Out of the Northwest Passage | Adventure Canada

Latonia Hartery (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2009‐022)

From September 1‐16, 2009 the Adventure Canada cruise ship sailed from Cambridge Bay towards the Beaufort Sea and retraced its sailing south of Banks and Victoria Island. From here the ship headed northward to Beechey Island en route to Pond Inlet and Greenland. During the ship’s journey several archaeological sites were visited in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Only one stop in the Northwest Territories revealed evidence of archaeological remains.

Cape Baring on southern Victoria Island constituted the only stop our cruise vessel made in this territory, which yielded archaeological remains. At this location, two meat caches and what is possibly a tent ring were observed. The tent ring was roughly 4.5 metres in diameter. In general, the tent structure could be described as “barely there” and it was difficult to distinguish from the limestone beach in general since the rocks comprising the feature were very small. The tent ring lies about 8m from the meat caches. An axial structure seems to bisect the house but given the nature of the beach and its constant exposure to freeze‐thaw action, it was difficult to determine what features of the structure, especially its depression, were natural or imposed. The feature seems very recent however and therefore unlikely to be Paleoeskimo.

Both meat caches were about 2‐3 metre across and had a height of approximately 40cm. It is presumed the current dimensions are shorter and wider than the original construction since the caches had been disassembled. Both were comprised of extremely large boulders. All that remained in one meat cache were several pieces of driftwood while the other contained one small juvenile seal radius. These features were about 50 metres north of the beach where our zodiacs came ashore. Behind these features a relatively steep incline provided a nice hike to higher land where a large lake was visible. Much of the ground in the Cape Baring region is without vegetation or has vegetation only along the borders of the frost polygons. A few plants such as arctic poppies and nodding bladder campions were observed. At the time of our visit snow cover did not exist and many bare areas were covered by a light brown, thick mud. Historic maps and documents of the De Salis Bay area show Thule houses to the east and west of the bay but none were recorded at our landing spot.

(Edited by Shelley Crouch, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre)