Letters from Pangnirtung

Letters from Pangnirtung – Part 1

The following is an edited, annotated version of the letters written by Prudence Edith Hoskins from Pangnirtung, Baffin Island, during the years 1931 to 1935.  Prue, as she usually calls herself, was sent to Pangnirtung by the Anglican Church of Canada to act as nurse-in-charge of its first hospital in the Eastern Arctic: St. Luke’s Anglican Hospital.  At this time, mail came once a year with the supply ship (“shiptime”). In order to keep her family in Alberta informed about her life in “Pang” (as it’s called by northerners), Prue kept a sort of running letter or journal, in which she recorded her day-by-day activities.  These letters document the realities of a small, remote, Arctic settlement during the 1930s.  They show us what it was like to be a nurse in such a place and at this point in time.  They record her triumphs and enjoyments as well as her problems and disappointments.

Prue’s letters were collected by Joy Duncan as part of her research on outpost nursing in northern Canada.  Joy subsequently donated the journals and taped interviews she collected to the Glenbow Museum in Calgary.   If you are interested in this era of Canadian history, you may want to look at the other letters and journals in the Glenbow collection.

Footnotes have been added to explain some of the references made by Prue in her letters. You’ll find them at the end of each section.

The first entry by Prue on August 2, 1931, documents the trip of her and her companion/housekeeper from Cochrane to Moose Factory – including her unexpected meeting with a couple of world-famous celebrities.


Moose Factory

Aug. 2/31


Dear Family,

Now we’ll start off from Cochrane at 8:30 on Friday morning.[1]  We were on the end of a fair?sized freight and travelled in regular ‘freight fashion.’  There was an Hudson Bay clerk from Rouchet, Saskatchewan, going in and another boy on our car.  The country is bush pine, birch and poplar and rivers and lakes.   It is pretty, pretty and has many ravines where the track is built away up high and there will be just a tiny stream at the bottom.   By noon we were 1 1/2 hours late.

The Stevens House provided us with ‘dainty ham sandwiches’ ?? two loaves and a ham which our young friends were glad to share.

The mauve ‘fire weed’ is out and masses of it and goldenrod looked so pretty.  Well, we got to Coral Rapids about 6 instead of 3.  At one place we left 35 cars of ties and rails.

Coral Rapids is a very prosperous place?  About 4 log cabins and a few tents but dogs abound.  Our guide, who had got aboard at Island Falls, took possession of us, bag and baggage, and took us to the Northern Lunch where ‘Lady Charlotte’ works for ‘Charlie.’  It is a log mansion, the one room having a long counter with high stools, a bed and a little table in it. Wash basin [is] in the corner.  We were honoured with the table and the two of us and the Hudson’s Bay man had supper.  Right after, Mr. Bazlot, our guide, came and told us we were going on to Blacksmith Rapids for the night.  I discovered my poor bag had a broken handle [and] was coming unsewn in several places besides being open.  I’m afraid, Ma, your bag is done but it must hang on.

At the station we found a nice sedan car fitted up with train wheels and a truck, loading baggage.  We two went in the sedan with the head of the railway construction man and two mining engineers.  We had a grand old ride for two hours to Blacksmith Rapids. They regretted that we couldn’t go on to Moose River bridge, which is apparently ‘the sight’ of the line.

At Blacksmith Rapids, there is a provincial government mining camp coal mines.  It is very pretty under the pines on the banks of the Abitibi River.  There are quite a few log cabins there.  They have a tennis court, croquet and horseshoes.  Here we were assigned to a fair?sized cabin commonly called ‘The Ram Pasture.’  It was quite nice and we had beds to choose from.  As all the doors and windows were screened we did not need our nets.  They say the fly season is over.  Also, the mosquitoes are much less, so we were lucky.  Of course they don’t change the bed linen after every guest but such are minor details.  One of the two ladies there invited us over to her cabin for the evening.   She and her husband have a huge tent with a double roof and boarded half way up inside.  It is very comfortable.  The only drawback with the place, she says, is that a bear has taken to promenading on the one piece of sidewalk.

Next morning, we breakfasted in the cook cabin at 7 with a select few ?? the camp hands ?? and what a breakfast was spread out.  I really must tell you the full menu: grapefruit (canned) or prunes, porridge and every kind of boxed cereal, bacon, eggs,  potatoes, catchup, pickles, toast, butter, corn cakes, coconut muffins, and cake, tea or coffee.  There was a tin plate turned over, and a turned?over cup on it, at every place.

After breakfast we visited the other lady, who has a little bungalow, and her two kiddies out for the summer.

At 9, we started off down the Abitibi: [the] two of us, the Hudson’s Bay man, Mr. Bazlot and his French helper.  We just got started when someone called to us and it was 10 when we got started.  We ran the Blacksmith Rapids and two smaller ones and it is good fun.  I loved it.  We sat on a pack in the bottom of the canoe which, of course, has an engine.  At noon we camped, made a fire and soon had hot beans and canned beef, bread, tea and canned pears.  Mr. Bazlot said in honor of the occasion we had a knife and fork each.  The Abitibi is wide with a good current but as shallow and full of rocks and sand bars as can be.  We just zigzagged all the way from side to side.  About 4 we reached the branch or Allan Rapids where the Abitibi joins the Moose.  Here we had a short portage through lovely pine woods full of moss and ferns but the canoe went down the Rapids.  I’d loved to have gone down too but we had too much stuff for us to go.[2]

We got here about 7:30 p.m.  It is nearly 90 miles by water so we made fair time.  Cochrane to Coral Rapids is 92 miles.  You likely know [that] the mission here is on Moose Island, as also is the Hudson’s Bay and the police?  The railway is to come to what is now Revillon but what is to be Moose Harbor.[3] [3]. It is about six miles from the Bay.  The river is very wide here and full of sand bars so big vessels will never be able to come up and the smaller boats only at high tide.

All the celebrities arrived in one day. We found Bishop Anderson here and also the Lindberghs who made the little hop from Ottawa in four hours.[4]  Miss Dawe is K.M. here and Miss  Turner, head. They have a Mr. Boas as teacher.  He is just a kid and they are all nice.[5] Miss Dawe is very anxious to get to Baffin Land and was ‘second choice’ to Mrs. S. [Saucier].  There are 6 little girls and 3 boys here for holidays.  Some of the wee ones are cute as can be.

After supper Lindy and Mrs. Lindy called on us.  Mrs. is very tiny and he is very tall.  They were both very nice to talk to. [6]

This morning we went with the Bishop and Mr. Blackburn across to service on the mainland. [7] There were a few whites and a number of Indians.  One curly headed papoos [sic] howled lustily.  This afternoon there is a confirmation but, as it is to be in Cree, we didn’t go.  The Bishop speaks Cree.  Mr. Black­burn’s induction service is to be tonight and we’ll go to that.  Mrs. S. tells me Jane’s friend, Mrs. Warner, phoned her up in Montreal to find out if it was Jane or I going North.  She said if I was to be in Montreal at all she wanted me to stay there.

It was a perfectly lovely day yesterday, not too hot but nice and bright.  Today is chilly and showery.  They have all been using mosquito nets here until the last night or two.  [Now] they say there is no need.  We weren’t bothered last night.  You can imagine how sleepy I was?

We are likely to go to Charlton[8] about the 10th and there is a special packet coming down river then.  That’s all I know at present.  Hope this will go back tomorrow.

Love, Prue.


[1] Prue started her journey in Winnipeg and Carol Saucier in Montreal.  The two met in Cochrane and continued the trip together.  From Cochrane, they took the train to Coral Rapids, where they switched to canoes for the trip down the Abitibi River to the Moose River and Moose Factory.

[2] In his book, Fur Trader’s Story, former HBC trader J.W. Anderson wrote: “Cochrane was still some two hundred miles upstream from Moose Factory, an eight-to-ten day arduous journey by canoe, although the five-day downstream trip was somewhat easier.  Because of the many rapids and portages it was not feasible to use any craft larger than three of four paddlers” (p.  17).

[3] By Revillon, Prue probably means the site of the store of the  Revillon Freres, a Paris-based fur trading company that competed with the HBC in the Eastern Arctic in the Bay area.  The Revillon store was located across the river from the HBC at Moose Factory.  “Factory,” in the name, refers to the home of the HBC factor, or manager, and not to any factory.

      The Revillon site was subsequently bought out for the railway extension to Moose Factory.  The company itself was absorbed by the HBC in 1936. 

     According to J.W. Anderson, the name “Moosonee” was his invention.  In Fur Trader’s Story he wrote: “When first the railway reached the tidal waters of James Bay, the terminus was  called Moose Harbour.  Feeling the name to be infelicitous, I aired my views in the summer of 1932 to Premier George S. Henry of Ontario who, accompanied by George W. Lee, Chairman of the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway Commission, paid a visit … point­ing out that the name was very prosaic and that moreover they didn’t have a harbour … Why not called the terminus Moosonee?   This was a very old Cree name, used by the natives for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years to designate this very place.  As far as I was aware the name Moosonee was at that time used only for the Anglican diocese of Moosonee, incorporated in 1875, and would therefore not conflict with any town or settlement in Canada … [S]oon thereafter the name ‘Moose Harbour’ disappeared and ‘Moosonee’ was used for the James Bay terminus” (p. 172?3).  The railway was not officially opened until 1932, but the line reached what was to become Moosonee shortly following Prue’s visit.

[4] During the 1930s and 40s, there was considerable interest in charting a mail route across the arctic. The Lindbergh’s flight was only one of many such ventures undertaken during this period  and was the object of much public curiosity.  The Lindberghs (who were on their way to the Orient) flew with the permission and co?operation of the Canadian government.  Several fuel depots were set up along their route, one of which was at Pangnirtung.  Anne Morrow Lindbergh described this trip in her autobiography, Hour  of Gold, Hour of Lead.

