MP-0000.597.209 | Men returning from hunting expedition, dragging seals, 1927

 
Photograph
Men returning from hunting expedition, dragging seals, 1927
Captain George E. Mack ?; Frederick W. Berchem ?
1927, 20th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Gelatin silver process
8 x 13 cm
Gift of Mrs. R. Mack
MP-0000.597.209
© McCord Museum
Description
Keywords:  Industry (942) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

Even though Arctic explorers always, though especially in the 19th century, sailed with their ships' holds stuffed with provisions (especially dried, salted or canned goods), hunting and fishing were still essential to the survival of the men. Accounts of voyages tell us that crews sometimes took advantage of caches of food left by earlier expeditions, but hunted a wide variety of game, anyway. Seals, in particular, were abundant and prized for their meat and blubber. Apparently grilled seal liver is a real treat! This is a list of game killed by the McClintock expedition of 1857-59:
-Bear: 4
-Seal: 91
-Fox: 20
-Caribou: 8
-Rabbit: 9
-Ptarmigan: (small bird): 82
-Waterfowl: 136

  • What

    The seal hunt is an ancestral tradition. While the Inuit hunted with harpoons, the Europeans mostly used rifles, which was a less efficient method, since dead seals sink like stones. The cord attached to a harpoon makes it easier to retrieve the seal

  • Where

    Seals are hunted on the ice floes. The most effective technique is to wait -- possibly for hours -- by a breathing hole until a seal surfaces.

  • When

    This hunting party was organized on one of the Arctic voyages of the S.S. Nascopie. At the time, several dozen steamships used to converge on the area for the seal hunt.

  • Who

    The men are shooting and gathering up the seals are likely members of the crew of the S.S. Nascopie. Unusually for white hunters, they are equipped with harpoons.