea is so completely frozen over that no open water is to be seen. Some of the missionaries ventured once in February to visit some Esquimaux, forty miles distant, and although wrapped in furs, they were nearly destroyed; their eyelids
" * *
froze together in such a manner that they were continually obliged to pull them asunder, and by constant rubbing prevent their closing; one of them had his hands frozen, and swollen like bladders. The few summer months on this coast are extremely hot, the thermometer rising to 86°of Fahrenheit, when swarms of musquitoes infest the air ; the climate is not, however, insalubrious.
ANIMAL KINGDOM.–Of the animals, some are of European extraction, the others are native, and, except the dog so celebrated', common to all the northern regions of British America : the domestic animals appear to thrive well in summer, but in a great measure depend on their owners for subsistence through the winter. Among the wild animals, deer are the most valued, on account of their size, number, and utility ; these being undisturbed in the interior, multiply exceedingly. There are also bears, beavers, otters, foxes, hares and martens found in great abundance, and furnish profitable employment to the hunters and furriers.
It is said that Newfoundland contains none of those venomous animals or insects which infest other countries, except the gnat, a mosquito which during the summer months is extremely troublesome in or near the woods. Domestic poultry succeeds very well; land and water wild fowl are found in great abundance, particularly bustards, wild geese, and wild or eider ducks; partridges, snipes, plovers,
1 The genuine black Newfoundland dog, so sagacious and so faithful, is becoming very scarce in the island.
curlews, and blackbirds are also in great abundance, as well as eagles, kites, hawks, ravens, and jays.
The partridges are like ptarmigans (of an excellent flavour), larger than those in Europe, and always perfectly white in winter. The most remarkable of the sea birds which visit the coast of Newfoundland are, the lord and lady of the teal kind, the saddleback, gull, tinker, razor-bill, the loon, whabby, and ice bird.
Besides the great staple of the island, fish (see commerce), the numerous lakes and ponds which abound produce divers kinds of excellent trout, and eels of a great size; the lobsters are uncommonly large and equally good, and the muscles better flavoured than in Europe. There are no oysters, but lance, herrings, mackerel, and salmon are in great abundance; besides these, plaice, sole, hallibut, and thornback are found on the coast.
The capelin, which is perhaps the most delicious fish in the world, arrives periodically in such shoals, as to change the colour of the sea, near the coves and beaches, and two persons may easily fill a common sized boat in a couple of hours. This fish remains on the coast about six weeks, and is considered the best bait for cod. The herrings also arrive in the spring and autumn in prodigious shoals. The salmon fisheries are thus described in the Missionaries' Journal :
“ Went this week to visit the salmon fisheries, which are upon the main gut (at Sandy Point). Three or four families reside there. One night, as some of the people and an Indian boy were going out just at the rise of high tide, five canoes in all, to
SALMON FISHERY AT SANDY POINT.
spear trout and eels, I joined them in the excursion. It employed us till an hour or two after midnight. The scene was an animating one. A brilliant moon hung over the hills, which were finely wooded, to the very cliffs and sand at the edge of the water. Bunches of birch bark were packed together, a dozen in each packet : these were stuck one at a time, as required, into a stick which was cleft at the top to let in this rude flambeau, to which a light was applied. The stick with the ignited birch bark was then put upright at the bow of the canoe; there, also, the man stood up, most insecurely balanced, as would seem, with his nighok, or eel-spear, a pole cleft at the bottom, with a spike inserted. This, on his striking a fish of any size, would admit it till the spike perforated it, and then closing press it, and prevent its escape.
The sandy or stony bottom of the river in the shallows (for in deeper water this sport cannot be pursued) was seen as clearly as in the day, and
fish in it. The fish seemed at least bewildered, if not attracted by the light; and the quickness of eye, and adroitness of the man who used the nighok, impelling, as he did, the canoe with the thick end, and every now and then reversing it to strike, were surprising. He struck successfully at eight out of ten of each of the fish at which he aimed, and shook them off into the boat with a sudden turn of his arm, which left him at liberty to strike at two fish within a second or two. He kept his balance, also, with great niceness, when he seemed to have poised himself so far over the side of the light canoe, that
upon it, would