[5] The first Anglican mission at Moose Factory was built in 1864.  An Anglican Residential School for Indian children was subsequently built on Factory Island.  At the time of Prue’s visit, personnel at the school included Miss H. Dawe, the Kitchen  Matron (hence, K.M.), from Newfoundland (where she had worked in  an Indian School; Miss E. Turner from western Canada; and Mr. A. Boas, the teacher, from Winnipeg.  Miss Dawe had just arrived to replace Carol Saucier at Moose Factory.

[6] In her book, Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead, Anne Morrow  Lindbergh wrote about meeting the group at Moose Factory, although she  erroneously described Prue and Carol Saucier as “two nurses”. Of Prue in particular, she wrote: “The young shy nurse had never been north before.  It made me quite sick to think of five years up there: a boat once a year and no other women, a missionary, a Mounted Police, a trading post, and Eskimos.  She did not say much and I couldn’t think of anything encouraging to say except  that she would be doing wonderful pioneering work.  A slight flicker of satisfaction on her face at that” (p. 166).

[7] The Principal and Missionary-in-Charge at Moose Factory was the Rev. J. Blackburn. As with many missionaries, the Rev. Blackburn’s work was shared by his family.  Archibald L. Fleming, first bishop of the Arctic diocese, wrote in 1931: “Mr. Blackburn is greatly helped by his wife, who is an earnest and devout  churchwoman, with much commonsense, energy and Christian charity.  The joy of their home is Billy, a boy of about nine years, whose health has improved greatly since he arrived at Moose Factory”  (“The Near North”, p. 6).

[8] Since 1910, Charlton Island was used as the supply depot and  distribution centre for the HBC, as silt build up in the mouth of  the Moose River made it difficult for the ships to load and  unload at Moose Factory.  The Island was also somewhat cooler  than the mainland during the summer months.  As Prue will men­tion, during the summer the district office of the HBC would  move, bag and baggage, to the Island.  A.L. Fleming identified  the Aboriginal housekeeper on Charlton Island as Mary Salt (“The Near  North,” p. 8). 

Moose, Aug. 10

Dear Ma,

There is a chance of sending out mail tonight so as it may be our last before we go to Charlton, I’ll send this.

The Hudson’s Bay boat, The Churchill, is here now and expected on every tide.  Last time she was a week ahead of time so it is in order for her to be late this trip [9].

The bush and country generally around here is the same as at The Pas.  It rains frequently and rubber boots are really necess­ary but it dries up very quickly.  Did I tell you how nice the church is here?  It is a fair size for a small church and has nice furniture in the chancel, red carpets and red curtains  behind the altar, nice little brass cross, altar vases and book  rest.  It is lighted by sort of double gas lamps.  The Bishop held service in here every evening that he was here.  He speaks Cree and visited every native here.  The Roman Catholics are working hard all around the Bay and have a priest here who speaks  Cree, while Mr. Blackburn does not.  He is trying to learn and can read part of the service in Cree now.  The Roman Catholics have no converts here as yet.  The priest did his best to get one of our mission buildings to use as a church ?? talk about nerve [10].

On Friday Mrs. Blackburn had a Women’s Institute meeting so Mrs. Saucier could see all her friends [11].  They asked Mrs.  Blackburn to write an address which they all signed and gave it  to Mrs. S., saying how glad they were to see her again, etc.   They had a lot of little dresses they had made on display for us to see.

Sunday afternoon they had a sort of memorial service.  The cemetery was all tidied up last week and after afternoon service,  which is read in Cree by a lay reader, all the people put  wreaths, crosses and sprays of flowers on their graves.  There were some wonderful crosses made of potato flowers and some  beaded ones were put on.  Mrs. S. made quite wonderful ones of larkspur and cedar for the school children’s graves.

Mrs. S. can apparently do anything according to her reputation here.  If she is as easy to work with as she is to play with, we’ll get on O.K.  I certainly like her.

The whole works go bathing every afternoon.  The water was quite cold today but I enjoyed it.  The tide was in and we did not need to go out far.  We get ready here and run down.  I’m sporting a ‘bale’ bathing suit [12].

Mr. Blackburn is going to have a communion service for us before we go as we just missed the Sunday they have a celebra­tion.

I’ve heard so much about Shingwauk where Miss Dawe worked with Mrs. S. and Wabasca where the Dawe sisters worked that, with  what I know already, I feel as if I’ve worked in an Indian School  for years [13].

I’ll write again from Charlton but it may be some time before you’ll get it.  We’ve had another packing bee and united a lot of our things using a box Mrs. S. brought things in here in.  Love all around.

Prue.   XXXX

9]  The name of the boat was actually the Fort Churchill.  The  Fort Churchill was built in England and brought to York Factory  in 1913.  As Prue recounts, the ship snapped its mooring lines  in a storm shortly after its arrival and nothing was seen of it  for over a year.  During the winter of 1914/15, Inuit at Great  Whale River reported a ship “lying with her nose on a rocky  beach” in the centre of the Belcher Islands.  It turned out to be  the errant Fort Churchill, minus her masts but otherwise intact.  In an article published in The Beaver in 1970, Alan Cameron  speculated that the ship’s apparently mysterious successful navigation of the channels was due to the fact that she had been  boarded, or possibly even towed, by the Inuit.  The HBC towed the  ship back to Charlton and, despite some inexplicable idiosyncrasies, she remained in HBC service until 1939.

[10]  Rivalry between the Christian denominations was a constant  feature of missionary work among Canada’s Aboriginal people.  The  domination of the Anglican church in the area of Moose Factory  was due in large part to the pioneering efforts of John Horden,  who came to the area in 1851 and was eventually made first Bishop  of Moosonee.  Equally important was the work of Horden’s mixed-blood catechist, Thomas Vincent, who was made Venerable Arch­deacon.

Moose Factory had been originally visited by the Oblate  Order (in 1847) but the HBC blocked Catholic missionary work by  refusing to allow the establishment of a permanent mission.  The  Oblates were forced to relocate to Albany and were unable to make  their presence felt at Moose Factory until the arrival of the  railway in 1931.

[11] Carol Saucier had previously served as Matron at the Indian  Residential School at Moose Factory.

[12] Prue probably means a swimming suit that she found in a bale  of used clothing donated for the mission.

[13] The references are to the Anglican missions at Shingwauk  House, Algoma, and Wabasca, Athabasca region.


Charlton Island, N.W.T.

August 17/31

Dear Dad,

It seems this letter must be for you since it will contain  something of boats.

Saturday night we duly went aboard the good tub Churchill at  8:30 p.m.  The mission staff, or most of them, canoed across with  us and we climbed up a rope ladder and over the side.  Skipper  Neilson entertained us with all the yarns he could conveniently  think of about Eskimos and we went to bed in a tiny 2 x 4 cabin.  About 4:30 a.m. we were wakened by more passengers coming on  board and we left around 6 a.m.  The Churchill was a sailing  vessel and has had a gas engine installed and cabins built up on  deck just so as to help her roll.  This boat broke away once and  drifted in the bay for a whole year before she was found and  brought back.  The engine has a wonderful vibration and they used  one sail as well.

Had a nice time till we got out of the river into the Bay.

James Bay on the Churchill is like the Bristol Channel.  Ask Ma.  It is a year almost to the day since we had that crossing.  By  8:30 I was gloriously sick and Mrs. S. wasn’t long after me and  very shortly we noticed all the men were travelling by rail too.  There were about a half dozen Hudson’s Bay men on board and one  Mr. and Mrs. going to a post on the Bay.  We were a fine frisky  pair when we got here and decided we had made a brilliant start.  However, the Churchill is renowned for rolling and as we had no  cargo it was worse than usual.  We got here about 3 p.m.  It is  about 80 miles.

There is nothing here but Hudson’s Bay buildings: warehouse,  bunk houses and district office.  The district office moves out  here from Moose each summer as the Ungava [14] brings supplies  for James Bay here for distribution.  Also a few Indian tents but  very few.  A squaw keeps house and cooks for the Hudson’s Bay.

The island is nicely wooded and is supposed to have pretty  lakes and creeks through it but as the moskos are here in clouds,  I don’t know how much of it we’ll see.  Also, Mrs. S. isn’t very  bright today so we won’t do much walking.  Thirdly, a heavy fog  has just rolled in from the sea and although the sun is bright,  one can’t see much.  The island is 90 miles around.  I didn’t  know Moose was such an old place.  It is the second Hudson’s Bay  post, Rupert’s House being the first [15].  There is an old  vessel here, the Sorine, which was [a] Danish four rigged brig.   It came out in 1910 freighting from London to Charlton at  3 per  ton.  The Hudson’s Bay District manager here remembers it and  raves about what a pretty sight she was.  However, the crew  mutinied and the vessel was abandoned [16].

Strawberries, rasps and blueberries all grow here.  The  straws are nearly over but we found a few.  We had blueberries  for breakfast.  Hurray.

It is much colder here than at Moose.  There is a dear  little sail boat here that is to take the Hudson’s Bay people to  East Main, about six hours run [17].

This is to be continued in our next.  The Ungava is due  today but will she come?

[14] The Ungava was a supply ship for the HBC, temporarily  replacing the Nascopie during the years 1930?33, whilst the  latter was under repair.

[15]  Rupert House was founded in 1668 and Moose Factory in 1673.

