12. Franklin, John, Sir (1786-1847) 

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


The Lion and Reliance in icy seas, from John Franklin, Narrative of a Second Expedition, 1828.


“The Dolphin squeezed by Ice”, with the Union looking on (detail), from John Franklin, Narrative of a Second Expedition, 1828.

Since he barely survived his first overland expedition, one might think that Franklin would have begged for a return to the sea, but amazingly, he volunteered for a second try at the Arctic coastline.

This time he was much better prepared.  He had three special ocean-going small boats built at Woolwich shipyard and shipped by a Hudson’s Bay Company vessel.  A fourth boat was built at Fort Franklin on Great Bear Lake while they waited for spring.

The plan was to navigate down the Mackenzie River to the northern coast, and then divide into two parties.  Franklin would take two boats, the Lion and Reliance, and go west with George Back, hoping to meet up with F. W. Beechey and the Blossom at Kotzebue Sound (see item 13).  John Richardson and Edward Kendall would go east to the Coppermine River.

Everything worked as planned, except that Franklin ran into heavy ice and could get no further than Return Reef, about 150 miles from Point Barrow.  Richardson and Kendall, however, made it all the way to Point Turnagain.  Dolphin and Union Strait, which they discovered, is named after their two boats, the Dolphin and Union.

The two parties mapped over 1200 miles of new shoreline, and the only two strips of Arctic coastline left to survey were from Return Reef to Point Barrow in the west, and from Point Turnagain to Melville Peninsula in the east.

The image of Franklin’s boats in a surreal icy sea on the western leg was drawn by Back; the view of the Dolphin being squeezed by an ice block on the eastern journey was sketched by Kendall.

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