The Story Behind the Story: Fresh Perspectives on Peary’s North Pole Quest

Susan Kaplan, director of the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center at Bowdoin College, to share fresh insights from the journey to the North Pole

1 p.m., Thursday, July 14, 2016
Buck Memorial Library • Bucksport • 207-469-2650
Free and open to the public

On July 16, 1905, the SS Roosevelt, a vessel built on Verona Island for Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary, departed New York for the Arctic on her maiden voyage.

George Wardwell, a Bucksport, Maine, resident, was the chief engineer on Peary’s 1905-06 and 1908-09 expeditions to the North Pole.

Dedicated to chronicling the journeys, Wardwell made detailed entries into his personal journal “like clockwork,” says Susan Kaplan, director of the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center at Bowdoin College, who calls the journal entries amazing. “The detail is unlike anything you find in published accounts of other crew members.”

Robert E. Peary, of the Class of 1877, sailed The Roosevelt to Cape Sheridan on Ellesmere Island in the spring of 1909, from which Peary attained the North Pole by sledge.

Robert E. Peary, of the Class of 1877, sailed The Roosevelt to Cape Sheridan on Ellesmere Island in the spring of 1909, from which Peary attained the North Pole by sledge.

Using Wardwell’s journals, Peary’s papers, and archaeological work at Peary’s base camp at Cape Sheridan, Ellesmere Island, Canada, Kaplan, an Arctic anthropologist and archaeologist, will provide fresh insights into these historic expeditions during her talk “Fresh Perspectives on Peary’s North Pole Quest: The Voices of Bucksport’s George Wardwell and Greenland’s Inughuit” at the Buck Memorial Library July 14. The talk is free and open to the public.

Kaplan will also reflect on contemporary Arctic challenges and opportunities 107 years after Peary reached the North Pole.

Arctic Council to Meet in Maine
Kaplan’s talk takes on added significance in advance of the Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials meeting to be held in Maine in October 2016. Kaplan is co-chair of the Maine Arctic Council Host Committee.

More than 200 people from across the globe will come to Maine to discuss issues including climate change, energy and shipping.

The U.S. State Department selected Portland, Maine, to host this high-level meeting in recognition of the state’s significant engagement with the Arctic region.

The U.S. currently holds the chairmanship (2015-2017) of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum for addressing issues related to the Arctic Region, specifically the improvement of economic and living conditions; Arctic Ocean safety and stewardship; and the impacts of climate change.

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