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Title: Adventurers of the Far North - A Chronicle of the Frozen Seas
Author: Leacock, Stephen, 1869-1944
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Adventurers of the Far North - A Chronicle of the Frozen Seas" ***

[Frontispiece: The Arctic Council, discussing a plan of search for Sir
John Franklin.  From the National Portrait Gallery.]



A Chronicle of the Frozen Seas






  _Copyright in all Countries subscribing to
  the Berne Convention_




   I. THE GREAT ELIZABETHAN NAVIGATORS . . . . . . . . . . . . .    1
   V. THE TRAGEDY OF FRANKLIN'S FATE . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  112
  VI. EPILOGUE. THE CONQUEST OF THE POLE . . . . . . . . . . . .  136
      BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  147
      INDEX  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  149



    SIR JOHN FRANKLIN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  _Frontispiece_
  From the National Portrait Gallery.

ROUTES OF EXPLORERS IN THE FAR NORTH  . . . . . . . . _Facing page_ 1
  Map by Bartholomew.

SAMUEL HEARNE  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   "     "   42
  From the Dominion Archives.

FORT CHURCHILL OR PRINCE OF WALES  . . . . . . . . . .   "     "   50
  From a drawing by Samuel Hearne.

SIR ALEXANDER MACKENZIE  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   "     "   70
  From a painting by Lawrence.

SIR JOHN FRANKLIN  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   "     "  112
  From the National Portrait Gallery.

[Illustration: Routes of Explorers in the Far North]




The map of Canada offers to the eye and to the imagination a vast
country more than three thousand miles in width.  Its eastern face
presents a broken outline to the wild surges of the Atlantic.  Its
western coast commands from majestic heights the broad bosom of the
Pacific.  Along its southern boundary is a fertile country of lake and
plain and woodland, loud already with the murmur of a rising industry,
and in summer waving with the golden wealth of the harvest.

But on its northern side Canada is set fast against the frozen seas of
the Pole and the desolate region of barren rock and ice-bound island
that is joined to the polar ocean by a common mantle of snow.  For
hundreds and hundreds of miles the vast fortress of ice rears its
battlements of shining glaciers.  The unending sunshine of the Arctic
summer falls upon untrodden snow.  The cold light of the {2} aurora
illumines in winter an endless desolation.  There is no sound, save
when at times the melting water falls from the glistening sides of some
vast pinnacle of ice, or when the leaden sea forces its tide between
the rock-bound islands.  Here in this vast territory civilization has
no part and man no place.  Life struggles northward only to die out in
the Arctic cold.  The green woods of the lake district and the blossoms
of the prairies are left behind.  The fertility of the Great West gives
place to the rock-strewn wilderness of the barren grounds.  A stunted
and deformed vegetation fights its way to the Arctic Circle.  Rude
grasses and thin moss cling desperately to the naked rock.  Animal life
pushes even farther.  The seas of the frozen ocean still afford a
sustenance.  Even mankind is found eking out a savage livelihood on the
shores of the northern sea.  But gradually all fades, until nothing is
left but the endless plain of snow, stretching towards the Pole.

Yet this frozen northern land and these forbidding seas have their
history.  Deeds were here done as great in valour as those which led to
the conquest of a Mexico or the acquisition of a Peru.  But unlike the
captains and conquerors of the South, the explorers have {3} come and
gone and left behind no trace of their passage.  Their hopes of a land
of gold, their vision of a new sea-way round the world, are among the
forgotten dreams of the past.  Robbed of its empty secret, the North
still stretches silent and untenanted with nothing but the splendid
record of human courage to illuminate its annals.

For us in our own day, the romance that once clung about the northern
seas has drifted well nigh to oblivion.  To understand it we must turn
back in fancy three hundred years.  We must picture to ourselves the
aspect of the New World at the time when Elizabeth sat on the throne of
England, and when the kingdoms of western Europe, Britain, France, and
Spain, were rising from the confusion of the Middle Ages to national
greatness.  The existence of the New World had been known for nearly a
hundred years.  But it still remained shadowed in mystery and
uncertainty.  It was known that America lay as a vast continent, or
island, as men often called it then, midway between Europe and the
great empires of the East.  Columbus, and after him Verrazano and
others, had explored its eastern coast, finding everywhere a land of
dense forests, peopled here and there with naked savages that fled at
their {4} approach.  The servants of the king of Spain had penetrated
its central part and reaped, in the spoils of Mexico, the reward of
their savage bravery.  From the central isthmus Balboa had first seen
the broad expanse of the Pacific.  On this ocean the Spaniard Pizarro
had been borne to the conquest of Peru.  Even before that conquest
Magellan had passed the strait that bears his name, and had sailed
westward from America over the vast space that led to the island
archipelago of Eastern Asia.  Far towards the northern end of the great
island, the fishermen of the Channel ports had found their way in
yearly sailings to the cod banks of Newfoundland.  There they had
witnessed the silent procession of the great icebergs that swept out of
the frozen seas of the north, and spoke of oceans still unknown,
leading one knew not whither.  The boldest of such sailors, one Jacques
Cartier, fighting his way westward had entered a great gulf that yawned
in the opening side of the continent, and from it he had advanced up a
vast river, the like of which no man had seen.  Hundreds of miles from
the gulf he had found villages of savages, who pointed still westward
and told him of wonderful countries of gold and silver that lay beyond
the palisaded settlement of Hochelaga.


But the discoveries of Columbus and those who followed him had not
solved but had only opened the mystery of the western seas.  True, a
way to the Asiatic empire had been found.  The road discovered by the
Portuguese round the base of Africa was known.  But it was long and
arduous beyond description.  Even more arduous was the sea-way found by
Magellan: the whole side of the continent must be traversed.  The
dreadful terrors of the straits that separate South America from the
Land of Fire must be essayed: and beyond that a voyage of thirteen
thousand miles across the Pacific, during which the little caravels
must slowly make their way northward again till the latitude of Cathay
was reached, parallel to that of Spain itself.  For any other sea-way
to Asia the known coast-line of America offered an impassable barrier.
In only one region, and that as yet unknown, might an easier and more
direct way be found towards the eastern empires.  This was by way of
the northern seas, either round the top of Asia or, more direct still
perhaps, by entering those ice-bound seas that lay beyond the Great
Banks of Newfoundland and the coastal waters visited by Jacques
Cartier.  Into the entrance of these waters the ships of the Cabots
flying the {6} English flag had already made their way at the close of
the fifteenth century.  They seem to have reached as far, or nearly as
far, as the northern limits of Labrador, and Sebastian Cabot had said
that beyond the point reached by their ships the sea opened out before
them to the west.  No further exploration was made, indeed, for
three-quarters of a century after the Cabots, but from this time on the
idea of a North-West Passage and the possibility of a great achievement
in this direction remained as a tradition with English seamen.

It was natural, then, that the English sailors of the sixteenth century
should turn to the northern seas.  The eastern passage, from the German
Ocean round the top of Russia and Asia, was first attempted.  As early
as the reign of Edward the Sixth, a company of adventurers, commonly
called the Muscovy Company, sailed their ships round the north of
Norway and opened a connection with Russia by way of the White Sea.
But the sailing masters of the company tried in vain to find a passage
in this direction to the east.  Their ships reached as far as the Kara
Sea at about the point where the present boundary of European Russia
separates it from Siberia.  Beyond this extended countless leagues of
{7} impassable ice and the rock-bound desolation of Northern Asia.

It remained to seek a passage in the opposite direction by way of the
Arctic seas that lay above America.  To find such a passage and with it
a ready access to Cathay and the Indies became one of the great
ambitions of the Elizabethan age.  There is no period when great things
might better have been attempted.  It was an epoch of wonderful
national activity and progress: the spirit of the nation was being
formed anew in the Protestant Reformation and in the rising conflict
with Spain.  It was the age of Drake, of Raleigh, of Shakespeare, the
time at which were aroused those wide ambitions which were to give
birth to the British Empire.

In thinking of the exploits of these Elizabethan sailors in the Arctic
seas, we must try to place ourselves at their point of view, and
dismiss from our minds our own knowledge of the desolate and hopeless
region against which their efforts were directed.  The existence of
Greenland, often called Frisland, and of Labrador was known from the
voyages of the Cabots and the Corte-Reals.  It was known that between
these two coasts the sea swept in a powerful current out of the north.
Of {8} what lay beyond nothing was known.  There seemed no reason why
Frobisher, or Davis, or Henry Hudson might not find the land trend away
to the south again and thus offer, after a brief transit of the
dangerous waters of the north, a smooth and easy passage over the

Perhaps we can best understand the hopes and ambitions of the time if
we turn to the writings of the Elizabethans themselves.  One of the
greatest of them, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, afterwards lost in the northern
seas, wrote down at large his reasons for believing that the passage
was feasible and that its discovery would be fraught with the greatest
profit to the nation.  In his _Discourse to prove a North-West Passage
to Cathay_, Gilbert argues that all writers from Plato down have spoken
of a great island out in the Atlantic; that this island is America
which must thus have a water passage all round it; that the ocean
currents moving to the west across the Atlantic and driven along its
coast, as Cartier saw, past Newfoundland, evidently show that the water
runs on round the top of America.  A North-West Passage must therefore
exist.  Of the advantages to be derived from its discovery Gilbert was
in no doubt.


It were the only way for our princes [he wrote] to possess themselves
of the wealth of all the east parts of the world which is infinite.
Through the shortness of the voyage, we should be able to sell all
manner of merchandise brought from thence far better cheap than either
the Portugal or Spaniard doth or may do.  Also we might sail to divers
very rich countries, both civil and others, out of both their
jurisdiction [that of the Portuguese and Spaniards], where there is to
be found great abundance of gold, silver, precious stones, cloth of
gold, silks, all manner of spices, grocery wares, and other kinds of
merchandise of an inestimable price.

Gilbert also speaks of the possibility of colonizing the regions thus
to be discovered.  The quaint language in which he describes the
chances of what is now called 'imperial expansion' is not without its

We might inhabit some part of those countries [he says], and settle
there such needy people of our country which now trouble the
commonwealth, and through want here at home are enforced to commit {10}
outrageous offences whereby they are daily consumed with the gallows.
We shall also have occasion to set poor men's children to learn
handicrafts and thereby to make trifles and such like, which the
Indians and those people do much esteem: by reason whereof there should
be none occasion to have our country cumbered with loiterers,
vagabonds, and such like idle persons.

Undoubtedly Gilbert's way of thinking was also that of many of the
great statesmen and sailors of his day.  Especially was this the case
with Sir Martin Frobisher, a man, we are told, 'thoroughly furnished
with knowledge of the sphere and all other skills appertaining to the
art of navigation.'  The North-West Passage became the dream of
Frobisher's ambition.  Year after year he vainly besought the queen's
councillors to sanction an expedition.  But the opposition of the
powerful Muscovy Company was thrown against the project.  Frobisher,
although supported by the influence of the Earl of Warwick, agitated
and argued in vain for fifteen years, till at last in 1574 the
necessary licence was granted and the countenance of the queen was
assured to the enterprise.  Even then about two years {11} passed
before the preparations could be completed.

Frobisher's first expedition was on a humble scale.  His company
numbered in all thirty-five men.  They embarked in two small barques,
the _Gabriel_ and the _Michael_, neither of them of more than
twenty-five tons, and a pinnace of ten tons.  They carried food for a
year.  The ships dropped down the Thames on June 7, 1576, and as they
passed Greenwich, where the queen's court was, the little vessels made
a brave show by the discharge of their ordnance.  Elizabeth waved her
hand from a window to the departing ships and sent one of her gentlemen
aboard to say that she had 'a good liking of their doings.'  From such
small acts of royal graciousness has often sprung a wonderful devotion.

Frobisher's little ships struck boldly out on the Atlantic.  They ran
northward first, and crossed the ocean along the parallel of sixty
degrees north latitude.  Favourable winds and strong gales bore them
rapidly across the sea.  On July 11, they sighted the southern capes of
Greenland, or Frisland, as they called it, that rose like pinnacles of
steeples, snow-crowned and glittering on the horizon.  They essayed a
landing, but the masses of shore ice and the {12} drifting fog baffled
their efforts.  Here off Cape Desolation the full fury of the Arctic
gales broke upon their ships.  The little pinnace foundered with all
hands.  The _Michael_ was separated from her consort in the storm, and
her captain, losing heart, made his way back to England to report
Frobisher cast away.  But no terror of the sea could force Frobisher
from his purpose.  With his single ship the _Gabriel_, its mast sprung,
its top-mast carried overboard in the storm, he drove on towards the
west.  He was 'determined,' so writes a chronicler of his voyages, 'to
bring true proof of what land and sea might be so far to the
northwestwards beyond any that man hath heretofore discovered.'  His
efforts were rewarded.  On July 28, a tall headland rose on the
horizon, Queen Elizabeth's Foreland, so Frobisher named it.  As the
_Gabriel_ approached, a deep sound studded with rocky islands at its
mouth opened to view.  Its position shows that the vessel had been
carried northward and westward past the coast of Labrador and the
entrance of Hudson Strait.  The voyagers had found their way to the
vast polar island now known as Baffin Island.  Into this, at the point
which the ship had reached, there extends a deep inlet, {13} called
after its discoverer, Frobisher's Strait.  Frobisher had found a new
land, and its form, with a great sea passage running westward and land
both north and south of it, made him think that this was truly the
highway to the Orient.  He judged that the land seen to the north was
part of Asia, reaching out and overlapping the American continent.  For
many days heavy weather and fog and the danger of the drifting ice
prevented a landing.  The month of August opened with calm seas and
milder weather.  Frobisher and his men were able to land in the ship's
boat.  They found before them a desolate and uninviting prospect, a
rock-bound coast fringed with islands and with the huge masses of
grounded icebergs.

For nearly a month Frobisher's ship stood on and off the coast.  Fresh
water was taken on board.  In a convenient spot the ship was beached
and at low tide repairs were made and leaks were stopped in the
strained timbers of her hull.  In the third week, canoes of savages
were seen, and presently the natives were induced to come on board the
_Gabriel_ and barter furs for looking-glasses and trinkets.  The
savages were 'like Tartars with long black hair, broad faces, and flat
noses.'  They seemed friendly and well-disposed.  Five of the English
{14} sailors ventured to join the natives on land, contrary to the
express orders of the captain.  They never returned, nor could any of
the savages be afterwards induced to come within reach.  One man only,
paddling in the sea in his skin canoe, was enticed to the ship's side
by the tinkling of a little bell, and so seized and carried away.  But
his own sailors, though he vainly searched the coast, Frobisher saw no
more.  After a week's delay, the _Gabriel_ set sail (on August 26) for
home, and in spite of terrific gales was safely back at her anchorage
at Harwich early in October.

Contrary to what we should suppose, the voyage was viewed as a
brilliant success.  The queen herself named the newly found rocks and
islands Meta Incognita.  Frobisher was at once 'specially famous for
the great hope he brought of a passage to Cathay.'  A strange-looking
piece of black rock that had been carried home in the _Gabriel_ was
pronounced by a metallurgist, one Baptista Agnello, to contain gold;
true, Agnello admitted in confidence that he had 'coaxed nature' to
find the precious metal.  But the rumour of the thing was enough.  The
cupidity of the London merchants was added to the ambitions of the
court.  There was no trouble about finding {15} ships and immediate
funds for a second expedition.

The new enterprise was carried out in the following year (1577).  The
_Gabriel_ and the _Michael_ sailed again, and with them one of the
queen's ships, the _Aid_.  This time the company included a number of
soldiers and gentlemen adventurers.  The main object was not the
discovery of the passage but the search for gold.

The expedition sailed out of Harwich on May 31, 1577, following the
route by the north of Scotland.  A week's sail brought the ships 'with
a merrie wind' to the Orkneys.  Here a day or so was spent in obtaining
water.  The inhabitants of these remote islands were found living in
stone huts in a condition almost as primitive as that of American
savages.  'The good man, wife, children, and other members of the
family,' wrote Master Settle, one of Frobisher's company, 'eat and
sleep on one side of the house and the cattle on the other, very
beastly and rude.'  From the Orkneys the ships pursued a very northerly
course, entering within the Arctic Circle and sailing in the perpetual
sunlight of the polar day.  Near Iceland they saw huge pine trees
drifting, roots and all, across the ocean.  Wild storms {16} beset them
as they passed the desolate capes of Greenland.  At length, on July 16,
the navigators found themselves off the headlands of Meta Incognita.

Here Frobisher and his men spent the summer.  The coast and waters were
searched as far as the inclement climate allowed.  The savages were
fierce and unfriendly.  A few poor rags of clothing found among the
rocks bespoke the fate of the sailors of the year before.  Fierce
conflicts with the natives followed.  Several were captured.  One woman
so hideous and wrinkled with age that the mariners thought her a witch
was released in pious awe.  A younger woman, with a baby at her back,
was carried captive to the English ships.  The natives in return
watched their opportunity and fell fiercely on the English as occasion
offered, leaping headlong from the rocks into the sea rather than
submit to capture.

To the perils of conflict was added the perpetual danger of moving ice.
Even in the summer seas, great gales blew and giant masses of ice drove
furiously through the strait.  No passage was possible.  In vain
Frobisher landed on both the northern and the southern sides and tried
to penetrate the rugged country.  All about the land was barren and
forbidding.  {17} Mountains of rough stone crowned with snow blocked
the way.  No trees were seen and no vegetation except a scant grass
here and there upon the flatter spaces of the rocks.

But neither the terrors of the ice nor the fear of the savages could
damp the ardour of the explorers.  The landing of Frobisher and his men
on Meta Incognita was carried out with something of the pomp, dear to
an age of chivalrous display, that marked the landing of Columbus on
the tropic island of San Salvador.  The captain and his men moved in
marching order: they knelt together on the barren rock to offer thanks
to God and to invoke a blessing on their queen.  Great cairns of stone
were piled high here and there, as a sign of England's sovereignty,
while as they advanced against the rugged hills of the interior, the
banner of their country was proudly carried in the van.  Their thoughts
were not of glory only.  It was with the ardour of treasure-seekers
that they fell to their task, forgetting in the lust for gold the chill
horror of their surroundings; and, when the Arctic sunlight glittered
on the splintered edges of the rocks, the crevices of the barren stone
seemed to the excited minds of the explorers to be filled with virgin
gold, carried by subterranean {18} streams.  The three ships were
loaded deep with worthless stone, a fitting irony on their quest.
Then, at the end of August, they were turned again eastward for
England.  Tempest and fog enveloped their passage.  The ships were
driven asunder.  Each thought the others lost.  But, by good fortune,
all safely arrived, the captain's ship landing at Milford Haven, the
others at Bristol and Yarmouth.

Fortunately for Frobisher the worthless character of the freight that
he brought home was not readily made clear by the crude methods of the
day.  For the next summer found him again off the shores of Meta
Incognita eagerly searching for new mines.  This time he bore with him
a large company and ample equipment.  Fifteen ships in all sailed under
his command.  Among his company were miners and artificers.  The frames
of a house, ready to set up, were borne in the vessels.  Felton, a
ship's captain, and a group of Frobisher's gentlemen were to be left
behind to spend the winter in the new land.

