Historical Background:

Sir John Franklin was appointed to lead the British Naval Exploring Expedition (1819-1822) which was the first Arctic land expedition comissioned to explore the north coast of America east from the mouth of the Coppermine River to Hudson Bay. Franklin returned to the Canadian Arctic in command of the second British Naval Exploring Expedition from 1825-1827 intending to extend exploration of the coast west from Coppermine River to Icy Cape, Alaska. Sir John Richardson was present on both of these expeditions

Later, in 1845, Franklin was appointed by the Admiralty to lead the British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition. Franklin and his crew were sent to search for a passage beyond Lancaster Sound and the unexplored region southwest of Barrow Strait. Sailing from London, England with the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus in May 1845, the expedition was last seen heading for Lancaster Sound by two whalers in northern Baffin Bay in July 1845. After that, the ships were never again seen by Europeans.

Many searches were conducted for the missing expedition. With the approval of Lady Franklin, Captain William Penny was appointed to command the British Franklin Search Expedition (1850-1851) in the brigs HMS Lady Franklin and HMS Sophia (Peter Cormack Sutherland was surgeon aboard the HMS Sophia) the expedition searched for Franklin in Jones Sound and Wellington Channel and beyond Cape Walker . Captain Penny joined with Horatio Thomas Austin’s British Naval Franklin Search Expedition (1850-1851) in late 1850. Captain Austin's expedition consisted of the ships the HMS Resolute, HMS Assistance (Charles Ede was assistant surgeon aboard the HMS Assistance ), HMS Intrepid, and HMS Pioneer. Captain Penny had been searching Baffin Bay and Lancaster Sound. Both expeditions spent the winter in Assistance Bay, on Cornwallis Island, where Penny agreed with Austin’s plan for an extended search in the spring. Penny and Austin found only traces of the Franklin Expedition before returning home in 1851. This was seen as the first real evidence of Franklin having reached the arctic.


Sources of information on the collectors consulted in preparing this page include:

Polunin, N. (1936). A botanical scrapbook. Rhodora 38(456):409-413.

Pringle, J.S. (1995). The history of the exploration of the vascular flora of Canada. Canadian Field Naturalist 109(3):291-356.

Headland, R. (n.d.) Sir Horatio Austin Collection. Retrieved April 1, 2005, from http://www.archiveshub.ac.uk/news/0407sha.html



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