L103.30 | Model of umiak
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1909, 20th century
Walrus hide, wood, metal, cotton thread, bone
14.5 x 26.5 x 70.5 cm
Gift of Mr. Richard H. Peck
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Model (422)
Keys to History
At the start of the 20th century, Revillon Frères (an established but expanding Parisian fur company, which since 1860 had opened stores in London, New York and Montreal) decided to set up a network of fur-trading posts to compete with the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1909, Revillon Frères had forty-eight stores in the Eastern Arctic division while the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) had fifty-two. Competition between these companies ended in 1936 when the HBC bought out Revillon Frères.
To supply their Arctic posts, these two companies maintained a fleet of steamers that sailed annually to all of their trading posts, bringing in company personnel, doctors and dentists, as well as enough supplies, provisions and trade goods for one year, then returning home with Arctic fox and other lucrative animal pelts. The ships supplying the Revillon Frères posts made the journey in twelve weeks. They could not go through the Hudson Strait before August 1, and it was dangerous for them to pass through any later than November 1. Some of the ships took passengers along. One such passenger was Hugh A. Peck, a young Montreal architect eager to see the world, who stayed on board for the 12-week interlude
Umiaks are the skin boats, capable of carrying heavy loads that were usually manoeuvred by women. They could hold up to twenty people and were used to transport families to seasonal hunting areas in the summer, as well as for whale-hunting expeditions. Although this is a model, it is meticulously accurate as to the method and materials used in building life-size umiaks.
This model umiak was probably purchased by Hugh A. Peck when the steamer he was travelling on stopped at Kuujjuaq (formerly Fort Chimo), Nunavik.
This model umiak was collected in 1909.
Umiaks were no longer being made by Central Arctic Inuit at the time of first contact with Europeans, although the Eastern and Western Inuit continued making them until the early 20th century, when they were replaced by wooden whaleboats and other motorized boats.