Francis Leopold McClintock (1819-1907)

  • William Barr
Keywords: Biographies, Expeditions, Exploration, Explorers, History, McClintock, Sir Francis Leopold, 1819-1907, Search for Franklin, Sleds, Canadian Arctic Islands, Canadian Arctic Islands waters

Abstract

Born in County Louth, Ireland, on 8 July 1819, the son of the head of the customs office at Dundalk, Leopold McClintock first went to sea aboard HMS Samarang as a first-class volunteer at the age of 12. Over the next 14 years, he slowly made his way up through the system, seeing service in such diverse places as the Gulf of California, Brazil, the Irish Sea, the Channel, the Caribbean, Newfoundland, Burmuda, and the Rio de la Plata. He was made lieutenant on 29 July 1845. ... In the spring of 1851, McClintock led one of the many sledge parties that fanned out from the ships. Leaving the ships on 15 April, he headed west along the south coasts of Cornwallis, Bathurst, Byam Martin, and Melville islands and reached Cape James Ross, situated on the southwest tip of Melville Island. Rounding the shores of Dundas Peninsula, he then cut back across that peninsula to the south coast before he headed for home, reaching the ships on 4 July. He had covered a distance of 1,240 km in 80 days. ... In the spring of 1853, McClintock led a party that achieved the distinction of making one of the two longest man-hauled sledge trips accomplished in the Canadian Arctic. McClintock crossed the "waist" of Melville Island to Hecla and Griper Bay, then coasted west to the island's northwest tips. Crossing Fitzwilliam Strait, he discovered and explored Prince Patrick Island, as well as the north coasts of Eglinton Island and the west and south coasts of Emerald Isle. In total he covered 2,125 km in l05 days. This record would be surpassed only by Lieutenant George Mecham's journey of 2,138 km in 84 days in the spring of 1854. ... He will be remembered by history as the man who refined the technique of arctic exploration of man-hauling to an amazingly high degree, despite the staggering inherent limitations of the technique, and as the man who solved - as far as it ever has been - the mystery of the fate of the Franklin expedition.
Published
1987-01-01
Section
Arctic Profiles