British Parliamentary Papers on Exploration in the Canadian North
From Arctic Bibliography 1959: Vol. Vlll: 317-352
Nos. 45212-45257 describe documents on some of the British Government expeditions in the North American Arctic in the l9th century. Most of these documents originated in the Admiralty, were presented to one or both Houses of Parliament in connection with an inquiry, and were published in its (their) sessional papers. Many were also issued separately. A few concern early attempts on the Northwest Passage; most deal with the mid-century Franklin search efforts; a few concern Nares' abortive attempt on the North Pole. The documents are largely field records of participants in the expeditions or their evidence at hearings, etc., and record their activities and the regions explored in more explicit detail than the narratives and scientific papers of these expeditions published for the general public. For a large part of the Canadian Arctic, they have been the most extensive source of information in print, and for sections of it, until recently, the sole source. The information is difficult of access, however, due to the character and complexity of the documents, lack of indexes, etc. In Nos. 45212-45257 and the index at the end of this volume, these documents are described and indexed for their geographic content, data on environmental conditions, expeditionary health, and organization; some essentially administrative matter is indicated but no attempt made to trace history of exploration. Geographic coordinates of most of the cited localities are given in Northwest Territories and Yukon, a provisional section of the Gazetteer of Canada, prepared by Canadian Board of Geographic Names, Ottawa, 1958. These documents, or most of them, are available in the libraries of the Canadian Department of Northern Affairs, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England, Royal Geographical Society, London, and in sessional papers files maintained by the Library of Congress, New York Public Library, Canadian Parliamentary Library, among others; they are also available in microprint from Readex Microprint, 115 University Place, New York 3, N.Y. The Arctic Circular, v. 8, no. 3, 1955, published a preliminary guide to these documents by Dr. Andrew Taylor,* who also prepared the abstracts which follow.
*The documents have been indexed in depth by Dr. Taylor for the Canadian Dept. of Northern Affairs and National Resources, and this index, an extensive card file, is available for use in the Northern Affairs Library, Northern Research Co-ordination Centre, Ottawa.