The ice party this year consists of V.S., Storkerson, and Thompson, with two sleds – one that they had last year and a new one that Pete built this winter. There were seven dogs in the old sled and six big ones in the newer one. They had 60 days full provisions for men and 40 days for dogs; all of it except the fats is especially prepared food. The fats amounted to about 200 lbs and was whale blubber rendered and poured over biscuit and would do well for either man or dog food.
[…] They intend to keep well to the north and may yet reach Prince Patrick Island before they really start to the west, if they find the going good in that direction. Their aim is to reach Latitude 77 and Longitude 140 west, then go northeast to Prince Patrick Island if land is not found.
I am to start for Coronation Gulf as soon as I like and bring back the North Star and seven men, white men if possible, and as many dogs as I can as well as supplies. V.S. also wants some Eskimo women and children, particularly one – Minnie, Alinnak’s wife from Baillie Island. She is the one who told him so many folklore stories, which are included in his book.
George Hubert Wilkins
Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth College
Popular accounts of Stefansson’s Arctic explorations often mistakenly conclude that Stef’s “living off the land” means that he travelled without supplies and lived only by hunting. As Wilkins’ diary entry notes, on the contrary, Stefansson and his Northern Party companions always started off with full loads on their sleds.Though they did rely on killing seals and polar bears while out on the sea ice, the sled load of supplies made the diet much more varied than is often reported.
Stefansson’s request for Wilkins to pick up more Inuit women before heading north to Banks and Melville Islands, was not just for his desire to collect more cultural information (in the form of stories, legends etc.) but also to ensure that there would be enough traditional clothing, especially parkas and boots, to equip the exploration party for both their winter and summer travels.