[16] J.W. Anderson was, at the time he met Prue at Charlton  Island, a HBC district manager on his way to Great Whale River.   In Fur Trader’s Story he tells the story of the Sorine, which he  describes as “a magnificent sight.”  As Prue recounts, a minor  mutiny among the crew forced Captain Hans Andersen to return to  Charlton Island for the winter.  The Danish barque was not  equipped to withstand the ice, the ship was damaged and captain and crew had to make their way home via Cochrane (p. 13?14).

17] East Main, or Eastmain, is located on the eastern (i.e.  Quebec) side of James Bay.  The “dear little sail ship” that Prue  mentions was probably one of the 10- to 40-ton sailing schooners  built at Moose Factory Factory by the HBC in order to supply  their trading posts along the smaller rivers.


August 19

No sail appears on the horizon yet but this is such a nice place we don’t mind.  The fog cleared on Monday afternoon and we went out for a short walk.

Yesterday was a lovely day and Mrs. S. had recovered so we  had two good rambles.  We both like scrambling around following little paths, of which there are millions.  The island back of the post is little sand ridges and the trees are not close  together so the breeze keeps off the beasts.  I never knew blueberries were so pretty growing before.  They are right on the ground and such a lovely colour of light blue.  The ripening ones  are pink and mauve but not a bit the colour of Saskatoons as they  ripen.  Cranberries, that make sauce, are here in millions and are just turning.  Also plenty of tiny rose bushes covered with berries.  Then there are several other shrubs and mosses with blue and red berries.

The moss that is used in moss bags is plentiful; club moss, cedar and all the little things that grow on the sandhills at  home.  Mrs. S. is much taken with the bluebells that are just like ours.  Goldenrod is here, too, and another shrubby thing with a flat yellow flower, purple daisies, and a little fireweed.

Back beyond these ridges we went through heavier timber along an old creek bed to a swamp.  We are lucky to have a holiday in such a nice place.  It’s warmer today and I had to take off my sweater.  There is another, fair?sized isle in ‘front,’ east of Charlton, which forms a harbour [18].    We saw a whiskey jack, chickadee and a robin.  I think I heard a wren but couldn’t see it.  There is supposed to be a lake beyond the swamp but I’m afraid we won’t be able to get to it.  More later when I know more.

[18]  The island Prue is referring to is probably Danby Island.

August 22

Great excitement this a.m.  We started off for our usual  constitutional about 9:45 and thought we saw  smoke on the hori­zon.  However, we’ve seen it before so we didn’t put up the flag  or shout about it.  We walked back a bit and down on to the beach  where we perched on a big stone and watched the smoke or cloud  drift across and made up our minds it must be smoke.  About 10:30  we came back and when we got out of the trees, sure enough, the  flags were all flying at the Post.  About 11:30 S.S. Ungava was  here.  She can’t come into the wharf until high tide, about 8  p.m., so the Churchill has gone out to her and got her cargo  direct.  The Churchill looks like a pea on a pumpkin beside the  Ungava so here’s hoping she is steadier.  Four of the crew came  ashore and had dinner with us.  They seemed quite nice and  reported good weather so far.

I got some mail that had been sent to Montreal too late and  caught the boat at Churchill.  Four envelopes from Joyce Rea  marked: ‘Open December 25,’ ‘Open on your birthday,’ ‘Open Easter  Day,’ and ‘Open ad lib.’  So I opened the ad lib one, a letter  from Nora, one from Miss Norton and a copy of The Canadian Nurse  [19].

We have explored more and eaten more blueberries.  We found  a dear little creek as pretty as can be.  I wish you and mother  could have a holiday here, you’d love it.  No crowd to bother.

We will probably leave Monday or Tuesday.  The Churchill and  this letter will hit back to Moose the same day.

I found some Saskatoons today.  Huge ones but on low bushes.  Everything seems to grow here.  The Hudson’s Bay wiseacres  decided the gooseberries must have been planted on the island   and probably it was done by the company discarding a tin of  gooseberry jam at some time or another.

It was funny but the three Hudson’s Bay men have had nothing  to do the last three days (the District manager went with the  East Main people on Thursday) so this morning they decided not to pretend to work but to go off fishing.  They just nicely got to  the fishing bay when the Ungava was sighted and they came back  full tilt to get here first.  The men who are here to unload the  boat have been berry picking.  More again before we leave.

[19] The Canadian Nurse was, and still is, the official publication of the  Canadian Nurses Association.

August 24

Donkey engine busy all yesterday unloading the Ungava and  hard at it still.  They hope to be off tomorrow but aren’t very  sure.  We met Captain Alexander and Mrs. A., also some others of  the crew.  Two Esky families were aboard and we met them picking  berries yesterday.  The ladies had tails in the approved style  [20] and bright red skirts.  Three or four little toddlers in fur  boots were along.  One wee one is called Myrtle.  They look  better than their pictures.

Mrs. A. is the only lady on board.  She is quite young and  the Captain doesn’t look more than 35.  She seems nice.  They  report wonderful weather and have seen no ice at all.  I wonder  what happened [with] the ‘bergs this year?  It was sultry yester­day and we had a thunder storm.  Have seen Northern Lights two  nights.   They were bright and reflected in the water at the  North while the moon made a bright path to the south.  Have no  fancy work finished.  We are too busy and think it our duty to be  out as much as possible.  Better luck on the boat.  Maybe.

[20]  Prue is referring to a caribou outer parka or qulittuq  (which she spells as koolatang). Unlike those worn in the Western  Arctic, the women’s koolatang in the Eastern Arctic was distin­guished by a long “tail” in the back.  The front and sides were  long enough to provide warmth, but not so long as to interfere  with freedom of movement.  The back was left long so that it  could be sat upon.

August 25

     All the stuff is unloaded and coal is being loaded, then we  have to be loaded and off we go.  The general opinion seems to be  that we’ll be off tomorrow morning.

There are 41 of a crew on the Ungava and about 8  passengers. It’s been beastly cold the last two days and we’ve  had a fire in the living room.

We are wondering where our cabin will be.  There are a few right at the back and I believe this is the usual passenger place  but up in the middle will of course be steadier.  Anyway, all  cabins open on deck so we’re first class this trip.

I had a good laugh yesterday.  Mrs. S. is always teasing me  about [her] being sent as chaperone and I tell her if that is all  she’s going to do, she won’t be rushed but she says there must  have been some reason for picking [her].  Yesterday I was just  outside the door and M., age 50 at least, married, etc., engineer  of the [Churchill] came along and started to talk to me.  Imme­diately Mrs. S. appeared so I congratulated her on her  efficiency.

Jane, I owe the Archdeacon $20.10 on account of expense  money.  I got a draft for $50 which I’m returning him but I’m  taking a few dollars in with me so will you send him the $20.10?  I’m not sending him my account now because I have to write him  from Pang so he won’t know till after the Ungava returns.


Orders are to go aboard this afternoon and sail 6 p.m.  So  au revoir, bon voyage and etc.  Lots of love to last till Oct.


S.S. Ungava

Port Harrison

August 31/31


Dear Mother, Dad and Jane:

I’m wondering if you’ll get my letter sent off with the  airmen.  We found two planes here.  This German one flying from  Denmark via Greenland to Chicago  and the two American boys  flying from Detroit to Denmark via Pangnirtung and Greenland  [21].  The Americans hope to go there and back with a view to starting an air mail, so here’s hoping.  They had an ordinary  seaplane but Count von Gronau had quite a different kind.  It  had a long body with floats on the side of it so that the body  sat down in the water; the wings were at the top of the body and  the engines and propellers on top of that.  There were four of  them (men) and this plane had a little cabin business in it.   Five hours from here to Pang.  We sure would like to fly.  It’s  five days straight sailing and here we’ll take at least three  weeks.  We heard by radio that the Beothic [22] has arrived.

Our cabin is right in the stern and opens onto the little  ‘aft deck.’  It has 4 bunks so see top [refer to illustration].   The bunks have curtains on them and we have electric light.

Hurray for electric tongs.  There is a deck on top of the dining  room but the lower decks are all packed with cargo.  We go across  a plank on top of gas barrels to get to the diner.  It is a  narrow little place with a long table seating ten.  It is a salon  in?between times.

Wednesday was a fine day and so was Friday and I was out a lot.  Thursday was cold and dull and we pitched like anything.  I  felt not too bad as long as I lay down so I stayed down and read  nearly all day.  Mrs. S. was miserably ill and very little better  on Friday.  However, we anchored just out from Port Harrison in a  land?locked harbour Friday evening so she was better on Saturday.

Saturday Mr. Herbert, our missionary here, came aboard and  conflabbed to us all morning.  He is just a year out from England  and told us all about his lady love.  He is rather nice.  It  rained most of Saturday so we didn’t go ashore.  Sunday morning  we went over on one of the scows that were unloading.  Mr. Herbert met us and froze right on.  We visited the Hudson’s Bay post and then it rained so we went into the mission.  Mr. Herbert  was very good at trying to entertain us but we wanted to go for a walk.  No luck.

This is beyond the tree line and it surely is barren.  Rock  sticks out everywhere.  There is a lot of grass and moss, though, and some flowers.  It isn’t flat but rounded, rolling hills.

We unloaded the last of the livestock (the sheep) here and  took on eight or ten little foxes.  They are going to the  Hudson’s Bay fox farm at Pang.  We find that Mr. Ford is the  Hudson’s Bay interpreter at Pang. and Mrs. F. is a Labrador lady  which means Indian, Esky and white in doubtful proportions.

Today is rather a nice day and we hope to leave before supper.  Mrs. Alexander has jaundice which accounts for us never seeing her.

[21]  The American airmen were Parker “Shorty” Cramer and Oliver  Paquette and they reached Pangnirtung on August 1, 1931.  They  vanished into the North Sea shortly after August 7.  Wolfgang von  Gronau left the Isle of Sylt, Germany, on August 29, 1931, en  route to New York.  Gronau arrived safely but, as Prue will  recount, announced that he did not think an Arctic aviation route was practical.  Both expeditions were front?page items in the  newspapers of that time.

