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Following Frobisher

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Mother bear and cubs.

Land trips in Nunavut full of surprises 

Frobisher was one of the first Europeans documented as visiting South Baffin in the 16th century. He was supposedly trying to find a route to the spices and silks of the Orient but was distracted by the possibility of discovering large quantities of surface gold reserves. 

One summer, I took a boat trip with Johnny Nowdlak and Glenn Williams, both renewable resource officers at the time, to Kadlunarn Island near the mouth of Frobisher Bay where Martin Frobisher had set up a base camp for two summers, quarrying iron pyrite, thinking it contained gold. At the camp we found artifacts providing evidence of a non‐Inuit campsite, where buildings had been erected, where attempts had been made to extract gold from local rocks, as well as a large gully where his ships had been hauled out of the water for repair. We came across several mine sites where rock extraction had taken place. 

One of Frobisher’s mining sites on the mainland.

During our visit to Kadlunarn Island and to that area on another occasion, we encountered bears quite a few times. One time a nanuq climbed into the boat twice, attempting to steal the caribou which was on the boat’s cabin roof, while on another occasion we came across a mother bear who had just caught a seal to feed the two cubs she had with her. 

Land trips in Nunavut always feel like an adventure, full of surprises! 

Nick Newbery taught in several communities in Nunavut from 1976-2005. The photos in this article are from Nick’s Arctic photo collection which can be found at www.newberyphotoarchives.ca and should be viewed from a historical perspective. 

Nick passed away February 2020. We will continue to publish articles we have on file from Nick, with his permission.