PREVIEW

In the north: a quest for godwits and buffalo bones

DAVID PIPER June 30 1962
PREVIEW

In the north: a quest for godwits and buffalo bones

DAVID PIPER June 30 1962

In the north: a quest for godwits and buffalo bones

PREVIEW

From the high Arctic to the Great Lakes, there are more explorers crisscrossing the Canadian wilderness this summer than there have been since the days of the coureurs de bois. Most of them are hunting minerals—the Department of Mines and Technical Surveys alone has 97 geological parties deployed from the Yukon to Labrador— but the roster also includes a variety of adventurers, amateur and professional, bent on uncovering new facts about Canada's past, present, and future.

Don Baldwin, an ornithologist from the Royal Ontario Museum, is looking for the mysterious nesting grounds of the Hudsonian godwit, a long-legged wader of the curlew family that until 1948 was believed to be practically extinct. Since then, breeding areas have been discovered near Churchill, Man., but information from the Cree Indians makes Baldwin believe the largest nesting grounds are between Sutton Lake and Hudson Bay in northern Ontario.

McGill professor G. R. Lowther and a National Museum party of four are digging for Eskimo remains at Engigstiak. in the northwest corner of the Yukon. They believe the site was repeatedly occupied from about 7000 B.C. to 1200 A.D. As part of a continuing search, they will be studying buffalo bones, flint tools, knife blades and projectile points.

Farther east, Dr. M. S. Maxwell of Michigan State University is leading a

five-man team to Juet Island, off the south coast of Baffin Island. They too will study the prehistoric culture, and its relationship to Alaska and Labrador. The two Eskimo studies may help to establish the story of man's earliest migrations in North America.

^ Skin divers are exploring the route of the voyageurs between Lake Superior and the West, to discover from shipwrecked canoes and bateaux just what the fur traders were carrying to the Indians. Earlier finds include wrought iron trade axes, gun flints, beads, w’hetstones and British shoe buckles. Two

parties are paddling through Quetico Park this year, sponsored jointly by the Quetico Foundation, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Minnesota Historical Society. The Canadian team, led by Walter Kenyon, is covering the Namakan River. Lac la Croix and the Maligne River. The other, under Robert C. Wheeler of Minnesota, is working from Lake Superior to Fort St. Charles. * Four Englishmen hope to solve the mystery of the Sir John Franklin expedition of 1845, which set out to find the Northwest Passage. Not a man from the two Royal Navy ships, Erebus and

Terror, survived to tell what happened, but an 1859 search party found a cairn on King William Island that contained two messages. One told of initial success; the second reported Franklin's death and the abandonment of the ships. Franklin's men headed south for the Back River, presumably in an attempt to reach a Hudson’s Bay post. Traces of their passage have been found on Montreal Island and along the Back River, but none of the many subsequent expeditions have made a thorough search of Cape Britannia, on the east side of the Back estuary. This year's party, inspired by Rear Admiral Noel Wright’s recent book. The Quest For Franklin, believes Cape Britannia is where the answer will be found.

^ At the northern tip of Newfoundland a Norwegian expedition under Helge Ingstad is digging for proof that an ancient Norse settlement existed, and that Leif Ericson was there. The site was discovered in 1956 by Jorgen Meldgaard, a Danish archaeologist, who believes it is the legendary Vinland.

* An international team of U. S. and Canadian geologists is making the most detailed study yet of the Chubb Crater, a two-miles-wide depression in Ungava that some scientists believe was caused by a meteor. Because the moon's surface is pitted with similar craters, the information they gather may be useful to the first astronaut who tries a landing on the moon. DAVID PIPER