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Narrative Of The Arctic Land Expedition To The Mouth Of The Great Fish River, And Along The Shores Of The Arctic Ocean, In The Years 1833, 1834, And 1835 by Captain George Back

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BACK, Captain [George] [1796-1878]. Narrative Of The Arctic Land Expedition To The Mouth Of The Great Fish River, And Along The Shores Of The Arctic Ocean, In The Years 1833, 1834, And 1835. 8vo. pp. x, [1 leaf]list of plates, 663, [1]. large folding engraved map & 16 engraved & lithographed plates. 8 wood-engraved text illus. (incl. map). original blind-stamped cloth, rebacked with most of original spine mounted (foxing & browning to plates & tissue guards). London: John Murray, 1836.

 

     First Edition. Back had previously gained considerable experience as an arctic explorer through his participation in the abortive Buchan expedition and Franklin's two overland expeditions. Back was "one of the first competent artists to penetrate into the Canadian Arctic"; the many watercolours and drawings which he produced and which enhance his narratives and those of Franklin "are now considered an invaluable record of early northern history" (DCB). Although Back was highly valued by the British Admiralty, he was not a popular personality and he developed a fairly controversial reputation as a dandy, womanizer and hopeless egocentric. The privately financed, government-assisted expedition described in this narrative was undertaken in 1833, for the purpose of aiding members of the Second Ross expedition, from whom no one had heard since 1828. They were also to conduct scientific investigations and a geographical survey of an unknown section of arctic coast. They travelled overland from Montreal to Slave River and Great Slave Lake, and descended the Thleweechodozeth or Great Fish River (later renamed the Back River) to the arctic coast, thence along Chantrey Inlet to Ogle Point. The work also includes a valuable appendix on natural history and scientific subjects by Back, Richardson, Hooker, Children, Fitton and King, a discussion of Hearne's journey, 1769-72, by Richardson (chapt. 5), observations on the Netsilik Esquimaux at the mouth of the Back River, &c. A list of subscribers to the expedition occupies pp. 638-63. 

     Field 63 (17 plates). Lande 935. Sabin 2613n. cfArctic Bib. 851. cfSmith 393. cfTPL 1873. DCB X pp. 26-29. Story p. 44.