[22] The Beothic conducted annual administrative and scientific expeditions for the Canadian government, continuing a tradition  started with the Arctic.  The Arctic patrolled the north from  1905 to 1911, and then from 1922 until its replacement by the  Beothic.  These trips had two main purposes: to enable scientific  endeavours such as biological studies and to make a show of  Canadian sovereignty.  After 1931, the Beothic was mothballed as part of the economy measures brought about by the Great Depression.  Prue writes “Beothic” but in Eskimo Admin­istration: II. Canada (1964) Diamond Jenness consistently spells it as “Beothuk.”  A Newfoundland sealing vessel, the ship was named after an extinct Newfoundland Indian tribe known as the Beothuk, which may explain Jenness’s spelling.

     At the time that Prue wrote these words, Dr. Leslie  Livingstone, the Medical Officer of Health for Pangnirtung, was  aboard the Beothic.  Livingstone had spent most of 1930 in Ottawa  and was returning to Pangnirtung via Montreal, the Labrador  coast, and the far north of Baffin Island.  Another passagenger  aboard the Beothic that year, Douglas S. Robertson, reported on  this trip in the book, To the Arctic With the Mounties (Toronto:  Macmillan Co., 1934).

September 3

Was very glad to get your letter this morning.  While doing  our daily dozen on deck, the Assistant Purser came along and gave  me your letter with Mrs. Martin’s and Grace’s enclosed.  It was  the first one you wrote.  It had got into the mail bag of Mr. Airth, a prospector at Cape Smith, and he got it out of his bag  at that place yesterday so I got it today.  Surprises!  It was  rather nice.  I’m glad Nell got my room settled to suit.  Don’t  see why she banished the washing stand.  Where did the china go?

Well, we didn’t get away from Harrison by supper time and at  7 p.m. the Dr. was called to a shooting accident twenty miles up  the sound and did not return until 5 a.m. so it was 6 a.m. before  we started on [23].  Sept. 1/Tuesday.  It was a nice day and I  was out a lot but Mrs. S. was sick again.  We got to Cape Smith  about 9:30 a.m. yesterday.  Some place.  We anchored out again.   The Hudson’s Bay post and a couple of native huts is all that is  there on a little strip of shore.  Behind it and right along the  coast from the water’s edge, the rock rises quite steeply with  very little moss at the top.  The landing is very bad so we didn’t go ashore.  They unloaded for dear life and we left there  again at midnight.

Mrs. Alexander is somewhat recovered and was out last night.  Mrs. S. got out yesterday afternoon and so far is well today.

I’m getting fat.  I’m so hungry four times a day.  We get  lunch at 9 p.m. in our cabin.  We have a very attentive steward.  We also have a written menu but there is not much variety to it.  It is a little different to a C.P. liner.  There is a noticeable  lack of ‘Gorgeous Insects.’  Do you remember, Ma?

We left off one man for Revillon’s at Harrison and got one  in his place and three Hudson’s Bay boys.  The Hudson’s Bay are  reducing everywhere.  Foxes were very plentiful last winter.   That is all the Eskys get here and many are moving further north.  We heard the American flyers were turning back from Harrison as  one of their compasses were [sic] not working and they are flying  with nothing else.  The Germans left and I hope posted your  letter.

[23] Prue does not identify the ship’s surgeon aboard the Ungava.

Southampton Island, Sept. 6

     Sunday again and a beautiful, bright, blue?sky day.  The  weeks seem to be all Saturday and Sunday.  We had a nice smooth run from Cape Smith and I sure was glad Mrs. S. wasn’t sick.   Friday about 11 a.m. we ran into a nice big field of floating  ice.  Big pans and little cakes all around us.  The water in the  open spaces was perfectly smooth, not a ripple.  We saw and felt  our icebreaker in action; when we’d hit a big piece the whole  boat trembled.  It’s biff on one side and bang on the other all  the time.  I went up to the very front of the boat and hung over  and watched.  The boat seemed to climb up on the big pans, then  splash, under it went or else a piece would break off.  Several  times we had to turn off as the ice held us perfectly still with  engines going full speed.  We had all steam on and still went  very slowly.  It was perfectly still but cold.  It was fun.  The  Dr. is a scream.  He was so excited and so pleased because he was  afraid he wasn’t going to see any ice.  We went through the field, then ran along beside it all afternoon and cut through  some more of it around dinner time.  About 7:30 p.m. [we] anchored off Southampton Island.  We are at the east side towards  the north.  The harbour is well protected by land but the ice  field seems to be drifting in on us this morning.

They can only unload here at high tide as even the scows cannot get to shore at low tide.  We went ashore yesterday morning.  The hills are lower than Cape Smith and not nearly so  rocky but huge stones stick up all over.  However, there is much  grass and vegetation in between.  There is the Hudson’s Bay here  and two churches, ours with a catechist in charge and the Roman Catholic with two priests.   We brought one [priest] here.  We  met Mrs. Ford of the Hudson’s Bay post who, with her two  youngest, ages five and eight, is going out with us.  She seems  very nice and although she looks white (is dark), she is of the  squatty Eskimo build and has a flat face.  I think she came from  Labrador.  She is going out to get the two little ones to school  and see the rest of her family who are out in Newfoundland [24].

We couldn’t walk far on account of swamps.  There are about  a million dogs.  One side of the island is soapstone and glistens white like snow when the sun shines on it.

Two nice Eskys brought us back in their motor boat.  They  all wear white boots here.  Mrs. Ford has a reindeer coat trimmed  with white baby seal for her little girl and a black seal trimmed  white for the boy.  They are cute.

The Dr. has a moving picture camera and was taking [movies  of] a group of natives on shore.  We were standing at the side  out of range, looking out at the boats, and all of a sudden  glanced around to see the camera focused on us.  We turned one  each way, locked arms and fled.  He thinks it is a great joke.   He says after he shows [the film of] the group of natives he’ll  say, “Here are two slightly more civilized but still quite shy.”  I’ll get even with him yet.

We heard about the Roman Catholic Hospital at Chesterfield.  You remember?  Well the men on board say it was made of old  lumber from Montreal.  It is huge, four stories with forty?seven  windows.  They declare your whole hand will go in between the wall and any of the window frames.  Four nuns and four brothers  are there to run it [25].

The missions surely get plenty of criticism.

The sunsets have been gorgeous the last few nights and the  moon rises right after.  Last night the Northern Lights were  lovely.  Reminds me a little of last year and it would be nice if  you could see it too, Mar and Par.  Mrs. S. is pretty good  company.  She’sa good talker, at any rate.  Dorothy was right  there.  She absolutely refuses to get up before I do in the  morning so I guess she has my number??  I’m afraid my information regarding her age was a little out ?? I think she is only 35.   Well, its too nice to stay in any longer so I’m for the deck.  See you again soon.

24]  In her journal, Prue describes Mrs. Ford as being of Inuit descent but she would later contradict herself.  In a letter  written at the time and later published in the Anglican Church magazine, The Living Message (volume XLIII, 1932), Prue writes: “We are a little disappointed that Mrs. Ford, the only white  woman here, is going out on the Ungava.”

     Prue gives us little information about Mrs. Ford but the  family was apparently well known in the north.  In his book,  Northern Trader, Caribou Hair in the Stew”, (Victoria, Sono Nis  Press, 1983), Archie Hunter has a picture captioned, “Sam Ford  and his family at Southhampton, 1925.  They survived one winter  on fish and a bag of coconuts.”

     George Miksch Sutton dedicated his book, Eskimo Year, A  Naturalist’s Adventures in the Far North (New York: MacMillan  Co., 1934), to Jack Ford, described as the son of the chief HBC  trader on Southhampton Island, Sam Ford.  Sutton describes Jack  and Sam Ford as speaking Inuktitut among themselves but makes no  mention of ethnic backgrounds.  Mrs. Ford was not on Southhampton  Island during Sutton’s visit but arrived at the time of his  departure (July, 1930) with her younger children.  Sutton does  not describe her.

     Douglas Robertson, in his account of his trip on the Beothic, describes Mrs. Ford as “a sturdy Englishwoman,…one of the two white women in all Baffin Island” (p. 210).  Robertson was at Pangnirtung shortly before Prue and Carol arrived.  He reports that Mrs. Ford and her husband “had lived at Pond Inlet and liked the Arctic” (ibid).

      In his diaries (now on microfilm at the Anglican Church  Archives), Canon John Turner records having tea with Mr. and Mrs. Ford at Pangnirtung on Saturday, August 28, 1931.  The Fords  apparently left with the Ungava on Monday, October 3.

[25] Chestefield Inlet was the site of the first Roman Catholic  Mission in the Eastern Arctic (it was established in 1912).  The  24?bed hospital was built in 1929 and staffed with Grey Nuns.  As  was the case at Pangnirtung, the Canadian government provided  some financial assistance for the hospital, even though its  administration was maintained by the church.  The presence of the  Grey Nuns was a powerful factor in shaping native attitudes  towards European medicine.

September 8

We left Southampton at 3:30 p.m.  We were on the south of the island at the top of South Bay and we took on a native pilot  to get us in and out.  Before he got off we were in ice again and  plenty of it.  We crawled along till about 10 p.m., then tied up  to the fence till daylight.  We saw several seals flipping about  in the water, some quite close.  The Dr. was in high glee over  all the ice.  But the Captain wasn’t nearly so pleased.  He is  very careful and of course stays on the bridge through all the  ice.

