After an initial expedition under Edward Shackleton in 1934-6, Robert Bentham was invited back out to the Northernmost point of Canada to help perform scientific research on Ellesmere Island. Ellesmere Island was the ultimate goal of Shackleton’s expedition, but they failed to reach it due to the polar ice. When he went back, he wrote a short account of his time there, which I’ve uploaded here.
The clipping to the left, from the time of Bentham’s departure, explains in detail what he was hoping to achieve, performing research in an area for which very little was scientifically known. He went out there with a handful of men and a small group of native Eskimos and stayed in the research station for two years. After returning, he wrote an article about his time spent there, roughly 4,000 words long, entitled Two Years in an Arctic Police Post. He sent it to The Times, who felt it wasn’t really appropriate for them to publish in a daily newspaper (not least because the market was already flooded with material about Arctic exploration at the time – you can read their rejection letter here).
I’ve taken the original manuscript and typed it all up to upload here, preserving the original text complete with a few unconventional spellings. It was originally one body of text but I’ve divided it into sections because the internet is a land of short patience. Thanks to having access to multiple editions of the manuscripts, in some sections I have also restored occasional paragraphs that were removed from the final text. For better or worse. Please follow the links below to read this fascinating account of a man who spent two years living in the Arctic.
Warning: this was a time when these men had to hunt to survive, and many animals were harmed in the production of this manuscript.
Part 1: in which Bentham and the others arrive at the Craig Harbour Police Post.
Part 2: in which an early winter hunt almost goes badly wrong.
Part 3: in which winter routines set in, and the Eskimos almost fall afoul of the other locals.
Part 4: in which summer passes and walruses are hunted.
Part 5: in which Bentham and Fyfe become perilously stranded.
Part 6: in which Bentham adopts a polar bear and bitter winds threaten the expedition.
Part 7: in which Bentham battles cliffs and Yates’ dogs battle oxen.
Part 8: in which Bentham comes face-to-face with a polar bear and the group prepare to disembark.