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When the Whalers Were Up North

Inuit Memories from the Eastern Arctic

by (author) Dorothy Eber

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Jan 1996
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 1989
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 1996
    List Price

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The author tells a story drawn from oral memories, a story which will soon disappear with the last Inuit generation to have seen the whalers. Illuminated by a remarkable collection of drawings, photographs, and illustrations, many in full colour, tales are told of when the whalers first appeared on the north-east coast of Baffin Island, how they set up land stations in the whale-rich waters of Cumberland Sound, and how they eventually pushed on into Hudson Bay. During this time the Inuit not only fed and clothed the whalers, they hunted with them, adding to the whalers' wealth. Our understanding of change in Inuit life is often linked to the fur traders, who arrived in the North fifty years after the arrival of the whalers. In truth it is the Inuit's close contact with the foreign world of the whalers which marked the beginning of a change in previously undisturbed Inuit culture and traditions.

About the author

Ingo Hessel is the Albrecht Adjunct Curator of Inuit Art at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. His publications include the seminal Inuit Art: An Introduction, Arctic Spirit and Sanattiaqsimajut: Inuit Art from the Carleton University Art Gallery Collection. He curated the exhibition Arctic Spirit for the Heard Museum, which toured to ten cities across North America from 2006 to 2009. For twelve years he was Special Projects Officer and Coordinator of the Inuit Art Section in the Canadian Government's Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, which published his educational booklet Canadian Inuit Sculpture in eight languages. Ingo Hessel is also a sculptor who has had many solo exhibitions in Canada and Japan.

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Editorial Reviews

"A gem of a book ... Eber has succeeded well in elucidating the interaction between Eastern Arctic Inuit and the American and Scottish whalemen who came to Cumberland Sound, Hudson Strait, and Hudson Bay in the century before the last whaler left in 1915 ... Anyone interested in the socio-economic impact of Arctic whaling, the Inuit, or the ethnological record of such inter-cultural contact will find this book worthy of study." Briton C. Busch, Argonauta. "A remarkable collection of Eastern Arctic lore." Books in Canada. "A major contribution to Inuit social history." Mick Mallon, Nunatsiaq News.

Other titles by Dorothy Eber