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March 27 , 2017

The Luck of the Karluk

Shipwrecked in the Arctic
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Overview

When the members of Canada’s First Arctic Expedition set out from Victoria aboard HMCS Karluk in the summer of 1913, it was a moment of great optimism. The three-year mission would chart unexplored landmasses of the Western Arctic and secure Canada’s place in the international geographic community. Little did the team of distinguished scholars and scientists realize, however, how their hopes would soon be brought to ruin. Just a few months into the journey, the vessel became lodged in heavy ice, eventually sinking near the coast of Siberia.

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The Last Voyage of the Karluk

An astonishing narrative of disaster and perseverance, The Last Voyage of the Karluk will thrill readers of adventure classics like Into Thin Air and The Climb. In 1913, explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson hired William McKinlay to join the crew of the Karluk, the leading ship of his new Arctic expedition. Stefansson's…

With little polar experience among them but ample supplies salvaged from the wreck, the group of castaways slowly made their way to solid ground on desolate Wrangel Island. There they would wait while the ship’s captain and an Inuk guide embarked on a heroic 1,100-kilometre trek along the Siberian coast in search of help. By the end of the fifteen-month saga, eleven members of the original expedition would perish from frostbite and sickness, while the remaining twenty would survive to tell the tale. The Luck of the Karluk is a fascinating story about an important episode in Canada’s history and a revealing study of the strengths and weaknesses of human nature under treacherous conditions.

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