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PREFACE

In many of the outlying districts of Canada an idea is prevalent, fostered by former travellers, that somewhere in London there exists a benevolent society whose object is to send men incapable of making any useful scientific observations to the uttermost parts of the earth in order to indulge their taste for sport or

· I had fairly started for

return, I was asked if I · auspices of this society, in the estimation of the liged to confess that my shooting expedition, such

Rocky Mountains or the interior of Africa, anu war .0 great political reformation depended upon my report as to what I had seen.

In talking with officers of the Hudson's Bay Company, many of whom had been stationed for long periods in the Athabasca and Mackenzie River districts, I had often heard of a strange animal, a relic of an earlier age, that was still to be found roaming the Barren Ground, the vast desert that lies between Hudson's Bay, the eastern ends of the three great lakes of the North, and the Arctic Sea. This animal

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IN

PREFACE

In many of the outlying districts of Canada an idea is prevalent, fostered by former travellers, that somewhere in London there exists a benevolent society whose object is to send men incapable of making any useful scientific observations to the uttermost parts of the earth, in order to indulge their taste for sport or travel. Several times before I had fairly started for the North, and again on my return, I was asked if I had been sent out under the auspices of this society, and, I am afraid, rather fell in the estimation of the interviewers when I was obliged to confess that my journey was only an ordinary shooting expedition, such as one might make to the Rocky Mountains or the interior of Africa, and that no great political reformation depended upon my report as to what I had seen.

In talking with officers of the Hudson's Bay Company, many of whom had been stationed for long periods in the Athabasca and Mackenzie River districts, I had often heard of a strange animal, a relic of an earlier age, that was still to be found roaming the Barren Ground, the vast desert that lies between Hudson's Bay, the eastern ends of the three great lakes of the North, and the Arctic Sea. This animal

was the Musk-ox, but my informants could tell me nothing from personal experience, and all that was known on the subject had been gathered from Indian report. Once or twice some enthusiastic sportsman had made the attempt to reach the land of the Muskox, but had never succeeded in carrying out his object; specimens had been secured by the officers of the various Arctic expeditions, but no one had ever seen much of these animals or of the methods of hunting them employed by the Northern Indians.

This, then, was the sole object of my journey; to try and penetrate this unknown land, to see the Muskox, and find out as much as I could about their habits, and the habits of the Indians who go in pursuit of them every year.

But the only white men who had succeeded in getting far out into the Barren Ground were the early explorers,—Hearne, Sir John Franklin, Sir George Back, and Dr. Richardson, while long afterwards Dr. Rae, and Stewart and Anderson went in search of the missing Franklin expedition. With the exception of Hearne, who threw in his lot with the Indians, these leaders were all accompanied by the most capable men that could be procured, and no expense was spared in order to make success as certain as possible; yet in spite of every precaution the story of Sir John Franklin's first overland journey and the death of Hood are among the saddest episodes in the history of Arctic exploration.

My best chance seemed to be to follow Hearne's

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