PERRY RIVER POST
INUINNAQ FUR TRADER
Ikpakohainok, Stephen Angulalik in front of post sign. (Northwest Territories Archives / N- 1986-002: 0154)
Angulalik’s post, located on Flagstaff Island originally consisted of a dwelling house and a trading store. One of the first things he did as a newly established fur trader was to get his own boat. In 1929, Angulalik sailed to Herschel Island with Hugh Clarke on Canalaska’s supply ship Nigalik to receive his own schooner the Tudlik.
Angulalik purchased the Tudlik from Canalaska with C.T. Pedersen arranging for the marine insurance for the boat. The Tudlik was later refitted by Canalaska with a new 35 hp diesel engine in 1935 at a cost of $3000. Dudley Copeland states that Angulalik went to Herschel Island each summer with the Tudlik, but Canalaska documents refer to the delivery of trade goods via other ships such as the Fox and the Morris. It may be that Angulalik sometimes went to Herschel Island himself, but picked up his outfit at Cambridge Bay on other occasions.
Angulalik’s business was so successful that the HBC set up a competing post at Perry River in 1937. However in 1936 the Canalaska Trading company had been sold to the HBC, and by 1938 Canalaska operations had ceased. Part of the arrangement between Canalaska’s owner C.T. Pedersen and the HBC was that the HBC would continue to supply Angulalik with trade goods. These terms were agreed to by the HBC, but Dudley Copeland (1985) remembered that Angulalik’s initial order was seen as very unusual to HBC accountants:
When Angulalik had been accepted as a customer – asking for around twenty thousand dollars debt – the Fur Trade Commissioner had me consult the credit manager...The credit manager threw up his hands; it was plain foolishness to risk that much money on a man’s character and reputation.
With Angulalik now an HBC customer, he was no longer in direct competition with Angulalik, and the HBC post was at Perry River was closed in 1941. The dwelling house from the HBC post was sold to Angulalik in 1942.
It was during this period of change in Angulalik’s operation that he lost his first two wives. Koloahok died in 1938 and Kuptana in 1939. According to RCMP Seargent Henry Larsen Angulalik’s wives both died during a measles epidemic.
Angulalik did not qualify for baptism while he had two wives, but after the death of Koloahok he was baptised Stephen in 1938. Some time after the death of his wife Kuptana in 1939, Angulalik was united with his third wife Ervana. They were married in a church in 1941.
Angulalik was an Inuinnaq operating a trading post for Inuit. With an insiders perspective on what goods would be useful to Inuinnait, he sometimes had what HBC staff would find “odd things”.
There were odd things in his store, such as parasols and umbrellas for which the Eskimos had an intriguing new use. When covered with white cotton, they made conveniently packaged shields; behind them a hunter could creep up on a sleeping seal on the spring ice (Copland 1985: 227).
As Angulalik could not speak or write English it is hard to imagine how he accomplished ordering the things he wanted. However, Angulalik had a typewriter and he would type the words of the packages of items he wanted replenished. Sometimes he may not have chosen the proper name of the product, but with the understanding of the HBC staff at Cambridge Bay he did manage to receive what he wanted. Angulalik had a good understanding with HBC manager Scotty Gall, who was manager at Cambridge Bay from 1939 to 1948 with the exception of the winter of 1943/44.
Angulalik’s engineer aboard the Tudlik was Morris Pokiak who was a half-black and half-Inuit man from the Herschel Island area. Another westerner Norman Evalik joined the Angulalik operation around 1943, by hiring out his schooner the Sea Otter.
Evalik family: Norman, Lena, -, -, David and Charlie in front. (Northwest Territories Archives / N-1986-002: 0216)
Tudlik up on beach from stern. Working on bottom. (Northwest Territories Archives / N-1986-002: 0102)
Between annual trips to Cambridge Bay with the Tudlik, Angulalik would communicate to Scotty Gall through letters sent by regular dog team trips.
Listen to Scotty Gall talk about working with Angulalik
(Northwest Territories Archives/ N-1988-040-0001 and 0002)
Scotty Gall was very impressed with Angulalik’s abilities as a trader. He would not only bring in many foxes through trade, but he provisioned his post with meat that he hunted himself.
Listen to Scotty Gall discuss Angulalik's trading success
(Northwest Territories Archives/ N-1998-049-0050)
Listen to Scotty Gall discuss Angulalik's use of country food
In addition to hunting, Angulalik left the post to trap and this added to his income. His third wife Ervana remembered this lifestyle in the early 1940s:
Inuit had used this area to trap foxes. I have gone trapping with Angulalik when we were just married. A long time ago on this river, [Perry River] we would set traps all along the shores of this river. Along the shores of the coast here too. When he ran the post, he enjoyed travelling and setting traps, I would go with him when we were just married... When we were just married at the time we would travel up river [Perry River] not very far and set up traps with help from young men. He would always have someone helping him all the time. We would set traps along the coast by Sherman Inlet. (Mabel Ervana Angulalik, PI/KHS Interview).
Angulalik’s wife Ervana skins fox. (Northwest Territories Archives / N-1986-002: 0260
In fact, Angulalik had a unique lifestyle relative to other fur traders. He did not spend the entire season at the post waiting for Inuit to come to him. Instead he and his family engaged in seasonal hunting and fishing activities with other Ahiarmiut.
As leader, Angulalik would host Christmas celebrations annually for the Ahiarmiut. His wife Ervana remembered those celebrations:
During Christmas season right until New Year's Eve, they would have games if no one was traveling in or out of the island. That was how they celebrated festive seasons long ago. They would enjoy themselves. Right now Christmas is not celebrated any more, like it used to be. They would invite everyone to feast at their iglus, it would go for days. I have often wondered if we should have passed this on to our family, our grandchildren, our children to let them see how we had celebrated Christmas long ago. (Mabel Ervana Angulalik, PI/KHS Interview).
Although it was not his responsibility as a trader, Angulalik kept records of the people who would come in to trade with him. The Christmas gathering gave him the opportunity to take a census of the people at Perry River. He also kept records of deaths and births which he passed on to the RCMP.
Angulalik operated the Perry River post as an independent trader until the events of New Year's Eve 1956 resulted in his being brought up on murder charges. In 1957 Angulalik chose to sell his operations to the HBC. After Angulalik was acquitted of the charge, he returned to Perry River and worked alongside the post manager Red Pedersen. Angulalik considered Pedersen as a member of his family and acted as a mentor to the young trader. Pedersen remains a close friend to the Angualik family to this day.
Angulalik remained employed at the Perry River post until it closed in 1967.
(left) Men's census at Perry River, Northwest Territories Archives / N-1986-002-1-9b. (right) Women's census at Perry River, Northwest Territories Archives / N-1986-002-1-9a.