UCL Institute of the Americas


Why Ross survived but Franklin died – Arctic explorers and the Inuit

23 July 2018, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

Sir Nicholas Bayne KCMG

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UCL Institute of the Americas


UCL Institute of the Americas, 51 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PN

Sir Nicholas Bayne KCMG (LSE and former High Commissioner to Canada) - The reasons for the demise of the ill-fated Franklin expedition, which attempted to find the North-West passage through the Arctic in 1845-1847, have long been the subject of discussion and speculation. When they finally listened to Inuit testimony, Canadian marine archaeologists discovered the wrecks of Captain Sir John Franklin’s missing ships, Erebus and Terror. If Franklin and his men had contacted the Inuit and followed their advice, they might have survived. The earlier expedition led by John and James Clark Ross (1829-1833) learnt valuable lessons from the Inuit in diet, clothing, shelter and travel. This enabled them to endure four winters in the High Arctic and return home safely.

Nicholas Bayne was a British diplomat for 35 years. His final posts were Economic Director-General at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and then High Commissioner in Ottawa. While in Canada he made several visits to the Arctic, crossing the track of his explorer uncles John and James Clark Ross. Since 1999 he has taught a graduate course on ‘economic diplomacy’ with Stephen Woolcock at the London School of Economics. The fourth edition of their book, The New Economic Diplomacy, appeared in 2017. He has also taught at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario and lectured at the University of Toronto. He has written three books on G7 summitry: Hanging Together (with Robert Putnam 1988); Hanging In There (2000); and Staying Together (2005); plus a memoir, Economic Diplomat (2010).

Attendance to this event is free of charge but registration is required. IMPORTANT NOTE ON ACCESS TO 51 GORDON SQUARE: in order to ensure a smooth delivery of the lecture and for ease of logistics, access to the building may be restricted after the start of the event. We will endeavour to accommodate late arrivals within reason, but an early arrival is recommended to avoid disappointment. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

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