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Introduction and History
The Hubbard Rock
Canoeing and hiking to the site of a 100 year-old tragedy in remote Labrador
By Philip Schubert, Kanata, Ontario (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Photos by Philip SchubertThe small village of North West River is located 40 kilometres east of Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, on the northern shore of the Hamilton Inlet. It began life as a Hudsonís Bay trading post and, as described in Peter C. Newmanís book, ĎMerchant Princesí, Donald Smith spent 20 years exiled here for earlier misdeeds in the Hudsonís Bay Company. He was finally allowed to leave in 1869 and went onto fame and fortune, and had the honour of driving the last spike in Canadaís transcontinental railway.
The pictures in Newmanís book showing North West River and the indigenous people native to Labrador, the Naskaupi, in fact were taken long after Smithís departure, on the occasion of what has become North West Riverís real claim to fame. This was the tragic trip attempted in 1903 by two American adventurers, Leonidas Hubbard and Dillon Wallace, and their guide, George Elson.
This tragedy led to two extraordinary trips across Labrador and Northern Quebec in 1905, which formed the basis for the Mina Hubbard Centennial Celebrations by North West River in 2005. The centennial included a 3 day symposium to which I was invited as one of the presenters.
Iíve made a total of six trips in Labrador by canoe and hiking, starting in 1999, in which I explored areas linked to the saga. In 2003, I travelled solo to a point in the remote forest, commonly called the ĎHubbard Monumentí, and in 2003 and 2004 I retraced portions of the historic Innu Portage, linked to one of the trips in 1905. (For my trip in 2005 down the Naskaupi, see http://magma.ca/~philip18/FrameStartOfTrip.htm)
The Hubbard Monument is located approximately 90 kilometres northwest of North West River at the beginning of the Susan River. The monument marks the location where Leonidas Hubbard, the husband of Mina Hubbard, died of exhaustion and starvation in October 1903. Its remote location, nearly 100 kilometres from the nearest humans, has resulted in it being visited only a total of 6 times on foot in the past 100 years. A forest fire passed over it three days after I visited the site. I may therefore have taken the last photographs of the site as it looked a hundred years earlier. (Go to Page 2)