From the first the voyage was inauspicious.  The ships had scarcely
entered the straits before a great storm broke upon them.  Land and sea
were blotted out in driving snow.  The open water into which they had
sailed was soon {19} filled with great masses of ice which the tempest
cast furiously against the ships.  To their horror the barque
_Dionise_, rammed by the ice, went down in the swirling waters.  With
her she carried all her cargo, including a part of the timbers of the
house destined for the winter's habitation.  But the stout courage of
the mariners was undismayed.  All through the evening and the night
they fought against the ice: with capstan bars, with boats' oars, and
with great planks they thrust it from the ships.  Some of the men
leaped down upon the moving floes and bore with might and main against
the ships to break the shock.  At times the little vessels were lifted
clear out of the sea, their sides torn with the fierce blows of the
ice-pack, their seams strained and leaking.  All night they looked for
instant death.  But, with the coming of the morning, the wind shifted
to the west and cleared the ice from the sea, and God sent to the
mariners, so runs their chronicle, 'so pleasant a day as the like we
had not of a long time before, as after punishment consolation.'

But their dangers were not ended.  As the ships stood on and off the
land, they fell in with a great berg of ice that reared its height four
hundred feet above the masts, and lay {20} extended for a half mile in
length.  This they avoided.  But a few days later, while they were
still awaiting a landing, a great mist rolled down upon the seas, so
that for five days and nights all was obscurity and no ship could see
its consorts.  Current and tide drove the explorers to and fro till
they drifted away from the mouth of Frobisher Strait southward and
westward.  Then another great sound opened before them to the west.
This was the passage of Hudson Strait, and, had Frobisher followed it,
he would have found the vast inland sea of Hudson Bay open to his
exploration.  But, intent upon his search for ore, he fought his way
back to the inhospitable waters that bear his name.  There at an island
which had been christened the Countess of Warwick's Island, the fleet
was able to assemble by August 1.  But the ill-fortune of the
enterprise demanded the abandonment of all idea of settlement.
Frobisher and his men made haste to load their vessels with the
worthless rock which abounded in the district.  In one 'great black
island alone' there was discovered such a quantity of it that 'if the
goodness might answer the plenty thereof, it might reasonably suffice
all the gold-gluttons of the world.'  In leaving Meta Incognita,
Frobisher and his {21} companions by no means intended that the
enterprise should be definitely abandoned.  Such timbers of the house
as remained they buried for use next year.  A little building, or fort,
of stone was erected, to test whether it would stand against the frost
of the Arctic winter.  In it were set a number of little toys, bells,
and knives to tempt the cupidity of the Eskimos, who had grown wary and
hostile to the newcomers.  Pease, corn, and grain were sown in the
scant soil as a provision for the following summer.  On the last day of
August, the fleet departed on its homeward voyage.  The passage was
long and stormy.  The ships were scattered and found their way home as
best they might, some to one harbour and some to another.  But by the
beginning of October, the entire fleet was safely back in its own

The expectations of a speedy return to Meta Incognita were doomed to
disappointment.  The ore that the ships carried proved to be but
worthless rock, and from the commercial point of view the whole
expedition was a failure.  Frobisher was never able to repeat his
attempt to find the North-West Passage.  In its existence his faith
remained as firm as ever.  But, although his three voyages resulted in
no discoveries of {22} profit to England, his name should stand high on
the roll of honour of great English sea-captains.  He brought to bear
on his task not only the splendid courage of his age, but also the
earnest devotion and intense religious spirit which marked the best men
of the period of the Reformation.  The first article of Frobisher's
standing orders to his fleet enjoined his men to banish swearing, dice,
and card-playing and to worship God twice a day in the service of the
Church of England.  The watchword of the fleet, to be called out in fog
or darkness as a means of recognition was 'Before the World was God,'
and the answer shouted back across the darkness, 'After God came Christ
His Son.'  At all convenient times and places, sermons were preached to
the company of the fleet by Frobisher's chaplain, Master Wolfall, a
godly man who had left behind in England a 'large living and a good
honest woman to wife and very towardly children,' in order to spread
the Gospel in the new land.  Frobisher's personal bravery was of the
highest order.  We read how in the rage of a storm he would venture
tasks from which even his boldest sailors shrank in fear.  Once, when
his ship was thrown on her beam ends and the water poured into the
waist, the commander worked his way along {23} the lee side of the
vessel, engulfed in the roaring surges, to free the sheets.  With these
qualities Martin Frobisher combined a singular humanity towards both
those whom he commanded and natives with whom he dealt.  It is to be
regretted that a man of such high character and ability should have
spent his efforts on so vain a task.

Although the gold mines of Meta Incognita had become discredited, it
was not long before hope began to revive in the hearts of the English
merchants.  The new country produced at least valuable sealskins.
There was always the chance, too, that a lucky discovery of a Western
Passage might bring fabulous wealth to the merchant adventurers.  It
thus happened that not many years elapsed before certain wealthy men of
London and the West Country, especially one Master William Sanderson,
backed by various gentlemen of the court, decided to make another
venture.  They chose as their captain and chief pilot John Davis, who
had already acquired a reputation as a bold and skilful mariner.  In
1585 Davis, in command of two little ships, the _Sunshine_ and the
_Moonshine_, set out from Dartmouth.  The memory of this explorer will
always be associated with the great {24} strait or arm of the sea which
separates Greenland from the Arctic islands of Canada, and which bears
his name.  To these waters, his three successive voyages were directed,
and he has the honour of being the first on the long roll of navigators
whose watchword has been 'Farther North,' and who have carried their
ships nearer and nearer to the pole.

Davis started by way of the English Channel and lay storm-bound for
twelve days under the Scilly Islands, a circumstance which bears
witness to the imperfect means of navigation of the day and to the
courage of seamen.  The ships once able to put to sea, the voyage was
rapid, and in twenty days Davis was off the south-west coast of
Greenland.  All about the ships were fog and mist, and a great roaring
noise which the sailors thought must be the sea breaking on a beach.
They lay thus for a day, trying in vain for soundings and firing guns
in order to know the whereabouts of the ships.  They lowered their
boats and found that the roaring noise came from the grinding of the
ice pack that lay all about them.  Next day the fog cleared and
revealed the coast, which they said was the most deformed rocky and
mountainous land that ever they saw.  This was Greenland.  The
commander, {25} suiting a name to the miserable prospect before him,
called it the Land of Desolation.

Davis spent nearly a fortnight on the coast.  There was little in the
inhospitable country to encourage his exploration.  Great cliffs were
seen glittering as with gold or crystal, but the ore was the same as
that which Frobisher had brought from Meta Incognita and the voyagers
had been warned.  Of vegetation there was nothing but scant grass and
birch and willow growing like stunted shrubs close to the ground.
Eskimos were seen plying along the coast in their canoes of seal skin.
They called to the English sailors in a deep guttural speech, low in
the throat, of which nothing was intelligible.  One of them pointed
upwards to the sun and beat upon his breast.  By imitating this
gesture, which seemed a pledge of friendship, the sailors were able to
induce the natives to approach.  They presently mingled freely with
Davis's company.  The captain shook hands with all who came to him, and
there was a great show of friendliness on both sides.  A brisk trade
began.  The savages eagerly handed over their garments of sealskin and
fur, their darts, oars, and everything that they had, in return for
little trifles, even for pieces of paper.  They seemed to the English
sailors a very tractable {26} people, void of craft and double dealing.
Seeing that the English were eager to obtain furs, they pointed to the
hills inland, as if to indicate that they should go and bring a large
supply.  But Davis was anxious for further exploration, and would not
delay his ships.  On August 1, the wind being fair, he put to sea,
directing his course to the north-west.  In five days he reached the
land on the other side of Davis Strait.  This was the shore of what is
now called Baffin Island, in latitude 66° 40', and hence considerably
to the north of the strait which Frobisher had entered.  At this season
the sea was clear of ice, and Davis anchored his ships under a great
cliff that glittered like gold.  He called it Mount Raleigh, and the
sound which opened out beside it Exeter Sound.  A large headland to the
south was named Cape Walsingham in honour of the queen's secretary.
Davis and his men went ashore under Mount Raleigh, where they saw four
white bears of 'a monstrous bigness,' three of which they killed with
their guns and boar-spears.  There were low shrubs growing among the
cliffs and flowers like primroses.  But the whole country as far as
they could see was without wood or grass.  Nothing was in sight except
the open iceless sea to the east and on the land side {27} great
mountains of stone.  Though the land offered nothing to their search,
the air was moderate and the weather singularly mild.  The broad sheet
of open water, of the very colour of the ocean itself, buoyed up their
hopes of the discovery of the Western Passage.  Davis turned his ships
to the south, coasting the shore.  Here and there signs of man were
seen, a pile of stones fashioned into a rude wall and a human skull
lying upon the rock.  The howling of wolves, as the sailors thought it,
was heard along the shore; but when two of these animals were killed
they were seen to be dogs like mastiffs with sharp ears and bushy
tails.  A little farther on sleds were found, one made of wood and sawn
boards, the other of whalebone.  Presently the coast-line was broken
into a network of barren islands with great sounds between.  When Davis
sailed southward he reached and passed the strait that had been the
scene of Frobisher's adventures and, like Frobisher himself, also
passed by the opening of Hudson Strait.  Davis was convinced that
somewhere on this route was the passage that he sought.  But the winds
blew hard from the west, rendering it difficult to prosecute his
search.  The short season was already closing in, and it was dangerous
to {28} linger.  Reluctantly the ships were turned homeward, and,
though separated at sea, the _Sunshine_ and the _Moonshine_ arrived
safely at Dartmouth within two hours of each other.

While this first expedition had met with no conspicuous material
success, Davis was yet able to make two other voyages to the same
region in the two following seasons.  In his second voyage, that of
1586, he sailed along the edge of the continent from above the Arctic
Circle to the coast of Labrador, a distance of several hundred miles.
His search convinced him that if a passage existed at all it must lie
somewhere among the great sounds that opened into the coast, one of
which, of course, proved later on to be the entrance to Hudson Bay.
Moreover, Davis began to see that, owing to the great quantity of
whales in the northern waters, and the ease with which seal-skins and
furs could be bought from the natives, these ventures might be made a
source of profit whether the Western Passage was found or not.  In his
second voyage alone he bought from the Eskimos five hundred sealskins.
The natives seem especially to have interested him, and he himself
wrote an account of his dealings with them.  They were found to be
people of good stature, well proportioned in body, {29} with broad
faces and small eyes, wide mouths, for the most part unbearded, and
with great lips.  They were, so Davis said, 'very simple in their
conversation, but marvellous thievish.'  They made off with a boat that
lay astern of the _Moonshine_, cut off pieces from clothes that were
spread out to dry, and stole oars, spears, swords, and indeed anything
within their reach.  Articles made of iron seemed to offer an
irresistible temptation: in spite of all pledges of friendship and of
the lifting up of hands towards the sun which the Eskimos renewed every
morning, they no sooner saw iron than they must perforce seize upon it.
To stop their pilfering, Davis was compelled to fire off a cannon among
them, whereat the savages made off in wild terror.  But in a few hours
they came flocking back again, holding up their hands to the sun and
begging to be friends.  'When I perceived this,' said Davis, 'it did
but minister unto me an occasion of laughter to see their simplicity
and I willed that in no case should they be any more hardly used, but
that our own company should be more vigilant to keep their things,
supposing it to be very hard in so short a time to make them know their
own evils.'

The natives ate all their meat raw, lived {30} mostly on fish and 'ate
grass and ice with delight.'  They were rarely out of the water, but
lived in the nature of fishes except when 'dead sleep took them,' and
they lay down exhausted in a warm hollow of the rocks.  Davis found
among them copper ore and black and red copper.  But Frobisher's
experience seems to have made him loath to hunt for mineral treasure.

On his last voyage (1587) Davis made a desperate attempt to find the
desired passage by striking boldly towards the Far North.  He skirted
the west shore of Greenland and with favourable winds ran as far north
as 72° 12', thus coming into the great sheet of polar water now called
Baffin Bay.  This was at the end of the month of June.  In these
regions there was perpetual day, the sun sweeping in a great circle
about the heavens and standing five degrees above the horizon even at
midnight.  To the northward and westward, as far as could be seen,
there was nothing but open sea.  Davis thought himself almost in sight
of the goal.  Then the wind turned and blew fiercely out of the north.
Unable to advance, Davis drove westward across the path of the gale.
At forty leagues from Greenland, he came upon a sheet of ice that
forced him to turn back {31} towards the south.  'There was no ice
towards the north,' he wrote, in relating his experience, 'but a great
sea, free, large, very salt and blue and of an unsearchable depth.  It
seemed most manifest that the passage was free and without impediment
towards the north.'

When Davis returned home, he was still eager to try again.  But the
situation was changed.  Walsingham, who had encouraged his enterprise,
was dead, and the whole energy of the nation was absorbed in the great
struggle with Spain.  Davis sailed no more to the northern seas.  With
each succeeding decade it became clear that the hopes aroused by the
New World lay not in finding a passage by the ice-blocked sounds of the
north, but in occupying the vast continent of America itself.  Many
voyages were indeed attempted before the hope of a northern passage to
the Indies was laid aside.  Weymouth, Knight, and others followed in
the track of Frobisher and Davis.  But nothing new was found.  The
sea-faring spirit and the restless adventure which characterized the
Elizabethan period outlived the great queen.  The famous voyage of
Henry Hudson in 1610 revealed the existence of the great inland sea
which bears his name.  {32} Hudson, already famous as an explorer and
for his discovery of the Hudson river, was sent out by Sir John
Wolstenholme and Sir Dudley Digges to find the North-West Passage.  The
story of his passage of the strait, his discovery of the great bay, the
mutiny of his men and his tragic and mysterious fate forms one of the
most thrilling narratives in the history of exploration.  But it
belongs rather to the romantic story of the great company whose
corporate title recalls his name and memory, than to the present

After Hudson came the exploits of Bylot, one of his pilots, and a
survivor of the tragedy, and of William Baffin, who tried to follow
Davis's lead in searching for the Western Passage in the very confines
of the polar sea.  Finally there came (1631) the voyage of Captain Luke
Fox, who traversed the whole western coast of Hudson Bay and proved
that from the main body of its waters there was no outlet to the
Pacific.  The hope of a North-West Passage in the form of a wide and
glittering sea, an easy passage to Asia, was dead.  Other causes were
added to divert attention from the northern waters.  The definite
foundation of the colonies of Virginia and Massachusetts Bay opened the
path to new {33} hopes and even wider ambitions of Empire.  Then, as
the seventeenth century moved on its course, the shadow of civil strife
fell dark over England.  The fierce struggle of the Great Rebellion
ended for a time all adventure overseas.  When it had passed, the days
of bold sea-farers gazing westward from the decks of their little
caravels over the glittering ice of the Arctic for a pathway to the
Orient were gone, and the first period of northern adventure had come
to an end.




In course of time the inaccurate knowledge and vague hopes of the early
navigators were exchanged for more definite ideas in regard to the
American continent.  The progress of discovery along the Pacific side
of the continent and the occupation by the Spaniards of the coast of
California led to a truer conception of the immense breadth of North
America.  Voyages across the Pacific to the Philippines revealed the
great distance to be traversed in order to reach the Orient by the
western route.  At the same time the voyages of Captain Fox and his
contemporary Captain James had proved Hudson Bay to be an enclosed sea.
In consequence, for about a century no further attempt was made to find
a North-West Passage.

In the meantime the English came into connection with the Far North in
a different way.  {35} The early explorers had brought home the news of
the extraordinary wealth of America in fur-bearing animals.  Soon the
fur trade became the most important feature of the settlements on the
American coast, and from both New England and New France enormous
quantities of furs were exported to Europe.  This commerce was with the
Indians, and everything depended upon a ready and convenient access to
the interior.  Thus it came about that when the peculiar configuration
of Hudson Bay was known to combine an access to the remotest parts of
the continent with a short sea passage to Europe, its shores naturally
offered themselves as the proper scene of the trade in furs.  The great
rivers that flowed into the bay--the Severn, the Nelson, the Albany,
the Rupert--offered a connection in all directions with the dense
forests and the broad plains of the interior.

The two competing nations both found their way to the great bay, the
English by sea through Hudson Strait, the French overland by the
portage way from the upper valley of the Ottawa.  So it happened that
there was established by royal charter in 1670 that notable body whose
corporate title is 'The Governor and Company of Adventurers of {36}
England, trading into Hudson's Bay.'  The company was founded primarily
to engage in the fur trade.  But it was also pledged by its charter to
promote geographical discovery, and both the honour of its sovereign
rights and the promptings of its own commercial interest induced it to
expand its territory of operations to the greatest possible degree.
During its early years, necessity compelled it to cling to the coast.
Its operations were confined to forts at the mouth of the Nelson, the
Churchill, and other rivers to which the Indian traders annually
descended with their loads of furs.  Moreover, the hostility of the
French, who had founded the rival Company of the North, cramped the
activities of the English adventurers.  During the wars of King William
and Queen Anne, the territory of the bay became the scene of armed
conflict.  Expeditions were sent overland from Canada against the
English company.  The little forts were taken and retaken, and the
echoes of the European struggle that was fought at Blenheim and at
Malplaquet woke the stillness of the northern woods of America.  But
after the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the whole country of the Bay was
left to the English.

The Hudson's Bay Company were, therefore, {37} enabled to expand their
operations.  By establishing forts farther and farther in the interior
they endeavoured to come into more direct relation with the sources of
their supply.  They were thus early led to surmise the great potential
wealth of the vast region that lay beyond their forts, and to become
jealous of their title thereto.  Their aversion to making public the
knowledge of their territory lent to their operations an air of mystery
and secrecy, and their enemies accused them of being hostile to the
promotion of discovery.  For their own purposes, however, the company
were willing to have their territory explored as the necessities of
their expanding commerce demanded.  As early as the close of the
seventeenth century (1691) a certain Henry Kelsey, in the service of
the company, had made his way from York Fort to the plains of the
Saskatchewan.  After the Treaty of Utrecht had brought peace and a
clear title to the basin of the bay, the company endeavoured to obtain
more accurate knowledge of their territory and resources.

It had long been rumoured that valuable mines of copper lay in the Far
North.  The early explorers spoke of the Eskimos as having copper ore.
Indians who came from the north-west to trade at Fort Churchill
reported the {38} existence of a great mountain of copper beside a
river that flowed north into the sea; in proof of this, they exhibited
ornaments and weapons rudely fashioned from the metal.  It is probable
that attempts were made quite early in the century by the servants of
the company to reach this 'Coppermine River' by advancing into the
interior.  But more serious attempts were made by sea voyages along the
western shore of the bay.  Such an expedition was sent out from England
under Governor Knight of the Hudson's Bay Company, and Captains Barlow
and Vaughan.  In 1719 their two ships, the _Albany_ and the
_Discovery_, sailed from England, and were never seen again.  Not until
half a century later was the story of their shipwreck on Marble Island
in the north of Hudson Bay and the protracted fate of the survivors
learned from savages who had been witnesses of the grim tragedy.  Other
expeditions were sent northward from time to time, but without success
either in finding copper or in finding a passage westward through the
Arctic, which always remained at least an ostensible object of the

It so happened that in 1768 the Northern Indians brought down to
Churchill such striking specimens of copper ore that the interest of
the {39} governor, Moses Norton, was aroused to the highest point.  A
man of determined character, he took ship straightway to England and
obtained from the directors of the company permission to send an
expedition through the interior from Fort Churchill to the Coppermine
river.  The accomplishment of this task he entrusted to one Samuel
Hearne, whose overland journey, successfully carried out in the years
1769 to 1772, was to prove one of the great landmarks in the
exploration of the Far North.

