Arctic Artist: The Journal and Paintings of George Back, Midshipman with Franklin, 1819-1822

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McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, Oct 25, 1994 - Art - 403 pages
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Arctic Artist is the liveliest and most complete account of Sir John Franklin's tragic first Arctic land expedition. George Back's prose captures the drama of this journey, and his superb watercolour sketches reveal the beauty and wonder of this northern land.
Back's journal completes Stuart Houston's trilogy of the journals of Franklin's officers, and is particularly valuable because it is the only journal that records the entire expedition; Franklin himself relied on it for his own published account of the journey. Houston provides an introduction and extensive annotations, as well as synopses of the frank comments regarding the expedition recorded in the various journals of the Hudson's Bay fur trade posts.
I.S. MacLaren's commentary on Back's paintings reveals a naval officer of exceptional talent. Conversant with the artistic conventions and aesthetic temper of his age, Back used his sketchbooks not only to depict the expedition's progress but also to capture his imaginative response to the northern wilderness. MacLaren also edits and comments on two other documents written by Back during the expedition: a candid letter to his brother and a poem dramatizing the disaster that claimed the lives of eleven of the twenty explorers in Franklin's party.

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Stromness to York Factory
York Factory to Cumberland House
Cumberland House to Fort Carlton
Fort Carlton to Fort Chipewyan
Fort Chipewyan to Fort Enterprise
To Point Lake and Return
Fort Enterprise to Fort Chipewyan
Fort Chipewyan to Fort Enterprise
Preparations To Leave Fort Enterprise
Descent of the Coppermine River
Exploring the Arctic Coastline
Point Turnagain to Obstruction Rapids
Obstruction Rapids to Moose Deer Island
Great Slave Lake to York Factory

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About the author (1994)

Houston is Professor of Medical Imaging, University of Saskatchewan.

I.S. MacLaren teaches Canadian history and Canadian literature at the University of Alberta in the departments of History and Classics, and English and Film Studies. His research interests include history of the book, narratives and sketches by explorers and travelers of western and northern Canada, early Canadian poetry, and the history of the Rocky Mountain national parks. He is an adjunct professor with the Canadian Circumpolar Institute.

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