In 1818 Franklin was second in command of an abortive voyage into the Spitsbergen ice. In 1819 the British ADMIRALTY appointed him to map North America's unknown arctic seaboard. He was to descend the turbulent and supposedly unnavigable COPPERMINE R and explore eastward by canoe. In 1821 he surveyed about 340 km of intricate, ice-infested shoreline, but through cold and hunger lost about 10 men on the overland homeward trek owing to the inadequacy of canoes in pack ice and his unfamiliarity with traders, VOYAGEURS and northern conditions. In his well-organized second expedition (1825-27), he made the approach in seaworthy boats by the Mackenzie River, and from its mouth sent 2 boats east to map as far as the Coppermine River while he headed west. Hindered by ice and fog he surveyed 640 km of shoreline before turning back from an inlet he named Prudhoe Bay. The eastern detachment completed its assignment and, as prudently arranged by Franklin, made a quick, safe return overland.
Thomas Simpson of the Hudson's Bay Co extended these surveys, and to the north ships explored among the islands. In 1845 Franklin was sent with 2 vessels, Erebus and Terror, to join these discoveries together and sail through the Northwest Passage. He never returned, and after a 12-year search by numerous vessels it was learned that on the brink of success his ships had been frozen in west of King William Island. Franklin had died 11 June 1847, and command devolved on Captain Francis Crozier, who abandoned ship and with 105 surviving crew trekked southward toward the Back River. All perished, most of them near Victory Point. The fame of Franklin's "mystery" and the many voyages made to solve it have obscured the explorer's solid merits. He had shown boldness and resource in pioneering a new method of discovery in the Arctic and had added more to the coastal map of Canada than any other explorer except George VANCOUVER.
See also FRANKLIN SEARCH.
Author L.H. NEATBY
Links to Other Sites
Explore Herschel Island!
This Virtual Museum website about the Yukon’s Herschel Island features dramatic photographs of stark landscapes, images of ancient artifacts and wildlife, and historical anecdotes about the harsh lives of native hunters, European whalers, explorers, and other visitors to this remote region.
Exploration of the Northwest Passage
An overview of European expeditions to Canada’s northern Arctic region from the 16th to the early 20th centuries. Brief bios, illustrations, maps, and other reference material. An Industry Canada website.
The Franklin Expedition
This multimedia feature explores the unsolved mysteries surrounding Sir John Franklin's ill-fated attempt to find the Northwest Passage through North America's Arctic Ocean. From the website for Canadian Geographic.
The Life of Sir John Franklin, R.N.
This 1825 account of a hockey game played by Sir John Franklin and his expeditionary team is from “The life of Sir John Franklin, R.N.”, by H.D. Traill. A Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions website.
Major Northwest Passage Exeditions and Explorers
This site offers brief accounts of various European expeditions to North America in search of the Northwest Passage. From the website "Of Maps and Men: In Pursuit of a Northwest Passage," Princeton University.
The Franklin Trail
Modern archaeologists travel to the Canadian Arctic to unravel the mysterious fate of the 19th century Sir John Franklin expedition. Many photos, maps and more.
Terra Incognita: Exploration of the Canadian Arctic
A multimedia historical retrospective of 19th and early 20th century expeditions to the Canadian Arctic. From the McCord Museum of Canadian History.
A superb online exhibit about the search for the Northwest Passage. Historic maps and images from books show how the Inuit assisted foreign led expeditions into the Canadian Arctic and how European explorers gradually accepted Inuit techniques of travel and survival. Contemporary maps show the lasting achievement of the expeditions: the mapping of the Canadian Arctic. From the Toronto Public Library.
Scurvy and Canadian Exploration
An article about various historical remedies for the prevention and treatment of scurvy and the impact of scurvy on various exploratory expeditions in North America. From the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History (Wilfrid Laurier University Press).
World first: Canada searches for Sir John Franklin’s rescue ship
A news story about a search for the HMS Investigator shipwreck in the Arctic. From thestar.com.
Searching for Franklin
A CBC News feature about an ambitious search for the missing ships from Sir John Franklin's doomed 1845 effort to discover the Northwest Passage. Includes notes about previous searches.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...