Along the Labrador Coast.

It is hard to determine from this book or the internet the date of this engaging tourist journal of the Labrador outports. On p. 98 he refers to the 230 years that the Hudson’s Bay Company had been trading furs from the natives; with a founding date of 1670 we can infer a 1900 date for the trip. He also there notes “No wonder the letters have been interpreted “Here before Christ,” for the company generally get ahead of the missionaries.

p. 83: On board the Virginia Lake they are kindly ministered to by the doctor and by his nurse, the poetic Peddel, author of the “Poems of Newfoundland,” a little book I was glad to purchase of the author, and in which he kindly wrote his name and mine. The poems are interesting, and as the author remarked, “There is a deal of deep thought in them.”

p. 177, on arriving at Nain: We crowd the mail-boat, sailors, officers, and passengers, and are soon ashore, where we are kindly greeted by the Moravian brothers and sisters, who introduce us to their bishop who happens to be staying there. Under the guidance of a Moravian, who acts as an interpreter, we wander about the Eskimo settlement, which has the same characteristics as that at Hopedale. The mission house and chapel are courteously shown to us by Brother Schmitt and his hospitable wife, who have been here fifteen years. Everything is spotless. In the chapel there are benches for the Eskimos to sit on, the men at one end, the women at the other.

On one side is a raised platform where there is a reading-desk on a table, while opposite to it is a harmonium on another platform. There are chandeliers for candles. In the mission house I copy some interesting records of birds and their eggs which Brother Schmitt has kept for some years.

p. 188-89: Many of the facts about the Moravian missions I gleaned from an interesting work on the subject purchased at Nain. It is written by one of the brethren, the Rev. J. W. Davey, and is called “The Fall of Torngak.” Torngak, which is pronounced like cognac, is the name of one of the Eskimo gods or devils, and the Moravians’ mission it is to oust this Torngak and substitute the God of the Christians. In this connection it is interesting to read Fridtjof Nansen’s book on the Eskimos. He is a great believer in the virtues of the original Eskimos, uncontaminated by the influence of whites. He finds them unselfish and altruistic, abounding in truly Christian virtues, although some of their ideas of morality differ radically, he admits, from that of the so-called civilized world. The missionaries, by breaking up their natural life, which the exigencies of the chase on sea and land require, make them, he claims, dependent on imported luxuries and necessities, and less able to fight the severe fight in the arctic regions. In this way they are degenerating in stamina and slowly succumbing to the inevitable,—disappearing as a race.

p. 247, on the need for a Labrador Audubon Society: ONE of the greatest pleasures in life is anticipation. The traveller obtains all the information he can of the countries he plans to visit,—of its scenery, its history, its people. A naturalist not only does this, but he also learns as much as he can of the geology, the flora, and the fauna. The man who is particularly interested in birds, in addition makes himself familiar with all the ornithological lore of the country. In this way he enjoys in anticipation the pleasures to come, and when he reaches his goal he knows what to look for. A familiar bird at home may be previously unknown or extremely rare in the foreign land. Without this previous preparation one might pass by many interesting observations.

It was with this spirit, therefore, that I searched any and all books on Labrador that might by any chance say anything about birds. In this way I came to know the writings of [George] Cartwright. My companion and fellow student made a card catalogue of the birds of Labrador, and to this we added from time to time such notes and observations of value as we discovered in our reading.