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Report of Mr. W. E. Cormack's journey in search of the Red Indians in Newfoundland   By: (1796-1868)

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JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF THE RED INDIANS IN NEWFOUNDLAND

REPORT OF MR W. E. CORMACK'S JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF THE RED INDIANS IN NEWFOUNDLAND

Read before the Boeothick Institution at St John's, Newfoundland

Pursuant to special summons, a meeting of this Institution was held at St John's on the 12th day of January 1828; the Honourable A.W. Desbarres, Vice Patron, in the chair. The Honourable Chairman stated, that the primary motive which led to the formation of the Institution, was the desire of opening a communication with, and promoting the civilization of, the Red Indians of Newfoundland; and of procuring, if possible, an authentic history of that unhappy race of people, in order that their language, customs and pursuits, might be contrasted with those of other tribes of Indians and nations; that, in following up the chief object of the institution, it was anticipated that much information would be obtained respecting the natural productions of the island; the interior of which is less known than any other of the British possessions abroad. Their excellent President, keeping all these objects in view, had permitted nothing worthy of research to escape his scrutiny, and consequently a very wide field of information was now introduced to their notice, all apparently highly interesting and useful to society, if properly cultivated. He was aware of their very natural anxiety to hear from the president an outline of his recent expedition, and he would occupy their attention farther, only by observing, that the purposes of the present meeting would be best accomplished by taking into consideration the different subjects recommended to them in the president's report, and passing such resolutions as might be considered necessary to govern the future proceedings of the Institution.

The President, W.E. Cormack, Esq. then laid the following Statement before the meeting.

Having so recently returned, I will now only lay before you a brief outline of my expedition in search of the Boeothicks or Red Indians, confining my remarks exclusively to its primary object. A detailed report of the journey will be prepared, and submitted to the Institution, whenever I shall have leisure to arrange the other interesting materials which have been collected.

My party consisted of three Indians, whom I procured from among the other different tribes, viz. an intelligent and able man of the Abenakie tribe, from Canada; an elderly Mountaineer from Labrador; and an adventurous young Micmack, a native of this island, together with myself. It was difficult to obtain men fit for the purpose, and the trouble attending on this prevented my entering on the expedition a month earlier in the season. It was my intention to have commenced our search at White Bay, which is nearer the northern extremity of the island than where we did, and to have travelled southward; but the weather not permitting to carry my party thither by water, after several days delay, I unwillingly changed my line of route.

On the 31st of October 1828 [Sic: 30th of October 1827] last, we entered the country at the mouth of the River Exploits, on the north side, at what is called the Northern Arm. We took a north westerly direction to lead us to Hall's Bay, which place we reached through an almost uninterrupted forest, over a hilly country, in eight days. This tract comprehends the country interior from New Bay, Badger Bay, Seal Bay, &c.; these being minor bays, included in Green or Notre Dame Bay, at the north east part of the island, and well known to have been always heretofore the summer residence of the Red Indians.

On the fourth day after our departure, at the east end of Badger Bay Great Lake, at a portage known by the name of the Indian Path, we found traces made by the Red Indians, evidently in the spring or summer of the preceding year. Their party had had two canoes; and here was a canoe rest , on which the daubs of red ochre, and the roots of trees used to fasten or tie it together appeared fresh... Continue reading book >>




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