Hearne, a youth of twenty-four years, had been trained in a rugged
school.  He had gone to sea at the age of eleven and at this tender age
had taken part in his first sea-fight.  He served as a naval midshipman
during the Seven Years' War.  At its conclusion he became a mate on one
of the ships of the Hudson's Bay Company, in which position his
industry and ingenuity distinguished him among his associates.  For
some years Hearne was employed in the fur trade north of the Churchill,
and gained a thorough knowledge of the coast of the bay.  For the
expedition inland Norton needed especially a man able to record with
scientific accuracy the exact positions which he reached.  Norton's
choice fell upon Hearne.

The young man was instructed to make his {40} way to the Athabaska
country and thence to find if he could the river of the north whence
the copper came, and to trace the river to the sea.  He was to note the
position of any mines, to prepare the way for trade with the Indians,
and to find out from travel or enquiry whether there was a water
passage through the continent.  Two white men (a sailor and a landsman)
were sent in Hearne's service.  He had as guides an Indian chief,
Chawchinahaw, with a small band of his followers.  On November 6, 1769,
the little party set out, honoured by a salute of seven guns from the
huge fortress of Fort Prince of Wales, the massive ruins of which still
stand as one of the strangest monuments of the continent.

The country which the explorer was to traverse in this and his
succeeding journeys may be ranked among the most inhospitable regions
of the earth.  The northern limit of the great American forest runs
roughly in a line north-westward from Churchill to the mouth of the
Mackenzie river.  East and north of this line is the country of the
barren grounds, for the most part a desolate waste of rock.  It is
broken by precipitous watercourses and wide lakes, and has no
vegetation except the mosses and grasses which support great wandering
{41} herds of caribou.  A few spruce trees and hardy shrubs struggle
northward from the limits of the great woods.  Even these die out in
the bitter climate, and then the explorer sees about him nothing but
the wide waste of barren rock and running water or in winter the
endless mantle of the northern snow.

It is not strange that Hearne's first attempt met with complete
failure.  His Indian companions had, indeed, no intention of guiding
him to the Athabaska country.  They deliberately kept to the north of
the woods, along the edge of the barren grounds, where Hearne and his
companions were exposed to the intense cold which set in a few days
after their departure.  When they camped at night only a few poor
shrubs could be gathered to make a fire, and the travellers were
compelled to scoop out holes in the snow to shelter their freezing
bodies against the bitter blast.  The Indians, determined to prevent
the white men from reaching their goal, provided very little game.
Hearne and his two servants were reduced to a ration of half a
partridge a day for each man.  Each day the Indian chief descanted at
length upon the horrors of cold and famine that still lay before them.
Each day, with the obstinate pluck of his race, Hearne struggled on.
Thus {42} for nearly two hundred miles they made their way out into the
snow-covered wilderness.  At length a number of the Indians, determined
to end the matter, made off in the night, carrying with them a good
part of the supplies.  The next day Chawchinahaw himself announced that
further progress was impossible.  He and his braves made off to the
west, inviting Hearne with mocking laughter to get home as best he
might.  The three white men with a few Indians, not of Chawchinahaw's
band, struggled back through the snow to Fort Prince of Wales.  The
whole expedition had lasted five weeks.

In spite of this failure, neither Governor Norton nor Hearne himself
was discouraged.  In less than three months (on February 23, 1770)
Hearne was off again for the north.  Convinced that white men were of
no use to him, he had the hardihood to set out accompanied only by
Indians, three from the northern country and three belonging to what
were called at Churchill the Home Guard, or Southern Indians.  There
was no salute from the fort this time, for the cannon on its ramparts
were buried deep in snow.

[Illustration: Samuel Hearne.  From an engraving in the Dominion

Hearne's second expedition, though more protracted than the first, was
doomed also to failure.  The little party followed on the former {43}
trail along the Seal river, and thence, with the first signs of opening
spring, struck northwards over the barren grounds.  Leaving the woods
entirely behind, Hearne found himself in the broken and desolate
country between Fort Churchill and the three or four great rivers,
still almost unknown, that flow into the head-waters of Chesterfield
Inlet.  In the beginning of June, as the snow began to melt, progress
grew more and more difficult.  Snowshoes became a useless encumbrance,
and on the 10th of the month even the sledges were abandoned.  Every
man must now shoulder a heavy load.  Hearne himself staggered under a
pack which included a bag of clothes, a box of papers, a hatchet and
other tools, and the clumsy weight of his quadrant and its stand.  This
article was too precious to be entrusted to the Indians, for by it
alone could the position of the explorers be recorded.  The party was
miserably equipped.  Unable to carry poles with them into a woodless
region, they found their one wretched tent of no service and were
compelled to lie shelterless with alternations of bitter cold and
drenching rain.  For food they had to depend on such fish and game as
could be found.  In most cases it was eaten raw, as they had nothing
with which to make a fire.  {44} Worse still, for days together, food
failed them.  Hearne relates that for four days at the end of June he
tramped northward, making twenty miles a day with no other sustenance
than water and such support as might be drawn from an occasional pipe
of tobacco.  Intermittent starvation so enfeebled his digestion that
the eating of food when found caused severe pain.  Once for seven days
the party had no other food than a few wild berries, some old leather,
and some burnt bones.  On such occasions as this, Hearne tells us, his
Indians would examine their wardrobe to see what part could be best
spared and stay their hunger with a piece of rotten deer skin or a pair
of worn-out moccasins.  As they made their way northward, the party
occasionally crossed small rivers running north and east, but of so
little depth that they were able to ford them.  Presently, however, one
great river proved too deep to cross on foot.  It ran north-east.
Hearne's Indians called it the Cathawachaga, and the Canadian explorer
Tyrrell identifies it with the river now called the Kazan.  Here the
party fell in with a band of Indians who carried them across the river
in their canoes.  On the northern side of the Cathawachaga, Hearne and
his men rested for a week, finding {45} a few deer and catching fish.
As the guides now said that in the country beyond there were other
large rivers, Hearne bought a canoe from one of the Indians, and gave
in exchange for it a knife which had cost a penny in England.

In July the travellers moved on north-westward with better fortune.
Deer became plentiful.  Bands of roving Indian hunters now attached
themselves to the exploring party.  Hearne's guide declared that it
would be impossible to reach the Coppermine that season, and that they
must spend a winter in the Indian country.  The truth was that Hearne's
followers had no intention of going farther to the north, but preferred
to keep company with the bands of hunters.  It was useless for Hearne
to protest.  He and his Indians drifted along to the west with the
hunting parties, now so numerous that by the end of July about seventy
deer-skin tents were pitched so as to form a little village.  There
were about six hundred persons in the party.  Each morning as they
broke camp and set out on the march 'the whole ground for a large space
around,' wrote Hearne, 'seemed to be alive with men, women, children,
and dogs.'

The country through which Hearne travelled, or wandered, in this
mid-summer of 1770, {46} between the rivers Kazan and Dubawnt, was
barren indeed.  There were no trees and no vegetation except moss and
the plant called by the Indians wish-a-capucca--the 'Labrador tea' that
is found everywhere in the swamps of the northern forests.  Animal life
was, however, abundant.  The caribou roaming the barren grounds in the
summer, to graze on the moss, were numerous.  There was ample food for
all the party, and the animals were, indeed, slaughtered recklessly,
merely for the skins and the more delicate morsels of the flesh.

The Dubawnt river midway in its course expands into Dubawnt Lake, a
great sheet of water some sixty-five miles long and forty miles broad.
It lies in the same latitude as the south of Greenland.  No more
desolate scene can be imagined than the picture revealed by modern
photographs of the country.  The low shores of the lake offer an
endless prospect of barren rock and broken stone.  In the century and a
half that have elapsed since Hearne's journey, only one or two intrepid
explorers have made their way through this region.  It still lies and
probably will lie for centuries unreclaimed and unreclaimable for the
uses of civilization.

Hearne and his Indian hunters moved {47} westward and southward,
passing in a circle round the west shore of Lake Dubawnt, though at a
distance of some miles from it.  The luckless travellers had now but
little chance of reaching the object of their search.  They were
hundreds of miles away even from the head waters of the Coppermine.
The season was already late: the Indian guides were quite unmanageable,
while the natives whom Hearne met clamoured greedily for European
wares, ammunition and medicine, and cried out in disgust at his
inability to supply their wants.

Then came an accident, fortunate perhaps, that compelled Hearne to
abandon his enterprise.  While he was taking his noon observations,
which showed him to be in latitude 63° 10' north, he left his quadrant
standing and sat down on the rocks to eat his dinner.  A sudden gust of
wind dashed the delicate instrument to the ground, where it lay in
fragments.  This capped the climax.  Unable any longer to ascertain his
exact whereabouts, with no trustworthy guidance and no prospect of
winter supplies or equipment, Hearne turned back towards the south.
This was on August 12, after a journey of nearly six months into the
unknown north.

The return occupied three months and a {48} half.  They were filled
with hardship.  On the very first day of the long march, a band of
Indians from the north, finding Hearne defenceless, plundered him of
wellnigh all he had.  'Nothing can exceed,' wrote Hearne, 'the cool
deliberation of the villains.  A committee of them entered my tent.
The ringleader seated himself on my left hand.  They first begged me to
lend them my skipertogan[1] to fill a pipe of tobacco.  After smoking
two or three pipes, they asked me for several articles which I had not,
and among others for a pack of cards; but, on my answering that I had
not any of the articles they mentioned, one of them put his hand on my
baggage and asked if it was mine.  Before I could answer in the
affirmative, he and the rest of his companions (six in number) had all
my treasure spread on the ground.  One took one thing and one another,
till at last nothing was left but the empty bag, which they permitted
me to keep.'  At Hearne's urgent request, a few necessary articles were
restored to him.  From his Indian guides also the marauders took all
they had except their guns, a little ammunition, and a few tools.

Thus miserably equipped, Hearne and his {49} followers set out for
home.  Their only tent consisted of a blanket thrown over three long
sticks.  They had no winter clothing, neither snow-shoes nor sleds, and
their food was such as could be found by the way.  The month of
September was unusually severe, and when the winter set in, the party
suffered intensely from the cold, while the want of snow-shoes made
their march increasingly difficult.  The marvel is that Hearne ever
reached the fort at all.  He would not have done so very probably had
it not been his fortune to fall in with an Indian chief named
Matonabbee, a man of strange and exceptional character, to whom he owed
not only his return to Fort Prince of Wales, but his subsequent
successful journey to the Coppermine.

This Indian chief, when he fell in with Hearne (September 20, 1770),
was crossing the barren grounds on his way to the fort with furs.  As a
young man, Matonabbee had resided for years among the English.  He had
some knowledge of the language, and was able to understand that a
certain merit would attach to the rescue of Hearne from his
predicament.  Moreover, the chief had himself been to the Coppermine
river, and it was partly owing to his account of it that Governor {50}
Norton had sent Hearne into the barren grounds.

[Illustration: Fort Churchill or Prince of Wales.  Drawn by Samuel

Matonabbee hastened to relieve the young explorer's sufferings.  He
provided him with warm deer-skins and, from his ample supplies,
prepared a great feast for the good cheer of his new acquaintance.  An
orgy of eating followed, dear to the Indian heart, and after this,
without fire-water to drink, the Indians sang and danced about the
fires of the bivouac.  Matonabbee and Hearne travelled together for
several days towards the fort, making only about twelve miles a day.
The Indian then directed Hearne to go eastward to a little river where
wood enough could be found for snow-shoes and sledges, while he himself
went forward at such a slow pace as to allow Hearne and his party to
overtake him.  This was done and Hearne, now better equipped, rejoined
Matonabbee, after which they continued together for a fortnight, making
good progress over the snow.  As they drew near the fort their
ammunition was almost spent and the game had almost disappeared.  By
Matonabbee's advice, Hearne, accompanied by four Indians, left the main
party in order to hasten ahead as rapidly as possible.  The daylight
was now exceedingly short, but the moon and the aurora borealis {51}
illuminated the brilliant waste of snow.  The weather was intensely
cold.  One of Hearne's dogs was frozen to death.  But in spite of
hardship the advance party reached Fort Prince of Wales safe and sound
on November 25, 1770.  Matonabbee arrived a few days later.

Strange as it may seem, Hearne was off again in less than a fortnight
on his third quest of the Coppermine.  The time that he had spent in
Matonabbee's company had given him a great opinion of the character of
the chief; 'the most sociable, kind, and sensible Indian I have ever
met'--so Hearne described him.  The chief himself had offered to lead
Hearne to the great river of the north.  Governor Norton willingly
furnished ammunition, supplies, and a few trading goods.  The
expedition started in the depth of winter.  But this time, with better
information to guide them, the travellers made no attempt to strike
directly northward.  Instead, they moved towards the west so as to
cross the lower reaches of the barren grounds as soon as possible and
proceed northward by way of the basin of the Great Slave Lake, where
they would find a wooded country reaching far to the north.  A glance
at the map will show the immensity of the task before them.  The
distance from Fort Churchill {52} to the Slave Lake, even as the crow
flies, is some seven hundred miles, and from thence to the Arctic sea
four hundred and fifty, and the actual journey is longer by reason of
the sinuous course which the explorer must of necessity pursue.  The
whole of this vast country was as yet unknown: no white man had looked
upon the Mackenzie river nor upon the vast lakes from which it flows.
It speaks well for the quiet intrepidity of Hearne that he was ready
alone to penetrate the trackless waste of an unknown country, among a
band of savages and amid the rigour of the northern winter.

The journey opened gloomily enough.  The month of December was spent in
toiling painfully over the barren grounds.  The sledges were
insufficient, and Hearne as well as his companions had to trudge under
the burden of a heavy load.  At best some sixteen or eighteen miles
could be traversed in the short northern day.  Intense cold set in.
Game seemed to have vanished, and Christmas found the party plodding
wearily onward, foodless, moving farther each day from the little
outpost of civilization that lay behind them on the bleak shores of
Hudson Bay.

I must confess [wrote Hearne in his {53} journal] that I never spent so
dull a Christmas; and when I recollected the merry season which was
then passing, and reflected on the immense quantities and great variety
of delicacies which were then expending in every part of Christendom, I
could not refrain from wishing myself again in Europe, if it had only
been to have had an opportunity of alleviating the extreme hunger that
I suffered with the refuse of the table of one of my acquaintances.

At the end of the month (December 1770), they reached the woods, a
thick growth of stunted pine and poplar with willow bushes growing in
the frozen swamps.  Here they joined a large party of Matonabbee's
band, for the most part women and children.  The women were by no means
considered by the chief as a hindrance to the expedition.  Indeed, he
attributed Hearne's previous failure to their absence.  'Women,' he
once told his English friend, 'were made for labour; one of them can
carry or haul as much as two men can do; they pitch our tents, make and
mend our clothing, and in fact there is no such thing as travelling in
this country for any length of {54} time without their assistance.
Women,' he added, 'though they do everything are maintained at a
trifling expense; for as they always stand cook, the very licking of
their fingers in scarce times is sufficient for their subsistence.'
Acting on these salutary opinions, the chief was a man of eight wives,
and Hearne was shocked later on to find the Indian willing to add to
his little flock by force without the slightest compunction.

The two opening months of the year 1771 were spent in travelling
westward towards Wholdaia Lake.  The country was wooded, though here
and there, the observer, standing on the higher levels, could see the
barren grounds to the northward.  The cold was intense, especially when
a frozen lake or river exposed the travellers to the full force of the
wind.  But game was plentiful.  At intervals the party halted and
killed caribou in such quantities that three and four days were
sometimes spent in camp in a vain attempt to eat the spoils of the
chase.  The Indians, Hearne remarked, slaughtered the game recklessly,
with no thought of the morrow.

Wholdaia Lake was reached on March 2.  This is a long sheet of water
lying some thirty miles north of the parallel of sixty degrees.  At
{55} the point where Hearne crossed it on the ice, it was twenty-seven
miles broad; its length appears to be four or five times as great.  It
is still almost unknown, for it lies far beyond the confines of present
settlement and has been seen only by explorers.

From Wholdaia Lake the course was continued westward.  The weather was
moderate.  There was abundant game, the skies overhead were bright, and
the journey assumed a more agreeable aspect.  Here and there bands of
roving Indians were seen, as also were encampments of hunters engaged
in snaring deer in the forest.  In the middle of April, the party
rested for ten days in camp beside a little lake which marked the
westward limit of their march.  From here on, the course was to lie
northward again.  The Indians were therefore employed in gathering
staves and birch-bark to be used for tent poles and canoes when the
party should again reach the barren grounds on their northern route.

The opening of May found the party at Lake Clowey, whose waters run
westward to the Great Slave Lake.  Here they again halted, and the
Indians built birch-bark canoes out of the material they had carried
from the woods.  In traversing the barren grounds, where both the {56}
direction and the nature of the rivers render them almost useless for
navigation, the canoe plays a part different from that which is
familiar throughout the rest of Canada.  During the greater part of the
journey, often for a stretch of a hundred miles at a time, the canoe is
absolutely useless, or worse, since it must be carried.  Here and
there, however, for the crossing of the larger rivers, it is
indispensable.  Large numbers of Indians were assembling at Clowey Lake
during Hearne's stay there, and were likewise engaged in building
canoes.  A considerable body of them, hearing that Matonabbee and his
band were on the way to the Coppermine, eagerly agreed to travel with
them.  It seemed to them an excellent opportunity for making a combined
attack on their hereditary enemy, the Eskimos at the mouth of the
river.  The savages thereupon set themselves to make wooden shields
about three feet long with which to ward off the arrows of the Eskimos.

On May 20, a new start was made to the north.  Matonabbee and his great
company of armed Indians now assumed the appearance of a war party, and
hurried eagerly towards the enemy's country.  Two days after leaving
Lake Clowey, they passed out of the woods on {57} to the barren
grounds.  To facilitate their movements most of the women were
presently left behind together with the children and dogs.  A number of
the braves, weary already of the prospect of the long march, turned
back, but Matonabbee, Hearne, and about one hundred and fifty Indians
held on with all speed towards the north.  Their path as traced on a
modern map runs by way of Clinton-Colden and Aylmer lakes and thence
northward to the mouth of the Coppermine.  By the latter part of June
the ice was breaking up, and on the 22nd the party made use of their
canoes (which had been carried for over a month) in order to cross a
great river rejoicing in the ponderous name of the Congecathawachaga.
On the farther side, they met a number of Copper Indians who were
delighted to learn of Matonabbee's hostile design against the Eskimos.
They eagerly joined the party, celebrating their accession by a great

The Copper Indians expressed their pleasure at learning from Hearne
that the great king their father proposed to send ships to visit them
by the northern sea.  They had never seen a white man before and
examined Hearne with great curiosity, disapproving strongly of the
colour of his skin and comparing his hair to a stained buffalo tail.


