The complete journal of Peter Warren Dease's expedition to the arctic coast.
In 1835 the map of the arctic coast of North America was still far from complete, with unmapped gaps of 280km from Return Reef to Point Barrow in Alaska and 550km from Point Turnagain to Boothia Peninsula in the Central Canadian Arctic. The Hudson's Bay Company developed a plan to fill the gaps and two of the Company's officers were chosen to carry it out: the veteran Chief Factor Peter Dease - efficient, competent, steady, and with an excellent rapport with Indians and the "servants," mostly Métis - and Thomas Simpson, young, energetic, ambitious, arrogant, and cousin and secretary to George Simpson, the Company's governor in North America.
Over a three-year period from 1837 to 1939, operating from a base-camp at Fort Confidence on Great Bear Lake, the expedition achieved its goal. Despite serious problems with sea ice, Dease and Simpson, in some of the longest small-boat voyages in the history of the Arctic, mapped the remaining gaps in a model operation of efficient, economical, and safe exploration. Thomas Simpson's narrative, the standard source on the expedition, claimed the expedition's success for himself, stating "Dease is a worthy, indolent, illiterate soul, and moves just as I give the impulse." In >From Barrow to Boothia William Barr shows that Dease's contribution was absolutely crucial to the expedition's success and makes Dease's sober, sensible, and modest account of the expedition available.
Dease's journal, reproduced in full, is supplemented by a brief introduction to each section and detailed annotations that clarify and elaborate the text. By including relevant correspondence to and from expedition members, Barr captures the original words of the participants, offering insights into the character of both Dease and Simpson and making clear what really happened on this successful expedition.