Captain George Comer

A number of interesting biographies of Captain George Comer that are available online are listed below. What is not made clear in most is how closely integrated into Inuit families the Quebec-born whaling captain was, having fathered at least one son — Laurent Pamiulik — as research into the photograph below has established. W.O. Douglas’ story likewise brings to light a side of Comer’s personality, that, although absent in other accounts, is in keeping with the rough and violent world of historical whalers.

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Photo, “Capt. Comer.” Source: “Revival of Whaling and Romance of the ‘Era’; Captain Comer’s Quaint Little Craft, Nearly 60 Years Old, Preparing for Another Northern Cruise,” New York Times, Magazine section (Sunday, 8 July1906): SM5.

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” Pa-mi-oo-le, Southampton Island. Portrait of an Inuit man,” dated May 1926, and later identified by family members as 1) “Pameolik. His adopted brother was Joe Curley Qayayuak, and their adoptive mother was Shoofly.” 2) “Laurent Pamiulik, biological son of Captain George Comer. He was adopted by Angutimmarik who was a great angakkuq (shaman) leader of Inuit in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  His grandchildren live in several different communities in Nunavut.” Source: L.T. Burwash / Library and Archives Canada / PA-099300.

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Primary source articles:

W.O. Douglas, “The Wreck of the Finback,” http://bit.ly/kDfWx.

B.S. Osbon, “Revival of Whaling and Romance of the ‘Era’; Captain Comer’s Quaint Little Craft, Nearly 60 Years Old, Preparing for Another Northern Cruise,” New York Times, Magazine section (Sunday, 8 July1906): SM5, http://bit.ly/418Ojr.

Secondary source articles:

W. Gilles Ross, “George Comer (1858-1937),” Arctic 36, no. 3 (September 1983): 294-295, http://bit.ly/cEIS0. Biography with halftoned photos and suggestions for further reading.

Wikipedia, “George Comer,” http://bit.ly/8Y2AZ.

Books:

Dorothy Harley Eber, When the Whalers were Up North: Inuit memories from the Eastern Arctic (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1996 [Google books preview http://bit.ly/3XGPIp].

Web Texts:

Thomas Armstrong, “Kayak 1.7 The Historians: Captain George Comer,” 70.8% Blog (Sunday, 22 February 2009), http://bit.ly/YIj2O. With a nice selection of photographs and a biography written with a sailorly eye to detail.

Qikiqtani Inuit Association, web page, “George Comer,” The Forgotten Story of Inuit Whalers website, [no longer available except through Internet Archive Wayback Machine http://web.archive.org/web/20110804005800/http://inuitwhalers.ca/en/index.php]. Includes video with Comer’s sound recording, “Inuit songs of the Hudson Bay (1903-1912),” among “the first ever made in the Canadian Eastern Arctic,” along with photographs, biographical notes, and links.

Museum Exhibits and Archival Holdings:

Canadian Museum of Civilization, online exhibition, “Playthings and Curious: Historic Inuit Art. Captain George Comer (1858-1937), http://bit.ly/P1ap7. Includes pictures of artifacts with captions and notes furnishing context and brief histories of acquisition.

McCord Museum, halftone print, “Captain George Comer aided by Inuit group, making fresh sails, Hudson Bay, 1919,” from a photograph by Frederick W. Bercham, http://bit.ly/13UKku.

“Frozen In: Captain Comer and the Hudson Bay Inuit.” Mystic Seaport website, http://bit.ly/vu2lT. Announcement page features a description of the exhibit, a brief biographical note, photographs, and links.

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11 Responses to Captain George Comer

  1. Bernie Uluadluak P.O. box 741, Rankin Inlet, NU. X0C-0G0 says:

    I’ve been looking for pictures of the sisters ( Shoofly Nuvisunaa, Angoileq mother of Ekwalak & Angoalook’s wife, Miksikopak or Qatalik, Qongataloriktoq & Taptaqot, they lived at Qatiktalik or Cape Fullerton in the late 1800’s & early 1900’s, i’ve seen names like Tidley Winks, Rosa, Cooper, Nellie to name a few, Miksikopak or Qatalik was my great grandfathers mother, if you have pictures of them, can you e-mail them to my facebook with names if possible, thank-q.

    • Bernie Uluadluak P.O. box 741, Rankin Inlet, NU. X0C-0G0 says:

      notify me

    • Bernie Uluadluak says:

      Miksikopak=Mrs Coop r, her inuktitut name was Qatalik, her husband’s name was Mr. Cooper Ungayaaq, Ungayaaq’s sister was Alikamiq, these 2 moved away from Qatiktalik after Mrs. Cooper died from natural causes, going out caribou hunting & exploring towards Qamaneq or Kaminak in the map SW of Imagjuaq or Banks lake, these 2 died of starvation @ Angootitalik, SW of Kaminak lake, Ungayaaq’s son Donald Olibaq Ooloaloyoaq Ishomataryoaq survived when Ungayaaq sent his son to school to Anglican & Catholic churches, here we are, grateful to Almighty God, knowing these were my sivoleq’s, Mr. Cooper Ungayaaq was the son of Captain Mokko, who owned & sailed Fort Churchill schooner named Suwoomba in the 1878 era, a map maker who went around North & South America 3 times in his life, a whaler, commander of his ship, his name Maqqok with his wife Kokik, were known through out Nunavut.

      • hallnjean says:

        Thank you so much for updating this information and filling in so many blanks. Captain Mokko/Maqqok is a fascinating historical seafarer!

        Norma

  2. Norma, thank-q for responding if it is possible can give me the title of the book on Captain Mokko/Maqqok to my gmail bernieuluadluak@gmail.com so i can purchase it and where i can buy this book, again thank-q

  3. Marie-Lucie Uviluq says:

    I too would like to know about Brass Lopes who was one of the crew men of Captain George Comer. Or another man of color. I am looking for my father’s biological father, who was fathered by one of Captain George Comer’s crew. He was born in 1917, Mother’s name Domina Uviluq and his father’s name Harry Kappinaq. Also if there are any pictures of them, my Grandfather Harry Kappianaq was Angutimmarik’s (scotch jim?) nephew.

  4. CHadd says:

    Looking for Pictures and more information on Bras Lopes of the ERA vessel as my son is named after his Inuktitut name Saquaktii If anyone has anything and would like to share that would be greatly appreciated

    • katymarblog says:

      Hi, CHadd. Brass Lopes is my children’s great great grandfather. I’ve been researching Lopes and others that were at Fullerton Harbour 1903-05. I can share with you what I have found out about Brass.
      Your message here is the first time I’ve come Brass’s Inuktitut name! Very cool. If you give me your contact (email, phone – whatever you’re comfortable with) I will be happy to share with you what I have found so far.
      Karen

  5. Lorraine Unainuk Alagalak-Kablutsiak says:

    Very interesting information about my great-grandfather, Captain George Comer. Thank you! My late grandfather is Laurent Pameolik. He is my father, David Alagalak’s late father.

    I’m actually looking for information on Captain Arthur O. Gibbons, who is believed to be my grandfather, Harry Unainuk Gibbons’ biological father. So great to have come across this page, with my information regarding Comer and Pameolik. Thank you!

  6. Liz Illnik says:

    Brass Lopes was my late Grandmothers biological father, her name was Marie Ekwalak. Would you please give me more information about Brass Lopes, Thank You in advance.

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