The whole party moved on together.  The weather was bad, with
alternating sleet and rain, and the path broken and difficult.  July 4
found them at the Stony Mountains, a rugged and barren set of hills
that seemed from a distance like a pile of broken stones.  Nine days
more of arduous travel brought the warriors in sight of their goal.
From the elevation of the low hills that rose above its banks, Hearne
was able to look upon the foaming waters of the Coppermine, as it
plunged over the broken stones of its bed in a series of cascades.  A
few trees, or rather a few burnt stumps, fringed the banks, but the
trees which here and there remained unburned were so crooked and
dwarfish as merely to heighten the desolation of the scene.

Immediately on their arrival at the Coppermine, Matonabbee and his
Indians began to make their preparations for an attack upon the
Eskimos, who were known to frequent the mouth of the river.  Spies were
sent out in advance towards the sea, and the remainder of the Indians
showed an unwonted and ominous energy in building fires and roasting
meat so that they might carry with them a supply so large as to make it
unnecessary to alarm the Eskimos by the sound of the guns of the
hunters {59} in search of food.  Hearne occupied himself with surveying
the river.  He was sick at heart at the scene of bloodshed which he
anticipated, but was powerless to dissuade his companions from their
design.  Two days later (July 15, 1771), the spies brought back word
that a camp of Eskimos, five tents in all, had been seen on the further
side of the river.  It was distant about twelve miles and favourably
situated for a surprise.  Matonabbee and his braves were now filled
with the fierce eagerness of the savage; they crossed hurriedly to the
west side of the river, where each Indian painted the shield that he
carried with rude daubs of red and black, to imitate the spirits of the
earth and air on whom he relied for aid in the coming fight.
Noiselessly the Indians proceeded along the banks of the river,
trailing in a serpentine course among the rocks so as to avoid being
seen upon the higher ground.  They seemed to Hearne to have been
suddenly transformed from an undisciplined rabble into a united band.
Northern and Copper Indians alike were animated by a single purpose and
readily shared with one another the weapons of their common stock.  The
advance was made in the middle of the night, but at this season of the
year the whole {60} scene was brilliant with the light of the midnight
sun.  The Indians stole to within two hundred yards of the place
indicated by the guides.  From their ambush among the rocks they could
look out upon the tents of their sleeping victims.  The camp of the
Eskimos stood on a broad ledge of rock at the spot where the
Coppermine, narrowed between lofty walls of red sandstone, roars
foaming over a cataract some three hundred yards in extent.

The Indians, sure of their prey, paused a few moments to make final
preparations for the onslaught.  They cast aside their outer garments,
bound back their hair from their eyes, and hurriedly painted their
foreheads and faces with a hideous coating of red and black.  Then with
weapons in hand they rushed forth upon their sleeping foe.

Hearne, unable to leave the spot, was compelled to witness in all its
details the awful slaughter which followed.

In a few seconds [he wrote in his journal] the horrible scene
commenced; it was shocking beyond description; the poor unhappy victims
were surprised in the midst of their sleep, and had neither time nor
power to make any resistance; men, {61} women, and children, in all
upwards of twenty, ran out of their tents stark naked, and endeavoured
to make their escape; but the Indians, having possession of all the
land-side, to no place could they fly for shelter.  One alternative
only remained, that of jumping into the river; but, as none of them
attempted it, they all fell a sacrifice to Indian barbarity.  The
shrieks and groans of the poor expiring wretches were truly dreadful.

But it is needless to linger on the details of the massacre, which
Hearne was thus compelled to witness, and the revolting mutilation of
the corpses which followed it.  To Matonabbee and the other Indians the
whole occurrence was viewed as a proper incident of tribal war, and the
feeble protests which Hearne contrived to make only drew down upon him
the expression of their contempt.

After the massacre followed plunder.  The Indians tore down the tents
of the Eskimos and with reckless folly threw tents, tent poles, and
great quantities of food into the waters of the cataract.  Having made
a feast of fresh fish on the ruins of the camp, they then announced to
Hearne that they were ready to assist him in {62} going on to the mouth
of the river.  The desolate scene was left behind--the broad rock
strewn with mangled bodies of the dead and the broken remnants of their
poor belongings.  Half a century later the explorer Franklin visited
the spot and saw the skulls and bones of the Eskimos still lying about.
One of Franklin's Indians, then an aged man, had been a witness of the

From the hills beside the Bloody Falls, as the cataract is called, the
eye could discern at a distance of some eight miles the open water of
the Arctic and the glitter of the ice beyond.  Hearne followed the
river along its precipitous and broken course till he stood upon the
shore of the sea.  One may imagine with what emotion he looked out upon
that northern ocean to reach which he had braved the terrors of the
Arctic winter and the famine of the barren grounds.  He saw before him
about three-quarters of a mile of open sea, studded with rocks and
little islands: beyond that the clear white of the ice-pack stretched
to the farthest horizon.  Hearne viewed this scene in the bright
sunlight of the northern day: but while he still lingered, thick fog
and drizzling rain rolled in from the sea and shut out the view.  For
the sake of form, as he said, he {63} erected a pile of stones and took
possession of the coast in the name of the Hudson's Bay Company.  Then,
filled with the bitterness of a vain quest, Hearne turned his face
towards the south to commence his long march to the settlements.

Up to this point nothing had been seen of the supposed mountains of
copper which formed the principal goal of Hearne's undertaking.  The
eagerness of the Indians had led them to hasten directly to the camp of
the Eskimos regardless of all else.  But on the second day of the
journey home, the guides led Hearne to the site of this northern
Eldorado.  It lay among the hills beside the Coppermine river at a spot
thirty miles from the sea, and almost directly south of the mouth of
the river.  The prospect was strange.  Some mighty force, as of an
earthquake, seemed to have rent asunder the solid rock and strewn it in
a confused and broken heap of boulders.  Through these a rivulet ran to
join the Coppermine.  Here, said the Indians, was copper so great in
quantity that it could be gathered as easily as one might gather stones
at Churchill.  Filled with a new eagerness, Hearne and his companions
searched for four hours among the rocks.  Here and there a few
splinters of native {64} copper were seen.  One piece alone, weighing
some four pounds, offered a slight reward for their quest.  This Hearne
carried away with him, convinced now that the mountain of copper and
the inexhaustible wealth of the district were mere fictions created by
the cupidity of the savages or by the natural mystery surrounding a
region so grim and inaccessible as the rocky gorge by which the
Coppermine rushes to the cold seas of the north.

After Hearne's visit no explorer reached the lower waters of the
Coppermine till Captain (afterwards Sir John) Franklin made his
memorable and marvellous overland journey of 1821.  Since Franklin's
time the region has been crossed only two or three times by explorers.
They agree in stating that loose copper and copper ore are freely
found.  But it does not seem that, since 1771, any white man has ever
looked upon the valley of the great boulders which the Indians
described to Hearne as containing a fabulous wealth of copper.  The
solitary piece of metal which he brought home is still preserved by the
Hudson's Bay Company.

There is no need to follow in detail the long journey which Hearne had
to take in order to {65} return to the fort.  The march lasted nearly a
year, during which he was exposed to the same hardship, famine and
danger as on his way to the sea.  The route followed on the return was
different.  The party ascended the valley of the Coppermine as far as
Point Lake, a considerable body of water visited later by Franklin, and
distant one hundred and sixty miles from the sea.  This was reached on
September 3, 1771.  Four months were spent in travelling almost
directly south.  They passed over a rugged country of stone and marsh,
buried deep in snow, with here and there a clump of stunted pine or
straggling willow.  Bitter weather with great gales and deep snow set
in in October.  Snow-shoes and sledges were made.  Many small lakes and
rivers, now fast frozen, were traversed, but the whole country is still
so little known that Hearne's path can hardly be traced with certainty.
By the middle of November the clumps of trees thickened into the
northern edge of the great forest.  The way now became easier.  They
had better shelter from the wind, and firewood was abundant.  For food
the party carried dried meat from Point Lake, and as they passed into
the thicker woods they were fortunate enough to find a few rabbits and
wood partridges.  {66} Some fish were caught through the ice of the
river.  But in nearly two months of walking only two deer were seen.

On Christmas Eve Hearne found himself on the shores of a great frozen
lake, so vast that, as the Indians rightly informed him, it reached
three hundred miles east and west.  This is the Great Slave Lake;
Hearne speaks of it as Athaspuscow Lake.  The latter name is the same
as that now given to another lake (Athabaska of Canadian maps)--the
word being descriptive and meaning the lake with the beds of reeds.

Hearne and his party crossed the great lake on the ice.  A new prospect
now opened.  Deer and beaver were plentiful among the islands.  Great
quantities of fine fish abounded in the waters under the ice.  As they
reached the southern shore, the jumble of rocks and hills and stunted
trees of the barren north was left behind, and the travellers entered a
fine level country, over which wandered great herds of buffalo and
moose.  For about forty miles they ascended the course of the Athabaska
river, finding themselves among splendid woods with tall pines and
poplars such as Hearne had never seen.  From the Athabaska they struck
eastward, plunging into so dense a forest that {67} at times the axes
had to be used to clear the way.  For two months (January and February
of 1772) they made their way through the northern forest.  The month of
March found them clear of the level country of the Athabaska and
entering upon the hilly and broken region which formed the territory of
the Northern Indians.  At the end of March the first thaws began,
rendering walking difficult in the bush.  In traversing the open lakes
and plains they were frequently exposed to the violent gales of the
equinoctial season.  By the middle of April the signs of spring were
apparent.  Flocks of waterfowl were seen overhead, flying to the north.
Their course was shaped directly to the east, so that the party were
presently traversing the same route as on their outward journey and
making towards Wholdaia Lake.  The month of May opened with fine
weather and great thaws.  Such intense heat was experienced in the
first week of this month that for some days a march of twelve miles a
day was all that the travellers could accomplish.  Canoes were now
built for the passage of the lakes and rivers.  By May 25 the
expedition was clear of all the woods and out on the barren grounds.
They passed the Cathawachaga river, still covered with ice, {68} on the
last day of May.  A month of travel over the barren grounds brought
them on the last day of June 1772 to the desolate but welcome
surroundings of Fort Prince of Wales.  Hearne had been absent on his
last journey one year, six months, and twenty-three days.  From his
first journey into the wilderness until his final return, there had
elapsed two years, seven months, and twenty-four days.

Hearne was not left without honour.  The Hudson's Bay Company retained
him in their service at various factories, and three years after his
famous expedition they made him governor of Fort Prince of Wales.
During his service there he had the melancholy celebrity of
surrendering the great fort (unfortunately left without men enough to
defend it) to a French fleet under Admiral La Pérouse.  Among the
spoils of the captors was Hearne's manuscript journal, which the
generous victors returned on the sole condition that it should be
published as soon as possible.  Hearne returned to England in 1787, and
was chiefly busied with revising and preparing his journal until his
death in 1792.

No better appreciation of his work has been written than the words with
which he concludes the account of his safe return after his years {69}
of wandering.  'Though my discoveries,' he writes, 'are not likely to
prove of any material advantage to the nation at large, or indeed to
the Hudson's Bay Company, yet I have the pleasure to think that I have
fully complied with the orders of my masters, and that it has put a
final end to all disputes concerning a North-West Passage through
Hudson's Bay.'

[1] Bag for flint and steel, tobacco, etc.




The next great landmark in the exploration of the Far North is the
famous voyage of Alexander Mackenzie down the river which bears his
name, and which he traced to its outlet into the Arctic ocean.  This
was in 1789.  By that time the Pacific coast of America and the coast
of Siberia over against it had already been explored.  Even before
Hearne's journey the Danish navigator Bering, sailing in the employ of
the Russian government, had discovered the strait which separates Asia
from America, and which commemorates his name.  Four years after
Hearne's return (1776) the famous navigator Captain Cook had explored
the whole range of the American coast to the north of what is now
British Columbia, had passed Bering Strait and had sailed along the
Arctic coast as far as Icy Cape.

[Illustration: Sir Alexander Mackenzie.  From the painting by Sir T.

The general outline of the north of the {71} continent of America, and
at any rate the vast distance to be traversed to reach the Pacific from
the Atlantic, could now be surmised with some accuracy.  But the
internal geography of the continent still contained an unsolved
mystery.  It was known that vast bodies of fresh water far beyond the
basin of the Saskatchewan and the Columbia emptied towards the north.
Hearne had revealed the existence of the Great Slave Lake, and the
advance of daring fur-traders into the north had brought some knowledge
of the great stream called the Peace, which rises far in the mountains
of the west, and joins its waters to Lake Athabaska.  It was known that
this river after issuing from the Athabaska Lake moved onwards, as a
new river, in a vast flood towards the north, carrying with it the
tribute of uncounted streams.  These rivers did not flow into the
Pacific.  Nor could so great a volume of water make its way to the sea
through the shallow torrent of the Coppermine or the rivers that flowed
north-eastward over the barren grounds.  There must exist somewhere a
mighty river of the north running to the frozen seas.

It fell to the lot of Alexander Mackenzie to find the solution of this
problem.  The {72} circumstances which led to his famous journey arose
out of the progress of the fur trade and its extension into the Far
West.  The British possession of Canada in 1760 had created a new
situation.  The monopoly enjoyed by the Hudson's Bay Company was rudely
disturbed.  Enterprising British traders from Montreal, passing up the
Great Lakes, made their way to the valley of the Saskatchewan and,
whether legally or not, contrived to obtain an increasing share of the
furs brought from the interior.  These traders were at first divided
into partnerships and small groups, but presently, for the sake of
co-operation and joint defence, they combined (1787) into the powerful
body known as the North-West Company, which from now on entered into
desperate competition with the great corporation that had first
occupied the field.  The Hudson's Bay Company and its rival sought to
carry their operations as far inland as possible in order to tap the
supplies at their source.  They penetrated the valleys of the
Assiniboine, the Red, and the Saskatchewan rivers, and founded, among
others, the forts which were destined to become the present cities of
Winnipeg, Brandon, and Edmonton.  The annals of North-West Canada
during the next thirty-three years are made up of the {73} recital of
the commercial rivalry, and at times the actual conflict under arms, of
the two great trading companies.

It was in the service of the North-West Company that Alexander
Mackenzie made his famous journey.  He had arrived in Canada in 1779.
After five years spent in the counting-house of a trading company at
Montreal, he had been assigned for a year to a post at Detroit, and in
1785 had been elevated to the dignity of a bourgeois or partner in the
North-West Company.  In this capacity Alexander Mackenzie was sent out
to the Athabaska district to take control, in that vast and scarcely
known region, of the posts of the traders now united into the
North-West Company.

A glance at the map of Canada will show the commanding geographical
position occupied by Lake Athabaska, in a country where the waterways
formed the only means of communication.  It receives from the south and
west the great streams of the Athabaska and the Peace, which thus
connect it with the prairies of the Saskatchewan valley and with the
Rocky Mountains.  Eastward a chain of lakes and rivers connects it and
the forest country which lies about it with the barren grounds and the
forts on Hudson Bay, while to the north, {74} issuing from Lake
Athabaska, a great and unknown river led into the forests, moving
towards an unknown sea.

It was Mackenzie's first intention to make Lake Athabaska the frontier
of the operations of his company.  Acting under his instructions, his
cousin Roderick Mackenzie, who served with him, selected a fine site on
a cape on the south side of the lake and erected the post that was
named Fort Chipewyan.  Beautifully situated, with good timber and
splendid fisheries and easy communication in all directions, the fort
rapidly became the central point of trade and travel in the far
north-west.  But it was hardly founded before Mackenzie had already
conceived a wider scheme.  Chipewyan should be the emporium but not the
outpost of the fur trade; using it as a base, he would descend the
great unknown waterway which led north, and thus bring into the sphere
of the company's operations the whole region between Lake Athabaska and
the northern sea.  Alexander Mackenzie's object was, in name at least,
commercial--the extension of the trade of the North-West Company.  But
in reality, his incentive was that instinctive desire to widen the
bounds of geographical knowledge, and to roll back the {75} mystery of
unknown lands and seas which had already raised Hearne to eminence, and
which later on was to lead Franklin to his glorious disaster.

It was on Wednesday, June 3, 1789, that Alexander Mackenzie's little
flotilla of four birch-bark canoes set out across Lake Athabaska on its
way to the north.  In Mackenzie's canoe were four French-Canadian
voyageurs, two of them accompanied by their wives, and a German.  Two
other canoes were filled with Indians, who were to act as guides and
interpreters.  At their head was a notable brave who had been one of
the band of Matonabbee, Hearne's famous guide.  From his frequent
visits to the English post at Fort Churchill he had acquired the name
of the 'English Chief.'  Another canoe was in charge of Leroux, a
French-Canadian in the service of the company, who had already
descended the Slave river, as far as the Great Slave Lake.  Leroux and
his men carried trading goods and supplies.

The first part of the journey was by a route already known.  The
voyageurs paddled across the twenty miles of water which here forms the
breadth of Lake Athabaska, entered a river running from the lake, and
followed its {76} winding stream.  They encamped at night seven miles
from the lake.  The next morning at four o'clock the canoes were on
their way again, descending the winding river through a low forest of
birch and willow.  After a paddle of ten miles, a bend in the little
river brought the canoes out upon the broad stream of the Peace river,
its waters here being upwards of a mile wide and running with a strong
current to the north.  On our modern maps this great stream after it
leaves Lake Athabaska is called the Slave river: but it is really one
and the same mighty river, carrying its waters from the valleys of
British Columbia through the gorges of the Rocky Mountains, passing
into the Great Slave Lake, and then, under the name of the Mackenzie,
emptying into the Arctic.

In the next five days Mackenzie's canoes successfully descended the
river to the Great Slave Lake, a distance of some two hundred and
thirty-five miles.  The journey was not without its dangers.  The Slave
river has a varied course: at times it broadens out into a great sheet
of water six miles across, flowing with a gentle current and carrying
the light canoes gently upon its unruffled surface.  In other places it
is confined into a narrow channel, breaks into swift eddies and pours
in {77} boiling rapids over the jagged rocks.  Over the upper rapids of
the river, Mackenzie and his men were able to run their canoes fully
laden; but lower down were long and arduous portages, rendered
dangerous by the masses of broken ice still clinging to the banks of
the river.  As they neared the Great Slave Lake boisterous gales from
the north-east lashed the surface of the river into foam and brought
violent showers of rain.  But the voyageurs were trained men,
accustomed to face the dangers of northern navigation.

A week of travel brought them on June 9 to the Great Slave Lake.  It
was still early in the season.  The rigour of winter was not yet
relaxed.  As far as the eye could see the surface of the lake presented
an unbroken sheet of ice.  Only along the shore had narrow lanes of
open water appeared.  The weather was bitterly cold, and there was no
immediate prospect of the break-up of the ice.

For a fortnight Mackenzie and his party remained at the lake, skirting
its shores as best they could, and searching among the bays and islands
of its western end for the outlet towards the north which they knew
must exist.  Heavy rain, alternating with bitter cold, caused them much
hardship.  At times it froze so {78} hard that a thin sheet of new ice
covered even the open water of the lake.  But as the month advanced the
mass of old ice began slowly to break; strong winds drove it towards
the north, and the canoes were presently able to pass, with great
danger and difficulty, among the broken floes.  Mackenzie met a band of
Yellow Knife Indians, who assured him that a great river ran out of the
west end of the lake, and offered a guide to aid him in finding the
channel among the islands and sandbars of the lake.  Convinced that his
search would be successful, Mackenzie took all the remaining supplies
into his canoes and sent back Leroux to Chipewyan with the news that he
had gone north down the great river.  But even after obtaining his
guide Mackenzie spent four days searching for the outlet  It was not
till the end of the month of June that his search was rewarded, and, at
the extreme south-west, the lake, after stretching out among islands
and shallows, was found to contract into the channel of a river.

