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Fort Chesterfield crew, May 1926. Photo by L. T. Burwash.
Name: Fort Chesterfield
Owner: Hudson's Bay Company
Route: Hudson Bay
Builder: B. Burry, Glovertown, Newfoundland
Completed: 1920
Acquired: 1921 by HBC
General characteristics
Class and type: motor schooner
Tonnage: 72 tons
Length: 80 ft (24 m)
Beam: 21 ft (6.4 m)
Height: 9 ft (2.7 m)
Propulsion: 75hp motor
Crew: ten crewmen

The Fort Chesterfield, known as “Umiajuatnak” by the Inuit,[1] was a Hudson's Bay Company motor schooner which distributed supplies arriving in Chesterfield Inlet to isolated communities along Hudson Bay, including Repulse Bay, Eskimo Point, Coral Harbour, Fullerton Harbour, Wager Bay, and Baker Lake, during the 1920s. It established a transportation and communications network for the entire region. [2][3]

The two-masted, 72-ton, 80’x21’x9’ vessel was built in 1920 by B. Burry in Glovertown, Newfoundland, and was sold in St. John’s to the Hudson's Bay Company in the first half of 1921.[4][5][6]

Originally named the “L. Burry”, it was renamed “Fort Chesterfield” by July 1921. Capt. Jean Berthe, an HBC employee, formerly of the Nelson River district, oversaw the overhauling of the vessel for ice conditions and the installation of a 75hp motor, and accompanied it to Chesterfield Inlet in August 1921.[7][8][9]

By June 1924, Capt. George Cleveland of the HBC had assumed command of the Fort Chesterfield.[10] Capt. Berthe evidently left the HBC to join the rival trading company, Revillon Frères.[11]

In August 1924 the Fort Chesterfield left for Coral Harbour on Southampton Island to establish a trading post there. In addition to Capt. Cleveland, his engineer Mr. H. E. Weller, and the crew of seven Inuit men and two boys, they were joined by Harry Stallworthy of the RCMP, Capt. G. E. Mack, Dudley Copeland and Bill Peters of the HBC, and two Inuit families.[2] The Chesterfield arrived at the island on Aug. 4, 1924 and found a suitable site for the new post, a campsite already inhabited by Aivilingmiut families. They landed about 100 tonnes of building materials, fuel, food, and trade goods, and began construction of the new post. Bill Peters, Dudley Copeland, and the two Inuit families who that had accompanied them remained behind to operate the post, and Capt. Cleveland returned with the Fort Chesterfield to Chesterfield Inlet.[2] Capt. Cleveland fell sick and died that winter.[12]

Crowd aboard Fort Chesterfield, May 1926


  1. ^ "Living History of Chesterfield Inlet - An Elders Story: LeenieeSammutok and Mary Nuvak". Retrieved 2008-04-13.  
  2. ^ a b c Barr, William (2004). Red Serge and Polar Bear Pants. The University of Alberta Press.  
  3. ^ Hunter, Archie (1983). Northern Traders. Victoria, BC: Sono Nis Press. ISBN 0-919203-38-8.  
  4. ^ Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston. "AMENDMENTS TO "NEW MILLS LIST"". Retrieved 2008-04-13.  
  5. ^ Hunter, Archie (1983). Northern Traders. Victoria, BC: Sono Nis Press. ISBN 0-919203-38-8.  
  6. ^ The Beaver, July, 1921  
  7. ^ The Beaver, July 1921  
  8. ^ "LABRADOR NEWS", The Beaver, Aug.-September 1921  
  9. ^ "Port Burwell Post Journals". Retrieved 2008-04-13.  
  10. ^ "Hudson's Bay Company Archives - Biographical Sheets: Cleveland, George Gibbs -" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-04-13.  
  11. ^ Dorais, Louis-Jacquess (1997). Quaqtaq: Modernity and Identity in an Inuit Community. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0802079520.  
  12. ^ "Hudson's Bay Company Archives - Biographical Sheets: Cleveland, George Gibbs -" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-04-13.  


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