A few years back (2006), MudScout published An Indelible Decade: E.R. Huntington, Apprentice Under Sail & Arctic Constable, 1908-1918, by Beverley Huntington Rogers. I’m returning to this now because, for various reasons, the book flew under the radar at the time of its release, and it’s the kind of title that deserves to be rediscovered and read for years to come.
An Indelible Decade is more than just a family history. It offers a first-hand glimpse into the life of a young man nearly a century ago, illuminating the character-shaping challenges and adventures he faced first as an apprentice aboard a commercial sailing vessel, and later, as a member of Canada’s RNWMP, stationed at Churchill, Manitoba.
Orphaned at the age of fourteen, E.R. Huntington was apprenticed aboard the three-masted, square-rigged ship Cambrian Princess. In the next four years, he went around Cape Horn eight times—more than enough to be considered a “real seaman.”
At eighteen, Huntington knocked the unendurable first mate over the ship’s rail and into the harbour at Portland, Oregon, so he had to skip ship.
Ashore without money, he tried several occupations and narrowly escaped being picked up by the marshals who were after him when they discovered that the popular young saloon owner was underage.
Blending oral history with meticulous research, this book also features more than a hundred previously unpublished photographs taken by the young Huntington while posted at Churchill. These photographs capture the primitive conditions of daily life at Churchill and around the HBC, and bring us face to face with the north and its people, including the First Nations who interacted with the RNWMP as they assembled to collect treaty payments.
Beverley H. Rogers pieces together snapshots of E.R. Huntington’s life in this book, and invites readers to listen in as her father shares his hardships, hopes, and the youthful hijinks that made this decade in his sometimes-grim life bearable.
An Indelible Decade is available at MudScout’s online store.