An Arctic Whaling Diary: The Journal of Captain George Comer in Hudson Bay 1901–1905
Published: December 1984© 1984
304 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
Ebook - PDF
When the American whaler Era, George Comer, Captain, sailed from New Bedford, Mass, for Hudson Bay in the spring of 1903, some American newspapers warned that there might be forcible intervention by the Canadian government, for the expidition conincided with sudden alarm about the precarious state of Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic and the dispatch of the government steamer Neptune to assert authority over a region which had been the preserve of American whalers for over forty years. In the end common sense prevailed, for, although the Era's activities were closely watched by the Neptune, which wintered by her in the harbour ice near Cape Fullerton in 1903-4, and by the Neptune's relief vessel the Arctic in the winter of 1904-5, and although relations between government personnel and whalemen were not always harmonious, the Era was able to follow her usual whaling procedures, seeking bowhead whales from May to Sepetember in both years.
George Comer, an experienced and skilful whaleman, was a disciplined recorder of daily events during all his whaling cruises and a vigilant and interested observer of the arctic environment and its native inhabitants. He compiled population figures, collected artifacts, photographed clothing and tattoo patters of the various Inuit groups who participated in the whaling operations, and made the first wax cylinder recordings of their songs and tales. His journal of the 1903-5 expedition gives a valuable and fascinating insight into the arctic whaling industry, the lives of the native people associated with it, and the beginnings of Canadian intervention in the area. Professor Ross enhances this information with an introduction, epilogue, and notes, which describe Comer's career and whaling, and explain and enlarge on references in the diary.