1. Arctic Ice : Initial Encounters


A passage through the ice, from John Ross, A Voyage of Discovery, 1819 (item 2).

Great Britain entered the Age of Ice in earnest in 1818, and over the next ten years the Royal Navy dispatched ten arctic expeditions-- eight by sea, utilizing thirteen ships, and two over land, using sledges, canoes, and York boats. 

The Northwest Passage was not found, but real progress was made in determining that such a passage almost certainly exists, and in locating where it might lie. In addition, a great deal of the North American coastline and the Arctic Archipelago was surveyed and mapped. 

Finally, ten official narratives were published, as well as several unofficial accounts, all lavishly illustrated, and the public could now encounter the Arctic vicariously, reliving the success of the first Parry voyage, agonizing over the near disaster of the first Franklin expedition, and imagining what it would be like to spend a winter in a place where the sun did not shine and the temperature was 40ยบ below zero.


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