Historian’s book explores Northwest Passage history

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The HMS Investigator - dispatched on the search for the doomed Franklin Expedition - is stranded in ice on the north coast of Baring Island in the Arctic in this 1851 drawing. (National Archives of Canada/The Canadian Press)
The HMS Investigator – dispatched on the search for the doomed Franklin Expedition – is stranded in ice on the north coast of Baring Island in the Arctic in this 1851 drawing. (National Archives of Canada/The Canadian Press)
In Victorian England, the exploration of the Arctic was somewhat akin to modern day efforts to explore the moon and space.

Distant, barren, and sometimes deadly, it presented a challenge that Britons were eager to take up and to overcome.

There were of course other benefits Britain was eager to obtain by finding a shorter route to the Pacific; the potential for riches in the Asian market, and strategic economic and military advantage over rival countries.

This could all be achieved if they were the first to discover the fabled North-West Passage.

An Arctic ‘disappearance’

When Sir John Franklin’s mission “disappeared” in the Arctic, several search efforts were made, including sending the ship HMS Investigator. It’s own multi-year journey ended with the starving crew luckily rescued from the ship stuck in multi-year ice and abandoned.

Royal Geographical Society Fellow, Glenn M Stein’s latest book is called Discovering the North-West Passage: The Four-Year Arctic Odyssey of H.M.S. Investigator and the McClure Expedition.

A fascinating story of adventure, challenge, hardship, and of life and death on one hand, but on the other it is also a factual look at a fascinating period in Canadian Arctic history on the other.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Promoting Inuit history through kayaks, Radio Canada International

Finland: Heritage hunting in Finnish forests, Yle News

Norway:  History revealed by WW2 wrecks in Norway’s Arctic fjords, Barents Observer

Russia:  Russia’s Arctic culture heritage sites get protection, Barents Observer

United States:  Crews unearth military history on Alaska Glacier, Alaska Dispatch

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Marc Montgomery, Radio Canada International

Marc Montgomery, Radio Canada International

For more news from around the world visit Radio Canada International.

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