In February and March 1915 Anderson, Jenness, Johansen, and
Castel travelled up the Coppermine River by dogteam, using a Nome sled and a toboggan.
They carried out biological, geological and archaeological surveys along the river.
Johansen studied the dead and dying spruce at the northern limit of trees, discovering
three species of bark beetles at work in the timber.
After Jenness and Johansen returned to base, Anderson and Castel
continued on up the Coppermine and across to Dease Lake. Slowed by soft snow and
rough, jagged ice on the Coppermine and deep soft snow on the Dease River, the
dogs became exhausted, making it impossible to reach Great Bear Lake to transfer
the mail. They turned back, reaching Bernard Harbour on 1 April.
Diamond Jenness travelled to Victoria Island in April and began
seven amazing months of travel with his adopted Copper Inuit family, roaming around
the southwestern part of the Island, hunting caribou and learning first-hand the
hardships of nomadic life.
As soon as conditions allowed travel in the spring of 1915,
the other men of the Southern Party travelled east from Bernard Harbour to Bathurst
Inlet by schooner, dogsled and umiak (skin boat), studying, mapping, and collecting
as they went. They mapped in detail land not explored since Franklin's journey
in 1821, and surveyed and mapped copper-bearing rock formations in Bathurst Inlet.
The year 1915 began with a visitor, Fred Jacobsen, who brought
the crew of Alaska the first news of the Great War. This news of global
tragedy was followed by a personal tragedy at Alaska's winter quarters.
Following a long struggle with scurvy, Daniel Blue, chief engineer of the Alaska,
died of pneumonia on 2 May 1915 after an illness of
Alaska came up out of her winter bed in the ice on
15 May and preparations began for her summer trip back to Herschel Island for
supplies. Captain Sweeney was worried about the absence of Dr. Anderson, who was
to go with Alaska. Soon though, Ikey Bolt and Palaiyak arrived from Bernard
Harbour with the Expedition's outgoing mail, and the news that Anderson had gone
east with the survey party. Wilkins and the North Star carried the men
and supplies of the party to Bathurst Inlet, before heading to Banks Island.
Ikey and Palaiyak were soon at work boiling polar bear skulls
for the museum in Ottawa, while Mike and Jacobsen began the long, frustrating
job of getting Alaska's engine running. Twenty-three days later, Jacobsen
was "paid off" with $5.00 cash, 4 sacks of flour, 1 lb. of tobacco,
2 lb. of soap and the late Mr. Blue's caribou skin shirt. But the engine was still
not running. Eventually it was decided that the gasoline brought in last year
was at fault and that they would have to sail to Herschel Island.
In spite of struggles with ice and shallow reefs, Alaska
safely reached Herschel Island. There her engine was finally put in running order
and the new supplies were loaded. Alaska put to sea in mid-August with
a new engineer, J.E. Hoff, Mike's wife Cis and children, three other Inuit (Adam
Ovayuak, Mungalena, and Ambrose Agnavagak) and Corporal Bruce of the RNWMP,
who was to investigate the disappearance of two priests thought to have been killed
Arriving at Bernard Harbour before the ice closed in, the Alaska
took Fritz Johansen, the Expedition's marine biologist, out into Dolphin and Union
Strait where he took some valuable soundings down to 50 fathoms and obtained specimens
by dredging from greater depths than he had been able to reach before. On 22 September
the harbour froze over and Alaska was placed in position for the winter.
Weather Observations (Meteorology)
Taking daily weather observations, recording tidal measurements,
trapping mammals and preparing specimens were all part of the regular tasks at
"Messrs Cox and Chipman worked all forenoon setting up
gas inflation apparatus for meteorological balloons. The apparatus is rigged up
in a large snowhouse, and the observing telescope set up on tripod outside. The
observer is supposed to keep the telescope fixed on the balloon as long as it
is in sight, and a self-recording apparatus keeps record of angles at which the
telescope is moved. The first balloon sent up was light-colored and soon became
invisible. They sent up another smaller dark red balloon which showed up better
but Chipman could not follow it with the registering apparatus." (R.M. Anderson
Diary, November 27, 1915 Bernard Harbour).