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Evidence where harm or nutritional deficiencies occur with diets restricted of animal products. A very general hypothesis that states that eating more plants, whether in famine, or addiction, cause more disease. Metabolic, hormonal, anti-nutrients.


Recent History

January 1, 1697

Arctic Passage


The Kamchatka Peninsula is invaded by Russian Cossacks in 1697 and the natives are forced to turn to trapping for furs instead of living off of their highly carnivorous diets of fish and sea mammals such as seals, whales, or walrus.


The Russian subjection of Siberian natives did not begin with the work of the two Kamchatka expeditions headed by Vitus Bearing, though these expeditions accelerated the process. In 1581 the Cossack Ermak led his followers across the Urals for their first plunders in the vast easten territories. Gradually, over the next 100 years, the Cossacks pushed on to exploit the fur riches and pacify territory for the Moscovite Empire. Southeastern advances along the Amur River were checked by the powerful Manchu forces of China, but there was no concerted resistance north of the Amur. Following the great rivers, the Ob, Irtysh, Yenisei, and Lena, the Cossacks subdued the primitive natives who stood in their way. Tribute in furs was exacted mercilessly. To resist was to be decimated. 

Advances to the far northeast were slowed by the lack of easy river access and the forbidding climate. The Kamchatka Peninsula was not explored until 1696. A year later, Cossack Vladimir Atlasov led a party of 100 soldiers, conveyed by reindeer, to Kamchatka's east coast, where the Russians encountered Kamchadals for the first time. Soon after this, fur traders established themselves in Kamchatka to plunder and oppress the natives until they were driven to a desperate resistance. In 1731 the natives rose against their oppressors, but their rebellion was savagely crushed within a year. It was part of the assignment of the second Kamchatka expedition, officially called the Great Northern Expedition, to compile information on the people and resources of northeastern Asia. Much of this work was done by Georg Steller prior to his 1741 voyage with Bering to America, and by a young Russian scientist, Stepan Petrovich Krasheninnikov. Krasheninnikov, only twenty-five years old in 1737 when he arrived in Kamchatka, did the major portion of the investigation and, with the help of Steller's notes, produced his study, Explorations of Kamchatka, which was published by the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1755. This book has long been the classic source on the Kamchadals of southern Kamchatka and, to a lesser extent, on the Koriak and Chukchi peoples inhabiting the regions farther north. In the Explorations of Kamchatka we Bet an invaluable picture of the recently subjugated peoples of the Bering Sea frontier and, indirectly, an insight into the attitudes of their Russian overlords toward the region and its inhabitants. Krasheninnikor was not involved in the most exciting assignment of the expedition, the attempt to discover America from the west. His task was to provide a careful assessment of Kamchatka upon which the government could base its developmental policies. His temperament was well suited to the task. He was disposed to report the sober truth as he saw it, without exaggeration or inclinations to optimistic promotion. In weighing the advantages and disadvantages of Kamchatka, his report was balanced and careful. "The country has neither grain nor livestock. It is subject to frequent earthquakes, floods and storms. The only diversions are to gaze on towering mountains whose summits are eternally covered with snow, or, if one lives along the sea, to listen to the crashing of the waves and observe the different species of sea animals." 3 Considering this, Krasheninnikov commented, "it would seem more appropriate for this country to be inhabited by wild animals than by human beings."4 On the other hand, pure air, healthy water, the absence of diseases, a climate neither excessively hot or cold, make the country "no less fit to be lived in than other countries which may have an abundance of other things, but are exposed to all these ills and dangers." 5 

Although Kamchatka might be "fit to be lived in," it did not attract large numbers of European Russians. A small number of colonists from other parts of Siberia were settled there among the natives, soldiers, and government officials, and plans were laid for a self-supporting agricultural economy. But attempts to achieve such an economy were sporadic and largely unsuccessful. Economic development remained a vision of government planners. Yet the region did provide riches for a few Russians who reaped profits from its most obvious resources, its people and its fur-bearing animals. Both were exploited shamelessly by mercenary interests. In time, the Kamchadals lost their identity as a distinct people, while the relentless hunting of sables, foxes, and other fur-bearing animals drastically reduced their numbers. Only the discovery of new fur resources to the west saved the land animals of Kamchatka from a total extermination. 

