The Journey to the Polar Sea

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In days of hurried action I have been astonished at the depth of interest which a re-perusal of this wonderful old narrative has held for me. Wonderful it is in its simplicity and its revelation of the simplicity of character and faith of the man who wrote it. It is old only by comparison—scarcely ninety years have elapsed since the adventures it described were enacted—yet such a period has never held a fuller measure of change or more speedily passed current events into the limbo of the past.

Nothing could more vividly impress this change than the narrative itself. We are told that Mr. Beck missed his ship at Yarmouth but succeeded in rejoining her at Stromness, having travelled "nine successive days almost without rest." What a vision of post-chaises, sweating horses and heavy roads is suggested! And if the contrast with present-day conditions in our own Islands is great, how much greater is it in that vast Dominion through which Franklin directed his pioneer footsteps. As he followed the lonely trails to Fort Cumberland, or sailed along the solitary shores of Lake Winnipeg, how little could he guess that in less than a century a hundred thousand inhabitants would dwell by the shore of the great lake, or that its primeval regions would one day provide largely the bread of his countrymen.

There civilisation has followed fast indeed, and ever it presses forward on the tracks of the pioneer. But even today if we follow Franklin we must come again to the wild—to the great Barren Lands and to the ice-bound limit of a Continent—regions where for ninety years season has succeeded season without change—where few have passed since his day and Nature alone holds sway. For those who would know what IS as well as for those who would know what HAS BEEN, this narrative still holds its original interest; all must appreciate that it records the work of a great traveller and a gallant man whose fame deserves to live.



F.W. Beechey: Voyage of Discovery toward the North Pole in H.M. Ships Dorothea and Trent (with summary of earlier attempts to reach the Pacific by the North) 1818.

Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea, in the Years 1819 to 1822, by John Franklin, 1823, 1824.

Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar Sea in the
Years 1825 to 1827, by John Franklin, 1828.


Report of the Committee appointed by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to inquire into and report on the Recent Arctic Expeditions in search of Sir John Franklin, 1851.

Papers relative to the Recent Arctic Expeditions in search of Sir John
Franklin and the Crews of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror, 1854.

Further Papers relative to the Search, 1855.

R. King, The Franklin Expedition from First to Last, 1855.

R. Huish, Recent Expeditions to the Polar Regions, including all the
Voyages in search of Sir J. Franklin, 1855.

E.K. Kane, Arctic Explorations, the Second Grinnell Expedition in search of Sir John Franklin, 1856....