Western nations have long sought a Northwest Passage to and from Asia through the Canadian Archipelago. In 1845, when such a passage was still a blank space on its charts, the British Navy mounted a major expedition in search of the elusive goal. The expedition, which was under the command of Sir John Franklin, consisted of two ships, the Erebus and Terror. In July of that year the expedition encountered the whaling ship Enterprise, in Baffin Bay. After a short exchange of information, the ships parted, and the Erebus and Terror sailed west into Lancaster Sound and what was though to be a Northwest Passage. They were never to be seen again.
The search for Franklin and his crew lasted fourteen years and involved major expeditions and hundreds of men. Even today the causes of the tragedy are not completely known. These rescue attempts played an important role in the search for a Northwest Passage, and they added significantly to world’s knowledge of the Arctic.
The search for answers to Franklin’s failed attempt to find a Northwest Passage presented some explorers with the opportunity, or excuse, to travel farther north into still uncharted Polar Regions. My book Beyond the Edge weaves together Franklin’s journey to find a Northwest Passage with those following journeys that explored Greenland’s northwest coast and finally its northern coast. The search for the world’s northernmost bit of land is, in many ways, an extension of Franklin’s desire to chart the unknown.
Interested in learning more about the Northwest Passage? Get your copy of Beyond the Edge today!