MP-1984.127.27 | Inuit group, in fore-hold of S. S. "Nascopie", 1926

Inuit group, in fore-hold of S. S. "Nascopie", 1926
Frederick W. Berchem
September 1926, 20th century
Silver salts - Gelatin silver process
8.3 x 13.4 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Ethnology (606) , Inuit (216) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

This photograph shows a group of Inuit travelling on the S.S. Nascopie. The older generations are wearing traditional clothing, while the clothes and hair of some of the children show the influence of Qallunaat (white people). They are probably members of the same family. Traditionally, the qiturngariit, the basic family unit consisting of a mother, father and their children, very seldom lived alone.

Instead, they lived in a domestic unit of 8 to 14 people who shared the same snow house and worked together as an economic unit. This type of family group was called an illumiuqatigiit (those who share the same snow house). Such an arrangement could include grandparents, unmarried or widowed brothers or sisters, adopted children and even children taken in as helpers. Occasionally, the leader of the family had more than one wife.

During the seasonal migrations in search of game, the domestic units travelled in larger groups or bands of up to 30 people. Only the wealthiest families owned an umiaq (large skin boat), but the other band members were able to travel with them, in return for sharing in the workload.

  • What

    This is a photograph of a group of Inuit travelling together on a Qallunaatship, the S.S. Nascopie. Various generations are represented, and the individuals are probably related, since family members usually travelled together.

  • Where

    The Royal Mail Ship NNascopie was a 2,500 ton steamer-icebreaker belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company. In July 1912 the Nascopie set sail on the first of 34 voyages through the Hudson Strait as a supply ship for the H.B.C. northern outposts. The Nascopie made her annual voyage each year going farther and farther north, and in 1926 went as far as Arctic Bay.

  • When

    This photograph was taken in September 1926.

  • Who

    The names of the individuals in this photograph were not recorded. The photographer was Frederick W. Berchem. Hudson's Bay Company archives records show that Frederick W. Berchem was chief officer on the S.S. Nascopie from 1926-1930.