8 April 2007

By some Easter Miracle the SnowSTAR crew managed to overcome their fuel shortage and arrived safely in Kugluktuk this evening. I will let Matthew's soundclip tell the story of how that happened. Camp 24 tonight is the World Famous Coppermine Inn--with hot showers, a gormet chef, and real sheets on real beds. The team will layover here until Tuesday afternoon for re-supply and a well-deserved rest. Kugluktuk marks the farthest north point on the SnowSTAR route and the only coastal community they will visit. Enjoy Tonights Soundclips and Dispatch:

Click here for Tonight's Soundclip from Matthew

CHUGIAK STUDENTS:Click here for Weather in Espanol

Fathers le Roux and Rouviere

Dispatch, April 8, 2007:  Kugluktuk, Nunavut
Camp 24 Location: 67º 50'N, 115º06'W

Overcast and foggy, -12º C

Fathers le Roux and Rouviere

Yesterday, we camped at Lake Rouviere.  It had taken us a full day to get
there from the mouth of the Dease River.  It also took us a full day to get
from Lake Rouviere to Kugluktuk.  That's traveling with powerful
snowmachines and GPS gadgets for navigation.

In 1913, two young Jesuit priests came from Tulita (at the time called Ft.
Norman) across Great Bear Lake to the Dease River country. Their mission was
to try to covert the Inuit of the Coronation Gulf  and Coppermine River
region to Catholicism.  Neither priest was a particularly experienced
wilderness traveler, nor did they have much northern experience. Still,
fueled by faith and zeal, they headed north.  They built a cabin on Lake
Rouviere..exactly where is difficult to say.  Intriguingly, at our camp near
the lake, we found a stump of a tree, cut with an axe about 100 years ago,
that might have been cut by these priests.

The priests walked all the way to Kugluktuk and made contact with the Inuit.
At first things went well, but shortly, they went very badly.  The priests
had to leave hastily after some sort of misunderstanding..in late October,
in cold weather and snow.  They were clearly scared and fearful of how they
would survive the winter, or even if they could make it back to the lake. 
There are various interpretations of what happened next, but two Inuit with
whom they ended up traveling killed the priests near Bloody Falls.

This being the North before the advent of telephone, telegraph, or
airplanes, the deaths went undetected for a year, and it took the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police 3 years to finally apprehend the killers and bring
them to trial. The story is told in a wonderful way in the book "Bloody
Falls of the Coppermine" by McKay Jenkins.

It is amazing how evocative some old axe marks can be. Some pictures of the
country that the priests walked through are attached.



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