George Back's sketchbook [graphic material, textual record, cartographic material]
Record Information – Brief1
George Back's sketchbook [graphic material, textual record, cartographic material]Hierarchical level:FileDate:1819-1821.Reference:Box number: BK-004, BK-004, BK-004Type of material:Art, Maps and cartographic material, Textual materialFound in:Archives / Collections and FondsItem ID number:3709380
Record Information – DetailsFile includes:94 lower level description(s)View lower level description(s)Date(s):1819-1821.Place of creation:Northwest TerritoriesAdded country of publication:Alberta, Saskatchewan, ManitobaExtent:1 sketchbook (3 p. of textual records, 54 maps, 3 drawings, 32 watercolours) ; 18.0 x 11.5 cm.
Image 18.000 x 11.500 cmLanguage of material:EnglishScope and content:A sketchbook kept by Midshipman George Back (1798-1878) who was a member of the Franklin Overland Expedition to explore the shores of the Arctic Ocean eastwards from the mouth of the Coppermine River in the period 1819-1822. The other Royal Navy officers on the expedition were Captain John Franklin, Midshipman Robert Hood, and surgeon-naturalist Dr. John Richardson. This sketchbook of 60 leaves includes maps as well as sketches covering the period from September 1819 to mid-1822. During this time, the expedition followed major routes of the fur trade into the continent, including journeys from York Factory to Cumberland House (9 Sept 1819 to 23 Oct 1819), from Cumberland House via Fort Carlton and Île-à-la-Crosse to Fort Chipewyan (18 Jan 1820 to 26 March 1820), and from Fort Chipewyan via Fort Resolution and Old Fort Providence to Fort Enterprise, the wintering site near the Coppermine River (19 July 1820 to 20 Aug 1820). This book also documents a brief scouting trip to Point Lake from Fort Enterprise (28 Aug 1820 to 10 Sept 1820), and Back's winter supply run to Fort Chipewyan and back (18 Oct 1820 to 16 March 1821). These journeys are not represented in chronological order in Back's cover-to-cover use of the sketchbook. The sketches contained in the sketchbook are largely watercolour, with a few drawings, while the maps are all pen and ink. There are a few blank pages in the sketchbook but the rest of it is largely filled with images or maps on both the recto and the verso.
During this ill-fated expedition, during which eleven of the twenty party members died, Back distinguished himself by rescuing the survivors from near starvation; travelling ahead of the main group with Métis interpreter Pierre St. Germain, Back was able to make contact with the Dene led by Akaitcho and thereby secure food and supplies. Back was promoted to Lieutenant during the course of the expedition, on January 1, 1821. Captain Franklin chose 16 of Back's sketches from this and other sketchbooks kept during the 1819-1822 expedition for publication in his account, Narrative of a Journey to the shores of the Polar Sea in the years 1819, 20, 21 and 22 (London: John Murray, 1823).Additional name(s):Finding aid:Additional information:Physical description note:The sketchbook consists of two leather covers closed by a metal clasp and approximately 60 folios, each measuring 18 x 11.5 cm. There are thirty-three watercolours, three drawings, and 34 maps, often covering both recto and verso pages, included in the sketchbook, which is in good condition. The binding is somewhat worn and part of the spine is missing, but the sewing that holds the sketchbook together is intact. The sketches themselves are well-preserved and the colours throughout have suffered very little fading.Custodial history:Family descent to the owner from whom it was purchased in 1994.Citation/reference note:C. Stuart Houston and Ian MacLaren, Arctic Artist: The Journal and Paintings of George Back... (Montréal : McGill-Queen's University Press, 1994); C. Stuart Houston, To the Arctic by Canoe: 1819-1821: the journal and paintings of Robert Hood, midshipman with Franklin (Montreal : Arctic Institute of North America: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1974); C. Stuart Houston, Arctic ordeal : the journal of John Richardson, surgeon-naturalist with Franklin, 1820-1822 (Kingston [Ont.] : McGill-Queen's University Press, 1984)Related material:Copies of Franklin's "Narrative... 1819, 20, 21 and 22..." are held in the Rare Book Room of the former National Library of Canada.
Single-sheet copies of the sixteen prints reproduced from this and a second sketchbook are also held as part of the George Back Fonds., A second sketchbook of 82 pages, covering the period from June 23, 1821 to July 10, 1822, was acquired at the same time, and from the same source, as this sketchbook., Among numerous other manuscripts pertaining to the 1819-1822 expedition, Back's letter book and rough journal are now on deposit at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England. Copies of these journals are available under certain restrictions on LAC microfilm (A-820 and A-821 respectively)., This is one of five separate sketchbooks owned by Library and Archives Canada done by George Back during various Arctic expeditions (two sketchbooks from the 1819-1822 expedition; two sketchbooks from the 1825-1827 expedition, and one sketchbook from the 1833-1835 expedition.) LAC also owns single-sheet watercolours from various sources, as well as many single-sheet prints.Source:Private
Restrictions on use: No restrictions on use for publication or reproduction.
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