The first day of July saw Mackenzie's canoes floating down the stream
that bears his name.  From now on, progress became easier.  At this
latitude and season the northern day gave the voyageurs twenty hours of
sunlight in each day, {79} and with smooth water and a favouring
current the descent was rapid.  Five days after leaving the Great Slave
Lake the canoes reached the region where the waters of the Great Bear
Lake, then still unknown, drain into the Mackenzie.  The Indians of
this district seemed entirely different from those known at the trading
posts.  At the sight of the canoes and the equipment of the voyageurs
they made off and hid among the rocks and trees beside the river.
Mackenzie's Indians contrived to make themselves understood, by calling
out to them in the Chipewyan language, but the strange Indians showed
the greatest reluctance and apprehension, and only with difficulty
allowed Mackenzie's people to come among them.  Mackenzie notes the
peculiar fact that they seemed unacquainted with tobacco, and that even
fire-water was accepted by them rather from fear of offending than from
any inclination.  Knives, hatchets and tools, however, they took with
great eagerness.  On learning of Mackenzie's design to go on towards
the north they endeavoured with every possible expression of horror to
induce him to turn back.  The sea, they said, was so far away that
winter after winter must pass before Mackenzie could hope to reach it:
he would be an old man {80} before he could complete the voyage.  More
than this, the river, so they averred, fell over great cataracts which
no one could pass; he would find no animals and no food for his men.
The whole country was haunted by monsters.  Mackenzie was not to be
deterred by such childish and obviously interested terrors.  His
interpreters explained that he had no fear of the horrors that they
depicted, and, by a heavy bribe, consisting of a kettle, an axe, and a
knife, he succeeded in enlisting the services of one of the Indians as
a guide.  That the terror of the Far North professed by these Indians,
or at any rate the terror of going there in strange company, was not
wholly imaginary was made plain from the conduct of the guide.  When
the time came to depart he showed every sign of anxiety and fear: he
sought in vain to induce his friends to take his place: finding that he
must go, he reluctantly bade farewell to his wife and children, cutting
off a lock of his hair and dividing it into three parts, which he
fastened to the hair of each of them.

On July 5, the party set out with their new guide, and on the same
afternoon passed the mouth of the Great Bear river, which joins the
Mackenzie in a flood of sea-green water, fresh, but coloured like that
of the ocean.  Below {81} this point, they passed many islands.  The
banks of the river rose to high mountains covered with snow.  The
country, so the guide said, was here filled with bears, but the
voyageurs saw nothing worse than mosquitoes, which descended in clouds
upon the canoes.  As the party went on to the north, the guide seemed
more and more stricken with fear and consumed with the longing to
return to his people.  In the morning after breaking camp nothing but
force would induce him to embark, and on the fourth night, during the
confusion of a violent thunder-storm, he made off and was seen no more.

The next day, however, Mackenzie supplied his place, this time by
force, from a band of roving Indians.  The new guide told him that the
sea was not far away, and that it could be reached in ten days.  As the
journey continued the river was broken into so many channels and so
dotted with islands, that it was almost impossible to decide which was
the main waterway.  The guide's advice was evidently influenced by his
desire to avoid the Eskimos, and, like his predecessor, to keep away
from the supposed terrors of the North.  The shores of the river were
now at times low, though usually lofty mountains could be seen about
ten miles {82} away.  Trees were still present, especially fir and
birch, though in places both shores of the river were entirely bare,
and the islands were mere banks of sand and mud to which great masses
of ice adhered.  An observation taken on July 10 showed that the
voyageurs had reached latitude 67° 47' north.  From the extreme
variation of the compass, and from other signs, Mackenzie was now
certain that he was approaching the northern ocean.  He was assured
that in a few days more of travel he could reach its shores.  But in
the meantime his provisions were running low.  His Indian guide, a prey
to fantastic terrors, endeavoured to dissuade him from his purpose,
while his canoe men, now far beyond the utmost limits of the country
known to the fur trade, began to share the apprehensions of the guide,
and clamoured eagerly for return.  Mackenzie himself was of the opinion
that it would not be possible for him to return to Chipewyan while the
rivers were still open, and that the approach of winter must surprise
him in these northern solitudes.  But in spite of this he could not
bring himself to turn back.  With his men he stipulated for seven days;
if the northern ocean were not found in that time he would turn south


The expedition went forward.  On July 10, they made a course of
thirty-two miles, the river sweeping with a strong current through a
low, flat country, a mountain range still visible in the west and
reaching out towards the north.  At the spot where they pitched their
tents at night on the river bank they could see the traces of an
encampment of Eskimos.  The sun shone brilliantly the whole night,
never descending below the horizon.  Mackenzie sat up all night
observing its course in the sky.  At a quarter to four in the morning,
the canoes were off again, the river winding and turning in its course
but heading for the north-west.  Here and there on the banks they saw
traces of the Eskimos, the marks of camp fires, and the remains of
huts, made of drift-wood covered with grass and willows.  This day the
canoes travelled fifty-four miles.  The prospect about the travellers
was gloomy and dispiriting.  The low banks of the river were now almost
treeless, except that here and there grew stunted willow, not more than
three feet in height.  The weather was cloudy and raw, with gusts of
rain at intervals.  The discontent of Mackenzie's companions grew
apace: the guide was evidently at the end of his knowledge; while the
violent rain, the biting cold {84} and the fear of an attack by hostile
savages kept the voyageurs in a continual state of apprehension.  July
12 was marked by continued cold, and the canoes traversed a country so
bare and naked that scarcely a shrub could be seen.  At one place the
land rose in high banks above the river, and was bright with short
grass and flowers, though all the lower shore was now thick with ice
and snow, and even in the warmer spots the soil was only thawed to a
depth of four inches.  Here also were seen more Eskimo huts, with
fragments of sledges, a square stone kettle, and other utensils lying

Mackenzie was now at the very delta of the great river, where it
discharges its waters, broken into numerous and intricate channels,
into the Arctic ocean.  On Sunday, July 12, the party encamped on an
island that rose to a considerable eminence among the flat and dreary
waste of broken land and ice in which the travellers now found
themselves.  The channels of the river had here widened into great
sheets of water, so shallow that for stretches of many miles, east and
west, the depth never exceeded five feet.  Mackenzie and 'English
Chief,' his principal follower, ascended to the highest ground on the
island, {85} from which they were able to command a wide view in all
directions.  To the south of them lay the tortuous and complicated
channels of the broad river which they had descended; east and north
were islands in great number; but on the westward side the eye could
discern the broad field of solid ice that marked the Arctic ocean.

Mackenzie had reached the goal of his endeavours.  His followers, when
they learned that the open sea, the _mer d'ouest_ as they called it,
was in sight, were transformed; instead of sullen ill-will they
manifested the highest degree of confidence and eager expectation.
They declared their readiness to follow their leader wherever he wished
to go, and begged that he would not turn back without actually reaching
the shore of the unknown sea.  But in reality they had already reached
it.  That evening, when their camp was pitched and they were about to
retire to sleep, under the full light of the unsinking sun, the inrush
of the Arctic tide, threatening to swamp their baggage and drown out
their tents, proved beyond all doubt that they were now actually on the
shore of the ocean.

For three days Mackenzie remained beside the Arctic ocean.  Heavy gales
blew in from {86} the north-west, and in the open water to the westward
whales were seen.  Mackenzie and his men, in their exultation at this
final proof of their whereabouts, were rash enough to start in pursuit
in a canoe.  Fortunately, a thick curtain of fog fell on the ocean and
terminated the chase.  In memory of the occurrence, Mackenzie called
his island Whale Island.  On the morning of July 14, 1789, Mackenzie,
convinced that his search had succeeded, ordered a post to be erected
on the island beside his tents, on which he carved the latitude as he
had calculated it (69° 14' north), his own name, the number of persons
who were with him and the time that was spent there.

This day Mackenzie spent in camp, for a great gale, blowing with rain
and bitter cold, made it hazardous to embark.  But on the next morning
the canoes were headed for the south, and the return journey was begun.
It was time indeed.  Only about five hundred pounds weight of supplies
was now left in the canoes--enough, it was calculated, to suffice for
about twelve days.  As the return journey might well occupy as many
weeks, the fate of the voyageurs must now depend on the chances of
fishing and the chase.


As a matter of fact the ascent of the river, which Mackenzie conducted
with signal success and almost without incident, occupied two months.
The weather was favourable.  The wild gales which had been faced in the
Arctic delta were left behind, and, under mild skies and unending
sunlight, and with wild fowl abundant about them, the canoes were urged
steadily against the stream.  The end of the month of July brought the
explorers to the Great Bear river; from this point an abundance of
berries on the banks of the stream--the huckleberry, the raspberry and
the saskatoon--afforded a welcome addition to their supplies.  As they
reached the narrower parts of the river, where it flowed between high
banks, the swift current made paddling useless and compelled the men to
haul the canoes with the towing line.  At other times steady strong
winds from the north enabled them to rig their sails and skim without
effort over the broad surface of the river.  Mackenzie noted with
interest the varied nature and the fine resources of the country of the
upper river.  At one place petroleum, having the appearance of yellow
wax, was seen oozing from the rocks; at another place a vast seam of
coal in the river bank was observed to be burning.  On August 22 the
canoes were {88} driven over the last reaches of the Mackenzie with a
west wind strong and cold behind them, and were carried out upon the
broad bosom of the Great Slave Lake.  The voyageurs were once more in
known country.  The navigation of the lake, now free from ice, was
without difficulty, and the canoes drove at a furious rate over its
waters.  On August 24 three canoes were sighted sailing on the lake,
and were presently found to contain Leroux and his party, who had been
carrying on the fur trade in that district during Mackenzie's absence.

The rest of the journey offered no difficulty.  There remained, indeed,
some two hundred and sixty miles of paddle and portage to traverse the
Slave river and reach Fort Chipewyan.  But to the stout arms of
Mackenzie's trained voyageurs this was only a summer diversion.  On
September 12, 1789, Alexander Mackenzie safely reached the fort.  His
voyage had occupied one hundred and two days.  Its successful
completion brought to the world its first knowledge of that vast
waterway of the northern country, whose extensive resources in timber
and coal, in mineral and animal wealth, still await development.




The generation now passing away can vividly recall, as one of the
deepest impressions of its childhood, the profound and sustained
interest excited by the mysterious fate of Sir John Franklin.  His
splendid record by sea and land, the fact that he was one of 'Nelson's
men' and had fought at Copenhagen and Trafalgar, his feats as an
explorer in the unknown wilds of North America and the torrid seas of
Australasia, and, more than these, his high Christian courage and his
devotion to the flag and country that he served--all had made of
Franklin a hero whom the nation delighted to honour.  His departure in
1846 with his two stout ships the _Erebus_ and the _Terror_ and a total
company of one hundred and thirty-four men, including some of the
ablest naval officers of the day, was hailed with high hopes that the
mysterious north would at length be {90} robbed of its secret.  Then,
as the years passed and the ships never returned, and no message from
the explorers came out of the silent north, the nation, defiant of
difficulty and danger, bent its energies towards the discovery of their
fate.  No less than forty-two expeditions were sent out in search of
the missing ships.  The efforts of the government were seconded by the
munificence of private individuals, and by the generosity of naval
officers who gladly gave their services for no other reward than the
honour of the enterprise.  The energies of the rescue parties were
quickened by the devotion of Lady Franklin, who refused to abandon
hope, and consecrated her every energy and her entire fortune to the
search for her lost husband.  Her conduct and her ardent appeals awoke
a chivalrous spirit at home and abroad; men such as Kane, Bellot,
M'Clintock and De Haven volunteered their services in the cause.  At
length, as with the passage of years anxiety deepened into despair, and
as little by little it was learned that all were lost, the brave story
of the death of Franklin and his men wrote itself in imperishable
letters on the hearts of their fellow-countrymen.  It found no parallel
till more than half a century later, when another and a {91} similar
tragedy in the silent snows of the Antarctic called forth again the
mingled pride and anguish with which Britain honours the memory of
those fallen in her cause.

John Franklin belonged to the school of naval officers trained in the
prolonged struggle of the great war with France.  He entered the Royal
Navy in 1800 at fourteen years of age, and within a year was engaged on
his ship, the _Polyphemus_, in the great sea-fight at Copenhagen.
During the brief truce that broke the long war after 1801, Franklin
served under Flinders, the great explorer of the Australasian seas.  On
his way home in 1803 he was shipwrecked in Torres Strait, and, with
ninety-three others of the company of H.M.S. _Porpoise_, was cast up on
a sandbar, seven hundred and fifty miles from the nearest port.  The
party were rescued, Franklin reached England, and at once set out on a
voyage to the China seas in the service of the East India Company.
During the voyage the merchant fleet with which he sailed offered
battle to a squadron of French men-of-war, which fled before them.  The
next year saw Franklin serving as signal midshipman on board the
_Bellerophon_ at Trafalgar.  He remained in active service during the
war, served in America, and was {92} wounded in the British attempt to
capture New Orleans.  After the war Franklin, now a lieutenant, found
himself, like so many other naval officers, unable, after the stirring
life of the past fifteen years, to settle into the dull routine of
peace service.  Maritime discovery, especially since his voyage with
Flinders, had always fascinated his mind, and he now offered himself
for service in that Arctic region with which his name will ever be

The long struggle of the war had halted the progress of discoveries in
the northern seas.  But on the conclusion of peace the attention of the
nation, and of naval men in particular, was turned again towards the
north.  The Admiralty naturally sought an opportunity of giving
honourable service to their officers and men.  Great numbers of them
had been thrown out of employment.  Some migrated to the colonies or
even took service abroad.  At the same time the writings of Captain
Scoresby, a whaling captain of scientific knowledge who published an
account of the Greenland seas, and the influence of such men as Sir
John Barrow, the secretary of the Admiralty, did much to create a
renewal of public interest in the north.  It was now recognized that
the North-West Passage offered no commercial {93} attractions.  But it
was felt that it would not be for the honour of the nation that the
splendid discoveries of Hearne, Cook and Mackenzie should remain
uncompleted.  To trace the Arctic water-way from the Atlantic to the
Pacific became now a supreme object, not of commercial interest, but of
geographical research and of national pride.  To this was added the
fact that the progress of physical and natural science was opening up
new fields of investigation for the explorers of the north.

Franklin first sailed north in 1818, as second in command of the first
Arctic expedition of the nineteenth century.  Two brigs, H.M.S.
_Dorothea_ under Captain Buchan, and H.M.S. _Trent_ under Lieutenant
John Franklin, set out from the Thames with a purpose which in audacity
at least has never been surpassed.  The new sentiment of supreme
confidence in the navy inspired by the conquest of the seas is evinced
by the fact that these two square-rigged sailing ships, clumsy and
antiquated, built up with sundry extra beams inside and iron bands
without, were directed to sail straight north across the North Pole and
down the world on the other side.  They did their best.  They went
churning northward through the foaming seas, and when they found that
{94} the ice was closing in on them, and that they were being blown
down upon it in a gale as on to a lee shore, the order was given to put
the helm up and charge full speed at the ice.  It was the only possible
way of escape, and it meant either sudden and awful death under the ice
floes or else the piling up of the ships safe on top of them--'taking
the ice' as Arctic sailors call it.  The _Dorothea_ and the _Trent_
went driving at the ice with such a gale of snow about them that
neither could see the other as they ran.  They 'took the ice' with a
mighty crash, amid a wild confusion of the elements, and when the storm
cleared the two old hulls lay shattered but safe on the surface of the
ice-pack.  The whole larboard side of the _Dorothea_ was smashed, but
they brought her somehow to Spitzbergen, and there by wonderful
patching enabled her to sail home.

The next year (1819) Lieutenant Franklin was off again on an Arctic
journey, the record of which, written by himself, forms one of the most
exciting stories of adventure ever written.  The design this time was
to follow the lead of Hearne and Mackenzie.  Beginning where their
labours ended, Franklin proposed to embark on the polar sea in canoes
and follow the coast line.  Franklin left England at the {95} end of
May.  He was accompanied by Dr Richardson, a naval surgeon, afterwards
Sir John Richardson, and second only to Franklin himself as an explorer
and writer, Midshipman Back, later on to be Admiral Sir George Back,
Midshipman Hood, and one Hepburn, a stout-hearted sailor of the Royal
Navy.  They sailed in the Hudson's Bay Company ship _Prince of Wales_,
and passed through the straits to York Factory.  Thence by canoe they
went inland, up the Hayes river, through Lake Winnipeg and thence up
the Saskatchewan to Cumberland House, a Hudson's Bay fort established
by Samuel Hearne a few years after his famous journey.  From York
Factory to Cumberland House was a journey of six hundred and ninety
miles.  But this was only a beginning.  During the winter of 1819-20
Franklin and his party made their way from Cumberland House to Fort
Chipewyan on Lake Athabaska, a distance, by the route traversed, of
eight hundred and fifty-seven miles.  From this fort the party,
accompanied by Canadian voyageurs and Indian guides, made their way, in
the summer of 1820, to Fort Providence, a lonely post of the North-West
Company lying in latitude 62° on the northern shore of the Great Slave


These were the days of rivalry, and even open war, between the two
great fur companies, the Hudson's Bay and the North-West.  The
Admiralty had commended Franklin's expeditions to the companies, who
were to be requisitioned for the necessary supplies.  But the disorders
of the fur trade, and the demoralization of the Indians, owing to the
free distribution of ardent spirits by the rival companies, rendered it
impossible for the party to obtain adequate supplies and stores.
Undeterred by difficulties, Franklin set out from Fort Providence to
make his way to the Arctic seas at the mouth of the Coppermine.  The
expedition reached the height of land between the Great Slave Lake and
the Coppermine, on the borders of the country which had been the scene
of Hearne's exploits.  The northern forest is here reduced to a thin
growth of stunted pine and willow.  It was now the end of August.  The
brief northern summer was drawing to its close.  It was impossible to
undertake the navigation of the Arctic coast till the ensuing summer.
Franklin and his party built some rude log shanties which they called
Fort Enterprise.  Here, after having traversed over two thousand miles
in all from York Factory, they spent their second winter in the {97}
north.  It was a season of great hardship.  With the poor materials at
their hand it was impossible to make their huts weatherproof.  The wind
whistled through the ill-plastered seams of the logs.  So intense was
the winter cold that the trees about the fort froze hard to their
centres.  In cutting firewood the axes splintered as against stone.  In
the officers' room the thermometer, sixteen feet from the log fire,
marked as low as fifteen degrees below zero in the day and forty below
at night.  For food the party lived on deer's meat with a little fish,
tea twice a day (without sugar), and on Sunday a cup of chocolate as
the luxury of the week to every man.  But, undismayed by cold and
hardship, they kept stoutly at their work.  Richardson investigated the
mosses and lichens beneath the snow and acquainted himself with the
mineralogy of the neighbourhood.  Franklin and the two lieutenants
carried out observations, their fingers freezing with the cold of
forty-six below zero at noon of the brief three-hour day in the heart
of winter.  Sunday was a day of rest.  The officers dressed in their
best attire.  Franklin read the service of the Church of England to his
assembled company.  For the French-Canadian Roman Catholics, Franklin
did the best he {98} could; he read to them the creed of the Church of
England in French.  In the leisure part of the day a bundle of London
newspapers was perused again and again.