The Kamchadals were a free, independent people before the Russians conquered them. Like that of their Eskimo neighbors in Alaska their social organization was loose and unstratified. No rulers or chiefs were recognized, though men esteemed for their wisdom and experience were highly regarded. Russians could appreciate some of the skills exhibited by natives- hunting and dog-sled driving in particular--but generally considered them barbaric and contemptible. "They are filthy and disgusting," wrote Krasheninnikov, "they never wash their hands or faces, nor do they cut their fingernails, they eat from the same bowls as their dogs and never wash them. They all reek of fish and smell like eider ducks." 6 Different standards of personal hygiene have always formed a barrier between peoples, though many Siberian travelers observed little distinction between Cossack and native habits of cleanliness. 

Kamchatka's great wealth was in the numbers of fur-bearing animals to be found there. The dense, glossy pelts of foxes were esteemed in the fur trade and the sables, because of their size and beauty, were considered superior to those hunted elsewhere in Siberia. These animals as well as hares, marmots, ermines, bears, wolverines, and weasels were caught in traps, poisoned, or shot with a bow and arrow. Kamchadals were delighted when Cossacks offered a single knife in exchange for eight sable pelts and a hatchet for eighteen skins. "It is quite true," Krasheninnikov reported, "that when Kamchatka was first conquered, there were some agents who made as much as thirty-thousand roubles in one year." 7 

All the natives of Kamchatka and northeastern Siberia, except for the Koriak reindeer herdsmen of the interior, used dogs for transport during the winter. Besides hauling sleds, dogs assisted in the hunt of mountain sheep and other land animals, and their skins provided a wide variety of clothing. Food for the dogs was easily obtained, consisting, primarily, of the salmon which abounded in Kamchatka's rivers. Great quantities of fish were taken in the summer and dried for winter use as dog food. Marine mammals were also hunted. Seals were taken off the coast in winter and from the rivers and estuaries in summer. Natives clubbed sleeping seals on land and harpooned them in the water. Seal skins yielded material for boots and clothing, their oil provided lighting and heat for native dwellings; their flesh and blubber were important sources of food and were sometimes preserved for later use by smoking. Other mammals could only be taken at sea. These included the sea lion, fur seal, sea otter, whale, and, in northern waters, the walrus. All these mammals contributed to the native economy to varying degrees. The Chukchis primary food source was the whale, which they hunted in the European manner, harpooning the beasts at sea from large boats and towing the whales ashore for butchering. Kamchadals, on the other hand, did not usually venture out to sea to hunt whales, but made good use of any that washed ashore.

November 30, 1771

Samuel Hearne

A Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's Bay to the Northern Ocean in the Years 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772


Samuel Hearne witnesses another superstitious ritual in which a man with palsy is healed. The people danced around the man for four days without stopping and the shaman conducted a magic trick with a wooden device.

As during our stay at Anaw'd Lake several of the Indians were sickly, the doctors undertook to administer relief; particularly to one man, who had been hauled on a sledge by his brother for two months. His disorder was the dead palsey, which affected one side, from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot. Besides this dreadful disorder, he had some inward complaints, with a total loss of appetite; so that he was reduced to a mere skeleton, and so weak as to be scarcely capable of speaking. In this deplorable condition, he was laid in the center of a large conjuring-house, made much after the manner as that which has been already described. And that nothing might be wanting toward his recovery, the same man who deceived me in swallowing a bayonet in the Summer, now offered to swallow a large piece of board, about the size of a barrel-stave, in order to effect his recovery. The piece of board was prepared by another man, and painted according to the direction of the juggler, with a rude representation of some beast of prey on one side, and on the reverse was painted, according to their rude method, a resemblance of the sky.

 Without entering into a long detail of the preparations for this feat, I shall at once proceed to observe, that after the conjurer had held the necessary conference with his invisible spirits, or shadows, he asked if I was present; for he had heard of my saying that I did not see him swallow the bayonet fair; and on being answered in the affirmative, he desired me to come nearer; on which the mob made a lane for me to pass, and I advanced close to him, and found him standing at the conjuring-house door as naked as he was born.

