Exploration in the Canadian Arctic [Inuktitut Version]
The Expedition in search of Sir John Franklin. The Yacht "Fox" Wintering in the Pack
Anonyme - Anonymous
October 15th 1859, 19th century
Ink on paper - Wood engraving
40 x 27.5 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Military (333) , Print (10661)
Keys to History
In the 19th century, as soon as the end of the Arctic summer arrived, the explorers hurried to get to a good anchorage (a bay, river mouth or other sheltered area) where they could spend the long winter. There, the vessel would be transformed into a fortress: the deck and sides were covered with snow and ice as insulation against the wind and cold, the rigging was taken down, a canvas roof was put up over the upper deck (to provide a sheltered area where the men could exercise), and the rudder blade and propeller were removed to prevent damage to them. To fight boredom during the long months of the cold, dark polar night (October to March) and to avoid sinking into depression, the men organized various activities, such as plays, concerts or hunting parties. Some read, kept journals, or took navigation or science courses given by the officers.
The Fox was a 177-tonne private steam yacht purchased by Lady Franklin (1791-1875) and modified to sail Arctic waters.
The engraving shows the Fox wintering in Davis Strait, an arm of the sea between Greenland and Baffin Island.
The Fox became stuck in the ice at the end of August 1857. Forced to winter on an ice floe, it was not able to get free until April of the following year.
The Fox was built by Hall & Co. of Aberdeen, Scotland. Lady Franklin engaged veteran Arctic explorer Francis Leopold McClintock (1819-1907) to command the vessel.