Thursday, 29 November 2012

Samuel Hearne. 9. Pack Weight.

There is a series of videos about Samuel Hearne's trek to find the copper mines for the Hudson Bay Company produced by Ray Mears, but unfortunately these videos contain misinformation. Hearne was NOT travelling light like the Indians. All had heavy packs and Hearne's weighed in at 60 lbs. They were carrying kettles and used these kettles for cooking up stews.

About midnight, to our {24} great joy, our hunter arrived, and brought with him the blood and fragments of two deer that he had killed. This unexpected success soon roused the sleepers, who, in an instant, were busily employed in cooking a large kettle of broth, made with the blood, and some fat and scraps of meat shred small, boiled in it. This might be reckoned a dainty dish at any time, but was more particularly so in our present almost famished condition. April 1770.

{35} Knowing that our constant loads would not permit us to carry much provisions with us, we agreed to continue a day or two to refresh ourselves, and to dry a little meat in the sun, as it thereby not only becomes more portable, but is always ready for use. On the twenty-sixth, all that remained of the musk-ox flesh being properly dried and fit for carriage, we began to proceed on our journey Northward, and on the thirtieth of June arrived at a small river, called Cathawhachaga,[35]which empties[87]itself into a large lake called Yath-kyed-whoie,[36]or White Snow Lake.
December 1770. Indeed for many days before we had in great want, and for the last three days had not tasted a morsel of any thing, except a pipe of tobacco and a drink of snow water; and as we walked daily from morning till night, and were all heavy laden, our strength began to fail.

1771. January.
After leaving Island Lake, we continued our old course between the West and North West, and travelled at the easy rate of eight or nine miles a day. Provisions of all kinds were scarce till the sixteenth, when the Indians killed twelve deer. This induced us to put up, though early in the day; and finding great plenty of deer in the neighbourhood of our little encampment, it was agreed by all parties to remain a few days, in order to dry and pound some meat to make it lighter for carriage.

April 1771. Having a good stock of dried provisions, and most of the necessary work for canoes all ready, on the eighteenth we moved about nine or ten miles to the North North West, and then came to a tent of Northern Indians who were tenting on the North side of Thelewey-aza River. From these Indians Matonabbee purchased another wife; so that he had now no less than seven, most of whom would for size have made good grenadiers. He prided himself much in the height and strength of his wives, and would frequently say, few women would carry or haul heavier loads; and though they had, in general, a very masculine appearance, yet he preferred them to those of a {89} more delicate form and moderate stature. In a country like this, where a partner in excessive hard labour is the chief motive for the union, and the softer endearments of a conjugal life are only considered as a secondary object, there seems to be great propriety in such a choice; but if all the men were of this way of thinking, what would become of the greater part of the women, who in general are but of low stature, and many of them of a most delicate make, though not of the exactest proportion, or most beautiful mould? Take them in a body, the women are as destitute of real beauty as any nation I ever saw, though there are some few of them, when young, who are tolerable; but the care of a family, added to their constant hard labour, soon make the[129]most beautiful among them look old and wrinkled, even before they are thirty; and several of the more ordinary ones at that age are perfect antidotes to love and gallantry. This, however, does not render them less dear and valuable to their owners, which is a lucky circumstance for those women, and a certain proof that there is no such thing as any rule or standard for beauty. Ask a Northern Indian, what is beauty? he will answer, a broad flat face, small eyes, high cheek-bones, three or four broad black lines across each cheek, a low forehead, a large broad chin, a clumsy hook-nose, a tawny hide, and breasts hanging down to the belt. Those beauties are greatly heightened, or at least rendered more valuable, when the possessor is capable of dressing all kinds of skins, converting them into the different parts {90} of their clothing, and able to carry eight or ten[AA] stone in Summer, or haul a much greater weight in Winter.

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