Well, yesterday morning we woke to the biff and bang of  heavy ice.  New ice had formed during the night and although it  was quite thin, the pans were nearly all joined together.  We  crawled along and about 3 p.m. had got out to open water but  plenty of ice still east of us. We passed north of Coats Island  and into Evans Strait.  Towards evening a bigger ice field than  ever came in view.  We went on south to skirt it and about  midnight the Captain gave it up and we stopped till dawn.  He was  surprised to find ice south of Coats Island.  It is apparently  out of Foxe  Channel.  This morning we went northeast again and  now, at 11 a.m., we see the entrance to Hudson’s Strait with ice  still in view north and west of us.  About 9:30 a.m. we sighted  the Farmington, one of the grain boats making for Churchill.  She  is in now but they say if the wind changes, the ice will block  the straits and she won’t get out as she is no ice breaker.  The  Beothic left Chesterfield this a.m. and we may see her.  Also the  government ice breaker McLean is cruising around “investigating  ice conditions.”

Am anxious to hear of Wilkins.  We got a radiogram that he  was lost for four days and a search party was going on [26].

The Captain was mate on the Nascopie in wartime and each  winter she freighted from Archangel.  He tells great yarns.  According to reports she is better all around than the Ungava [27].  We hear there is better accommodation.  Of course this is  O.K. if you’re lucky enough to get to the washroom first. We have a slight advantage, being right beside it. Also it isn’t everyone  who has their ventilator opening into a fox farm?

I must tell you about all the Esky’s we shipped at Southampton.  They are Baffin Landers going back. At least 3 large families, 2 boats and 3 dogs, 2 of whom have large families  of pups.  They are strong on washing and have the rigging deco­rated every day.  One lady in her teens is very toney with high  heels and pointed toes on high laced boots.  We saw the old lady  getting meat ready for dinner.  She had a flat affair she was  using for a knife [28] but the meat was so tough she used her  teeth to help out.  Rumour says the little Eskys get up first in  the morning and trot around their deck ‘au natural’ [sic] until  they are captured and dressed.

While I remember and before I forget to tell you, pack everything you send me twice.  The way they handle freight is  death on it.  The way we saw it dumped around last year was  gentle to the way they do here.  I fear for my poor trunks as I  expect the B. is the same.  They crated Mrs. S.’s trunks from  Moose.  I got a little more mail yesterday, a Canadian Nurse and a parcel for Xmas.

[26] Sir Hubert Wilkins was a well?known aviator and explorer and  commander of the Nautilus.  The “Arctic submarine” became the  object of considerable public concern when she was lost to radio  contact for five days: even Soviet ships were ordered to try and  establish communications.  By the time Prue writes on September 8, radio contact had been re?established and most of the world  knew that all was well with the Nautilus.

[27] The Nascopie not only hauled ammunition from Brest to  Archangel, Russia, during World War I but did so while still  fulfilling her duties as an HBC supply ship.  On June 14, 1917, the  Nascopie was credited with sinking a German submarine.  The  captain during this period was T.F. Smellie, who, altogether, served on the Nascopie for 28 years.  Smellie retired in 1945.  Two years later the Nascopie hit a reef at the entrance to Dorset  harbour and was broken up by heavy seas.

[28] Prue is referring to the ulu, the versatile, half?moon blade  that Inuit women continue to use for a hundred and one uses.

Wolstenholme, Quebec, Sept. 9

     We went in a narrow, narrow little bay with cliffs rising on either side and at the end a little flat place with post buildings on it.  This coast looks much like what we could see of Labrador at Belle Isle.  The rocks show shades of green where moss is and reds, browns and greys, and are very rugged but not ugly. If they had heather on top they might be Cornwall.  Anyway, we got here about 4:30 p.m. yesterday and unloaded at high tide (6 p.m.).  Were to leave again before midnight but ?? the wind she blew one hurricane and then she blew one more, the rain poured and fog misted, and the glass dropped 1/2 inch in four hours.  So Mr. Captain decided this is one fine bay to roll around in and we’re still rolling in same.  Before dark the government ice breaker McLean came in and anchored fairly near us.  She is a trim little thing, not as big as us but she doesn’t look like a tramp and we do.

Both our scows, which we use to load and unload, got away last night.  One of them had a canoe with an engine belonging to the Post here on it.  Seeing we have to get 200 tons of coal on at Lake Harbour, it’s a serious thing.  They hoped to leave tomorrow morning and had a forlorn hope of finding the scows but not anymore.  It’s rained and misted nearly all day and we’ve spent the afternoon gambling.  Mrs. Ford did not come on at Southampton after all.

Well, we’ve lost another day; six weeks today since we started.  We are having a lot of fun as we go along.  We got more Eskys, more dogs, more pups and a couple of kayaks on yesterday.  Capt. was glad we were clear of the ice before the storm got us.

The Dr. has traded most of his clothes for curios and his trouble has been [that] they all want trousers.  He is tall and very thin, just opposite to the Eskys and you can imagine how well his clothes fit them.  He gets a great kick out of one Esky on board in his suit; the coat just buttons but Joe puts on his smile first and it hangs down like a swallow tail.

Good night.  Here’s our lunch after which we retire.

Cape Dorset, Baffin Land

Sept. 11/31

Well yes’t. morning bright and early we left W. and it was still blowing quite a bit.  The Ungava went through a series of nose dives combined with side rolls as she went out of the Bay and even the carpet on the floor moved.  There was a good sea and she rolled and pitched until late afternoon [when] it got smoother.  Mrs. S. was a gonner before time to get up.  I went to breakfast but my appetite failed me.  It was just about impossible to walk on deck and the Chief Engineer helped me back across the barrels.  Waste of a good breakfast.  At noon I decided to eat where I was.  How the steward got a tray over, I don’t know.  He said he had a hard time.  I was out again for supper and found I wasn’t the only one absent at dinner time.  By 7 we could see Baffin Land ?? thrills.  It looked much like the last few places and about 8, we anchored.  Another half hour would have taken us into the harbour but the Capt. had not been here before and as the charts of this part are very far from accurate, he preferred to wake us up about 4:30 a.m. and run in in daylight.  After we anchored we just rolled and rolled till nearly midnight.  Just a steady roll, over on one side till the lower decks nearly flooded and back again.  I went to sleep and left it to it.

At Wolstenholme, in about 10 ft., just near the middle of the Bay, the water changes from 240 fathoms to 16.  Do you remember the picture on the curtain in Cameron’s hall with the mountains, the house and water in front?  Well, these places, especially Wolstenholme, remind me of that.

[Cape] Dorset is much the same only the hills are lower and there is more vegetation.  There are 200 Eskys here, half as many boats, and twice as many dogs.  Most of our Eskys and dogs got off here.  There are so many boats our cargo boats were not missed.  Some of these Eskys have wonderful fur trousers and parkas to match.  They are ‘half grown’ seal, sort of dappled grey and are banded with black and white.  One pair was stripped like R.C.M.P.  Mostly the strips run round and round at the bottom; they are knee length.  The Dr. has been busy all morning, the results of a football match.  One old lady of about 70 has a dislocated toe.  They evidently play hard.

The Esky babies sit in the hood of mama’s parka. The wild ones are naked at this time of year.  We saw an iceberg yest., a  huge one.  They counted 40 at one time coming through the strait on the way in.  It is a grand day today, quite warm and the sky and water a lovely color.  We were in the sun all morning.

Wakeham Bay, Quebec

Sept. 14/

This is the day we are due at Pangnirtung and here we are.   We left Dorset early Sat. the 12th and had a fairly good day but a fog came up in the late afternoon and we had to anchor for the night.  During the night a high wind got up and rolled us around most terribly.  Sun. was foggy all day and we travelled about 2 knots an hr.  It rained and was beastly rough.  I felt quite proud of myself because I wasn’t sick.  I’m some sailor if I do say it myself now, before the trip is over.  Poor Mrs. S. has a terrible time.  I don’t think I’d care to travel with an invalid.  Not on an icebreaker, anyway.  Of course Mrs. S. doesn’t want anything but to be left alone which ?? when I’m hanging on by my eyelashes ?? is what she gets but its miserable for her.

When it’s rough they wet the table cloth and the dishes stick on in a fair roll but we were nearly finished lunch yest. when we rolled most fearfully and everything went.  I never saw such a mess.  Everybody grabbed all they could hang on to but water, tea, coffee, pickles, bread and crackers all rolled around together.  The Capt. got up from lunch and remarked that he must take the bearings again and said, “I hope we’re not more than 2 miles inland.  Last time I took them we were in the middle of an island”!  Quite thrilling to sail uncharted seas.  We tied up to the fence for the night and came in here in time for breakfast.   We are in a dear little bay.  The hills do not come quite to the water and are completely covered with moss.  The 2 companies [29] are here and a number of Eskys.  It’s pouring and wind is icy today. It’s a good thing we’re in here.  It is foggy in the strait, too.

Sat. I borrowed a typewriter and did a number of circular letters.  S.S. McLean picked up one of our cargo boats.  We also heard Wilkins turned back.  So did the American flyers from Harrison and Baron Von Gronau does not recommend the Northern route, we hear.  We are to take on a few more foxes here.

Mrs. Alexander (Capt.) is a lot better and usually is at meals and we see her on deck after.

[29] By “two companies,” Prue probably means the two main fur? trading companies, the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Revillon Freres.

