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Sir John Richardson

(1787—1865) physician, naturalist, and Arctic explorer


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(1787–1865), explorer. The foremost surgeon-naturalist in British history, Richardson spent nearly eight years in Canada: during the War of 1812; as surgeon-naturalist to the first two Franklin Arctic expeditions, 1819–22 (which was rescued by Coppermine Indians) and 1825–7 (during which he mapped Great Bear Lake and 863 miles of arctic coastline); and as leader of the first overland expedition (1849–50) in search of the missing third Franklin expedition. Proficient in geology, lichenology, botany, and mammalogy, he learned ornithology in America. On the Saskatchewan River he made the most complete pre-settlement inventory of natural history in North America. He was also an administrator, author (Fauna Boreali-Americana), and scholar (abstracting words from writings of his friend Robert Burns for what was to become the Oxford English Dictionary). He was knighted in 1846. His name is perpetuated in Canada by Richardson mountains, islands, river, bay, and cape, in addition to a ground squirrel, owl, and merlin.

From The Oxford Companion to Canadian History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: History of the Americas.


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