Hearne followed the shallow river to the Arctic Ocean, realizing that it was useless as a trade route. Furthermore, an intensive search yielded only a single lump of copper. Hearne earned the contempt of his companions when he refused to join them in the massacre of a helpless party of Inuit, the traditional enemies of the Chipewyan, at a place he called BLOODY FALL. The exhausted Hearne followed his guides as they hurried south, impatient to meet their wives. They crossed GREAT SLAVE LAKE December 24, and Hearne suffered from the extreme cold, losing his toenails to frostbite. Wintering in the forest, where they could hunt and build canoes, Matonabbee's band brought Hearne to base 30 June 1772.
Hearne admitted that his expedition brought no material advantage to the HBC. He tried to meet competition from Canadian pedlars by building the HBC's first inland post. He was taken up the Grass River to Cranberry Portage, across Lake Athapapusko, down Goose River to Goose Lake, and finally to the Saskatchewan where he began CUMBERLAND HOUSE in 1774. In 1776, he was appointed chief at Prince of Wales's Fort, which he surrendered to the French in 1782. He retired in 1787, criticized for his timidity and in failing health, and spent the last few years of his life writing and speaking about his remarkable adventure. The literary artistry of A Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's Bay to the Northern Ocean, published 3 years after Hearne's death, secured his fame in letters as well as exploration. He left a dramatic description of his own sufferings and a vivid portrait of Matonabbee and his resourceful people.
Author JAMES MARSH
Links to Other Sites
Samuel Hearne and Matonabbee
Follow Samuel Hearne and Matonabbee’s trek to the Arctic Ocean at this Library and Archives Canada website.
Major Northwest Passage Exeditions and Explorers
This site offers brief accounts of various European expeditions to North America in search of the Northwest Passage. From the website "Of Maps and Men: In Pursuit of a Northwest Passage," Princeton University.
A profile of Samuel Hearne from the “Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.”
Hudson's Bay Company: Heritage
This colourful HBC website documents over 300 years of company history. Features illustrated biographies of prominent personalities, an online art collection, e-books, historical games, timelines, interactive maps, and much more.
Lapérouse Captures Hudson Bay Forts
This Parks Canada website offers a brief profile of the remarkable 18th century French naval officer and explorer Jean-François Galaup, Comte de Lapérouse.
Galaup, Jean-François De, Comte de Lapérouse
A biography of the noteworthy French naval commander Jean-François de Galaup. From the “Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.”
Prince of Wales's Fort
This story offers fascinating details about daily life in an 18th century Hudson’s Bay fur trading post. From the Manitoba Historical Society.
History and Archaeology of Cumberland House
A detailed history and archaeology of Cumberland House accompanied by learning activities, a timeline, brief glossary, and an extensive bibliography. From “The Virtual Museum of Métis History and Culture.”