Captain George Comer and the Inuit of Hudson Bay
Captain George Comer (1858-1937) of East Haddam, Connecticut, enjoyed dual careers as a successful Arctic whaling captain and amateur anthropologist, and is best known for his documentation of the Inuit.
During the years 1895 to 1912, Comer created an extraordinary record of the lives of Inuit in the vicinity of Cape Fullerton (now known as Qatiktalik, Nunavut) on the west coast of Hudson Bay. Here he relied extensively on the whaling skills and hunting of Inuit men and the sewing of Inuit women, who produced essential caribou fur clothing and sealskin boots for Comer and his crew.
This exhibition, drawn from material collected by Captain Comer, captures a moment in time. Comer’s body of work – in collaboration with noted anthropologist Franz Boas – provides an intimate and sensitive portrait of people whose way of life was changing. His work also reveals his appreciation for the ingenuity, skills, and character of his Inuit companions. They supported Comer’s whaling by willingly sharing their knowledge and helping him to survive. Their cooperation also enabled him to create a unique record of Inuit cultural history.