The temperature has nudged up past freezing, the ice will go soon, and the fun and games of summer are beginning to bloom in Canada's eastern arctic. Among the coastal settlements the Eskimos have abandoned the igloo pleasures of winter, the blackjack hands and the cribbage boards, the Chinese checkers and the cat's cradle manipulations. Instead, families have moved outdoors for trampoline contests, soccer and London Bridge Is Falling Down, plus such original exertions as whip ball and nugluktaktok. Soon, with the sea lanes fully open, Eskimos will gravitate to a Hudson Bay post to unload the once-a-year trading ship and to race in kayaks.
These pictures of the Canadian Eskimos at play were painted by John Groth after two expeditions into the Hudson Bay area last year. In March he scouted the western shore of the bay by plane, roughing out stiff-fingered sketches in the 20°-below-zero weather. He went back in late June by trading ship to explore Baffin Island and the eastern bay, where he made more studies in 20°-above weather. And he completed his paintings in the comparative comfort of a sweltering New York summer.
Two youthful critics on Baffin Island watch John Groth sketch.
ARCTIC WHIP BALL
Sealskin whips drive moss-stuffed ball in ferocious game. Groth saw no evidence that score was kept.
July 19, 1959
Walrus skin stretched tautly on stakes develops talents of Eskimo gymnasts. Girls use an exaggerated flutter kick for balancing.
At ship time, men stage furious race at Port Harrison on Hudson Bay's eastern shore. On left is Dog Feed Island, where fish are kept. Hudson's Bay Co. ship Rupertsland rides at right.
Late-summer hunt is cooperative enterprise by Eskimos to supply fresh meat, hides, ivory and dog food. Sealskin bladders attached to ivory-tipped harpoons keep carcass afloat.
Risky game is a favorite male pastime. Players, wearing gauntlets, jab simultaneously at suspended ivory target with sharp harpoons. First to spear one of drilled holes is winner.