1771. November.

When the piece of board was delivered to him, he proposed at first only to shove one-third of it down his throat, and then walk round the company afterward to shove down another third; and so proceed till he had swallowed the whole, except a small piece of the end, which was left behind to haul it up again. When he put it to his mouth it apparently slipped down his throat like lightning, and only left about three inches sticking without his lips; after walking backwards and forwards three times, he hauled it up again, and ran into the conjuring-house with great precipitation. This he did to all appearance with great ease and composure; and notwithstanding I was all attention on the occasion, I could not detect the deceit; and as to the reality of its being a piece of wood that he pretended to swallow, there is not the least reason to doubt of it, for I had it in my hand, both before and immediately after the ceremony.

 To prevent a variety of opinions on this occasion, and to lessen the apparent magnitude of the miracle, as well as to give some colour to my scepticism, which might otherwise perhaps appear ridiculous, it is necessary to observe, that this feat was performed in a dark and excessively cold night; and although there was a large fire at some distance, which reflected a good light, yet there was great room for collusion: for though the conjurer himself was quite naked, there were several of his fraternity well-clothed, who attended him very close during the time of his attempting to swallow the board, as well as at the time of his hauling it up again.

For these reasons it is necessary also to observe, that on the day preceding the performance of this piece of deception, in one of my hunting excursions, I accidentally came across the conjurer as he was sitting under a bush, several miles from the tents, where he was busily employed shaping a piece of wood exactly like that part which stuck out of his mouth after he had pretended to swallow the remainder of the piece. The shape of the piece which I saw him making was this, which exactly resembled the forked end of the main piece, the shape of which was this, So that when his attendants had concealed the main piece, it was easy for him to stick the small point into his mouth, as it was reduced at the small end to a proper size for the purpose.

1771. November.

 Similar proofs may easily be urged against his swallowing the bayonet in the Summer, as no person less ignorant than themselves can possibly place any belief in the reality of those feats; yet on the whole, they must be allowed a considerable share of dexterity in the performance of those tricks, and a wonderful deal of perseverance in what they do for the relief of those whom they undertake to cure.

Not long after the above performance had taken place, some of the Indians began to ask me what I thought of it. As I could not have any plea for saying that I was far off, and at the same time not caring to affront them by hinting my suspicions of the deceit, I was some time at a loss for an answer: I urged, however, the impossibility of a man's swallowing a piece of wood, that was not only much longer than his whole back, but nearly twice as broad as he could extend his mouth. On which some of them laughed at my ignorance, as they were pleased to call it; and said, that the spirits in waiting swallowed, or otherwise concealed, the stick, and only left the forked end apparently sticking out of the conjurer's mouth. My guide, Matonabbee, with all his other good sense, was so bigotted to the reality of those performances, that he assured me in the strongest terms, he had seen a man, who was then in company, swallow a child's cradle, with as much ease as he could fold up a piece of paper, and put it into his mouth; and that when he hauled it up again, not the mark of a tooth, or of any violence, was to be discovered about it.

1771. November.

This story so far exceeded the feats which I had seen with the bayonet and board, that, for the sake of keeping up the farce, I began to be very inquisitive about the spirits which appear to them on those occasions, and their form; when I was told that they appeared in various shapes, for almost every conjurer had his peculiar attendant; but that the spirit which attended the man who pretended to swallow the piece of wood, they said, generally appeared to him in the shape of a cloud. This I thought very apropos to the present occasion; and I must confess that I never had so thick a cloud thrown before my eyes before or since; and had it not been by accident, that I saw him make a counterpart to the piece of wood said to be swallowed, I should have been still at a loss how to account for so extraordinary a piece of deception, performed by a man who was entirely naked.

As soon as our conjurer had executed the above feat, and entered the conjuring-house, as already mentioned, five other men and an old woman, all of whom were great professors of that art, stripped themselves quite naked and followed him, when they soon began to suck, blow, sing, and dance, round the poor paralytic; and continued so to do for three days and four nights, without taking the least rest or refreshment, not even so much as a drop of water. When these poor deluding and deluded people came out of the conjuring-house, their mouths were so parched with thirst as to be quite black, and their throats so sore, that they were scarcely able to articulate a single word, except those that stand for yes and no in their language.