The winter passed safely; the party now entered upon the most arduous
part of their undertaking.  Canoes were built and dragged on improvised
sledges to the Coppermine.  Franklin descended the river, surveying its
course as he went.  He passed by the scene of the massacre witnessed by
Hearne, and found himself, late in July of 1821, on the shores of the
Arctic.  The distance from Fort Enterprise was three hundred and
thirty-four miles, for one hundred and seventeen of which the canoes
and baggage had been hauled over snow and ice.

Franklin and his followers, in two canoes, embarked on the polar sea
and traced the course of the coast eastward for five hundred and fifty
miles.  The sailors were as men restored to their own element.  But the
Canadian voyageurs were filled with dread at the great waves of the
open ocean.  All that Franklin saw of the Arctic coast encouraged his
belief that the American continent is separated by stretches of sea
from the great masses of land that had been already discovered in the
Arctic.  {99} The North-West Passage, ice-blocked and useless, was
still a geographical fact.  Eager in the pursuit of his investigations
he went on eastward as long as he dared--too long in fact.  Food was
running low.  His voyageurs had lost heart, appalled at the immense
spaces of ice and sea through which their frail canoes went onward into
the unknown.  Reluctantly, Franklin decided to turn back.  But it was
too late to return by water.  The northern gales drove the ice in
against the coast.  Franklin and his men, dragging and carrying one of
the canoes, took to the land, in order to make their way across the
barren grounds.  By this means they hoped to reach the upper waters of
the Coppermine and thence Fort Enterprise, where supplies were to have
been placed for them during the summer.  Their journey was disastrous.
Bitter cold set in as they marched.  Food failed them.  Day after day
they tramped on, often with blinding snow in their faces, with no other
sustenance than the bitter weed called _tripe de roche_ that can here
and there be scraped from the rocks beneath the snow.  At times they
found frozen remnants of deer that had been killed by wolves, a few
bones with putrid meat adhering to them.  These they eagerly devoured.
But {100} often day after day passed without even this miserable
sustenance.  At night they lay down beside a clump of willows, trying,
often in vain, to make a fire of the green twigs dragged from under the
snow.  So great was their famine, Franklin says, that the very
sensation of hunger passed away, leaving only an exhaustion too great
for words.  Lieutenant Back, gaunt and emaciated, staggered forward
leaning on a stick, refusing to give in.  Richardson could hardly walk,
while Lieutenant Hood, emaciated to the last degree, was helped on by
his comrades as best they could.  The Canadians and Indians suffered
less in body, but, lacking the stern purpose of the officers, they were
distraught with the horror of the death that seemed to await them.  In
their fear they had refused to carry the canoe, and had smashed it and
thrown it aside.  In this miserable condition the party reached, on
September 26, the Coppermine river, to find it flowing still unfrozen
in an angry flood which they could not cross.  In vain they ranged the
banks above and below.  Below them was a great lake; beside and above
them a swift, deep current broken by rapids.  There was no crossing.
They tried to gather willow faggots, and bind them into a raft.  But
the green wood sank so {101} easily that only one man could get upon
the raft: to paddle or pole it in the running water was impossible.  A
line was made of strips of skin, and Richardson volunteered to swim the
river so as to haul the raft across with the line.  The bitter cold of
the water paralysed his limbs.  He was seen to sink beneath the leaping
waters.  His companions dragged him back to the bank, where for hours
he lay as if lifeless beside the fire of willow branches, so emaciated
that he seemed a mere skeleton when they took off his wet clothing.
His comrades gazed at him with a sort of horror.  Thus for days they
waited.  At last, with infinite patience, one of the Canadians made a
sort of canoe with willow sticks and canvas.  In this, with a line
attached, they crossed the river one by one.

They were now only forty miles from Fort Enterprise.  But their
strength was failing.  Hood could not go on.  The party divided.
Franklin and Back went forward with most of the men, while Richardson
and sailor Hepburn volunteered to stay with Hood till help could be
sent.  The others left them in a little tent, with some rounds of
ammunition and willow branches gathered for the fire.  A little further
on the march, three of Franklin's followers, {102} too exhausted to go
on, dropped out, proposing to make their way back to Richardson and

The little party at the tent in the snow waited in vain.  Days passed,
and no help came.  One of the three men who had left Franklin, an
Indian called Michel, joined them, saying that the others had gone
astray in the snow.  But he was strange and sullen, sleeping apart and
wandering off by himself to hunt.  Presently, from the man's strange
talk and from some meat which he brought back from his hunting and
declared to be part of a wolf, Richardson realized the awful truth that
Michel had killed his companions and was feeding on their bodies.  A
worse thing followed.  Richardson and Hepburn, gathering wood a few
days later, heard the report of a gun from beside the fire where they
had left Lieutenant Hood, who was now in the last stage of exhaustion.
They returned to find Michel beside the dead body of their comrade.  He
had been shot through the back of the head.  Michel swore that Hood had
killed himself.  Richardson knew the truth, but both he and Hepburn
were too enfeebled by privation to offer fight to the armed and
powerful madman.  The three set out for Fort Enterprise, Michel
carrying a loaded gun, two {103} pistols and a bayonet, muttering to
himself and evidently meditating a new crime.  Richardson, a man of
iron nerve, forestalled him.  Watching his opportunity, he put a pistol
to the Indian's head and blew his brains out.

Richardson and Hepburn dragged themselves forward mile by mile,
encouraged by the thought of the blazing fires and the abundant food
that they expected to find at Fort Enterprise.  They reached the fort
just in the dusk of an October evening.  All about it was silence.
There were no tracks in the newly fallen snow.  Only a thin thread of
smoke from the chimney gave a sign of life.  Hurriedly they made their
way in.  To their horror and dismay they found Franklin and three
companions, two Canadians and an Indian, stretched out in the last
stages of famine.  'No words can convey an idea,' wrote Dr Richardson
later on, 'of the filth and wretchedness that met our eyes on looking
around.  Our own misery had stolen upon us by degrees and we were
accustomed to the contemplation of each other's emaciated figures, but
the ghastly countenances, dilated eye-balls, and sepulchral voices of
Captain Franklin and those with him were more than we could bear.'
Franklin, on his part, was equally dismayed at the appearance of
Richardson and Hepburn.  {104} 'We were all shocked,' he says in his
journal, 'at beholding the emaciated countenances of the doctor and
Hepburn, as they strongly evidenced their extremely debilitated state.
The alteration in our appearance was equally distressing to them, for
since the swellings had subsided we were little more than skin and
bone.  The doctor particularly remarked the sepulchral tone of our
voices, which he requested us to make more cheerful if possible,
unconscious that his own partook of the same key.'

Franklin related to the new-comers how he and his followers had reached
Fort Enterprise, and to their infinite disappointment and grief had
found it perfectly desolate.  There was no depot of provisions, as had
been arranged, nor any trace of a letter or other message from the
traders at Fort Providence or from the Indians.  Lieutenant Back, who
had reached the fort a little in advance of Franklin, had gone on in
the hope of finding Indian hunters, or perhaps of reaching Fort
Providence and sending relief.  They had no food except a little _tripe
de roche_, and Franklin had thus found himself, as he explained to
Richardson, in the deserted fort with five companions, in a state of
utter destitution.  Food there was none.  {105} From the refuse heaps
of the winter before, now buried under the snow, they dug out pieces of
bone and a few deer-skins; on this, with a little _tripe de roche_,
they endeavoured to subsist.  The log house was falling into decay.
The seams gaped and the piercing air entered on every side with the
thermometer twenty below zero.  Franklin and his companions had tried
in vain to stop the chinks and to make a fire by tearing up the rough
boards of the floor.  But their strength was insufficient.  Already for
two weeks before their arrival at Fort Enterprise they had had no meat.
It was impossible that they could have existed long in the miserable
shelter of the deserted fort.  Franklin had endeavoured to go on.
Leaving three of his companions, now too exhausted to walk far, he and
the other two, a Canadian and an Eskimo, set out to try to reach help
in the direction of Fort Providence.  The snow was deep, and their
strength was so far gone that in six hours they only struggled four
miles on their way.  At night they lay down beside one another in the
snow, huddled together for warmth, with a bitter wind blowing over
their emaciated bodies.  The next morning, in recommencing their march,
Franklin stumbled and fell, breaking his snow-shoe in the {106} fall.
Realizing that he could never hope to traverse the one hundred and
eighty-six miles to Fort Providence, he directed his companions to go
on, and he himself made his way back to Fort Enterprise.  There he had
remained for a fortnight until found by Richardson and Hepburn.  So
weak had Franklin and his three companions become that they could not
find the strength to go on cutting down the log buildings of the fort
to make a fire.  Adam, the Indian, lay prostrate in his bunk, his body
covered with hideous swellings.  The two Canadians, Peltier and
Samandré, suffered such pain in their joints that they could scarcely
move a step.  A herd of deer had appeared on the ice of the river near
by, but none of the men had strength to pursue them, nor could any one
of them, said Franklin, have found the strength to raise a gun and fire

Such had been the position of things when Richardson and Hepburn,
themselves almost in the last stage of exhaustion, found their unhappy
comrades.  Richardson was a man of striking energy, of the kind that
knows no surrender.  He set himself to gather wood, built up a blazing
fire, dressed as well as he could the swollen body of the Indian, and
tried to bring some order into the filth and squalor {107} of the hut.
Hepburn meantime had killed a partridge, which the doctor then divided
among them in six parts, the first fresh meat that Franklin and those
with him had tasted for thirty-one days.  This done, 'the doctor,' so
runs Franklin's story, 'brought out his prayer book and testament, and
some prayers and psalms and portions of scripture appropriate to the
situation were read.'

But beyond the consolation of manifesting a brave and devout spirit,
there was little that Richardson could do for his companions.  The
second night after his arrival Peltier died.  There was no strength
left in the party to lift his body out into the snow.  It lay beside
them in the hut, and before another day passed Samandré, the other
Canadian, lay dead beside it.  For a week the survivors remained in the
hut, waiting for death.  Then at last, and just in time, help reached

On November 7, nearly a month after Franklin's first arrival at the
fort, they heard the sound of a musket and the shouting of men outside.
Three Indians stood before the door.  The valiant Lieutenant Back,
after sufferings almost as great as their own, had reached a band of
Indian hunters and had sent three men travelling at top speed with
enough food to {108} keep the party alive till further succour could be
brought.  Franklin and his friends were saved by one of the narrowest
escapes recorded in the history of northern adventure.  Another week
passed before the relief party of the Indians reached them, and even
then Franklin and his companions were so enfeebled by privation that
they could only travel with difficulty, and a month passed before they
found themselves safe and sound within the shelter of Fort Providence
on the Great Slave Lake.  There they remained till the winter passed.
A seven weeks' journey took them to York Factory on Hudson Bay, whence
they sailed to England.  Franklin's journey overland and on the waters
of the polar sea had covered in all five thousand five hundred and
fifty miles and had occupied nearly three years.

On his return to England Franklin found himself at once the object of a
wide public interest.  Already during his absence he had been made a
commander, and the Admiralty now promoted him to the rank of captain,
while the national recognition of his services was shortly afterwards
confirmed by the honour of knighthood.  One might think that after the
perils which he had braved and the horrors which he had experienced,
Sir John would have {109} been content to retire upon his laurels.  But
it was not so.  There is something in the snow-covered land of the
Arctic, its isolation from the world and the long silence of its winter
darkness, that exercises a strange fascination upon those who have the
hardihood to brave its perils.  It was a moment too when interest in
Arctic discovery and the advancement thereby of scientific knowledge
had reached the highest point yet known.  During Franklin's absence
Captain Ross and Lieutenant Parry had been sent by sea into the Arctic
waters.  Parry had met with wonderful success, striking from Baffin Bay
through the northern archipelago and reaching half-way to Bering Strait.

Franklin was eager to be off again.  The year 1825 saw him start once
more to resume the survey of the polar coast of America.  The plan now
was to learn something of the western half of the North American coast,
so as to connect the discoveries of Sir Alexander Mackenzie with those
made by Cook and others through Bering Strait.  Franklin was again
accompanied by his gallant friend, Dr Richardson.  They passed again
overland through the fur country, where the recent union of the rival
companies had brought about a new era.  They descended the Mackenzie
river, {110} wintered on Great Bear Lake, and descended thence to the
sea.  Franklin struck out westward, his party surveying the coast in
open boats.  Their journey from their winter quarters to the sea and
along the coast covered a thousand miles, and extended to within one
hundred and sixty miles of the point that had then been reached by
explorers from Bering Strait.  At the same time Richardson, going
eastward from the Mackenzie, surveyed the coast as far as the
Coppermine river.  Their discoveries thus connected the Pacific waters
with the Atlantic, with the exception of one hundred and sixty miles on
the north-west, where water was known to exist and only ice blocked the
way, and of a line north and south which should bring the discoveries
of Parry into connection with those of Franklin.  These two were the
missing links now needed in the chain of the North-West Passage.

But more than twenty years were to elapse before the discoveries thus
made were carried to their completion.  Franklin himself, claimed by
other duties, was unable to continue his work in the Arctic, and his
appointment to the governorship of Tasmania called him for a time to
another sphere.  Yet, little by little, the exploration of the Arctic
regions was carried {111} on, each explorer adding something to what
was already known, and each hoping that the honour of the discovery of
the great passage would fall to his lot.  Franklin's comrade Back, now
a captain and presently to be admiral, made his way in 1834 from Canada
to the polar sea down the river that bears his name.  Three years later
Simpson, in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company, succeeded in
traversing the coast from the Mackenzie to Point Barrow, completing the
missing link in the western end of the chain.  John and James Ross
brought the exploration of the northern archipelago to a point that
made it certain that somewhere or other a way through must exist to
connect Baffin Bay with the coastal waters.  At last the time came, in
1844, when the British Admiralty determined to make a supreme effort to
unite the explorations of twenty-five years by a final act of
discovery.  The result was the last expedition of Sir John Franklin,
glorious in its disaster, and leaving behind it a tale that will never
be forgotten while the annals of the British nation remain.




The month of May 1845 found two stout ships, the _Erebus_ and the
_Terror_, riding at anchor in the Thames.  Both ships were already well
known to the British public.  They had but recently returned from the
Antarctic seas, where Captain Sir James Ross, in a voyage towards the
South Pole, had attained the highest southern latitude yet reached.
Both were fine square-rigged ships, strengthened in every way that the
shipwrights of the time could devise.  Between their decks a warming
and ventilating apparatus of the newest kind had been installed, and,
as a greater novelty still, the attempt was now made for the first time
in history to call in the power of steam for the fight against the
Arctic frost.  Each vessel carried an auxiliary screw and an engine of
twenty horse-power.  When we remember that a modern steam vessel with a
horse-power of many thousands is still {113} powerless against the
northern ice, the _Erebus_ and the _Terror_ arouse in us a forlorn
pathos.  But in the springtime of 1845 as they lay in the Thames, an
object of eager interest to the flocks of sightseers in the
neighbourhood, they seemed like very leviathans of the deep.  Vast
quantities of stores were being loaded into the ships, enough, it was
said, for the subsistence of the one hundred and thirty-four members of
the expedition for three years.  For it was now known that Arctic
explorers must be prepared to face the winter, icebound in their ships
through the long polar night.  That the winter could be faced with
success had been shown by the experience of Sir William Parry, whose
ships, the _Fury_ and the _Hecla_, had been ice-bound for two winters
(1821-23), and still more by that of Captain John Ross, who brought
home the crew of the _Victory_ safe and sound in 1833, after four
winters in the ice.

[Illustration: Sir John Franklin.  From the National Portrait Gallery.]

All England was eager with expectancy over the new expedition.  It was
to be commanded by Sir John Franklin, the greatest sailor of the day,
who had just returned from his five years in Van Diemen's Land and
carried his fifty-nine winters as jauntily as a midshipman.  The era
was auspicious.  A new reign under a {114} queen already beloved had
just opened.  There was every hope of a long, some people said a
perpetual, peace: it seemed fitting that the new triumphs of commerce
and science, of steam and the magnetic telegraph, should replace the
older and cruder glories of war.

The expedition was well equipped for scientific research, but its main
object was the discovery of the North-West Passage.  We have already
seen what this phrase had come to mean.  It had now no reference to the
uses of commerce.  The question was purely one of geography.  The ocean
lying north of America was known to be largely occupied by a vast
archipelago, between which were open sounds and seas, filled for the
greater part of the year with huge packs of ice.  In the Arctic winter
all was frozen into an unending plain of snow, broken by distorted
hummocks of ice, and here and there showing the frowning rocks of a
mountainous country swept clean by the Arctic blast.  In the winter
deep night and intense cold settled on the scene.  But in the short
Arctic summer the ice-pack moved away from the shores.  Lanes of water
extended here and there, and sometimes, by the good fortune of a gale,
a great sheet of open sea with blue tossing waves gladdened the heart
of the {115} sailor.  Through this region somewhere a water-way must
exist from east to west.  The currents of the sea and the drift-wood
that they carried proved it beyond a doubt.  Exploration had almost
proved it also.  Ships and boats had made their way from Bering Strait
to the Coppermine.  North of this they had gone from Baffin Bay through
Lancaster Sound and on westward to a great sea called Melville Sound, a
body of water larger than the Irish Sea.  The two lines east and west
overlapped widely.  All that was needed now was to find a channel north
and south to connect the two.  This done, the North-West Passage, the
will-o'-the-wisp of three hundred and fifty years, had been found.

A glance at the map will make clear the instructions given to Sir John
Franklin.  He was to go into the Arctic by way of Baffin Bay, and to
proceed westward along the parallel of 74° 15' north latitude, which
would take him through the already familiar waters of Lancaster Sound
and Barrow Strait, leading into Melville Sound.  This line he was to
follow as far as Cape Walker in longitude 98°, from which point it was
known that waters were to be found leading southward.  Beyond this
position Franklin was left to his own {116} discretion, his
instructions being merely to penetrate to the southward and westward in
a course as direct to Bering Strait as the position of the land and the
condition of the ice should allow.

The _Erebus_ and the _Terror_ sailed from England on June 19, 1845.
The officers and sailors who manned their decks were the very pick of
the Royal Navy and the merchant service, men inured to the perils of
the northern ocean, and trained in the fine discipline of the service.
Captain Crozier of the _Terror_ was second in command.  He had been
with Ross in the Antarctic.  Commander Fitzjames, Lieutenants
Fairholme, Gore and others were tried and trained men.  The ships were
so heavily laden with coal and supplies that they lay deep in the
water.  Every inch of stowage had been used, and even the decks were
filled up with casks.  A transport sailed with them across the Atlantic
carrying further supplies.  Thus laden they made their way to the Whale
Fish Islands, near Disco, on the west coast of Greenland.  Here the
transport unloaded its stores and set sail for England.  It carried
with it five men of Franklin's company, leaving one hundred and
twenty-nine in the ill-fated expedition.


