For centuries, colonial powers searched for a sea passage that would link the Arctic and Pacific Oceans. The route, known as the Northwest Passage, would cut thousands of miles from sea travel and open up commercial trade to and from Asia. There were numerous expeditions to find the passage, though none successful. It was while searching for one of these failed expeditions—the Franklin Expedition—that Captain Robert McClure and his crew aboard the HMS Investigator became the first via sea and sledge to traverse and chart the elusive Northwest Passage.
First published in 1856, The Discovery of a Northwest Passage is comprised of McClure’s logs and journals from his time in the Arctic from 1850 to 1854. What began as a joint venture between commanding captain Richard Collinson of the Enterprise and Captain McClure, as his subordinate on the Investigator, became a solitary expedition. Separated along the way, McClure took a dangerous shortcut through the Aleutian Islands and ended up in the Bering Strait, ahead of his commanding ship. His route carried him to Banks Island and to the discovery of the Prince of Wales Strait. The first-hand account tells of the two harsh winters that McClure and his crew spent iced in the Bay of Mercy. And their rescue in 1853, when many from the ship were found suffering malnutrition and on the brink of death.
With an introduction by bestselling author and adventurer Anthony Dalton, The Discovery of a Northwest Passage is the original narrative of one of the most dramatic discoveries in Arctic sea travel.