In Search of a Polar Continent 1905-1907

The objects of this expedition were to penetrate as far as possible into that unknown region which lies to the north, and to meet and to get to know the natives, of whom I have always fostered an idea of making use in ice expeditions. Besides the natives, the whale-fishers who navigate those waters might, I trusted, be able to render me assistance. Furthermore, I wished to discover, if possible, whether there was land hitherto unknown in the Arctic Ocean: in ascertaining this, I would make Herschel Island my base of operations (p. viii).

p. 22: The Catholic mission is the most important place at Resolution, and Bishop Breynart has a diocese which extends from Fort Smith on the Slave River to the Arctic Red River in the Mackenzie—a stretch of more than 1,000 miles. Altogether there are ten churches in the diocese. At most of these smaller missions native children are schooled, and are taught how to lead a useful and godly life in this desolate region. Every one of these missionary posts or stations is visited yearly and supplied with the necessaries of life—an undertaking whereof the reader will hardly conceive the magnitude unless he has himself wandered far beyond the reach of railways. The children are not only educated but clothed and fed. The girls are taught how to sew and how to make their own clothes, as well as how to read and write; whilst the boys, who are also trained in these latter academic, if elementary, exercises, acquire a variety of crafts which will be useful—in fact, indispensable—to them in after-life.

p. 231: The poor beasts had not had a proper feed ever since leaving the coast on February 5—for about seven weeks, in other words; but from that date they had subsisted most of the time upon old clothes. This, indeed, was a more genuine and startling feat than that of Alfred Jingle, who declared that he and Job Trotter had “lived for three weeks upon a pair of boots and an umbrella with an ivory handle!” a declaration which elicited naive expressions of astonishment from Mr. Pickwick, “who had only heard of such things in shipwrecks, or read of them in Constable’s ‘Miscellany.’ ” Yet even the writers who chronicle their own travels know that there are things which their dogs, like their readers, will not readily swallow, and old clothes might naturally be reckoned of the number.