Fur, hide, and oil from terrestrial and marine mammals were the main reasons the Hudson's Bay Company expanded north into "Baffinland" at the turn of the century. Seal and deer meat sustained men and dogs through the seasons and was augmented by blubber, fish, birds, bird eggs, and the White man's biscuits, sugar, molasses, tea, and flour. Hunger for men and dogs was common. Hunting was an important activity throughout the year, and while skins, hides, and oil were concomitant benefits, it is evident meat was the primary purpose of the "hunts" recorded in the Lake Harbour Post journal. The animals taken are listed below.
In the lists, click on the Latin name for an on-line link to
natural history information.
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Seals were the most important food and technological resource for Inuit people. Europeans and Newfoundlanders shared this dependence on seals and the Lake Harbour journal reflects this by using non-Inuit names for the animals mentioned throughout the journal. The Dictionary of Newfoundland English contains hundreds of "seal" definitions and usage references and is an excellent place to search out seal information.
|Jar seal||Phoca hispida, the ringed seal or fjord seal occurs throughout the Arctic Ocean, in the Okhotsk, Bering, and Baltic Seas; in large freshwater lakes in Finland (Saimaa Lake), Russia (Ladoga Lake) and Canada (Nettilling Lake, Baffin Island). In fact, Nettilling Lake takes its name from an Inuktitut word for the adult ringed seal (netsilak). Spring newborns are called "whitecoats" (netsiak) and after a moult are called "silver jars" (netsiavinerk). Silver jars skins were highly prized and were once the fur traders' greatest value. The meat and blubber fed men and dogs while the hide was mostly used for boots and clothes. Adult jar sizes go from 1.4 m and 70 kg for females to 1.65 m and 115 kg for males.|
|Square flipper seal||Erignathus barbatus, the bearded seal or square flipper is called by the Inuit ugjuk or udjuk. The hide of this, the largest, Arctic seal was used for making dog traces and the soles of boots and, at one time, was used to sheath umiaks and kayaks if walrus hide was not available. Square flipper meat was eaten by humans and dogs, but, like the polar bear, the liver is too rich in vitamin D to be eaten. Adult size is 190 cm and 340 kg.|
|Harp seal||Pagophilus groenlandicus, called saddle seals, saddlebacks, and Greenland seals by European hunters and kairulik by Inuit, are summer visitors to islands in Hudson Strait. Essentially seals of the ice pack, their presence in inlets like Glascow Bay would be rare, but they undoubtedly lent their name to several "Saddleback" islands throughout the region. The pack-ice newborn are called whitecoats; the moulted young, beaters or bedlamers. Adult sizes average 2.0 m and 125 kg.|
|Hood seal||Cystophora cristata, the bladdernose or crested seal (Inuktitut netsivak), are rare visitors to the eastern end of Hudson Strait. The young after moult are called bluebacks. Average size is 2.5 m and 300 kg.|
|Walrus||Odobenus rosmarus, the morse of Europe and the aivik of the Inuit, once inhabited the whole North Atlantic Ocean from the high Arctic south to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Iberian Peninsula. Hunted for 2,000 years for their tough hides and rich oil, Baffin Island walrus was a depleted, scarce resource by 1920. One photograph in the collection is apparently a walrus, but the detail is faded; it was rare enough to have warranted a picture. The economic importance of walrus hide, oil, and ivory is detailed in Farley Mowat's The Farfarers. No walrus were reported taken in Lake Harbour in 1920-1921 but some walrus meat was delivered from Frobisher Bay in September.|
|Beluga||Delphinus leucas, the white porpoise, white whale, or sea canary, is circumpolar in Arctic seas and occurs as far south as the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Honshu Island in Japan, and France.|
|Narwhal||Monodon monoceros is an Arctic Ocean mammal that occasionally strays as far south as Newfoundland, the British Isles and Japan. Prized for its single tusk-like tooth and hide, the narwhal was hunted by Europeans and Inuit intensively until ....see NaatGeo maybe|
