2. Bartlett and the Karluk
Mr. Wells will speak about a spectacular feat of leadership, courage and loyalty by one of the giants of polar exploration in the last part of the nineteenth and the first part of the twentieth centuries; the period of giants like Shackleton, Scott, Amundsen and Peary. That man is Captain Bob Bartlett of Brigus, near St. John’s in Newfoundland.
Bartlett was first mate on Peary’s ship, The Windward in 1898 and captain of Peary’s ship The Roosevelt on both the 1905 and 1908 North polar expeditions. His exploits during those journeys are legendary. However, it was some years after his endeavours with Peary that his greatest polar feat occurred. In 1913 he was appointed to be captain of the Karluk, lead ship of the Canadian Arctic Expedition into the western Arctic in 1913 under the leadership of Vilhjalmur Stefansson. The ship became solidly seized in ice at a point west of the Alaska-Yukon border in the Beaufort Sea. Soon after Stefansson and some of his scientists left, ostensibly on a hunting trip, a gale sprang up and carried the Karluk with 26 people on board to the west and she was given up for lost.
Bartlett’s amazing achievements, during nearly a full year after the ship became seized in the ice, of keeping the great majority of the people on board alive and bringing them to ultimate safety after the ship was crushed by the ice and sank 320 kilometers north of the north coast of Siberia, is the subject of Mr. Wells’ talk.