The ships put out from the coast of Greenland on, or about, July 12,
1845, to make their way across Baffin Bay to Lancaster Sound, a
distance of two hundred and twenty miles.  In these waters are found
the great floes of ice which Davis had first seen, called by Arctic
explorers the 'middle ice.'  The _Erebus_ and the _Terror_ spent a
fortnight in attempting to make the passage across, and here they were
seen for the last time at sea.  A whaling ship, the _Prince of Wales_,
sighted the two vessels on July 26.  A party of Franklin's officers
rowed over to the ship and carried an invitation to the master to dine
with Sir John on the next day.  But the boat had hardly returned when a
fine breeze sprang up, and with a clear sea ahead the _Erebus_ and the
_Terror_ were put on their course to the west without even taking time
to forward letters to England.

Thus the two ships vanished into the Arctic ice, never to be seen of
Englishmen again.  The summer of 1845 passed; no news came: the winter
came and passed away; the spring and summer of 1846, and still no
message.  England, absorbed in political struggles at home--the Corn
Law Repeal and the vexed question of Ireland--had still no anxiety over
Franklin.  No message could have come except {118} by the chance of a
whaling ship or in some roundabout way through the territories of the
Hudson's Bay Company, after all but a slender chance.  The summer of
1846 came and went and then another winter, and now with the opening of
the new year, 1847, the first expression of apprehension began to be
heard.  It was remembered how deeply laden the ships had been.  The
fear arose that perhaps they had foundered with all hands in the open
waters of Baffin Bay, leaving no trace behind.  Even the naval men
began to shake their heads.  Captain Sir John Ross wrote to the
Admiralty to express his fear that Franklin's ships had been frozen in
in such a way that their return was impossible.  The Admiralty took
advice.  The question was gravely discussed with the leading Arctic
seamen of the day.  It was decided that until two years had elapsed
from the time of departure (May 1845 to May 1847) no measures need be
taken for the relief of the _Erebus_ and the _Terror_.  The date came
and passed.  Anxiety was deepening.  The Admiralty decided to act.
Great stores of pemmican, some eight tons, together with suitable boats
and experienced crews, were sent in June 1847 to Hudson Bay, ready for
an expedition along the northern coast.  A ship {119} was sent with
supplies to meet Franklin in Bering Strait, and two more vessels were
strengthened and equipped to be ready to follow on the track of the
_Erebus_ and the _Terror_ in 1848.  As this last year advanced and
winter passed into summer, a shudder of apprehension was felt
throughout the nation.  It was felt now that some great disaster had
happened, or even now was happening.  It was known that Franklin's
expedition had carried food for at best three years: the three years
had come and gone.  Franklin's men, if anywhere alive, must be
suffering all the horrors of starvation in the frozen fastness of the

We may imagine the awful pictures that rose up before the imagination
of the friends and relatives, the wives and children, of the one
hundred and twenty-nine gallant men who had vanished in the _Erebus_
and the _Terror_--visions of ships torn and riven by the heaving ice,
of men foodless and shelterless in the driving snow, looking out vainly
from the bleak shores of some rocky coast for the help that never
came--awful pictures indeed, yet none more awful than the grim reality.

A generous frenzy seized upon the nation.  The cry went up from the
heart of the people that Franklin must be found; he and his men {120}
must be rescued--they would not speak of them as dead.  Ships must be
sent out with all the equipment that science could devise and the
wealth of a generous nation could supply.  Ships were sent out.  Year
after year ships fought their way from Baffin Bay to the islands of the
north.  Ships sailed round the distant Horn and through the Pacific to
Bering Strait.  Down the Mackenzie and the great rivers of the north,
the canoes of the voyageurs danced in the rapids and were paddled
swiftly over the wider stretches of moving water.  Over the frozen snow
the sledges toiled against the storm.  And still no word of Franklin,
till all the weary outline of the frozen coast was traced in their
wanderings: till twenty-one thousand miles of Arctic sea and shore had
been tracked out.  Thus the great epic of the search for Franklin ran
slowly to its close.  With each year the hope that was ever deferred
made the heart sick.  Anxiety deepened into dread, and even dread gave
way to the cruel certainty of despair.  Not till twelve years had
passed was the search laid aside: not until, little by little, the
evidence was found that told all that we know of the fate of the
_Erebus_ and the _Terror_.

First in the field was Richardson, the gallant {121} friend and comrade
of Franklin's former journeys.  He would not believe that Franklin had
failed.  He knew too well the temper of the man.  Franklin had been
instructed to strike southward from the Arctic seas to the American
coast.  On that coast he would be found.  Thither went Sir John
Richardson, taking with him a man of like metal to himself, one John
Rae, a Hudson's Bay man, fashioned in the north.  Down the Mackenzie
they went and then eastward along the coast searching for traces of the
_Erebus_ and the _Terror_.  For two years they searched, tracing their
way from the Mackenzie to the Coppermine.  But no vestige of Franklin
did they find.  The queen's ships were searching too.  Sir James Ross,
with the _Enterprise_ and the _Investigator_, went into Lancaster
Sound.  The _Plover_ and the _Herald_ went to Bering Strait.  The
_North Star_ went in at Wolstenholme Sound.  The _Resolute_, the
_Assistance_, the _Sophia_--a very flock of admiralty ships--spread
their white wings for the Arctic seas.  The Hudson's Bay Company sent
Sir John Ross, a tried explorer, in the yacht _Felix_.  Lady Franklin,
the sorrow-stricken wife of the lost commander, sent out Captain
Forsyth in the _Prince Albert_.  One Robert Spedden sailed his private
yacht, the {122} _Nancy Dawson_, in through Bering Strait; and Henry
Grinnell of New York (be his name honoured), sent out two expeditions
at his own charge.  By water and overland there went out, between 1847
and 1851, no less than twenty-one expeditions searching for the
_Erebus_ and the _Terror_.

Thus passed six years from the time when Franklin sailed out of the
Thames, and still no trace, no vestige had been found to tell the story
of his fate.  Then at last news came, the first news of the _Erebus_
and the _Terror_ since they were sighted by the whaling ship in 1845.
The news in a way was neither good nor bad.  But it showed that at
least the melancholy forebodings of those who said that the heavily
laden ships must have foundered before they reached the Arctic were
entirely mistaken.  Captain Penny, master of the _Lady Franklin_, had
sailed under Admiralty orders in 1850, and had followed on the course
laid down in Franklin's instructions.  He returned in 1851, bringing
news that on Beechey Island, a little island lying on the north side of
Barrow Strait, he had found the winter quarters that must have been
occupied by the expedition in 1845-46, the first winter after its
departure.  There were the remains of a large storehouse, {123} a
workshop and an observatory; a blacksmith's forge was found, with many
coal bags and cinders lying about, and odds and ends of all sorts,
easily identified as coming from the lost ships.  Most ominous of all
was the discovery of over six hundred empty cans that had held
preserved meat, the main reliance of the expedition.  These were found
regularly piled in little mounds.  The number of them was far greater
than Franklin's men would have consumed during the first winter, and,
to make the conclusion still clearer, the preparation was of a brand of
which the Admiralty since 1845 had been compelled to destroy great
quantities, owing to its having turned putrid in the tins.  It was
plain that the food supply of the _Erebus_ and the _Terror_ must have
been seriously depleted, and the dangers of starvation have set in long
before three years were completed.

Three graves were found on Beechey Island with head-boards marking the
names and ages of three men of the crew who had died in the winter.
Near a cape of the island was a cairn built of stone.  It was evidently
intended to hold the records of the expedition.  Yet, strange to say,
neither in the cairn nor anywhere about it was a single document to be


The greatest excitement now prevailed.  Hope ran high that at least
some survivors of the men of the _Erebus_ and the _Terror_ might be
found, even if the ships themselves had been lost.  The Admiralty
redoubled its efforts.  Already Captains Collinson and M'Clure had been
sent out (in 1850) to sail round the Horn, and were on their way into
the Arctic region via Bering Strait.  To these were now added a
squadron under Captain Sir Edward Belcher consisting of the
_Assistance_ with a steam tender named the _Pioneer_, the _Resolute_
with its tender the _Intrepid_, and the _North Star_.  Stations were to
be made at Beechey Island and at two other points in the region now
indicated as the scene of Sir John Franklin's operations.  From these
sledge and boat parties were to be sent out in all directions.  At the
same time Lady Franklin dispatched the _Albert_ under Captain Kennedy
and Lieutenant Bellot, an officer of the French navy who had given his
services to the cause.

Once again hope was doomed to disappointment.  The story of the
expeditions was an almost unbroken record of disaster.  Captain
M'Clure, in the _Investigator_, separated from his consort, and
vanished into the northern ice; for three years nothing was heard of
his vessel.  {125} The gallant Bellot, attempting to carry dispatches
over the ice, sealed his devotion with his life.  Belcher's ships the
_Assistance_ and the _Resolute_, with their two tenders, froze fast in
the ice.  Despite the earnest protests of some of his officers, Belcher
abandoned them, and, in the end, was able to return home.  The
Admiralty had to face the loss of four good ships with large quantities
of stores.  It had been better perhaps had they remained lost.  One of
the abandoned ships, the _Resolute_, its hatches battened down, floated
out of the ice, and was found by an American whaler, masterless,
tossing in the open waters of Baffin Bay.  Belcher may have been right
in abandoning his ships to save the crews, but his judgment and even
his courage were severely questioned, and unhappy bitterness was
introduced where hitherto there had been nothing but the record of
splendid endeavour and mutual help.  The only bright spot was seen in
the achievement of Captain, afterwards Sir Robert, M'Clure, who
reappeared with his crew safe and sound after four winters in the
Arctic.  He had made his way in the _Investigator_ (1850 to 1853) from
Bering Strait to within sight of Melville Sound.  He had spent three
winters in the ice, the last two years in one and the same spot, {126}
fast frozen, to all appearances, for ever.  With supplies dangerously
low and his crew weakened by exposure and privation, M'Clure
reluctantly left his ship.  He and his men fortunately reached the
ships of Sir Edward Belcher, having thus actually made the North-West

The disasters of 1853-54 cast a deeper gloom than ever over the search
for Franklin.  Moreover, the rising clouds in the East and presently
the outbreak of the Crimean War prevented further efforts.  Ships and
men were needed elsewhere than in the northern seas.  It began to look
as if failure was now final, and that nothing more could be done.
Following naval precedent, a court-martial had been held to investigate
the action of Captain Sir Edward Belcher.  'The solemn silence,' wrote
Captain M'Clure afterwards, 'with which the venerable president of the
court returned Captain Belcher his sword, with a bare acquittal, best
conveyed the painful feelings which wrung the hearts of all
professional men upon that occasion; and all felt that there was no
hope of the mystery of Franklin's fate being cleared up in our time
except by some unexpected miracle.'

The unexpected happened.  Strangely enough, {127} it was just at this
juncture that a letter sent by Dr John Rae from the Hudson Bay country
brought to England the first authentic news of the fate of Franklin's
men.  Rae had been sent overland from the north-west shores of Hudson
Bay to the coast of the Arctic at the point where the Back or Great
Fish river runs in a wide estuary to the sea.  He had wintered on the
isthmus (now called after him) which separates Regent's Inlet from
Repulse Bay, and in the spring of 1854 had gone westward with sledges
towards the mouth of the Back.  On his way he fell in with Eskimos, who
told him that several years before a party of about forty white men had
been seen hauling a boat and sledges over the ice.  This was on the
west side of the island called King William's Land.  None of the men,
so the savages said, could speak to them in their own language; but
they made signs to show that they had lost their ships, and that they
were trying to make their way to where deer could be found.  All the
men looked thin, and the Eskimos thought they had very little food.
They had bought some seal's flesh from the savages.  They hauled their
sledges and the boat along with drag-ropes, at which all were tugging
except one very tall big man, who seemed to be a chief and {128} walked
by himself.  Later on in the same season, so the Eskimos said, they had
found the bodies of a lot of men lying on the ice, and had seen some
graves and five dead bodies on an island at the mouth of a river.  Some
of the bodies were lying in tents.  The big boat had been turned over
as if to make a shelter, and under it were dead men.  One that lay on
the island was the body of the chief; he had a telescope strapped over
his shoulders, and his gun lay underneath him.  The savages told Dr Rae
that they thought that the last survivors of the white men must have
been feeding on the dead bodies, as some of these were hacked and
mutilated and there was flesh in the kettles.  There were signs that
some of the party might have escaped; for on the ground there were
fresh bones and feathers of geese, showing that the men were still
alive when the wild fowl came north, which would be about the end of
May.  There was a quantity of gunpowder and ammunition lying around,
and the Eskimos thought that they had heard shots in the neighbourhood,
though they had seen no living men, but only the corpses on the ice.  A
great number of relics--telescopes, guns, compasses, spoons, forks, and
so on--were gathered by the natives, and of these Dr Rae {129}
forwarded a large quantity to England.  They left no doubt as to the
identity of the unfortunate victims.  There was a small silver plate
engraved 'Sir John Franklin, K.C.B.', and a spoon with a crest and the
initials F.R.M.C. (those of Captain Crozier), and a great number of
articles easily recognized as coming from the _Erebus_ and the _Terror_.

One may well imagine the intense interest which Dr Rae's discoveries
aroused in England.  Rae had been unable, it is true, to make his way
to the actual scene of the disaster as described by the Eskimos, but it
was now felt that at last certain tidings had been received of the
death of Franklin and his men.  Dr Rae and his party received the ten
thousand pounds which the government had offered to whosoever should
bring correct news of the fate of the expedition.

In all except a few hearts hope was now abandoned.  It was felt that
all were dead.  Anxious though the government was to obtain further
details of the tragedy, it was not thought proper at such a national
crisis as the Crimean War to dispatch more ships to the Arctic.
Something, however, was done.  A chief factor of the Hudson's Bay
Company, named Anderson, was sent overland in 1855 to explore {130} the
mouth of the Back river.  He found in and around Montreal Island, at
the mouth of the river, numerous relics of the disaster.  A large
quantity of chips and shavings seemed to indicate the place where the
savages had broken up the boat.  But no documents or papers were found
nor any bodies of the dead.  Anderson had no interpreter, and could
only communicate by signs with the savages whom he found alone on the
island.  But he gathered from them that the white men had all died for
want of food.

For two years nothing more was done.  Then, as the war cloud passed
away, the unsolved mystery began again to demand solution.  Some faint
hope too struggled to life.  It was argued that perhaps some of the
white men were still alive.  The imagination conjured up a ghastly
picture of a few survivors, still alive when, with the coming of the
wild fowl, life and warmth returned.  With what horror must they have
turned their backs upon the hideous scene of their sufferings, leaving
the dead as they lay, and preferring to leave unwritten the chronicle
of an experience too awful to relate.  There, penned in between the
barren grounds and the sea, they might have somehow continued to live:
there they might still be found.


It was through the personal efforts of Lady Franklin, who devoted
thereto the last remnant of her fortune, that the final expedition was
sent out in 1857.  The yacht _Fox_ was commanded by Captain M'Clintock.
He had already spent many years in the Arctic.  Touched by the poignant
grief of Lady Franklin, he gave his service gratuitously in a last
effort to trace the fate of the missing men.  Other officers gave their
services and even money to the search.  The little _Fox_ sailed in
1857, to search the waters between Beechey Island and the mouth of the
Back.  When she returned to England two years later she brought back
with her the first, and the last, direct information ever received from
the _Erebus_ and the _Terror_.  In a cairn on the west coast of King
William's Island was found a document placed there from Franklin's
ships.  It was dated May 28, 1847 (two years after the ships left
England).  It read: 'H.M. Ships _Erebus_ and _Terror_ wintered in the
ice lat. 70° 5' N. long., 98° 23' west, having wintered in 1845-46 at
Beechey Island after having ascended Wellington Channel to Lat. 77° and
returned by the west side of Cornwallis Island.  Sir John Franklin
commanding the expedition.  All well.'


This showed that Franklin had, as already gathered, explored the
channels west and north from Lancaster Sound, and finding no way
through had wintered on Beechey Island (1845-46).  Striking south from
there his ships had been caught in the open ice-pack, where they had
passed their second winter.  At the time of writing, Franklin must have
been looking eagerly forward to their coming liberation and the
prosecution of their discoveries towards the American coast.

But the document did not end there.  It had evidently been placed in
the cairn in May of 1847; a year later the cairn had been reopened and
to the document a note had been appended, written in fine writing round
the edge of the original.  The torn edge of the paper leaves part of
the date missing.  It runs '... 848.  H.M. Ships _Erebus_ and _Terror_
were deserted on the 22 of April, 5 leagues NNW. of this ... been beset
since 12th Sept. 1846.  The officers and crews consisting of 105 souls
under the command ... tain F. R. M. Crozier landed here in Lat. 69° 37'
42" Long. 98° 41'.'

No words could convey better than these simple lines the full horror of
the disaster: two winters frozen in the ice-pack till the {133} lack of
food and the imminence of starvation compelled the officers and men to
leave the ships long before the summer season and try to make their way
over ice and snow to the south!  And Franklin?  The other edge of the
paper contained in the same writing a note that ran: 'Sir John Franklin
died on the 11th June 1847 and the total loss by death to the
expedition has been to date 9 officers and 14 men.  F. R. M. Crozier,
Captain and Senior Officer.  James Fitzjames, Captain H.M.S.
_Erebus_.'  At one corner of the paper are the final words that, taken
along with the stories of the Eskimos, explained the last chapter of
the tragedy--'and start to-morrow 26th for Back's Fish River.'

M'Clintock did all that could be done.  He and his party traced out the
coast on both sides of King William's Island, and, having reached the
mouth of the Back river, he traced the course of Crozier and his
perishing companions step by step backwards over the scene of the
disaster.  The Eskimos whom he met told him of the freezing in of the
two great ships: how the white men had abandoned them and walked over
the ice: how one ship had been crushed in the ice a few months later
and had gone down: and how the other ship {134} had lain a wreck for
years and years beside the coast of King William's Island.  One aged
woman who had visited the scene told M'Clintock's party that there had
been on the wrecked ship the dead body of a tall man with long teeth
and large bones.

The searchers themselves found more direct testimony still.  A few
miles south of Cape Herschel lay the skeleton of one of Franklin's men,
outstretched on the ground, just as he had fallen on the fatal march,
the head pointing towards the Back river.  At another point there was
found a boat with two corpses in it, the one lying in the stern
carefully covered as if by the act of his surviving comrade, the other
lying in the bow, two loaded muskets standing upright beside the body.
A great number of relics that marked the path of Crozier's men were
found along the shore of King William's Island.  In one place a
plundered cairn was discovered.  But, strangely enough, no document or
writing to tell anything of the fate of the survivors after they
started on their last march.  That all perished by the way there can be
little doubt.  But it is altogether probable that before the final
catastrophe overtook them they had endeavoured to place somewhere a
record of their achievements and their {135} sufferings.  Such a record
may still lie buried among the stones of the desolate region where they
died, and it may well be that some day the chance discovery of an
explorer will bring it to light.  But it can tell us little more than
we already know by inference of the tragic but inspiring disaster that
overwhelmed the men of the _Erebus_ and the _Terror_.




