A Most Inhospitable Coast: The Report of Lieutenant William Hobson’s 1859 Search for the Franklin Expedition on King William Island


  • Douglas R. Stenton




Franklin Expedition, Hobson, McClintock, King William Island, expedition report


Lieutenant William R. Hobson’s 1859 search for traces of the Franklin expedition on the west coast of King William Island resulted in several major discoveries that include an official record containing the dates of Sir John Franklin’s death, of the abandonment of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, and of the departure of the ship’s company for the Back River. Information derived from Hobson’s report appeared in McClintock’s published account of the expedition, and it has been referenced in other works, but the report itself was never published. Recent investigations of Franklin archaeological sites on the Victoria Strait coast of King William Island by the Government of Nunavut, including sites first discovered by Hobson, served as a catalyst for locating Hobson’s full descriptions of his findings. The report includes general observations on weather, ice conditions, and wildlife encountered, and his detailed descriptions of several Franklin expedition sites are potentially valuable sources of information for ongoing archaeological investigations.