ME930.18.1-2 | Skin scraper

Skin scraper
Anonyme - Anonymous
Western Arctic
Inuit: Inuvialuit
1900-1905, 20th century
Ivory, chert
4.6 x 10.5 cm
Forbes D. Sutherland Collection - Gift of Miss Yvonne Sutherland
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Scraper (31)
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Keys to History

North West Mounted Police (NWMP)

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Canadians began to fear that the United States was planning to annex its Arctic territories, using the activities of American whalers as a pretext. In response to this perceived threat, Canada established detachments of North West Mounted Police (NWMP) in the Arctic. Their role was to enforce Canadian laws, impose whaling licenses and display the flag, namely, to establish Canada's undeniable sovereignty to the Arctic. The first posts were set up in 1903 at Fullerton, north of Igluligaarjuk (Chesterfield Inlet), and at Herschel Island (Yukon).

Despite these measures, foreigners appeared to ignore Canada's claims in the Arctic, so more detachments were sent: between 1922 and 1924 posts were established at Craig Harbour, Pond Inlet, Pangnirtung and Dundas Harbour. In 1926, the Bache Peninsula post was established on the east coast of Ellesmere Island. Although the island was unpopulated, the NWMP maintained exploratory patrols on it. One of these was commanded by Inspector A. H. Joy, who had travelled from Devon Island through the Parry Islands and northeast to the Bache Peninsula, covering some 2700 km by dog team. In 1928, Constable T. C. Makinson explored the large inlet off Smith Sound that today bears his name.

  • What

    Scrapers were made in several forms and of different materials. The choice of the scraper depended upon the type of animal hide and the stage of its preparation. As can be seen from the handle of this stone-bladed scraper, scrapers were carefully shaped to fit the contours of the user's palm and fingers.

  • Where

    This scraper was collected at Herschel Island (Yukon).

  • When

    This scraper was made in the 19th century by an Inuvialuit man (Inuit of the Mackenzie area), especially for his wife. The shape of the scraper was adapted to her hand, to ease the fatigue of scraping and thinning hides to prepare them for clothing.

  • Who

    This scraper was collected by Forbes D. Sutherland, a constable with the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) who was posted to the Mackenzie District, Fort MacPherson (Northwest Territories), in 1903-04 and Herschel Island (Yukon) in 1904-05.