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QUINTON M'KINNON

EXPLORER'S FINAL

JOURNEY

'A SYMPATHETIC TRIBUTE

In the "Evening Post." of the 3rd mat., appeared a paragraph reporting a strange coincidence mentioned by Mr. Julian Grande, the well-known London journalist, in the course of a lecture at Christchurch. The paragraph is as follows: —

"Mr. Julian Grande said that in Arabia about 5 a.m. one day he stood on a railway platform with Dr. McKinnon, of Damascus Hospital. Seeing a man there who obviously was a Britisher, they spoke to him. The stranger said that he was a polonial from New Zealand. 'I'm a Scotsman, and came from Edinburgh,' Dr. MeKinnon said... The New Zealander replied: fOne of my best friends was a Scotsman named McKinnon. I was the last man to see him before he crossed a pass in New Zealand, and he never was seen again. We have named the pass after him.' (The M'Kinnon Pass, in Fiordland, of Otago.) Tears ran down Dr. McKinnon's cheeks as he grasped the hand of the man who last spoke to his brother. Mr. Grande said he did hot know the New Zealander's name, but wished greatly to meet or hear from him."

Referring to the above, we have received the following most interesting de-scription-from the Hon. TKomas Mackenzie, M.L.-C, of all that is known of the last days of New Zealand's famous explorer, Quinton McKinnon:—

"It is of importance to a young 1 country like New Zealand that historical accuracy should as far as possible be preserved, and that"is my excuse for-ven-turing on occupying your valuable space. -Mr. Julian Grande's story (as reported in the Press) of the. disappearance of Mr. Quinton M'Kinnon and the naming of the pass is hardly accurate..- It was some years after M'Kinnon, discovered the pass now bearing his name that he was lost. May I give the details?

"In 1887 Quinton M'Kinnon was employed by the Ot-ago Survey Department to try and find a pass into Milford Sound. Many attempts had previously been made resulting in .failure. 'M'Kinnon returned supplying a rough sketch of where he had been, and said he would succeed the following year. 1

"HAVE FOUND PASS."

"In 1888 he again set out on that task;working from Te Anau side, as before. In .the same .year the Chief Surveyor of Otago organised an expedition to Milford Sound *for the purpose of measuring the height of the Sutherland Falte, and for general exploration. He asked me to join him, which I agreed to do, providing he allowed me a man to endeavour to find a pass through to ,Te Anau. This he 'agreed to do. Mr. W. S. Pillans. my old companion; joined me.. After a few days spent at Milford, four off us proceeded"inland via Lake. Ada, crossing it in a canvas boat, and proceeded up to the Falls.. From that valley we thought a pass possible, and we left part of our equipment., and returned and reported to the Chief Surveyor. He. however, said it was. impossible to find M'Kinnon in that direction, and instructed us to follow a river called the Iocs: This we did, but after proceeding for three days our third man struck, and would go no further, alleging danger, although I offered him £5 a, day to do so. "I might here incidentally mention that while I wae in' Edinburgh this same man appliedto the Royal Scottish'Geographi-' cal Society for an honorary life membership on account of his having found the M'Kinnon Pass nine years before MacICmnous discovery. As we had one tent only, we were forced to return. We had, however, gone beyond the point indicated by M'Kinnon's rough sketch of 1887 without finding him. we ( then returned, minus our third man, to.our originally selected plac^ We then began pur ascent, making for the place M'Kinnon came over, and on the hill goinc: up to the pass found on a tree a piece of paper with theae words :— 'Have found pa-ss. ' Quinton M'Kinnqn, 23rd September, 1888. Gone down river—4 p.m.'

"We found the paper, which I still have, at 6 p.m.. on the 23rd September. We then followed down the river and overtook M'Kinnon as he was pitching camp., It was a joyous meeting. Subsequently joining him, we recrossed the pass, which "we had a difficulty in refinding, owing to. the rough nature of the country, and after a hazardous trip reached Lumsden on foot, and were able to telegraph to the Press:—'McKinnon discovered pass, and Sutherland Falls been measured.—(Signed) Thomas Mackenzie.' ~,

"The Chief Surveyor and party returned by steamer, but did not reach civilisation until a few days later. THE PASSING OF McKINNON. "In November, 1891, M'Kinnon set out alone for Milford. On his way up Lake Te Anau he.called at the Te Anau station (Mr. Melland). The last person he talked to was one of the station hands. I forget his name, but have it in one of my rough diaries. He was last seen by a station hand called Jimmie, sailing with a fair wind past a point near where the Eglingtgn. river debouches into Te .Anau. , "As a month or so passed, and no word was received, anxiety arose, and search parties set out.', A party of tourists went .as far as Milford and back, whilst Mr. Richard Henry and others diligently searched the margin of the lake and islands, but without result. .

"The late Mr. Seddon was communicated with and he wired for my opinion. Replying, I described the nature of the search I thought necessary, adding that if he was satisfied that everything possible had been done nothing more need be undertaken; but, if not,- then I was prepared to go myself and see that such a search was carried out. Mr! Seddon immediately placed six members of the Armed Constabulary under my charge, instructing me to go—Mr. Pillans joining me. Arriving at Te Anau k Mr. Henry, Mr. Chamberlain (of the Customs Department), and Mr. Brodrick all took active part in the search, and had been doing bo for a time. Te Anau has" a coastal line of 350 miles. I decided on trying first a place opposite North Fiord, and fixed camp in Violet Bay. After luncheon we began our work — Mr. Chamberlain and another in the boat, whilst in parties of two we set out to search along the coast in case M'Kinnon had landed and gone inland.

"We had riot been engaged in our work more than v half an hour when Mr. Chamberlain's party . signalled: 'Found the boat.' The boat was lying slightly, on her side in about 12 feet of water, with all sail set, and. about 18 inches o£ her mast above water. She was 26 feet lonjr. whaleboat built. We set ourselves, to raise her. She lay near the forest-covered islet called Lone Island. Near by was a. rocky islet about 30 feet across, and on the highest point a large white granite block had been deposited by some glacier in times remote.

"We made a large cros3 and built it in behind the block, placing- a white myrtle wreath thereon. Mr. Dick Henry afterwards chiselled M'Kinnons name on the stone: ' 'Quinton M'Kinon, 1892.'

Dunne the time -we were thus occupied, the lake was gloomy and perturbed, and dark clouds hung low on the mountain brow. When we had completed our task a change came over the scene, the rough furrows of the lake were smoothed out, and calm prevailed, the clouds - dispersing into gossamer wreaths. ; ' "Many reflections filled my mind as we rowed away leaving M'Kinnon in his icedug grave, with the mountains, the scenes of his achievements, around him. - MY THEORY. "The boat when found was on an almost even keel, and all M'Kinnon's things were in the boat—his rifle, compass, etc., a paper, 'Black and White/ lying on the thwarts. M'Kinnon was in the habit of sitting on a little deck when steering—his tiller being short., I think a contrary wind came down North Fiord, causing-his boat to jibe, and McKinnon, taken unawares, fell overboard. He had heavy gum boots on, and they would prevent him swimming far. The boat meantime drifted to shore, and the lake being low. took the ground. When the lake again rose, the water lapped into the boat ■ and thus swamped her." . '■'-'..

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP19230405.2.79

Bibliographic details

QUINTON M'KINNON, Evening Post, Volume CV, Issue 81, 5 April 1923

Word Count
1,380

QUINTON M'KINNON Evening Post, Volume CV, Issue 81, 5 April 1923

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