The discoveries of the expedition under the command of Captain Franklin R.N. near the mouth of the Mackenzie River: and on the sea coast east & west, A.D. 1825-26

http://perec.mcmaster.ca/maps/omeka/artsci3bb3/2016/macrepo_21587.jpg

Dublin Core

Title

The discoveries of the expedition under the command of Captain Franklin R.N. near the mouth of the Mackenzie River: and on the sea coast east & west, A.D. 1825-26

Subject

Arctic regions; Mackenzie River Region (N.W.T.); Great Bear Lake Region (N.W.T.); Northwest Territories

Description

Titled “The discoveries of the expedition under the command of Captain Franklin R.N. near the mouth of the Mackenzie River: and on the sea coast east & west, A.D. 1825-26”, this map illustrates the discoveries made during the 1825-1826 expedition of Captain John Franklin in what is now the Canadian Arctic. John Murray published the map in London, England in 1828, and Edward Nicholas Kendall was the primary cartographer. A combination of printed and cursive text on the lower left of the map contains the title, a brief description of the roles of J. Franklin, E.N. Kendall, G. Back, and J. Richardson during the expedition, and a legend. The legend includes symbols denoting where latitude and longitude were respectively recorded, and these symbols appear throughout the body of the map (as do lines of latitude and longitude). Great Bear Lake is represented on the lower left of the map, the Mackenzie River in the centre, and the ocean coast across the upper portion. While much of the map is comprised of blank space, areas near the Mackenzie River, the shore of Great Bear Lake, and the ocean coast contain details like place names, dates (i.e. “July 7th”), and topography.

Creator

Kendall, Edward Nicholas, 1800-1845 (primary creator); J & C Walker (firm); Franklin, John, 1786-1847; Richardson, John, Sir, 1787-1865; Back, George, Sir, 1796-1878

Publisher

John Murray

Date

1828

Contributor

Elliott Yee

Rights

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License

Relation

Full-sized digital item can be found in McMaster's Digital Archive at: http://digitalarchive.mcmaster.ca/islandora/object/macrepo%3A21587

Format

Map; Colour; 69 x 129cm, on sheet 72 x 131cm; Outlines hand coloured

Language

English

Type

Cartographic

Identifier

RMC_2583

Coverage

North America--Canada--Northwest Territories--Arctic, Mackenzie River, Bear Lake

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Printed map on paper

Physical Dimensions

72 x 131cm

Contributor's Research

Given the physical size of this map, it is easy to overlook any one of its textual details. While the map’s creator draws attention to key elements like Great Bear Lake, the Mackenzie River, and the title itself through the use of large and stylish typefaces, subtler labels contain detailed temporal and spatial information about the experiences of those on the expedition. Among the names of geographic features near the mouth of the Mackenzie River and along the shores of Great Bear Lake, dates are written in very small print. The same dates can be found progressively further apart along the ocean coast (centred about the mouth of the Mackenzie River), suggesting without further information that the expedition was carried out by more than one party. Read in conjunction with Franklin and Richardson’s written account of the expedition, these dates help to elucidate the organizational structure of the expedition by placing its people and events in time and space.
The Arctic expedition in question began in September 1825, when Captain Franklin of the Royal Navy arrived with his men at Fort Franklin on the southwest shore of Great Bear Lake. The group stayed at this camp through the winter, and set off for the Mackenzie River in June 1826 (Delaney). As indicated by dates on the map, the party explored the southern shore of Great Bear Lake from April 10th to April 23rd. While this trip involved the recording of latitude and longitude at sites along the lake, it also produced several qualitative observations. For instance, it is apparent that the party traversed the land between Keith’s and McVicar Bays around April 12th, making note of the “swamps and small lakes”.
At the end of the winter, Franklin and his men set off for the Mackenzie River in four small boats. Reaching the ocean on July 4th, 1826, the group split in two. Captain Franklin’s party was to explore the ocean coast to the west of the mouth of the Mackenzie River, and travelled in two boats called Lion and Reliance. Dr. John Richardson took command of two other boats, Dolphin and Union, and headed east. George Back, himself an officer and artist, accompanied Franklin. E.N. Kendall, who is credited on the map as its compiler, travelled with Richardson (Delaney).
Excluding names of geographic features, the majority of text on the map along the ocean coast describes ice conditions. Written near dates, these descriptions shed light on the challenges the parties of both Franklin and Richardson faced in navigating the partially frozen ocean. Given the map alone, text stating “ice newly broken from the shore” and “unbroken ice” evokes images of a treacherous, ever-changing landscape. Moreover, both Back and Kendall produced detailed illustrations of their respective routes. For instance, one of Kendall’s drawings depicts the crew of the Dolphin attempting to free their boat after it became trapped between two pieces of drifting ice (Delaney). The written account of Franklin and Richardson states that this occurred on August 6th, and this date is found on the easternmost portion of the map, north of Pasley’s Cove (Franklin and Richardson 256). The account of this incident is supplemented by the Richardson party’s map-text description of ice conditions from August 4th to August 5th: “heavy ice with lanes of open water”.
Further details about the expedition’s daily struggles are present in both the map and written account. Richardson describes sleeping in wet clothes following rain in the evening of July 7th, 1826. His group took shelter on the shore that night, and the newly named location of their camp (Refuge Cove) can be found on the map (Franklin and Richardson 204-205). The expedition also had numerous encounters with local inhabitants. Along the route taken by Franklin’s group, “Pt. Pillage” is labeled on the map near the date July 7th. In his account, Franklin describes an encounter with several “Esquimaux” at this location. While these local people took several pieces of equipment from Reliance, says Franklin, the crew exercised great discipline “in abstaining from the use of their arms” (Franklin and Richardson 107). In George Back’s illustrated account of the incident, shirtless “Esquimaux” surround Lion and Reliance with knives raised as Franklin and his men fend them off with long poles (Delaney).
Despite hostile encounters like the one at Pt. Pillage, the map suggests that the local population was largely helpful to the expedition. For instance, the area labeled “Esquimaux Lake” contains text indicating that “Indian report” described the water therein as “brackish”. Moreover, along the routes of both Franklin and Richardson are notes of indigenous encampments. On at least one occasion (as indicated on Herschel Island around July 16th), Franklin’s group conducted an “interview with Esquimaux”.
The map of Franklin’s 1825-1826 expedition, along with ""Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar Sea, in the Years 1825, 1826, and 1827"", provides detailed information about the organizational structure of the journey. Meticulously recorded by Franklin and Richardson, descriptions of routes taken, camps made, and the members of each party serve as valuable resources for those seeking the technical details of the voyage. Additionally, the artwork of Back and Kendall, as well as dates and descriptions on the map itself, produce a story on par with the journey’s contemporary Romantic literature. Temporally and spatially, these resources provide a unique insight into an important period of human exploration.

Delaney, John. “Franklin: 1825-1827.” Of Maps and Men: In Pursuit of a
Northwest Passage. Princeton University Library, 2004. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.

Franklin, John and John Richardson. Narrative of a Second Expedition to the
Shores of the Polar Sea, in the Years 1825, 1826, and 1827. London: J. Murray, 1828. Print."

Citation

Kendall, Edward Nicholas, 1800-1845 (primary creator); J & C Walker (firm); Franklin, John, 1786-1847; Richardson, John, Sir, 1787-1865; Back, George, Sir, 1796-1878, “The discoveries of the expedition under the command of Captain Franklin R.N. near the mouth of the Mackenzie River: and on the sea coast east & west, A.D. 1825-26,” Omeka Testbed, accessed November 17, 2017, http://mapexhibit.mcmaster.ca/items/show/31.