|Porpoises||Phocoena phocoena, the harbour porpoise, herring hog, or puffing pig and the three common Atlantic dolphins (Atlantic white-sided or jumper, white-bearded or squidhound, and Atlantic bottlenose or gray porpoise) are not common in Hudson Strait so it is uncertain to which dolphin or porpoise the journal refers. Also, it was common to refer to beluga as a porpoise and whale, depending on its size. Other small whales, such as the minke, were probably not present in inlets.|
|Arctic Fox||Alopex lagopus is circumpolar, inhabiting the entire tundra zone of the Holarctic including most of the Arctic islands. As the Arctic fox doesn't hibernate it can be trapped year-round. The winter fur, entirely white throughout, is prized by fur traders and this preferred state is reflected in the Wolstenholme journal mention of the trapping season "starting" on November 1 each year. Arctic foxes, like their cousins the red fox, can be farmed and, because of their opportunistic feeding habits, are considered a threat to domesticated livestock in Iceland, parts of Siberia and Scandinavia. Arctic fox feet in winter, unlike other canids, are covered in a thick soft fur, hence its name "lagopus" or "rabbit footed".|
|White bear||Ursus maritimus, the polar bear, is circumpolar in the Arctic, its North American southern limit is determined by the winter Arctic ice pack, but includes the north and east coasts of Newfoundland, all of Hudson's Bay, and the northwest coast of Alaska on the Bering Strait. Prized by Inuit and European alike for its fur, the meat was also used for men and dogs, except for the liver which is poisonous because of its high level of vitamin D. The polar bear, the largest carnivore in the world, fearless, tremendously strong, very smart, and difficult to hunt without firearms, holds a special place in Inuit folklore, legend, and myth. A protected species, about 30,000 remain in the North.|
|Lemming||Lemmus sibiricus, a primary food for the Arctic fox, is found throughout the circumpolar Arctic tundra. Lemming skins were utilized by Inuit to line outdoor clothing and ...|
|Deer||Rangifer tarandus, the caribou or reindeer, is circumpolar and occurs from the high Arctic islands well south into temperate climates in North America. Extensively hunted throughout history wild caribou are now extinct in much of their Old World ranges. Caribou skin clothing was universal among Inuit people who used all parts of the animal, including tendons, bones, antlers, and intestines.|
|Snowbird||Genus speciesA harbinger of spring (16-04-21)|
|Owl||Genus speciesOwl eggs|
|Trout||Salvelinus arcticus, often called salmon and salmon trout, are the only salmonid fish to inhabit high Arctic waters. True salmon and trout (Salmo sp.) are not found north of Nain on the Labrador coast or much past Great Whale River in Hudson's Bay. Millward quoted (p.38) Noble who reported "salmon" in the rivers at the head of Cumberland Sound flowing from Lake Nettiling|
|Codfish||Gadus morhua is common throughout the northern hemisphere occurring from Polar Arctic waters south to New England, the English Channel, and the north coasts of British Columbia and Kamchatka Peninsula. A groundfish, or bottom fish, cod were a strong economic incentive driving European exploration of the Atlantic Ocean for the past 2000 years. Dried or fresh frozen it remains a European staple. Overfishing in recent decades have ruined some, once thought limitless, stocks of cod in North American waters, but the fish is still prolific and extensively fished in the North Sea and Barent's Sea and in polar waters around Iceland and Greenland. Cod is smaller and less productive in extreme northern waters. A popular resource of cod information is Kurlansky's Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World.|
There are two cod references in the Lake Harbour journal; one to drying cod in the summer of 1920 and one to cod frozen in the harbour ice in the fall of 1920.
Kurlansky (p. 42) describes cod as having a blood protein that acts as an antifreeze allowing them to survive in "freezing" temperatures.
If hauled up by a fisherman from freezing water, ... , the protein will stop functioning and the fish will instantly crystallize.Perhaps this was the fate of the cod discovered floating and then frozen into the sea ice in Lake Harbour.