1771. November.

After so long an abstinence they were very careful not to eat or drink too much at one time, particularly for the first day; and indeed some of them, to appearance, were almost as bad as the poor man they had been endeavouring to relieve. But great part of this was feigned; for they lay on their backs with their eyes fixed, as if in the agonies of death, and were treated like young children; one person sat constantly by them, moistening their mouths with fat, and now and then giving them a drop of water. At other times a small bit of meat was put into their mouths, or a pipe held for them to smoke. This farce only lasted for the first day; after which they seemed to be perfectly well, except the hoarseness, which continued for a considerable time afterwards. And it is truly wonderful, though the strictest truth, that when the poor sick man was taken from the conjuring-house, he had not only recovered his appetite to an amazing degree, but was able to move all the fingers and toes of the side that had been so long dead. In three weeks he recovered so far as to be capable of walking, and at the end of six weeks went a hunting for his family. He was one of the persons particularly engaged to provide for me during my journey; and after his recovery from this dreadful disorder, accompanied me back to Prince of Wales's Fort in June one thousand seven hundred and seventy-two; and since that time he has frequently visited the Factory, though he never had a healthy look afterwards, and at times seemed troubled with a nervous complaint. It may be added, that he had been formerly of a remarkable lively disposition; but after his last illness he always appeared thoughtful, sometimes gloomy, and, in fact, the disorder seemed to have changed his whole nature; for before that dreadful paralytic stroke, he was distinguished for his good-nature and benevolent disposition; was entirely free from every appearance of avarice; and the whole of his wishes seemed confined within the narrow limits of possessing as many goods as were absolutely necessary, with his own industry, to enable him to support his family from season to season; but after this event, he was the most fractious, quarrelsome, discontented, and covetous wretch alive.

Though the ordinary trick of these conjurers may be easily detected, and justly exploded, being no more than the tricks of common jugglers, yet the apparent good effect of their labours on the sick and diseased is not so easily accounted for. Perhaps the implicit confidence placed in them by the sick may, at times, leave the mind so perfectly at rest, as to cause the disorder to take a favourable turn; and a few successful cases are quite sufficient to establish the doctor's character and reputation: But how this consideration could operate in the case I have just mentioned I am at a loss to say; such, however, was the fact, and I leave it to be accounted for by others.

January 11, 1772

Samuel Hearne

A Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's Bay to the Northern Ocean in the Years 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772


Upon Hearne's travels into the wilderness, he meets a young Indian woman who was camping alone for 7 months and surviving off by "snaring partridges, rabbits, and squirrels" and some beavers and porcupines.

On the eleventh of January, as some of my companions were hunting, they saw the track of a strange snow-shoe, which they followed; and at a considerable distance came to a little hut, where they discovered a young woman sitting alone. As they found that she understood their language, they brought her with them to the tents. On examination, she proved to be one of the Western Dog-ribbed Indians, who had been taken prisoner by the Athapuscow Indians in the Summer of one thousand seven hundred and seventy; and in the following Summer, when the Indians that took her prisoner were near this part, she had eloped from them, with an intent to return to her own country; but the distance being so great, and having, after she was taken prisoner, been carried in a canoe the whole way, the turnings and windings of the rivers and lakes were so numerous, that she forgot the track; so she built the hut in which we found her, to protect her from the weather during the Winter, and here she had resided from the first setting in of the fall.

From her account of the moons passed since her elopement, it appeared that she had been near seven months without seeing a human face; during all which time she had supported herself very well by snaring partridges, rabbits, and squirrels; she had also killed two or three beaver, and some porcupines. That she did not seem to have been in want is evident, as she had a small stock of provisions by her when she was discovered; and was in good health and condition, and I think one of the finest women, of a real Indian, that I have seen in any part of North America.

1772. January.

The methods practised by this poor creature to procure a livelihood were truly admirable, and are great proofs that necessity is the real mother of invention. When the few deer-sinews that she had an opportunity of taking with her were all expended in making snares, and sewing her clothing, she had nothing to supply their place but the sinews of the rabbits legs and feet; these she twisted together for that purpose with great dexterity and success. The rabbits, &c. which she caught in those snares, not only furnished her with a comfortable subsistence, but of the skins she made a suit of neat and warm clothing for the Winter. It is scarcely possible to conceive that a person in her forlorn situation could be so composed as to be capable of contriving or executing any thing that was not absolutely necessary to her existence; but there were sufficient proofs that she had extended her care much farther, as all her clothing, beside being calculated for real service, shewed great taste, and exhibited no little variety of ornament. The materials, though rude, were very curiously wrought, and so judiciously placed, as to make the whole of her garb have a very pleasing, though rather romantic appearance.

