Bloody Fall Creek. This creek, which flows into the Coppermine River just above the island above Bloody Fall, is broad for about three miles to the east, then tapers to a narrow, crooked gully which seems to run a few miles farther. There appeared to be another channel running north of the clay ridge back of our camp, but I crossed the valley there and found grass all the way across. There may be a little slough there in the spring.
Ambrose, Adam and Ikey went over the hills to the south, for several miles, between camp and the Escape Rapid and saw one herd of 21 caribou. They shot six – five females (all with small embryos), and one young bull, all with antlers. They said they saw some bulls that had shed their antlers. Adam found a long copper arrow-head inbedded in the throat of one of the caribou.
Rudolph M. Anderson
Zoologist and Head of the Southern Party
Diary of Rudolph M. Anderson © Canadian Museum of Nature
In the winter of 1916, Anderson and his men were trying for the second time to get the Expedition mail out by sledding south along the Coppermine River to the nearest trading post. Once again they were stymied by heavy snow and had to turn back. The route they followed is today, in summer, a popular route for river adventure canoe trips. The Coppermine River is now a designated Canadian Heritage River.
Bloody Fall is the site of a Territorial Historic Park and a National Historic Site. Often incorrectly called Bloody Falls, the place was named and known for a massacre of Inuit by Dene and Chipewyan in 1771, witnessed by Samuel Hearne. The “Fall” is more of a rapid than a waterfall, hence the lack of the final “s.”
In 2002 I had the great pleasure of travelling from the community of Kugluktuk up the Coppermine River to Bloody Fall by boat. My companion and guide on that little adventure was Joe Allen Evyagotailak, who became an MLA for Nunavut. We were looking for signs of Anderson’s journey and spent some time looking for native copper on the river bank, hoping to find the raw material that the Copper Inuit made their arrows and other tools from. We saw fresh sign of a grizzly bear feeding on berries and found an ancient rock hunting shelter above the river. We also joked about the lunches we ate overlooking the Coppermine River. I brought sardines and pilot biscuits, and Joe brought coke and a chocolate bar!