The Trader Christian Klengenberg and his family (1916).
Klengenberg is a very important figure in any discussion of fur
trade history in the Kitikmeot, as it was he who opened up Copper
Inuit territory to direct trade and contact with his first visit
in 1905/06. Klengenberg was a Dane, born in 1869 in the small
town of Svendborg, Demark. He began his seagoing career as a sixteen-year-old
cook, and visited many places around the world. In 1893 he signed
on as cook aboard the trading ship Emily Schroeder, that sailed
to the Inupiat village of Point Hope, Alaska for the purpose of
establishing a trading post. Here he met his wife Gremnia (Qimniq).
the spring of 1894 Klengenberg signed on as a pilot of the whaler
Orka and travelled to Herschel Island. Though he originally intended
to return immediately to Point Hope he was tempted to sign on
as a whaler aboard the Mary D. Hume, and spent the summer whaling
the Beaufort Sea. During this voyage the Mary D. Hume anchored
off Banks Island, and when Klengenberg was ashore he discovered
the relatively fresh footprints left there by Inuit. He kept his
knowledge of the existence of Inuit this far east secret until
he himself could come back to engage in trade with them.
not until nine years later in 1905 that Klengenberg got his opportunity
to return and seek out these Inuit. He convinced whaling captain
Charles McKenna to allow him to try and find these people while
in charge of McKenna’s trading schooner Olga. Although, McKenna
later changed his orders to Klengenberg, the Olga ended up anchored
off of the southwest coast of Victoria Island after being pushed
off course by a gale.
Charlie Klengenberg on
board his ship in 1924.
A. Larsen/National Archives of Canada/ PA-180912)
Klengenberg family along with the crew of the Olga and three western
Inuit families spent the winter headquartered at Penny Bay on
Victoria Island. This camp acted both as a trading post, and a
base for dog team trips to contact and trade with surrounding
Copper Inuit groups.
next summer Klengenberg returned to Herschel Island with the Olga
and resigned as her captain. During the following years Klengenberg
stayed in the western Arctic hunting, trapping, whaling and trading,
without returning to the Coronation Gulf. It was not until the
summer of 1916 that Klengenberg himself moved with his family
to the west end of Coronation Gulf. He established a temporary
trading post near Cape Kendall to the north of Coppermine. He
moved his post several times before settling on Rymer Point (Nuvuk),
near Read Island on the southwest shore of Victoria Island in
1919. Among the Copper Inuit he was called Charliuyak. In 1920
Klengenberg set up another post, at Arctic Sound in Bathurst Inlet.
A few years later Klengenberg retired to Vancouver where he passed
away in the spring of 1931.