Marking the 200th anniversary of a Moravarian mission
In this new year, 2011, we may celebrate the 200th anniversary of a remarkable voyage of exploration.
Jonathan, an Inuit captain from Hopedale — together with his family and that of his son Jonas and some other Inuit — took two Moravian missionaries, Benjamin Gottlieb Kohlmeister (1756-1844) and Johann Georg Kmoch (1770-1857), from Okak to the bottom of Ungava Bay and safely back to Okak again.
Moravians, in establishing missions along the north coast of Labrador, had always wanted to evangelize and settle in Ungava Bay, but were ultimately prevented by logistical and personnel considerations, as well as the objections of the Hudson's Bay Company.
They came closest to a ministry in Ungava Bay when they purchased the premises of Job Brothers of St. John's at Port Burwell, and operated from 1904 to 1924 a mission station and trading store on Killinek Island (today's Killiniq, Nunavut) on the extreme northern tip of the Labrador Peninsula.
A memorable voyage to Ungava Bay
JOURNAL OF A VOYAGE FROM OKKAK,
ON THE COAST OF LABRADOR,
TO UNGAVA BAY, WESTWARD OF CAPE CHUDLEIGH;
Undertaken to explore the Coast, and visit the
Esquimaux in that unknown Region.
By Benjamin Kohlmeister and George Kmoch,
Missionaries of the Church of the
UNITAS FRATRUM or UNITED BRETHREN.
- Outfit. Opinions of the Esquimaux respecting the voyage. Description of the company. Departure from Okkak. Arrival at Nungorome.
- Departure from Nungorome Cove. Account of Solomon. Drift-ice. Cape MugFord. Waterfalls from the Kaumayok Mountains. Fruitless attempts to get out of the Ikkerasak, or straits.
- Quit the Ikkerasak. Account of the Kaumayok Mountains, and of Kangertluksoak. Public worship on sunday. Saeglek and its inhabitants described. The missionaries visit the Esquimaux at Kikkertarsoak.
- Departure from Saeglek. Fruitless attempt to reach Nachvak. Retreat into Nullatartok Inlet. Slate Bay. Detention on account of the ice. Arrive at Nachvak.
- Reception at Nachvak. Description of the bay. The Esquimaux manner of spearing salmon and trout. Christian deportment of the Okkak and Hopedale Esquimaux. Jonas's address to the heathen. Love of music general among these indians. Departure from Nachvak. Danger in doubling the North Cape. Arrival at Sangmiyok Bay.
- Pass Cape Nennoktok. Visit the Esquimaux families at Kummaktorvik and Amitok. Description of an Esquimaux travelling bed. Mountains seen at Ungava. Netsek seal described. Greenland houses. Danger of being shipwrecked near Kakkeviak.
- Arrival at Oppernavik. Account of Uttakiyok. His perseverance in waiting for the arrival of the missionaries. Islands and bays between Kakkeviak and Killinek. Danger in the ice at Ammitok. want of fuel supplied by robbing old graves.
- Departure from Oppernavik. Pass the Ikkerasak of Killinek. Whirlpools. The coast takes a southerly direction. Meeting with Esquimaux from the Ungava country, who had never seen an European. Anchor at Omanek. High tides. Drift-wood. Double Cape Uibvaksoak. Distant view of Akpatok.
- Chain of Black Mountains. The Dragon's Dwelling. Changes occasioned by rise and fall of the tides, and dangers attending them. Uttakiyok's superstitious customs. Singular effect of the tide in the Bay of Ittimnekoktok. Arrive at Kangertlualuksoak bay and river. Its situation. Transactions there.
- Further transactions in Kangertlualuksoak Bay. The Esquimaux women frightened by reports of indians. Ceremony of taking possession of this new-explored country, as belonging to the King of England, and of naming the river George River. Leave the bay and proceed to Arvarvik. Whales caught by the Esquimaux in the shallows. Storm at Kernertut.
- Doubts expressed by Jonathan and the other Esquimaux on the expediency of continuing the voyage. Consultations. Resolve to proceed. Thunder-storm at Pitsiolak. Account of Indians. Esquimaux cookery and hunting feasts. Arrival in the River Koksoak.
- Sail up the River Koksoak. Transactions in that region. Dangerous eddy. Meet Esquimaux. Address to them. Their joy and eagerness to have missionaries resident among them. Find a suitable situation for a settlement. Description of the country.
- Return to Okkak.