Eenoolooapik

Eenoolooapik, also known as Bobbie, Inuk traveller, guide (born circa 1820 in Qimisuk [or Qimmiqsut], Cumberland Sound, NT; died in 1847 in Cumberland Sound, NU). Eenoolooapik provided British whaling captain William Penny with a map of Cumberland Sound that led to the rediscovery of that area 255 years after English explorer John Davis first saw it. The geographic information Eenoolooapik provided to whalers led to years of permanent whaling camps in Cumberland Sound.



Eenoolooapik
Portrait of Enoolooapik, from Alexander M'Donald (McDonald)'s biography of Enoolooapik (1841).

Early Life

When he was a boy, Eenoolooapik and some other Inuit met British whalers at Cape Enderby. After following them to Cape Searle, and learning about their homeland, Eenoolooapik’s curiosity about life outside the Arctic peaked. Although he wanted to join the whalers on their travels, he felt too committed to his family to depart. The eldest son, Eenoolooapik helped take care of his mother and siblings after their father took another wife.

In September 1839, Eenoolooapik met British whaling captain William Penny. Trying to save a failing fishing industry, Penny was in search of new whaling territory. He had heard of a place called Tenudiackbeek (present-day Cumberland Sound) that was supposedly full of whales. Eenoolooapik knew of this place, having lived in the region. Penny wanted Eenoolooapik to go back with him to Scotland to convince the British navy to sponsor an expedition there. He gave Eenoolooapik’s family presents in exchange for taking him away temporarily. The two departed for Aberdeen in October and arrived in November.

DID YOU KNOW?
Eenoolooapik’s sister Tookoolito travelled parts of the world with explorer Charles Francis Hall.

Work in Britain

After kayaking and hunting in Britain, Eenoolooapik soon came down with pneumonia. He had become a sensation among locals, and his recovery was followed by the Aberdeen newspapers. It was then that Eenoolooapik met surgeon Alexander M’Donald, who also became Eenoolooapik’s tutor and biographer. Once he felt better, Eenoolooapik was given a tour of the town and attended a variety of events and balls. He was well received by locals, described as a friendly and intelligent man with a sense of humour.

Eenoolooapik drew a map of Tenudiackbeek (Cumberland Sound), which he and William Penny presented to the Navy. They would not support an expedition, but Penny returned to the Arctic in 1840 nonetheless. Eenoolooapik helped Penny rediscover Cumberland Sound. Penny called the area Hogarth’s Sound (named after one of his funders), not realizing that this was the Cumberland Gulf explorer John Davis sailed through in 1585.

Return Home

Feeling homesick, Eenoolooapik left Penny and the whalers to meet his family in Cape Searle. Returning to a traditional lifestyle, Eenoolooapik married a woman named Amitak and lived as a hunter and trader. By the time William Penny returned to Cumberland Sound in 1844, Eenoolooapik had had a son, Angalook. Eenoolooapik died three years later of consumption.

Legacy and Significance

Not long after his death, wintering in Cumberland Sound became common practice among whalers. The knowledge that Eenoolooapik provided to his European friends enabled the creation of shore stations that offered work to many Inuit. It also, unknown to Eenoolooapik, served to accelerate the colonization of his homeland. Eenoolooapik’s story, recorded in Alexander M’Donald’s biography of him, A Narrative of Some Passages in the History of Eenoolooapik (1841), demonstrates the importance and use of Inuit knowledge in Arctic explorations.


Inuit Collection

Indigenous Perspectives Education Guide

Further Reading

  • Alexander M’Donald, A Narrative of Some Passages in the History of Eenoolooapik, a Young Esquimaux, Who Was Brought to Britain in 1839, in the Ship “Neptune” of Aberdeen: An Account of the Discovery of Hogarth’s Sound: Remarks on the Northern Whale Fishery, and Suggestions for Its Improvement (1841).

  • H.G. Jones, “The Inuit as geographers: The case of Eenoolooapik,” Études/Inuit/Studies vol. 28, no. 2 (2004), pp. 57–72.

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