Eleven Days over Death

Straddling the Arctic Circle, the Great Bear Lake, in the Northwest Territories of Canada, is the largest lake entirely in Canada, the fourth-largest in North America, and the eighth-largest in the world. At just over 12,000 square miles, it is bigger than Belgium. Its maximum depth of 1,463 feet makes it deeper than Lake Superior. Its crystalline waters turn into ice from late November to July. Known for its fishing and hunting, this remote and isolated area is also known for its mineral deposits of uranium and silver, discovered at the turn of the 20th century, making it at the time also a destination for adventurous prospectors. Mines were developed on the southeast shore of the lake, and the communities of Cameron Bay and Port Radium were established. About 200 miles away, on the southwest side of the lake, the communities of Fort Franklin (known nowadays as Déline) and Fort Norman (now Tulita) had been major trading posts since the 19th century. Vic Ingraham was one of the owners of Murphy Services in Cameron Bay, which provided a store, post office, and mining office services to the community. However, with the decline in mining in the 1930s, the company bought a schooner (the Speed II) to haul freight and passengers on the lake from Ft. Franklin and other communities in the area as another way to make income, since there are no roads that connect the two communities. Unfortunately, on its last trip of the season in 1933 from Ft. Franklin, the schooner was caught in a severe storm on Great Bear Lake and the eleven men aboard were presumed lost.

Henry Winston (“Harry”) Hayter, a bush pilot with a base at Cameron Bay, was changing his small Curtiss Robin plane from floats to skis when the Speed was lost. Since part of the lake would be already frozen at this time, neither floats nor skis would be useful during that time of the year. Hence, flying a rescue mission would be extremely dangerous under those weather conditions. At the same, he knew that the men needed to be rescued. This is his account of the ordeal. I have transcribed it in Anniversary Gregg for the blog.

Attachment: eleven-days-over-death.pdf

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  1. Well this was a hard one (and long). There seemed to be lots of technical/mechanical words, and casual words used in a familiar way in America. And he seemed to change tac suddenly from one thing to another (e.g. from describing the scene to describing friends) and back again. At times he drifts into near-poetry. So with all that it was, until about ¾ through, difficult. So I’m a bit late this month!
    However it was really good at introducing new words which I have neither read nor written before. So, very good for expanding vocabulary.

    In my questions I have left out technical words which don’t alter the sense of the piece.
    (1) p1c2 l1 ”the ? ? drawn most ? “
    (2) p5c1 l6 “in an ? survey”
    (3) p5c2 l18 first outline
    (4) p8c1 l4 last outline
    (5) p9c1 l14 “able to ? the / fire”
    (6) p10c1 l11 “was ? anything”
    (7) p10c2 l11 “hit by ? gale”
    (8) p12c1 l9 “? Vic said”
    (9) p12c2 l22 “ to look [at ? my] machine

    And here are some writing related questions.
    (A) p7c1 l1 “odds” You put a dot under the “o”. But the word is a short ‘o’ which usually has no marking – the dot distinguishes an ‘or’ sound. Or have I got this wrong? (Before I discovered that a slight short upward/flatish curve can be used, I had used my own mark of a sharp inverted ‘v’.)
    (B) pc1 l13 Do you need a dot in “behind”?
    (C) p8c1 l22 Was an open quote missed at the beginning of the line?
    (D) p11c2 l11 Was it “state OF shock”?
    (E) p12c2 l14 I would have written “fingers” f-e-ng-reverseLoop

    P.S. I did notice the little streak from the small plane at the end!

    1. Yes, this one was not easy. It’s one of the reasons that I had the long preamble explaining what this was all about.

      p1c2 l1: “the magnet which had drawn most of us”
      p5c1 l6: “in an accurate survey”
      p5c2 l18: “north Atlantic”
      p8c1 l4: “unconsciously”
      p9c1 l14: “able to beat the fire”
      p10c1 l11: “was as bad as anything”
      p10c2 l11 “hit by southeasterly gale”
      p12c1 l9: “But Vic said” (I had an extra outline there that I now removed.)
      p12c2 l22: “to look at my machine” (another extra outline there that I removed)

      About the dot on “odds”, check paragraph 65 of the Anniversary manual. There is no dot on “behind.” I made the other corrections.

      I had to put that line divider at the end after this long piece!

        1. I checked again in the 1916 manual and the Merriam-Webster dictionary and you’re right, indeed it’s short o, so I removed the dot. Thanks for pointing this out.

          1. That must be a first! Thanks, I was beginning to doubt these markings (which are seldom needed really).

            I was not familiar with the Merriam-Webster dictionary but have looked online. May find it useful for many things.

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