During the 19th and early 20th centuries, whaling vessels from Britain and America plied their trade in great numbers in the waters off the eastern Arctic of North America. This text provides the perspective of the Inuit, who welcomed the whalers and served on their crews. It is a story drawn from oral memories, a story which will soon disappear with the last Inuit generation to have seen the whalers. It contains a collection of drawings, photographs, and illustrations, tales are told of when the whalers first appeared on the north-east coast of Baffin Island, how they set up land stations in the whale-rich waters of Cumberland Sound, and how they eventually pushed on into Hudson Bay. During this time the Inuit not only fed and clothed the whalers, they hunted with them, adding to the whalers' wealth. Our understanding of change in Inuit life is often linked to the fur traders, who arrived in the North 50 years after the arrival of the whalers. In truth it is the Inuit's close contact with the foreign world of the whalers that marked the beginning of a change in previously undisturbed Inuit culture and traditions.
Dorothy Harley Eber is the author of Pitseolak: Pictures Out of My Life, When the Whalers Were Up North: Inuit Memories from the Eastern Arctic and, with Peter Pitseolak, People from Our Side: A Life Story With Photographs and Oral Biography. She lives in
Prologue - the arrival of the whalers; in Cumberland Sound; in Hudson Bay and the Strait; shamans and whalers; the case of the missing whales; SPicer's Harbour; the Siikatsi and the wreck of the "Polar Star"; death of the last Tuniit; the "Active"; wintering; personalities of the bay; the last vessle at Marble Island; the wreck of the "Seduisante"; the "Active's last voyage, 1912-3; the last whales; final curtain.