Lake Harbour, Baffin Land

                             Sept. 18/

Tues. the 15th was a nice day and we were out on deck all day.  We left Wakeham Bay at dawn on Wed. the 16th and the straits were quite choppy.  However, it didn’t bother me.  Mrs. S. was off again.  About 2 p.m. we sighted ‘High Bluff,’ an island off Lake Harbour.  Fourteen miles further on we came to the ‘Beacon’ and also the pilot.  We entered a narrow twisting inlet with little inlets running off in all directions and, after 11 miles of travel, we came to the head of the inlet where the post  is. We saw a number of huge bergs and, incidentally, had quite a heavy snow storm.  It was about 4 p.m. when we anchored and, being soaked with snow, we came down to our cabin.  Just got our wet things off when a knock came at our door and here was Mr. Bailey [30].  He wanted us to go ashore right away quick, Mrs. B. was so anxious to see us.  We put on rain coats, rubbers and went.  Mr. B. had a little rowboat and an Esky boy and away we went.

L.H. is by far the prettiest place we’ve seen yet and I hope my snap turns out.  The hills are high and rugged in places but they are far from bare.  There are also flat places with soil in plenty.  There is lots of grass around the Bailey’s house and three kinds of edible berries grow, little cedar?like stuff and  that little vine with sort of waxy leaves that turn scarlet at  this time of year.  The hills are lovely.  Yest. and today have  been bright ‘blue sky’ days and the harbour is calm and blue too.  It is just like Oct. at home with a nip of frost in the air.  The air is lovely and clear ?? wouldn’t mind staying here.

Now I’ve wandered away from Wed.  When we went ashore, it stopped snowing and we had tea with the Baileys and they were very nice indeed.  Mrs. B. had started two slips in a tin for us, one Wandering Jew and one Patience.  It is all she has.  Wasn’t that nice of her?  We had a very nice evening and Mr. B. rowed us back about 10 p.m.  Yesterday morn. early we moved a mile down the harbour to the coal shed as 200 ton are to come on.  Soon after breakfast, the Baileys arrived in a native motor boat and asked us to go ashore for the day.  Mrs. B. came to our cabin and said if we wanted to wash to bring it along.  However, we didn’t.  We went to the mission which is the house Archie F. [31] started in and Mr. B. went over to the Co.  We talked for a while and Mrs. B. offered us a bath.  We didn’t refuse, as you can imagine.  It really was rather funny.  She had bread in the oven and dinner cooking on the stove but no matter.  Mrs. S. could watch that.  They have a rubber collapsible bath which Mrs. B. proceeded to set up in the kitchen.  Then she put on her things and went out.  Before we were finished Mr. B. came back and they sat out on the rocks till we ‘hoohooed.’  The bread being cooked and also the dinner, we had it.  We had arctic hare for dinner, quite nice.  In the afternoon we went for a walk, or rather a climb, and it was so nice.  They have a tiny church but it is nice too.  They were invited on board for supper so we came back about 6 p.m.  There are hills and lakes as far back as one can see.  Mrs. B. has a pressed collection of flowers and there are ever so many, and very pretty too. They seemed very glad to see us.  There was another white woman whose husband was a surveyor here last winter [32] but they have gone and there are just three 3 mounties and 3 HB boys here.  Mr. B. is working on a Eng.?Esky dictionary.  We met Pudlo’s wife.

The HB ‘Fox?Man’ from Wakeham Bay is going to Pang along with his foxes.  He’s a cockney and O.K., I guess.  There are 3 mounties at Pang; two of these are French.  L.H. is like this [see illustration].

[30] The Anglican mission at Lake Harbour was founded in 1909 by the Reverends J.W.Bilby and A.L. Fleming.  A HBC post was built in 1911.  At the time of Prue’s visit, the minister at Lake Harbour was the Rev. C.L. Bailey.  Mrs. Bailey came to Lake Harbour in 1929.

[31] Archibald Fleming had begun his northern ministry in Lake Harbour.  Born in 1883 in Greenock, England, Fleming had studied naval architecture before turning to the ministry.  He was made Archdeacon in 1927 and was ordained Bishop of the Arctic in 1933.  Despite somewhat delicate health, Fleming was a determined and enthusiastic promoter of the northern missions. His health permit­ting, he travelled extensively in the north and published scores of articles describing the work of the Arctic Committee of the Missionary Society of the Church of England in Canada.  He travelled so much, in fact, that he was nicknamed “The Flying  Bishop.”  He was the author of several books and described his northern work in his autobiography, Archibald of the Arctic.  Bishop Fleming died in Toronto in 1953.

     Prue had been interviewed by Fleming when she was hired for the job at Pangnirtung.  In her letters, she refers to him affectionately as “Archiedeacon,” “Archie” or “His Lordship.”

[32] J. Dewey Soper was a government scientist who visited, and periodically lived in, the eastern Arctic during the period 1923 to 1931.  During the year 1930/31, Dewey’s wife, Carolyn, and his son, Roland, joined him in Lake Harbour.  In his memoirs (Canadian Artic Recollections, Baffin Island 1923?1931, published  by the University of Saskatchewan Institute for Northern Studies,  1981), Soper writes: “The friendship of my wife, Carolyn, and  Mrs. Bailey was a blessing for both women during the long winter  for they were the only white women in the whole of southern  Baffin Island” (p. 97).  Carolyn Soper had been trained as a nurse, making her “the first graduate nurse to be on Baffin  Island” (p. 96).  

Sept. 20/Sun.

     Yesterday was cold and half snowing.  We were writing letters after lunch when a knock [came] at our door and here was  the head mounty, Mr. Moore, asking us to go ashore and have tea  with them.  We went, stormy and all as it was, spray coming right over the little motor boat.  But in a mounty’s slicker we were dry.  We had more fun than enough.  Their cook had deserted them so one of the French men and their Esky boy, Tommy, got dinner ??  roast goose, no less.  Then Tommy acted as ‘butler’ and anything funnier than a butler with a cigarette in his mouth, I never saw.  Between times he played the gramophone and sat on the couch swinging his feet.  He does not know a great deal of Eng. and the unmerciful things those boys asked for and got.  The other day they said they asked for finger bowls and Tommy brought along the wash basin.  Mr. Moore spent 2 yrs. at Pang and has some good snaps.  He says the vegetation is the same as this.  The hills are about 2000 feet high.  The lowest temp when he was there was 52o once and a few 40o.  It is apparently a windy place.  He says they get C.K.Y. there better than K.D.K.A. [33] so I suppose you might try both.  They brought us back in the early evening as they had a cribbage date with the captain.

The coaling business is mighty slow.  All the coal is loose in the shed and has to be bagged.  Then at low tide the shed is up a 50 ft. cliff, just straight up.  There is a a wharf built out to the edge and sticks out a short way but the ice always  removes the end supports so it can’t be built out far.  They put a sort of a slide from that to the boatside at high tide but this can’t be done at low tide.  The Esky is not a fast worker.  The tide rises 30 ft.

Have learned the four [sic] essential Esky words (according to the police): ‘Komatik,’ meaning carryall or sleigh [34],  ‘Kooletang’ ?? Parka and a pair of seal skin boots.  The reason Mrs. Esky wears a tail is that she sits on the komatik while Mr. Esky runs, hence she needs the tail to sit on.

[33] K.D.K.A. was a radio station in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, which broadcasted the Northern Messenger Service.  George Wendt is credited with initiating this service in the early 1920s. The “Northern Messenger” of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation did not commence service until 1933.  C.K.Y. was, and still is, a radio station in Winnipeg.

[34] A qamitik is a sled.  Prue uses the spelling “komatik.”

Sept. 21/

                             Port Burwnell, Quebec


Left L.H. yest. about 4:30 p.m. and rolled across the straits once more, arriving here about the same time today. Mrs. Saucier retired as usual and has not yet recovered.  It’s lovely out tonight.  The hills about here are dotted with snow.  We had two boys of the Oxford Expedition on board for dinner [35].  They have been collecting scientific data on an island in Ungava Bay,  quite interesting.  One of them stated they had enough material to keep the “scientific chappies” happy for a year or two.

[35] The Oxford University Exploration Club was founded in 1927, an outgrowth of a tradition of biological and geological expeditions begun by the students in 1921.  In The Living Messenger (volume XLIII, 1932), Prue identifies the head of the 1931 expedition as Mr. Clutterbuck and states that they were “doing scientific work on the island in Ungava Bay.”

Blacklead Island

                             Sept. 24/

As the Capt. remarked at breakfast, we’ve just one more river to cross.  It surely must be Jordan.  Sixty miles to Pang.  I’m getting all “ker cited”.  Am not sorry now that we did not go to Pond’s.  The coast is just about the same as here, mountainous and sprinkled with snow or else completely covered.  We left Burwell at breakfast time the morning of the 22nd.  There was a considerable roll on and about the middle of the morning I suc­cumbed for the rest of the day.  It was too rough to walk on deck anyway.  Yest. was a lovely day and quite smooth.  We passed Cape Mercy in the a.m. and followed along the coast and into the Sound.  Saw a few icebergs and I enjoyed it.  We anchored about 8 p.m. and went up to Blacklead this a.m.  Mrs. S. came to life again today.

Blacklead is some place; just a little island so, with a big hill [point x on her diagram] and the rest just rough, broken and rocky.  The HB are [sic] closing their post here and then there are the ancient mission buildings [36].

Will you keep my snaps separated into the different rolls, please, and I’ll keep a copy of what they are, as I will likely have a hard time sorting them out a year hence.  The green stone, if it arrives, we found at L. Harbour and mica is lying all over the place there too.  Have seen some wonderful ivory kayaks and hear Pang is a good place to get some.  I hope it’s nice at Pang, as I’ve saved 5 negs. to take before the Ungava leaves.   We’ll be there Sat. for sure, maybe tomorrow.

