|George Back, (1796-1878)|
That first winter at Fort Reliance was one of extreme hardship. In late 1833, unseasonably warm weather had kept game out on the tundra, and the Denesoline and Yellowknives Dene in the region had great difficulty surviving. Many weak and invalid First Nations wasted away at Fort Reliance, and the pemmican supply ran very low.
|Back's Chimneys at Old Fort Reliance.|
"April 20th  – For the last fifteen days our habitation had been rendered more cheerful by the presence of two ravens, which having, by my express directions, been left unmolested, had become so tame as scarcely to move ten paces when any one passed them; they were the only living things that held communion with us, and it was a pleasure to see them gambol in their glossy plumage on the white snow.
A party of men had arrived over night, and amongst them an Iroquois, who, perceiving the birds together, and being ignorant of my wishes could not resist the temptation of a double shot, and so killed them both. In any other situation such an event, would, perhaps have seemed too trifling to be noticed; but in our case, the ravens were the only link between us and the dreary solitude without, and their loss therefore was painfully felt. Moreover, there seemed a sort of treachery in the act, for the poor birds had been taught to look upon us as friends: their petty thefts were licensed; and their sharp croaking was welcome, as breaking the monotony of silence. When they were gone, I felt more lonely, and the moaning wind seemed as if complaining of the barbarity."
|Ted Harrison, "Tungsten", Eliot Louis Gallery.|