When Sir John Barrow took up the position as Second Secretary of the Admiralty of the United Kingdom in 1804, he inherited a legacy of European naval exploration that spanned back centuries. During his 41-year tenure in his position, Barrow advocated for the discovery of a Northwest Passage over Canada, providing an efficient means traveling from the Atlantic to Pacific Oceans. Over the ensuing decades various noted explorers, including the famed William Edward Parry, set off for the Canadian Arctic in an attempt to map its myriad mysteries.
One such explorer, Royal Navy officer Sir John Franklin, found himself on several of these expeditions. In 1818 he served as second-in-command of an expedition in the area on board the ships Dorothea and Trent, and went on to lead two further expeditions in 1819–22 and 1825–27. By the time he was selected to lead yet another expedition in 1845, Franklin was no stranger to the treachery that lay ahead of him and his crew. But little did he know that he was about to set off on what would become one of history’s greatest maritime mysteries.
1. Martin Sandler, Resolute: The Epic Search for the Northwest Passage and John Franklin, and the Discovery of the Queen's Ghost Ship (New York: Sterling Publishing Co., 2006), 65–74.
2. “Captain John Franklin’s Lost Expedition: The History of the British Explorer’s Arctic Voyage in Search of the Northwest Passage” by Charles River Editors, Chapter 1.
3. Charles River Editors, Chapter 1.
4. Owen Beattie and John Geiger, Frozen in Time: Unlocking the Secrets of the Franklin Expedition (Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1987), 25, 158.
5. Beattie & Geiger 1987, 113.
6. Richard Cyriax, Sir John Franklin's Last Arctic Expedition; a Chapter in the History of the Royal Navy (London: Methuen & Co., 1939).
7. James P. Delgado, “Toward No Earthly Pole,” Naval History, vol. 18, no. 2 (March-April 2004).
8. Cyriax, Richard (1939).
9. “The Note in The Cairn (transcript),” NOVA.
10. NOVA: “Arctic Passage—The Note in the Cairn (transcript)”.
11. Beattie & Geiger 1987, 58–62.
12. CBC News, “Franklin Expedition Ship Pieces Believed Discovered in Arctic.”