I’ve finished the cushion top for Blanche but did not get  the vanity set started ?? too busy.  Must pack today ?? for the  last time.  Whoopy. [37]

[36] Blacklead Island was first inhabited by Europeans during the whaling era, when it was used as a base of operation for Scottish  whalers working in Cumberland Sound.  In 1894 the legendary Anglican missionary, E.J. Peck, opened a mission on the island, bringing with him the syllabic texts developed by James Evans for the Cree.  With the aid of this system, Peck was able to translate a great deal of the Bible and Anglican catechisms into Inuktitut.

     In 1902 the Anglicans erected a one?room hospital on Blacklead Island.  Peck, who had a great interest in, and concern about, Inuit health requested that all missionaries sent to the  north be versed in at least the rudiments of medical care.   Shortly after the hospital was established, the whaling trade collapsed and Blacklead Island, like many whaling stations, was abandoned.  The majority of the Inuit moved elsewhere and the hospital was closed.  In 1909, German explorer Bernhard Hantsch  reported that when “the missionary came to Blacklead, the Eskimos  were delighted to see him again, the more so, for a year no white  man had lived on their island” (My Life among the Eskimos,  Baffinland Journeys in the Years 1909 to 1911, p. 36).

[37] At this point, Prue writes, “Insert Pang Special here.”   Apparently, she wrote a special letter describing her arrival which has since been lost.  In a letter published in The Living  Messenger (Vol. XLVIII, No. 2, February, 1932), Prue summarizes  her trip to, and arrival at, Pangnirtung.  Of her arrival she writes:

     “Early on the 25th we started for Pangnirtung just after which we turned into the fjord.  It is a magnificent scene; we get a good view of it from our windows and I  feel I haven’t really seen it yet.  About 2 p.m. we anchored, and it was not hard tp pick out the hospital.  Mr Nicholson and Mr. Turner, our Missionaries, came on board, and we went ashore with them.  I have not time to describe the Hospital as I would like.  Our rooms are very pretty and well furnished.  The      wards are nice and bright, the operating theatre is one to be proud of.  Mr. Nicholson, who built the Hospital, certainly deserves great credit for his work” [p. 43?44].


     Here’s the latest.  Mr. and Mrs. Ford are being moved out [of Pangnirtung].  Now there is only “thee and me.”  She gave us a lovely big pansy plant covered with bloom and a big window box  with nasty urchins [38] and asters all in bud.  None of my things were broken.  Good packing.

[38] “Nasty urchins” is Prue’s nickname for nasturtiums, a trailing plant with vivid orange flowers.

Sept. 27/

     Thanks for birthday gifts.  I love the verse that came with the shoes, Ma, and also the shoes.  Am glad to have the suds, too.  The games are very acceptable, Jane, and you are quite right about my room, it is terrible.  Thanks, Pa, for the cards.  Nell gave me a brush and comb, very pretty blue pearl on amber.

Our eats are very nice, a case of oranges and two cases of eggs in salt, raisins, etc., dates, figs, walnuts and lots of  butter.

The catechist’s wife is coming every day and a man is coming to be ‘coal and ice.’  The upstairs is not finished for anyone to live in.

If a kind friend wanted to send a gift, a small percolator would be nice.  Will you buy me 6 yds. of plain cream net for curtains, as fine as possible, for our inside windows?

Miss Dawe at Moose gave us a cake and it was just handy for my birthday cake.  Our bedroom walls are the same color as the inside of my heavy kimona [sic].

The catechist’s wife, Soudloo, is a tiny little doll with red, red cheeks.  Our Eskys here are quite pretty and some of the women still wear seal skin pants and their long?tailed kooletangs.  Ours will be made Western Arctic style.  Mrs. Ford’s is ?? she showed us hers, also the Esky who made it.  This is the place the wind is made, they say.

Dr. Livingstone [39] has called several times.  He is baldish and about 45 but his hair curls.  He seems nice and offered us the use of his house and food until we got settled.   His ‘man’ scrubbed the whole place the day the Ungava came because ‘white women’ were coming [40].  He has some patients for us as soon as we are ready to take them, which will be soon.

I had a delightful time yest. opening W.A.[41] bales and getting enough linen out to run 2 wards and making up beds.  Best time yet.

Mr. Gall [42], head of HB, called tonight.  He is bald too.  Most of the people from the boat have been over and they have all withdrawn their sympathy since they have seen the Hospital.  It surely is nice.

Mr. Nicholson [43] suggests that we establish ‘bath day’ for all the kids in town; boys one day and girls another.  Mr. Turner [44] did that at Pond’s.  We will too.  There are scads of kids here and very pretty they are.

I do hope the snaps turn out well.  The last one should show the mts. opp. to us well.  I’m so glad Mrs. S. is here to do the meals.  If it was two nurses, one of us would have to think of them and it might be me.  She’s dandy to work with and we have a lot of the same ideas, even to disliking a big knife and fork.   Now family, please don’t worry about me.  I’m happy here and hope I can be of some use.  Will be thinking of you always.

With all my love,    Prue [45]

[39] Leslie David Livingstone was the Medical Officer of Health  t Pangnurtung at the time of Prue’s arrival.  Livingstone was born in the Ottawa valley and attended Queen’s University from  1911 to 1917 and in 1919.  He studied in the Faculty of Medicine for four years but did not write his final examinations.  From 1922 to 1925 he served as ship’s surgeon aboard the Arctic.  In 1926/27 he was sent to Pangnurtung to assess the need for medical  services and to establish a research station.  During that year, he under took two long overland journeys: one with the RCMP to southern Baffin Island and another north from Pangnurtung to Pond  Inlet.  In 1928, he was appointed Medical Officer of Health for the Eastern Arctic.  During the same year he was awarded a M.D. C.M. by Queen’s University “in consideration of valued and continuous service in the Eastern Arctic under government super­vision for seven years.” 

[40]  Livingstone’s “man” was Nooyliak, known to the whites at Pangnirtung as “Tanglefoot” because of a handicap left by polio.

[41] W.A. is an abbreviation for Women’s Auxiliary (i.e. of the Anglican churches).

[42] Mr. Gall was head of the Hudson’s Bay Company post at Pang­nirtung when Prue arrived. Prue (whose spelling of names is often dubious) spells his name as “Gordie” but Donald Copeland, in  Livingstone of the Arctic, spells it as Geordie (p. 89).  Douglas Robertson merely identifies him as “Mr. G.A. Gall, the young  manager from the Donside village of Maud” (To the Arctic with the  Mounties p. 217).

[43]  George Nicholson was a lay missionary sent out by the  Anglican Church in 1930 to build the hospital at Pangnirtung.  An Englishman, Nicholson had prepared himself for both the spiritual and practical tasks he would face by studying at the Missionary Training Colony in London and working without pay for a firm of contractors.  The plans for the hospital were drawn by a Toronto architectural firm, assisted by the architect of the Department of Health in Ottawa.

[44] The Reverend H. (Arthur) Turner was sent to Pangnirtung in 1928 at the age of 26 to open an Anglican mission.  His younger brother, John, was sent to Pond’s Inlet in 1929 with the Reverend Harold Duncan. Both brothers worked consistently in their respective communities until their deaths.  At the point that Prue arrived at Pangnirtung, Arthur Turner was leaving on a year’s furlough and his replacement was his brother, John.  The Turner that Prue talks about in 1931 is therefore John Turner.

     In his book, The Howling Arctic, Ray Price describes John Turner as “… a big man.  Although not a tall man there was a bigness about him that was inescapable.  He was big in character, personality and spirit.  The Eskimos called him the “real man.”  There was a no nonsense determination about Turner that made itself felt.  In a way rarely achieved by white men he won the  Eskimos completely.  They loved him.  More than twenty years after his death, Eskimos who knew him, light up when his name is mentioned” (p. 67).

[45] The latter entries were apparently written in great haste so as to be mailed with the Ungava.  The next mail call would not be until 1932.

Pangnirtung, B.I.
Oct. 5/31

Dear Mother and Dad:

It is about time I got my epistle started or I’ll forget half of it.

There were lots of things I might have told you in my letter that I didn’t. It was hard to collect thoughts to catch that boat. Most of the people from the Ungava visited us and we had two very full days. It was some job to know where to start but we did start at the beginning by washing some dishes. Some were unpacked but not all. We have plain white dishes not quite as heavy as ironstone but otherwise similar. We haven’t a full set; no vegy. dishes [or] platter, not a pudding dish, mixing bowl or jug did we own! Mrs. S. was in a bad way but we got a couple of bowls and two jugs from HB and a scrubbing brush, so she is happier. She has a no. of pretty cups and saucers, also [a] cake plate and a few odd things which she has put out, so our table doesn’t look too bad. We had two little glass cream and sugars.

We traded clothes pegs for bread pans with the “Parsons” and pressed an enamel pail into service to mix the bread in. However, double boilers and big boilers abound, also galvanized iron tubs. Our wringer is a dandy, also our ironing board which does duty as a table in the kitchen. Jane would dote on the boxes around here and we have three tea chests full of spuds, a big box of onions and two cases of eggs in salt.

Mon. the 28th, Mr. Nicholson organised the kids of the town and our canned and other eatable goods literally walked in. We have an outside stairway to our 2nd story so the kids came up there. They are as sweet as can be. Even wee, wee ones of 4 or 5 trotted up with one can under tiny arms.

Mon. about 9 a.m. the Ungava saluted with her whistle, the Police fired “the” cannon (it looks rather like Dad’s of white mouse fame) and we rang our door bell [and] then the Ungava departed. It was an odd feeling to see that boat go and realize it was our only tangible link with the world.

To go back to the kiddies, after their hard work they had to have tea and sea biscuits then and a candy and some dried fruit to take away. We have a great supply of grub, enough Australian rabbit and Clark’s boiled dinner to sink a ship.