It is no part of the present narrative to follow in detail the
explorations and discoveries made in the polar seas in recent times.
After the great episode of the loss of Franklin, and the search for his
ships, public interest in the North-West Passage may be said to have
ended.  The journey made by Sir Robert M'Clure and his men, after
abandoning their ship, had proved that such a water-way existed, but
the knowledge of the northern regions acquired in the attempt to find
the survivors of the _Erebus_ and the _Terror_ made it clear that the
passage was valueless, not merely for commerce, but even for the uses
of exploration.  For the time being a strong reaction set in, and
popular opinion condemned any further expenditure of life and money in
the frozen regions of the Arctic.  But, although the sensational aspect
of northern discovery had thus largely disappeared, a new incentive
{137} began to make itself increasingly felt; the progress of physical
science, the rapid advance in the knowledge of electricity and
magnetism, and the rise of the science of biology were profoundly
altering the whole outlook of the existing generation towards the globe
that they inhabited.  The sea itself, like everything else, became an
object of scientific study.  Its currents and its temperature, its
relation to the land masses which surrounded it, acquired a new
importance in the light of geological and physical research.  The polar
waters offered a fruitful field for the new investigations.  In place
of the adventurous explorers of Frobisher's day, searching for fabled
empires and golden cities, there appeared in the seas of the north the
inquisitive man of science, eagerly examining the phenomena of sea and
sky, to add to the stock of human knowledge.  Very naturally there grew
up under such conditions an increasing desire to reach the Pole itself,
and to test whether the theoretical conclusions of the astronomer were
borne out by the actual observations of one standing upon the apex of
the spinning earth.  The attempt to reach the Pole became henceforth
the great preoccupation of Arctic discovery.  From this time on the
story of what has been done in {138} the northern seas belongs not to
Canada but to the world at large.  The voyages of such men as
Frobisher, Davis and Hudson, and the journeys of men like Hearne and
Mackenzie led to the opening up of this vast country and belong to
Canadian history.  But in recent Arctic discovery the point of interest
had never been found in the lands about the northern seas, but only in
the Arctic ocean itself and in the effort to penetrate farther and
farther north.  Little by little this effort was rewarded.  A series of
intrepid explorers forced their way onward until at last the Pole
itself was reached and the frozen North had yielded up its hollow

The struggle to reach the Pole was the form in which Arctic exploration
came to life again after the paralysing effect of the Franklin tragedy.
Some of the Franklin relief expeditions had reached very high
latitudes, and, shortly after the great tragedy, the exploring ships of
Dr Kane and Dr Hayes, and the _Polaris_ under Captain Hall, had all
passed the eightieth parallel and been within less than ten degrees of
the Pole.  The idea grew that there might be an open polar sea,
navigable at times to the very apex of the world.  In 1875 the _Alert_
and the _Discovery_, two ships of the British Navy, {139} were sent out
with the express purpose of reaching the North Pole.  They sailed up
the narrow waters that separate Greenland from the large islands lying
west of it.  The _Alert_ wintered as far north as latitude 82° 24'.  A
sledge party that was sent out under Captain Markham went as far as
latitude 83° 20', and the expedition returned with the proud
distinction of having carried its flag northward beyond all previous
explorations.  But other nations were not to lag behind.  An American
expedition (1881) under Lieutenant Greeley, carried on the exploration
of the extreme north of Greenland and of the interior of Grinnell Land
that lies west of it.  Two of Greeley's men, Lieutenant Lockwood and a
companion, followed the Greenland coast northward in a sledge and
passed Markham's latitude, reaching 83° 24' north, which remained for
many years as the highest point attained.  Greeley's expedition became
the subject of a tragedy almost comparable to the great Franklin
disaster.  The vessels sent with supplies failed to reach their
destination.  For four years Greeley and his men remained in the Arctic
regions.  Of the twenty-three men in the party only six were found
alive when Captain Schley of the United States Navy at last brought


After the Greeley expedition the fight towards the Pole was carried on
by a series of gallant explorers, none of whom, strange to narrate,
were British.  Commander R. E. Peary, of the United States Navy, came
prominently before the world as an Arctic navigator in the last decade
of the nineteenth century.  In 1892 he crossed northern Greenland in
the extreme latitude of 81° 37', a feat of the highest order.

Still more striking was the work of Dr Fridtjof Nansen, which attracted
the attention of the whole world.  Nansen had devoted profound study to
the question of the northern drift of the polar waters.  It had often
been observed that drift-wood and wreckage seemed, in many places, to
float towards the Pole.  Trees that fall in the Siberian forests and
float down the great rivers to the northern sea are frequently found
washed up on the shores of Greenland, having apparently passed over the
Pole itself.  A strong current flows northward through Bering Strait,
and it is a matter of record that an American vessel, the _Jeanette_,
which stuck fast in the ice near Wrangel Land in 1879, drifted slowly
northward with the ice for two years, and made its way in this fashion
some four hundred miles towards the {141} Pole.  Dr Nansen formed the
bold design of carrying a ship under steam into one of the currents of
the Far North, allowing it to freeze in, and then trusting to the polar
drift to do the rest.  The adventures of Nansen and his men in this
enterprise are so well known as scarcely to need recital.  A stout
wooden vessel of four hundred tons, the _Fram_ (or the _Forwards_), was
specially constructed to withstand the grip of the polar ice.  In 1893
she sailed from Norway and made her way by the Kara Sea to the New
Siberian Islands.  In October, the _Fram_ froze into the ice and there
she remained for three years, drifting slowly forwards in the heart of
the vast mass.  Her rudder and propeller were unshipped and taken
inboard, her engine was taken to pieces and packed away, while on her
deck a windmill was erected to generate electric power.  In this
situation, snugly on board their stout ship, Nansen and his crew
settled down into the unbroken night of the Arctic winter.  The ice
that surrounded them was twelve feet thick, and escape from it, even
had they desired it, would have been impossible.  They watched eagerly
the direction of their drift, worked out by observation of the stars.
For the first few weeks, propelled by northern winds, the _Fram_ moved
southwards.  Then {142} slowly the northern current began to make
itself felt, but during the whole of this first winter the _Fram_ only
moved a few miles onward towards her goal.  All the next summer the
ship remained fast frozen and drifted about two hundred miles.  With
her rate of progress and direction, Nansen reckoned that she would
reach, not the Pole, but Spitzbergen, and would take four and a half
years more to do it.  All through the next winter the _Fram_ moved
slowly northwards and westwards.  In the spring of 1895 she was still
about five hundred miles from the Pole, and her present path would miss
it by about three hundred and fifty miles.  Nansen resolved upon an
enterprise unparalleled in hardihood.  He resolved to take with him a
single companion, to leave the _Fram_ and to walk over the ice to the
Pole, and thence as best he might to make his way, not back to his ship
again (for that was impossible), but to the nearest known land.  The
whole distance to be covered was almost a thousand miles.  Dr Nansen
and Lieutenant Johansen left the _Fram_ on March 13, 1895, to make this
attempt.  They failed in their enterprise.  To struggle towards the
Pole over the pack-ice, at times reared in rough hillocks and at times
split with lanes of open water, proved {143} a feat beyond the power of
man.  Nansen and his companion got as far as latitude 86° 13', a long
way north of all previous records.  By sheer pluck and endurance they
managed to make their way southward again.  They spent the winter on an
Arctic island in a hut of stone and snow, and in June of the next year
(1896) at last reached Franz Joseph Land, where they fell in with a
British expedition.  They reached Norway in time to hear the welcome
news that the _Fram_, after a third winter in the ice, had drifted into
open sea again and had just come safely into port.

Equally glorious, but profoundly tragic, was the splendid attempt of
Professor Andrée to reach the Pole in a balloon, which followed on the
heels of Nansen's enterprise.  Andrée, who was a professor in the
Technical School at Stockholm, had been for some years interested in
the rising science of aerial navigation.  He judged that by this means
a way might be found to the Pole where all else failed.  By the
generous aid of the king of Sweden, Baron Dickson and others, he had a
balloon constructed in Paris which represented the very latest progress
towards the mastery of the air, in the days before the aeroplane and
the light-weight motor had opened a new chapter in {144} history.
Andrée's balloon was made of 3360 pieces of silk sewn together with
three miles of seams.  It contained 158,000 cubic feet of hydrogen; it
carried beneath it a huge wicker basket that served as a sort of house
for Andrée and his companions, and to the netting of this were lashed
provisions, sledges, frame boats, and other appliances to meet the
needs of the explorers if their balloon was wrecked on the northern
ice.  There was no means of propulsion, but three heavy guide ropes,
trailing on the ground, afforded a feeble and uncertain control.  The
whole reliance of Andrée was placed, consciously and with full
knowledge of the consequences, on the possibility that a strong and
favouring wind might carry him across the Pole.  The balloon was taken
on shipboard to Spitzbergen and there inflated in a tall shed built for
the purpose.  Andrée was accompanied by two companions, Strindberg and
Fraenkel.  On July 11, 1897, the balloon was cast loose, and, with a
southerly wind and bright sky, it was seen to vanish towards the north.
It is known, from a message sent by a pigeon, that two days later all
was well and the balloon still moving towards its goal.  Since then no
message or token has ever been found to tell us the fate of the three
brave men, and {145} the names of Andrée and his companions are added
to the long list of those who have given their lives for the
advancement of human knowledge.

With the opening of the present century the progress of polar
exploration was rapid.  Peary continued his explorations towards the
north of Greenland, and, in 1906, by reaching latitude 87° 6', he
wrested from Nansen the coveted record of Farthest North.  At the same
time Captain Sverdrup (the commander of the _Fram_), the Duke of the
Abruzzi and many others were carrying out scientific expeditions in
polar waters.  The voyage made in 1904 by Captain Roald Amundsen, a
Norwegian, later on to be world-famous as the discoverer of the South
Pole, is of especial interest, for he succeeded in carrying his little
ship from the Atlantic to the Pacific by way of Bering Strait--the only
vessel that has ever actually made the North-West Passage.  But the
great prize fell to Captain Peary.  On September 6, 1909, the world
thrilled with the announcement that Peary had reached the Pole.  His
ship, the _Roosevelt_, had sailed in the summer of 1908.  Peary
wintered at Etah in the north of Greenland, and in the ensuing year,
accompanied by Captain Bartlett with five white men and {146} seventeen
Eskimos, he set out to reach the Pole by sledge.  By arrangement,
Peary's companions accompanied him a certain distance carrying
supplies, and then turned back in successive parties.  The final dash
for the Pole was made by the commander himself, accompanied only by a
negro servant and four Eskimos.  On April 6, 1909, they reached the
Pole and hoisted there the flag of the United States.  To make doubly
certain of their discovery, Peary and his men went some ten miles
beyond the Pole, and eight miles in a lateral direction.  They saw
nothing but ice about them, and no indication of the neighbourhood of
any land.



For the earlier voyages of the English to the Northern seas the first
and principal authority is, of course, the famous collection of
contemporary narratives gathered together by Richard Hakluyt under the
title, _Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques, and Discoveries of
the English Nation_.  Here the reader will find accounts of the
enterprises of Frobisher, Davis, and others as written by members of
the expeditions and persons closely connected therewith.  An
interesting presentation of the exploits of Hudson, as revealed in
original documents, is found in _Henry Hudson, the Navigator_,
published by the Hakluyt Society.  The journal of Samuel Hearne,
together with many maps and much interesting material, is to be found
among the publications of the Champlain Society, (Toronto, 1911) ably
edited and annotated by the well-known explorer Mr J. B. Tyrrell.
Alexander Mackenzie's own account of his voyages is a classic, and is
readily accessible in public libraries.  An account of Mackenzie's
career is found in the 'Makers of Canada' series.  Sir John Franklin
left behind him a very graphic description of his first journey to the
polar seas, to which {148} reference has already been made in the text.
For the story of the loss of Franklin and the search for his missing
ships the reader may best consult the works of Sir John Richardson, and
others who participated in the events of the period.

See also in this series: _The Adventurers of England on Hudson Bay_.



Amundsen, Captain Roald, makes the North-West Passage, 145.

Anderson, of the Hudson's Bay Company, finds traces of the Franklin
expedition, 129-30.

Andrée, Prof., his attempt to reach the North Pole in a balloon ends in
tragedy, 143-5.

Arctic seas, the short way to India and China by, 5-7.

Athabaska, Lake, geographical position of, 73.

Athabaska river, 66.

Back, Admiral Sir George, with Franklin, 95, 100, 101, 104; rescues
Franklin, 107; explores Backs river, 111.

Baffin, William, and the North-West Passage, 32.

Baffin Island, Frobisher's experiences on, 12-14.

Belcher, Captain Sir Edward, in the search for the Franklin expedition,
124; abandons his ships, 125; court-martial on, 126.

Bellot, Lieut, of the French navy, sacrifices his life in the search
for Franklin, 124, 125.

Buchan, Captain, and expedition to the North Pole, 93.

Cabot, Sebastian, and the North-West Passage, 5, 6.

Canada, the Far North of, a description, 1-2, 26-7; resources of, 37-8,
87; barren grounds, 40-1, 46, 55-7; a geographical problem in, 71.

Cartier, Jacques, 4, 5.

Chawchinahaw, an  Indian chief, treachery of, 40-2.

Company of the North, hostility to Hudson's Bay Company, 36.

Cook, Captain, and the Arctic seas, 70.

Copper in the Far North, 37; attempts to find, and disastrous fate of
the expedition, 38; found by Hearne, 63.

Coppermine river, attempts to reach, 38, 39; Hearne at, 58; Franklin
at, 96, 100.

Crozier, Captain, with Franklin, 116; fate of, 129, 132-4.

Cumberland House, Franklin at, 95.

Davis, John, his voyages in search of the North-West Passage, 23-31.

Dubawnt Lake, description of, 46.

Elizabeth,  Queen, voyages under, 7; honours Frobisher, 11.

English Chief, an Indian with Mackenzie, 75, 84.

'Erebus' and 'Terror' in Franklin's ill-fated expedition, 112, 116;
last seen, 117; last news of and fate, 131, 132-4.

Eskimos, conflicts with explorers, 13-14, 16; trade with, 25, 28; Davis
on, 28-30; relations with the Indians, 56-7; attacked and massacred,
58-61, 62; and fate of the Franklin expedition, 127-8.

Fitzjames, Captain James, with the Franklin expedition, 116, 133.

Fort Chipewyan erected, 74, 78; Franklin at, 95.

Fort Churchill, trade at, 38.

Fort Enterprise, Franklin winters in, 96; a tragic episode, 103-7.

Fort Prince of Wales, expeditions from, 40, 42, 51, 68.

Fort Providence, Franklin at, 95.

Fox, Luke, and the North-West Passage, 32; and Hudson Bay, 34.

'Fram,' the, and Nansen's theory, 141-3.

Franklin, Sir John, early training, 91; first Arctic voyage, 93-4;
second, 94; inland journeys, 64, 95-6; a winter at Fort Enterprise,
97-8; traces Arctic coast in canoe, 98; tragic journey back by land to
Fort Enterprise, 99-104; terrible experiences, 104-7; third expedition,
109-110; last and fatal expedition, 89, 113-17; fate of, 127-9.

Franklin, Lady, her devotion, 90; sends in search of Franklin
expedition, 121, 124, 131.

Franklin expedition, the, apprehension in Britain concerning, 118-19;
search for, 121-6; news of, 122-3, 127-8, 129-30; tragic records of,

Frobisher, Sir Martin, voyages in search of the North-West Passage,
10-14, 15-23.

Fur trade, effect of on Arctic exploration, 35.

Gilbert, Sir Humphrey, and the North-West Passage, 8-10.

Gold, search for in Arctic regions, 14, 17, 18, 20.

Great Bear river, Mackenzie on, 80, 87.

Great Slave Lake, description of, 66, 77.

Greeley, Lieut., his attempt to reach the North Pole, 139.

Greenland, or Frisland, 7, 11; Land of Desolation, 23,

Hearne, Samuel, joins the Hudson's Bay Company, 39; expeditions to
Coppermine river, 40-1, 42-51, 51-63, 65-8; and Admiral La Pérouse, 68.

Hepburn, a sailor with Franklin, 95, 101, 102, 103.

Hood, Lieut., with Franklin, 95, 100, 101; his tragic death, 102.

Hudson, Henry, and the North-West Passage, 31-2.

Hudson Bay explored, 34; convenience of for fur trade, 35; conflicts
between French and English in, 36.

Hudson's Bay Company founded, 35; objects of, 36; search for copper,
37-8; development, 72.

Indians, their treachery, 41, 45; troubles with, 47, 48; designs
against Eskimos, 56-7, 58-61; shyness of, 79; terror of the Far North,

Indian women, an Indian's estimate of, 53.

Kelsey, Henry, inland journey of, 37.

Leroux, descends Great Slave river, 75; with Mackenzie, 78, 88.

M'Clintock, Captain, finds last records of the Franklin expedition,

M'Clure, Captain, first to make the North-West Passage, 124, 125-6.

Mackenzie, Alexander, joins North-West Company, 73; journey to the
Arctic ocean by the Mackenzie river, 75-88.

Marble Island, a grim tale of shipwreck at, 38.

Markham, Captain, and the North Pole, 139.

Matonabbee, an Indian chief, succours Hearne, 49; character of, 51;
assists Hearne to reach Coppermine river, 53-4, 56; his opinion of
women, 53.

Meta Incognita, 14, 16; formal landing of Frobisher on, 17; a fort
erected on, 21.

Michel, an Indian with Franklin, feeds on his companions and murders
Lieut. Hood, 102-3.

Muscovy Company, the, and passage to the East by the White Sea, 6;
oppose Frobisher, 10.

Nansen, Dr, attempts to reach the Pole by drifting, 140-3.

North-West Company founded, 72.

North-West Passage, as a road to Asia, 5-8; advantages of, 9; Sir
Humphrey Gilbert on, 8-10; voyages in search of, 11-21, 23-32; the
passage nearly completed, 110-11, 114-115; the passage made, 126, 145.

Norton, Moses, governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, and expeditions to
Coppermine river, 39, 42, 50, 51.

Orkneys, the, savage state of the inhabitants of, 15.

Parry, Sir William, and the North-West Passage, 109, 113.

Peace river, course of, 71, 76.

Peary, Commander R. E., attempts to reach the North Pole, 140;
succeeds, 145-6.

Penny, Captain, finds traces of the Franklin expedition, 122.

Polar seas, a fruitful field for scientific investigation, 137;
Nansen's study of a scientific theory, 140-1.

Pole, North, progress in scientific knowledge creates desire to reach,

Rae, Dr John, and the search for the Franklin expedition, 121, 127-9.

Richardson, Sir John, with Franklin, 95, 97, 100, 101, 102, 109-10;
shoots murderer of Lieutenant Hood, 103; finds Franklin in a parlous
state, 103-7; in search for the Franklin expedition, 120-1.

Ross, Sir James, and the North-West Passage, 111; in search for the
Franklin expedition, 121.

Ross, Sir John, 111, 118, 121.

Simpson, Thomas, and the North-West Passage, 111.

Whale Island, why so named, 86.

Wholdaia Lake, description of, 54-5.

York Factory, Franklin at, 95.

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