Learmonth was born in 1892 in Scotland. He started with the Hudson’s Bay
Company in 1911 as a clerk and returned in 1919, after World War I to become
the Hudson’s Bay Company Post Manager at Port Harrison. He worked at many
locations in the north including Lake Harbour (now Kimmirut), Chesterfield
Inlet, Cambridge Bay, Fort Ross and Coppermine (now Kugluktuk).
In 1937, Learmonth, fellow trader D.G. Sturrock and carpenter Clem James
erected the last new post devoted to the fox trade at Fort Ross. Learmonth
stayed behind as Post Manager, leaving in 1947 when Fort Ross was closed due
to its remoteness and expense. Its residents were moved to Spence Bay (now
Later, Learmonth managed to return on a commercial line to Bellot Strait,
spending a week reflecting at the ruins of the outpost. Lorenz Learmonth
retired in 1957 after 46 years in the north. He died in 1985.
"By the time he
retired in 1957 he was a living legend: the last commissioned
officer of the HBC, the founder of Fort Ross, fur trader, explorer
and conqueror of the Northwest Passage with his little schooner,
"Seal". Gerald Waring, Recorder and Times, Brockville, Ontario. 11
[Quote from Kerry
Finley: Through whaling and HBC recruitment at Stromness, the
Orcadians came to play a huge role in Canada. This connection is
very personal because of my friendship with Lorenz Alexander
Learmonth (1892-1985) that continues with his Eskimo-born daughter,
Peggy. Both Peggy and I have returned several times to the Orkneys,
where we have Learmonth ties on Stronsay. Lorenz Learmonth is one of
Canada's unknown heros of the arctic, because of his stoic and
reticent Scottish nature. I cannot begin to explain but I'll leave
you a couple references:
vessel L.A. Learmonth
roared down the greased logs into the water yesterday at the
Port Arthur Shipyards, a small quiet man watched silently.
He stood with
his hands clasped together in front of him and his short
grey-white hair blew gently in the breeze. ... now in his
early 70s, was one of the pioneers of the HBC. ... So in
1911 Learmonth, just a lad, made the slow rolling trip
across the Atlantic Ocean in a steamer... He is almost
painfully embarrassed by the whole affair. "I was just a
small part of a damn fine team of men. I'm terribly honored"
(Port Arthur News Chronicle 6 July, 1968).
attempting to climb from the ratline of the Aklavik to the
rail of the Nascopie, fell fifteen feet and sustained four
rib fractures. Loyal Company man that he was, he kept the
extent of his injuries secret so as not to risk being
obliged to go "outside". Fort Ross was his brainchild and he
was bound to stay to see it safely weaned." (Finnie)].
Learmonth's Eskimo name
was Eetungalik which as far as I can gather, means eyes wide
open, or "bright eyes". He was bright eyed right to the end.
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.