All Pangnirtung then proceeded to call and pay their respects, also give good advice and suggestions. The HB post manager came on Sun. and Wed. night the 2 clerks came [46]. Thurs. morning Corp. Margetts of R.C.M.P. called [47]. Invites left to visit all. We will

I’m ahead again. Mon. morn., Sept. 28th, we got a parcel and a letter from Mr. Watson, HB Inspector who was on the Ungava, an elderly man, a great tease and very nice. He said, “Now you have actually arrived, after all these years, I am sure you’ll find Pang. better than your hard boiled fellow voyagers tried to lead you to believe.” He said their post manager, Mr. Gall, would do all he could for us, etc., and ended off with Xmas wishes. The parcel contained two bottles of port. Wasn’t that nice of him?

Opening bales and boxes has taken considerable time. We have a gorgeous supply of quilts and blankets and linen but two things the people in Montreal raved to Mrs. S. about have been a joke. One was the “portable Victrola.” It only weighs 150 lbs. Is a big cabinet affair in a very battered case and has a ‘orrible tone. The records that were partly hymns and the rest good music are half French and the rest jazz. The curtains were made there too and they are wonderfully heavy cretonne [48] but far too heavy and with too large and dark a pattern for our house. We will butcher them for our solarium windows and scare up some for the rest. I’m glad I have Jane’s. I have the spread and table cover in use now. We have no curtain rods either but of course string will do.

The Archdeacon sent us both a box of candy for our birthdays so we’re eating mine and I’ve hidden the Lady’s until March. He also sent 4 very nice steel engravings and a dear little picture to us both. We came across these things as we unpacked. Wasn’t that nice of him?

We have great fun with Soudloo, our Esky girl. You know how I put on my Ida? Well Mrs. S. spreads her’s out so Soudloo watched her one day, then went and spread mine out. She is wearing an apron with a pocket in it and arrived with a man’s handkie one day. When it was too bulky for the pocket she just sat down and tore it in half. She always retires to a chair in the corner of the kitchen when she has such like important business to do.

Frid. Oct. 2 we got a surprise. The Police sent up to say they were going up to the end of the Fjord on Sat. to try out the engine of the “Lady Borden” [49]. Leaving at high tide, 10 a.m., and would we like to go? Well, would we? You just bet. Sat. was a lovely day, little wind, bright sun, just a bit frosty. The Police are Corp. Margetts, Mr. Bolstead, quite a young chap, and Mr. Fisher, older and quieter [50]. They are all very nice. They took their Esky woman (cook) along, the old damsel they call her, as chaperon so Mrs. S. has lost her job already. We laughed over that. It was nice of them to take us so soon, as we both wanted to see “around the corner” to the head of the fjord but had given up all hope for this fall. The Lady Borden is a nice motor boat with a little cabin built “down” and a deck at the back. They took 2 chairs for us. We landed about 1 p.m. and had a walk, back on board for dinner, and on again as far as we could go. We landed again and climbed a little hill about 700 ft. from which we got a view of the end of the Fjord. The mts. there are higher and snowier. The view was grand and I hope my snaps turn out. There ice was forming in many places. The water up there was as smooth as glass and the reflections perfect. The afterglow of the sunset, pink on the snow peaks, was lovely. There is a glacier at the very head of the fjord going down into a lake which connects with the sea at high tide. Back again by moonlight. Arrived about 8 p.m. to find Mr. N. had the home fires and lamps burning. We both enjoyed it so much. I only wish I had a snap of those 2 mounties “picking icicles” to fill the kettle.

[46] Of the two clerks, one is Alan Scott, who in 1929, at the age of 23 and despite his mother’s wishes, left his home in Scotland to join the H.B.C. Pangnirtung was his first northern posting. Alan Scott would remain in the Eastern Arctic and become one of it’s better known citizens. Prue supplies less information about the other H.B.C. clerk, but Douglas Robertson gives his name as E.B. Maurice, “An agreeable young Englishman” (To The Arctic with the Mounties, p. 217). Prue spells his name as “Morris” and her version has been retained in the text. Also in Pangnirtung that year was a Mr.Garnier, who Prue identifies only as “the fox farmer.” Robertson describes him as “a young Prince Edward Islander” (p. 216) but Prue writes that the “Fox man” is a Cockney. Fox farming was a new development in the north and reflected the decrease in the wild fox population.

[47] Stephen Hugh George Margetts was born on June 17, 1903, and joined the R.C.M.P. when he was eighteen. J. Dwey Soper reports that Margetts was sent to Pangnirtung in 1924, and the artist, A.Y. Jackson, mentions Margett’s assignment to Pond Inlet in 1927, so by 1931 the officer was an “oldtimer” in the North. At the time Prue first met him, he would have been 28 years old.

[48] Cretonne is a heavy, unglazed cotton fabric, usually with pictorial patterns, used for clothing or upholstering.

[49] The M.B. Lady Borden was the R.C.M.P. launch, used for local trips.

[50] Theodore Alfred Bolstad was born in 1909 and joined the R.C.M.P. in 1929. He was 22 when he was sent to Pangnirtung and stayed there for a year. In the text, Prue’s spelling of his name as “Bolstead” has been retained. Prue describes the second officer as “older and quieter” but in reality Alexander Eassie Fisher was only one year older than Theodore Bolstad. Born in 1908, Alexander Fisher joined the R.C.M.P. in 1929, the same year as Theodore Bolstad. Like Bolstad, he was transferred to Pangnirtung in 1931 and remained there for one year.

Oct. 9/

Many things have happened since I started this. One is, our first patient arrived and believe me he is a good specimen a real start. He is about 75 and possible he fell in the creek as a youngster but I doubt it. He has pneumonia following “the Ship’s cold” after the Beothic left [51]. He arrived on the 6th and seems to be fairly well. His appearance is much improved, at least I think so, since I trimmed his beard today. I left him about as much as the king has. He understands and talks a little English and the Dr. gave me a “working” vocabulary of Esky. I talk Eng. to him and he talks Esky to me, then when he wants anything he talks Eng. and when I want to be sure he understands I roar Esky at him. He is a bit deaf. Jane will be pleased to hear I go to bed and sleep and leave him to it. The first two nights I set my alarm for 2 a.m. because I wanted to be sure but I didn’t need it. With his door open and mine I hear him easily. He doesn’t need much at night.

Whatever I feed him, he always enquires if I have some for myself before he’ll eat it all. He has a great time with his nighty, pulls his hands out of the sleeves, then tries to put them out through the neck.

Yest. and day before it snowed and blowed all day. I went out today in my rubber boots and nearly drowned. It was bright sun and lovely and warm, snow all wet. Dr. says it’s so still and barometer is dropping [that] something is coming. Wonder what.

We have had seal several times and it is not bad at all. An old lady came along this a.m. with a “steak” (only it was really spare ribs) stuck on the end of an old stick and Mrs. S. took the meat. The lady licked off the stick then sat down and watched Soudloo wash. When the washing was done S. made her go and help hang it out.

Soudloo has a cold and was home a couple of days so I visited her in her “tupek.” She had a big seal lamp burning. The tents all have a porch affair on them and in it were several seals. The inside first part is covered with pieces left over from our linoleum, then a platform is raised about 4″ [and] on it the furs are spread for beds. It is divided long ways with boards about 4″ high, into either single or double beds. She had a sheet and quilts over her, as well as “Tuktu” caribou, white winter skins underneath and lighter ones on top. Our patient had no shirts and it took two days to get all the caribou hair off. Then at the very back were trunks, suitcases, a small gramophone, hand sewing machine, etc., etc.

Mrs. S. has our solarium curtains up. They don’t look so bad once they are up.

The Dr. is amusing. He has come regularly every day and since our patient, old Jimmie, has come he calls twice a day and always stays 1 1/2 hrs. at least. He surely takes up some time. However, he’ll likely be handy so we entertain him. The gov’t supply of instruments and drugs for the Hospital forgot to come such trifles as thermometers, medicine glasses, etc., etc. Luckily, I have one of each and I’m so glad I have Aunt Edie’s minim glass [52]. The Dr. has handed a lot of things over, [including] a whole case of instruments which badly needed cleaning. I’m taking everything. We traded the mission bread pans for clothes pegs.

Sun. night we gave our first dinner party, Mr. Nicholson and Mr. Turner being our guests. The dinner was informal. The pastry board turned over the arm of a chair and draped with my tea cloth accommodated the tea tray and desert [sic] things and so gave us room on our wee table. The table was centered with stocks and nastyurchins freshly cut from the window box and illuminated with tapers which tapered off at the end of 6″. We had a good talk and found out a few things. Mrs. S. says, “They are so low, they are on the ground.” Poor lady, she rather likes a step ladder. I think Mr. N. is rather disappointed, as he thought he would be put more or less in charge of the Hospital and say who was to be admitted, etc., and of course the Dr. does that. Then they didn’t know just whence they were or where we were. We put them straight on that line.

One of the “Braves” (must be 4′ high) called one day to thank us for coming to “look after their bodies and help Mr. Turner look after their souls.” They are all so tiny and in their pointed hoods look for all the world like gnomes. Mrs. S. has fixed her fire so I must do mine. It’s 9 p.m. and we’re for bed. At least we are 9 p.m. The mission is 8:30 and the Police 8, so there we are. We decided the Co. time was best but have difficulty staying with it. Good night.

[51] Epidemics of communicable disease was a common sequella of “ship time” in isolated communities. The year before Prue’s arrival (i.e., 1930), Carolyn Soper witnessed an outbreak of respiratory polio in Lake Harbour following the Nascopie’s annual visit (described in “A Nurse goes to Baffin Island,” The Beaver, Winter, 1964, pp 30 38).

[52] A minim glass is a dram measure used for measuring liquid medications.