Keeping Time with Franklin

This pocket chronometer provides a direct link to the heroic age of Arctic exploration, and its tragic protagonist, Sir John Franklin.

Written by Kathy Nanowin

August 1, 2013

This pocket chronometer provides a direct link to the heroic age of Arctic exploration and its tragic protagonist, Sir John Franklin.

Bought by the British Admiralty, it was issued to Franklin for his second Arctic Expedition of 1825 to 1827. Two decades later, following Franklin's disappearance, the Admiralty issued the chronometer to the 1848 search expedition by Sir John Richardson and John Rae.

In 1855, it was used by chief factor James Anderson's expedition to the mouth of the Great Fish River to confirm Rae's report of evidence of Franklin's lost expedition.

Admiralty records note that the chronometer disappeared on this expedition. However, it later turned up in the possession of A.G. Dallas, who succeeded Sir George Simpson as governor of the Hudson's Bay Company in Rupert's Land. Dallas reportedly kept the chronometer on his bedside table until his death.

It was later donated to the HBC Museum Collection.

This article originally appeared in the August-September 2013 issue of Canada’s History magazine.

This article is also offered in French

Skip social share links

Related to Exploration