Two Tyrrells cross the Barren Lands of Canada, 1893
D. A. E. Spalding, 2007. "Two Tyrrells cross the Barren Lands of Canada, 1893", Four Centuries of Geological Travel: The Search for Knowledge on Foot, Bicycle, Sledge and Camel, P. N. Wyse Jackson
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In May 1893 Joseph and James Tyrrell, sons of an Irish immigrant to Canada, left Edmonton in Canada's Northwest Territories with a group of voyageurs, partly aided by an aboriginal map and First Nations guides. By January 1894 the team had reached Winnipeg, Manitoba, completing the first expedition through the last large unexplored area of the mainland of Canada. The travellers suffered from many dangers, and the expedition was more than three months overdue when its members arrived at York Factory.
Some specimens were lost, but records and photographs acquired on the expedition form an important record of northern exploration. Joe Tyrrell identified the Keewatin centre of glaciation, and the post-glacial extension of the Hudson Bay basin is now known as the Tyrrell Sea. There was criticism at the apparent lack of economic benefit, but Tyrrell located iron ore and a possible copper-bearing area, and his work led indirectly to a productive nickel mine and the present working of diamonds. Tyrrell also documented the huge caribou herds, and the lives of the Inuit that depended on them.
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In the last four centuries geologists have traversed the globe, searching for economically important materials or simply to satisfy their intellectual curiosity. Geologists have often been at the vanguard of scientific exploration.
The microscopist Robert Hooke explored the Isle of Wight, and Charles Darwin the Cape Verde islands and parts of South America. The volcanic wonders of Italy and central France attracted native and foreign visitors including Lyell and Murchison. The Tyrrell brothers faced great hardship in northern Canada, as did the actor and mineralogist Charles Lewis Giesecke in Greenland. The development of Sydney, Australia depended on finding limestone for building. French geologists relied on camels in the Sahara, and Grenville Cole trusted his tricycle to carry him across Europe.
Four Centuries of Geological Travel: The Search for Knowledge on Foot, Bicycle, Sledge and Camel focuses on the complexities of geological exploration and will be of particular interest to Earth scientists, historians of science and to the general reader interested in science.