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Author Topic: The Lure of the Labrador Wild  (Read 803 times)

Offline Bioguide

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The Lure of the Labrador Wild
« on: February 25, 2019, 11:50:18 am »
Free download from Amazon and you can read it on your computer or phone with their free Kindle App:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0082XLMCM/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_d_asin_title_o01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

From the back cover:

"The Labrador interior has long held the well-deserved reputation of being one of the most inhospitable places on earth. It is a patchwork of Canadian shield granites and sphagnum moss, labyrinthine caribou trails and desolate subarctic barrens, all set against glacier-scoured hills stretching to an apparently limitless horizon.
In the late spring of 1903, Leonidas Hubbard, a young writer, and Dillon Wallace, a forty-year-old New York attorney, set off with George Elson, a native guide with no firsthand knowledge of their destination, to explore the incompletely mapped Lake Michikamau region of interior Labrador. Beset by delays, the men paddled past their intended route, the Naskaupi River, and headed up the treacherous Susan River instead. When in early September they finally glimpsed the vast waters of Michikamau from the top of an unknown mountain, Labrador’s cold winds had begun. With scant scraps of food remaining, the three began a desperate struggle against starvation and the rapidly approaching and unforgiving winter as they raced home for their lives."

Offline kinguq

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Re: The Lure of the Labrador Wild
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2019, 12:04:10 pm »
Yes a great story of one of the worst navigational errors in history!

I would also recommend Great Heart by James West Davidson and John Rugge, which tells the same story but includes the follow-up expeditions by Wallace and the competing expedition by Hubbard's wife. A race over the watershed and down the George! One of the best adventure stories ever.

https://www.amazon.ca/Great-Heart-James-West-Davidson/dp/0140105352/ref=pd_sbs_14_1/138-4534747-0626619?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0140105352&pd_rd_r=2c7b544f-391f-11e9-9e49-b9c377d1057c&pd_rd_w=OM8Og&pd_rd_wg=G9PAo&pf_rd_p=5dcda75b-8643-4da3-9bb1-5c0233790500&pf_rd_r=4ZPEEQ6MRR493CN4R3MA&psc=1&refRID=4ZPEEQ6MRR493CN4R3MA

Kinguq.


Offline AB_Winter

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Re: The Lure of the Labrador Wild
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2019, 01:02:52 pm »
Lure of the Labrador Wild was required reading as part of the 11th grade curriculum when I attended high school in Newfoundland. A good read and a very tragic story.

Offline Bioguide

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Re: The Lure of the Labrador Wild
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2019, 02:11:09 pm »
 "It was a glorious evening. A big moon rising over the bluffs beyond us transformed the river into a silvery thread stretching far down through the dark valley. Behind us the black spruce forest made our roaring fire seem more cheerful in contrast. A cold east wind had driven away the flies and the mosquitoes. Supper eaten, our cup of contentment was full to he brim. After all, the wilderness was not so inhospitable. Who would be anywhere else, if he could? Not one of us."


Offline Stonehouse

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Re: The Lure of the Labrador Wild
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2019, 10:57:24 am »
"It was a glorious evening. A big moon rising over the bluffs beyond us transformed the river into a silvery thread stretching far down through the dark valley. Behind us the black spruce forest made our roaring fire seem more cheerful in contrast. A cold east wind had driven away the flies and the mosquitoes. Supper eaten, our cup of contentment was full to he brim. After all, the wilderness was not so inhospitable. Who would be anywhere else, if he could? Not one of us."


One of my favorite books of all times. When I was about 12, my dad signed this out from the library and asked me to read it. It's more than 30 years later and I make it a point to read it again every few years. Great Heart is really good too, kinguq.

Offline h_t

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Re: The Lure of the Labrador Wild
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2019, 07:35:49 am »
Thanks for the suggestion.
I read the first book and then the wife's book.
Both are available for free on Project Gutenberg site (no copyright, fully legal).
The wife (Mina) was clearly not happy with Wallace's depiction of her husband, not 100% sure why...
But what a woman! Married at 30+ (must have been an 'old spinster' back in 1900), lost her husband, at 35 accompanied by 3 Indians (technically 'breeds' and an Eskimo) (wearing 'short skirt' - ankle length) she completed her husband goal in record time; wrote a book, married another guy in England, had 3 children and was hit by a train at 86 or something. What a life! And she was an Ontarian to boot :)

Offline kinguq

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Re: The Lure of the Labrador Wild
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2019, 08:10:27 am »
I found it interesting on the Hubbard expedition how little attention they payed to local knowledge. It surely would not have been impossible to find someone who would guide them at least to the mouth of the Naskapi. Instead they ascended what was basically a creek, called Susan Brook locally. Certainly a colossal navigational error and perhaps a sign of the arrogance of contemporary white "explorers". On the subsequent expeditions they did engage local people and went up the right river.

Unfortunately the big lake Michikamau is now the Smallwood impoundment, and it has changed totally. Sounds quite unpleasant for canoeing, judging from this trip report. But the George sounds fun!

http://www.recped.com/george2018/contents.html

Kinguq.

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Re: The Lure of the Labrador Wild
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2019, 10:03:58 am »
Expeditions have often tried and failed to recruit local guides. Going right back to Hearn they struggled to understand why local people might not be induced to lead them on trips whose aim must have seemed vague or pointless. Even when guides did agree to come along problems often ensued, likely due to poor communication on both sides.

They had a map, which turned out to be wrong, just the first of the "lemons' that came up on that trip, but yes you would have thought it would have been obvious that the small stream was not the route they needed.

www.canoepaddler.net for custom made gear and fireboxes

Offline kinguq

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Re: The Lure of the Labrador Wild
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2019, 01:29:48 pm »
I have actually just been re-reading Lure. They were specifically told by Donald Blake that one could sail (i.e. in a sailboat) 15 miles up the Naskapi before coming to any rapids. On the Susan, they reached the first rapid after paddling a mile up the rocky stream. Hubbard thought that Blake must have been mistaken in his distances, and continued to believe that the Susan was the Naskapi right until the end.

As far as I can tell Hubbard did not even attempt to engage a local guide. George Elson was from the Moose River area and had no local knowledge.

It is a great story, well written and gripping. But for me at least, it is hard to comprehend how they made the mistakes they did. I guess hindsight is blinding.

Kinguq.

Offline h_t

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Re: The Lure of the Labrador Wild
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2019, 09:54:25 pm »
it is hard to comprehend how they made the mistakes they did...

I recall reading that no one wanted to even take them to the mouth of the river, the locals were 'too busy'. Wallace mentions that only one river was ever mentioned flowing into the lake, also it's mouth was obstructed by some islands and they paddled right by...
OTOH, it's amazing how well prepared Mina (the wife was) for her expedition.
She had maps of even George river. So clearly it was possible to get better info.