The Man Who Mapped the Arctic

The Man Who Mapped the Arctic

Book - 2003
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In the mid-1800s, George Back went on three Arctic expeditions with Sir John Franklin across the barren lands of the Canadian north. But unlike Franklin, Back lived to tell his tales in journals, drawings, watercolors, and maps. Noted writer Peter Steele drew on these sources, along with contemporary accounts, to craft this gripping tale of resilience in the face of incredible odds.

The book thrillingly recounts the near-impossible circumstances of these expeditions -- the fights with the Hudson Bay Company, rations that failed to get through, even cannibalism. Back survived these horrors to lead an exploration of the Great Fish River, now named Back River in his honor. His return upstream, hauling his handmade boat up 83 sets of rapids, is one of the greatest-ever feats of heroism and endurance.

A gifted artist and mapmaker, Back was a brave explorer forgotten by history. Steele does him belated justice with this fascinating account.
Publisher: Vancouver, B.C. : Raincoast Books, 2003.
ISBN: 9781551926483
Branch Call Number: 921 B125s
Characteristics: xxviii, 307 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.


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Mar 04, 2018

A story of Arctic exploration. George Back joined the Royal Navy at age eleven; was taken prisoner by the French; spent five years as a prisoner; and went on three Arctic expeditions to the Canadian Arctic. Well written.
As the author states: "Few modern adventurers can truly imagine the toughness of these men, the harsh conditions they lived under, and the distances they covered over unexplored and hostile land and water."
I particularly liked his view of mosquitoes: "The ubiquitous and voracious mosquitoes were nevertheless, one of the few things about Arctic travel the otherwise impervious Back repeatedly complained of." and a quote from Back's journal: "There is certainly no form of wretchedness . . . as the torture inflicted by these puny bloodsuckers . . ."
If you are interested in Canadian history, this book is recommended reading.

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