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Robert McClure: Last link in the NW Passage

Robert McClure (1807-1873) sailed as First Lieutenant on one of the first ships that set out from London to search for the lost Franklin Expedition in 1848.

That search was unsuccessful, but McClure returned to the Arctic as commander of the HMS Investigator in 1850. This time, he got to the North American Arctic by entering through the Bering Strait and sailing east.

McClure reached Banks Island and almost immediately found Prince of Wales Strait between Banks Island and Victoria Island. His ship was caught in the ice, but during the winter he explored by sledge and on April 21, 1851, his journal entry read: "Can it be possible that this water communicates with Barrow's Strait, and shall prove to be the long-sought North-west Passage?"

Click for more information. The Investigator remained frozen in the Arctic, but McClure and his men, suffering from starvation and scurvy, were finally rescued.

McClure returned to England in 1854 and although he did not sail through the Northwest Passage (Map), he and his crew were awarded the 10,000 prize for finding the route. (McClure refused to share the money with the crew that had rescued them - he said they hadn't really needed the help.)

PICTURE (Right): HMS Investigator frozen in the ice.

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