 Her leisure hours from hunting had been employed in twisting the inner rind or bark of willows into small lines, like net-twine, of which she had some hundred fathoms by her; with this she intended to make a fishing-net as soon as the Spring advanced. It is of the inner bark of willows, twisted in this manner, that the Dog-ribbed Indians make their fishing-nets; and they are much preferable to those made by the Northern Indians.

Five or six inches of an iron hoop, made into a knife, and the shank of an arrow-head of iron, which served her as an awl, were all the metals this poor woman had with her when she eloped; and with these implements she had made herself complete snow-shoes, and several other useful articles.

Her method of making a fire was equally singular and curious, having no other materials for that purpose than two hard sulphurous stones. These, by long friction and hard knocking, produced a few sparks, which at length communicated to some touchwood; but as this method was attended with great trouble, and not always with success, she did not suffer her fire to go out all the Winter. Hence we may conclude that she had no idea of producing fire by friction, in the manner practised by the Esquimaux, and many other uncivilized nations; because if she had, the above-mentioned precaution would have been unnecessary.

1772. January.

The singularity of the circumstance, the comeliness of her person, and her approved accomplishments, occasioned a strong contest between several of the Indians of my party, who should have her for a wife; and the poor girl was actually won and lost at wrestling by near half a score different men the same evening. My guide, Matonabbee, who at that time had no less than seven wives, all women grown, besides a young girl of eleven or twelve years old, would have put in for the prize also, had not one of his wives made him ashamed of it, by telling him that he had already more wives than he could properly attend. This piece of satire, however true, proved fatal to the poor girl who dared to make so open a declaration; for the great man, Matonabbee, who would willingly have been thought equal to eight or ten men in every respect, took it as such an affront, that he fell on her with both hands and feet, and bruised her to such a degree, that after lingering some time she died.

When the Athapuscow Indians took the above Dog-ribbed Indian woman prisoner, they, according to the universal custom of those savages, surprised her and her party in the night, and killed every soul in the tent, except herself and three other young women. Among those whom they killed, were her father, mother, and husband. Her young child, four or five months old, she concealed in a bundle of clothing, and took with her undiscovered in the night; but when she arrived at the place where the Athapuscow Indians had left their wives (which was not far distant), they began to examine her bundle, and finding the child, one of the women took it from her, and killed it on the spot.

1772. January.

This last piece of barbarity gave her such a disgust to those Indians, that notwithstanding the man who took care of her treated her in every respect as his wife, and was, she said, remarkably kind to, and even fond of her; so far was she from being able to reconcile herself to any of the tribe, that she rather chose to expose herself to misery and want, than live in ease and affluence among persons who had so cruelly murdered her infant. The poor woman's relation of this shocking story, which she delivered in a very affecting manner, only excited laughter among the savages of my party.

In a conversation with this woman soon afterward, she told us, that her country lies so far to the Westward, that she had never seen iron, or any other kind of metal, till she was taken prisoner. All of her tribe, she observed, made their hatchets and ice-chisels of deer's horns, and their knives of stones and bones; that their arrows were shod with a kind of slate, bones, and deer's horns; and the instruments which they employed to make their wood-work were nothing but beavers' teeth. Though they had frequently heard of the useful materials which the nations or tribes to the East of them were supplied with from the English, so far were they from drawing nearer, to be in the way of trading for iron-work, &c. that they were obliged to retreat farther back, to avoid the Athapuscow Indians, who made surprising slaughter among them, both in Winter and Summer.

June 11, 1772

Samuel Hearne

A Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's Bay to the Northern Ocean in the Years 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772


The vegetable productions of this country by no means engaged my attention so much as the animal creation; which is the less to be wondered at, as so few of them are useful for the support of man. Yet I will endeavour to enumerate as many of them as I think are worth notice.

Of the Vegetable Productions.

The vegetable productions of this country by no means engaged my attention so much as the animal creation; which is the less to be wondered at, as so few of them are useful for the support of man. Yet I will endeavour to enumerate as many of them as I think are worth notice.


The Gooseberries thrive best in stony and rocky ground, which lies open and much exposed to the Sun. But in those situations few of the bushes grow to any height, and spread along the ground like vines. The fruit is always most plentiful and the finest on the under-side of the branches, probably owing to the reflected heat from the stones and gravel, and from being sheltered from all cold winds and fog by the leaves. I never saw more than one species of Gooseberry in any part of Hudson's Bay, which is the red one. When green, they make excellent pies or tarts; and when ripe are very pleasant eating, though by no means so large as those produced in England.


