Historical Events

But at the inland trading posts, where flesh foods alone were to be had, and where they were not overcooked, neither whites nor their Indian affiliates ever had scurvy.

Before the ninety-eighters came, everybody along the Slave and Mackenzie rivers had at least heard of both toothache and scurvy, and some knew one or both from their own experience. As to scurvy, it was well known that Company people did have it at the ocean ports on Hudson Bay, where victuals were cooked European style and where most of the food came from Europe by ship. 


At these seaports the Indian wives of white men got scurvy nearly as often as the white wives of others. But at the inland trading posts, where flesh foods alone were to be had, and where they were not overcooked, neither whites nor their Indian affiliates ever had scurvy. The like was the case with tooth decay — nobody suffered tooth decay on the Mackenzie except those who had brought decay with them in their mouths from some such place as Hudson Bay or Scotland.


It was all a matter, the bishop thought, of what food you ate and of how it was stored and cooked. Scurvy cured itself when you left the Bay for the interior. Decayed teeth were not exactly cured by the all-flesh diets of the inland posts, but the tooth cavities ceased growing larger.


This was what everyone formerly believed on the Mackenzie about toothache and scurvy. Many of the Athapaskans had never seen an active case of either; but with the gold rush a lot of people came into the fur lands who not merely had rotten teeth already but who also brought with them quantities of the sort of food that would help continue the decay processes and, as the event showed, would also produce in the Mackenzie District the sort of scurvy they had heard of as suffered by the Company's people on Hudson Bay.

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