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84 WINTERING IN PRINCE OF WALES' STRAIT, 1850.

encumbered with ice, as to be hitherto considered impracticable for navigation.

September 30th, 1850. Was firmly frozen in the Prince of Wales' Strait, and Captain Mc Clure, entertaining a strong impression that the waters in which the “Investigator was then lying communicated with those of Barrow's Strait, and that the important question of a North-West Passage might now be solved, set out with a sledge and a few men, on October 21st,

, , for the purpose of testing this conviction.

On October 26th, Captain Mc Clure and his party reached Point Russel, and ascended an elevation of about 600 feet, commanding an extensive view; and had the gratification of finding that their arduous and fatiguing journey had not been in vain, for beneath them lay the frozen waters of Melville Sound, proving, beyond doubt, that a North-West Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific existed. Captain Mc Clure reached the ship again on October 31st, and remained frozen in until July 14th, 1851, when the ice broke up, and every effort was made to get into Melville Sound to the westward along Baring's Land, and accomplished the terrific passage of that terrible Polar Sea; but seeing no possibility of getting down Barrow's Straits, they were obliged to anchor in a most safe and excellent harbour, which, in grateful remembrance of the many perils they had escaped during the terrible passage of the Polar Sea, was named

« THE BAY OF MERCY."

FIRST WINTER IN THE BAY OF MERCY, 1851.

85

Thus finally terminated, on September 24th, 1851, this short season's operation, having been actually only five entire days under weigh. They were frozen in the first night, and were thus fixed in their winter quarters. Latitude 74° 6' north; Longitude 1189 15' west.

As there appeared much game in the vicinity, and the weather continued mild, shooting parties were established in different directions, between the 9th and 23rd of October, and we obtained 9 deer, having from two to three inches of fat, 53 hares, and 44 ptarmigans, all in fine condition. In consequence of our favoured position, the crew were enabled to ramble over the hills almost daily during the whole winter, in quest of game, and their exertions happily supplied a fresh meal of venison three times a fortnight, with the exception of about three weeks in January, when it was too dark for shooting. The small game, such as ptarmigan and hares, being scarce, were allowed to be retained as private property by the sportsmen. This healthy and exhilarating exercise kept us all well and in excellent spirits during the tedious winter, so that by April 1st we had 1,000 lbs. of venison hanging at the yard-arms.

All wearing a fair aspect and being desirous of visiting Melville Island, with the hope of meeting an officer there, with whom arrangements might be made in case any accident should occur, Captain Mc Clure, with a sledge party, proceeded on April 11th, 1852, and reached Melville Island on the 28th, and deposited a

86

CAPTAIN MCCLURE VISITS MELVILLE ISLAND.

notice of their visit under the same cairn where Lieut. Mc Clinlock left one last year, upon a large fragment of sandstone bearing this inscription

“His Britannic Majesty's ships, 'Hecla' and 'Griper,' commanders Parry and Lyddon, wintered in the adjacent harbour during the winter of 1819-20.

A. FISHER, Sculpsit.

Thus, Captain McClure, coming round by the Pacific from the westward, through Behring Straits, and trending along the northern coast of America, reached Melville Island, and at the very tablet recording Parry's residence, Captain McClure deposited the testimony of his visit, being 33 years after Parry's discovery of it.

Thus by Captain Mc Clure was completed the last link in the chain of discovery, and demonstrated the existence, and traced the course, of that connexion between the two oceans, which, under the name of the North-West Passage, has so long been the object of perilous search, and deep interest to the nations of the civilized world.

In the discovery of the double passage, the honour is to be equally divided between Parry and Mc Clure. Parry from the eastward penetrated to Melville Island. 110° west longitude, and obtained the first Parliamentary grant of £5,000. Captain Mc Clure from the westward reached the same spot, and completed the circle, and received £10,000 Parliamentary grant.

Captain Mc Clure left Melville Island on April 30th,

SECOND WINTER IN THE BAY OF MERCY, 1852. 87

and returned to the “Investigator,” in Mercy Bay, on May 8th, having travelled the entire way upon the flat ice.

The spring and summer of 1852 were cold. Even on August 20th the temperature fell to 27°, and Mercy Bay was completely frozen over, so that the whole aspect was most cheerless; the young ice was two and a half inches thick. Indeed, the summer was gone, for the uplands were all covered with snow, the wild fowl had departed, and the flowers which gave a cheerful variety to this bleak land, were all withered. The very season might be considered as one long sunless day, as since the latter end of May that luminary had been scarcely visible, or his influence felt.

On September 24th, the sails were unbent, and preparations commenced for again housing in for winter. This is the anniversary of our arrival, and the contrast is remarkable. We entered the Bay, not a particle of ice being in it, and with the temperature at 33°; but to-day the thermometer stands at 2°, with ice that has never moved, and every indication of a severe winter. And thus we were closed up again for another winter in Mercy Bay.

In November, herds of deer came down, sometimes as many as ninety at a time; these animals do not migrate to the south, but exist upon the scanty herbage, especially the dwarf willow. Hares and ptarmigans were abundant.

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CHRISTMAS DAY, 1852, IN THE BAY OF MERCY.

Christmas Festivities, 1852, on board the "Investigator"

in the Bay of Mercy. " As it was hoped to be our last, the crew were determined to make it memorable, and their exertions were completely successful; each mess was gaily illuminated and decorated with original paintings by our lower-deck artists, exhibiting the ship in her perilous positions during the transit of the Polar Sea. But the grand features of the day. were the enormous plum-puddings, some weighing 26 lbs., haunches of venison, roasted hares, hare soup, ptarmigan, and sea pies. Such dainties, in such profusion, I should imagine never before graced a ship’s lower deck; any stranger to have witnessed this scene could but faintly imagine that he saw a crew which had passed upwards of two years in these dreary regions, and enjoying such excellent health ; so joyful, so happy, indeed, such a mirthful assemblage, under any circumstances, would be most gratifying But in this lonely situation I could not but feel,” says Captain Mc Clure, “deeply impressed, as I contemplated the gay and plenteous sight, with the many and great mercies which a kind and beneficent Providence had extended towards us, to whom alone is due the heartfelt praises and thanksgivings of all for the great blessings which we have hitherto experienced in positions the most desolate which can be conceived."

“1853. January. Excessively cold, showing a mean

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