Cranberries grow in great abundance near Churchill, and are not confined to any particular situation, for they are as common on open bleak plains and high rocks as among the woods. When carefully gathered in the Fall, in dry weather, and as carefully packed in casks with moist sugar, they will keep for years, and are annually sent to England in considerable quantities as presents, where they are much esteemed. When the ships have remained in the Bay so late that the Cranberries are ripe, some of the Captains have carried them home in water with great success.


The Heathberries are in some years so plentiful near Churchill, that it is impossible to walk in many places without treading on thousands and millions of them. They grow close to the ground, and are a favourite repast of many birds that migrate to those parts in Summer, particularly the Grey Goose; on which account the Indians distinguish them by the name of Nishca-minnick, or the Grey Gooseberry. The juice of this berry makes an exceeding pleasant beverage, and the fruit itself would be more pleasing were it not for the number of small seeds it contains.


Bethago-tominick, as it is called by the Indians, or the Dewater-berry of Mr. Dragge. I have seen this berry as far North as Marble Island, and that in great abundance. It flourishes best, and is most productive, in swampy boggy ground covered with moss, and is seldom found among grass. The plant itself is not very unlike that of a Strawberry, but the leaves are larger. Out of the center of the plant shoots a single stalk, sometimes to the height of seven or eight inches, and each plant only produces one berry, which at some distance resembles a Strawberry; but on examination they have not that conical form; and many of them are only composed of three or four lobes, while others consist of nearly twenty. The flavour of this berry is far from unpleasing, and it is eaten by our people in considerable quantities during the season, (which is August,) and, like all the other fruits in those parts, is supposed to be wholesome, and a great antiscorbutic.


Currans, both red and black, are common about Churchill River, but the latter are far more plentiful than the former, and are very large and fine. The bushes on which those currans grow, frequently exceed three feet in height, and generally thrive best in those parts that are moist but not swampy. Small vallies between the rocks, at some little distance from the woods, are very favourable to them; and I have frequently observed that the fruit produced in those situations is larger and finer than that which is found in the woods. Those berries have a very great effect on some people if eaten in any considerable quantities, by acting as a very powerful purgative, and in some as an emetic at the same time; but if mixed with Cranberries, they never have that effect.


Juniper-berries are frequently found near the new settlement at Churchill River, but by no means in such plenty as in the more Southern and interior parts of the country. The bush they grew on is so similar to the creeping pine, that one half of the Company's servants residing in Hudson's Bay do not know one from the other. Like the Gooseberry bushes in those parts, the fruit is always most plentiful on the under side of the branches. They are not much esteemed either by the Indians or English, so that the few that are made use of are generally infused in brandy, by way of making a cordial, which is far from unpleasant.


Strawberries, and those of a considerable size and excellent flavour, are found as far North as Churchill River; and what is most remarkable, they are frequently known to be more plentiful in such places as have formerly been set on fire. This is not peculiar to the Strawberry, but it is well known that in the interior parts of the country, as well as at Albany and Moose Forts, that after the ground, or more properly the under-wood and moss, have been set on fire, that Raspberry-bushes and Hips have shot up in great numbers on spots where nothing of the kind had ever been seen before. This is a phænomenon that is not easily accounted for; but it is more than probable that Nature wanted some assistance, and the moss being all burnt away, not only admits the sun to act with more power, but the heat of the fire must, in some measure, loosen the texture of the soil, so as to admit the plants to shoot up, after having been deep-rooted for many years without being able to force their way to the surface.

Besides the Berries already mentioned, there are three others found as far North as Churchill; namely, what the Indians call the Eye-berry, and the other two are termed Blue-berry and Partridge-berry by the English.


The Eye-berry grows much in the same manner as the Strawberry, and though smaller, is infinitely superior in flavour. This berry is found in various situations; but near Churchill River they are most plentiful in small hollows among the rocks, which are situated some distance from the woods; but they are never known to grow in swampy ground, and I never saw them so plentiful in any part of Hudson's Bay as about Churchill River.


The Blue-berry is about the size of a Hurtle-berry, and grows on bushes which rise to eighteen inches or two feet, but in general are much lower. They are seldom ripe till September, at which time the leaves turn to a beautiful red; and the fruit, though small, have as fine a bloom as any plum, and are much esteemed for the pleasantness of their flavour.


The Partridge-berry is nearly as large as the Cranberry imported from Newfoundland, and though of a beautiful transparent red, yet has a disagreeable taste. These berries are seldom taken, either by the Indians or English; and many of the latter call them Poison-berries, but several birds are fond of them. They grow close to the ground, like the Cranberry, and the plant that produces them is not very unlike small sage, either in shape or colour, but has none of its virtues.

I had nearly forgotten another species of Berry, which is found on the dry ridges at Churchill in considerable numbers. In size and colour they much resemble the Red Curran, and grow on bushes so much like the Creeping Willow, that people of little observation scarcely know the difference; particularly as all the fruit is on the under-side of the branches, and entirely hid by the leaves. I never knew this Berry eaten but by a frolicksome Indian girl; and as it had no ill effect, it is a proof it is not unwholesome, though exceedingly unpleasant to the palate, and not much less so to the smell.


Hips of a small size, though but few in number, are also found on the banks of Churchill River, at some distance from the sea. But in the interior parts of the country they are frequently found in such vast quantities, that at a distance they make the spots they grow on appear perfectly red. In the interior parts of Hudson's Bay they are as large as any I ever remember to have seen, and when ripe, have a most delightful bloom; but at that season there is scarcely one in ten which has not a worm in it; and they frequently act as a strong purgative.

With respect to the smaller productions of the vegetable world, I am obliged to be in a great measure silent, as the nature of my various occupations during my residence in this country gave me little leisure, and being unacquainted with botany, I viewed with inattention things that were not of immediate use: the few which follow are all that particularly engaged my attention.


January 1, 1793

Observations On The Nature And Cure Of Calculus, Sea Scurvy, Consumption, Catarrh, And Fever: Together With Conjectures Upon Several Other Subjects Of Physiology And Pathology


Dr Beddoes: Considering fresh meat, or the muscular part of animals, chemically, I see no reason why it should not be efficacious in preventing or curing the scurvy. In winter they[Ostiack Tartars of the Oby] ravenously devour their frozen fish raw, esteeming them a preservative against the 'scurvy.'

Considering fresh meat, or the muscular part of animals, chemically, I see no reason why it should not be efficacious in preventing or curing the scurvy. Oxygene it contains, when raw , in a state of loose combination , though probably not in such large proportion as vegetable substances, even such as are not acid. I had noticed in travellers of great respectability passages that confirm this idea. The nations inhabiting the cold and dreary regions on the eastern shores of Asia , and the opposite coasts of America, seem to have learned from experience, that fresh, or at leaſt unsalted fish is a preventative of the scurvy, or a remedy for it .

Thus Dr. Pallas (Reise, iii. 47) describes the Ostiack Tartars of the Oby, as preparing their winter stores altogether without salt. “They are extremely apt, when disabled by age or infirmities, to become scorbutic. In winter they ravenously devour their frozen fish raw, a practice which the neighbouring Russians imitate , esteeming them a preservative against the 'scurvy.' (46.) 

Mr.Meares (Voyage, Introd. p. 30 .) speaking of an American tribe, says, “She made us sensible that the same disorder (scurvy) prevailed in her nation; and that whenever the symptoms appeared, they removed to the southward, where the climate was more genial, and where plenty of fish was to be obtained, which never failed to prove the means of their recovery.”

The reader will probably agree to consider the frozen as fresh fish. If it were possible to preserve meat on ship board, in this simple manner, one great source of the scurvy would probably be cut off. Cookery combines the oxygene anew; would our sailors eat raw animal food?

Dr. Lind, though he has full confidence in green vegetables, and affirms that the scurvy never can become a general, fatal, and destructive calamity, where they abound, and the proper method of treatment is known and pursued (p. 541.); he concludes from a number of comparative trials (p. 538), that certain patients in Haslar hospital in general grew better, notwithstanding they abstained altogether from vegetables.

"This strict abstinence from the fruits of the earth," says he, "was continued long enough to convince me, that the disease would often, from various circumstances, take a favourable turn, independent of any diet, medicine, or regimen ." We have nothing, I presume, to oppose in point of conclusiveness to such experiments made by a physician so intelligent and so experienced in this particular disease.

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