Dead Reckoning takes us into the secret life of maps

This glorious map turns up as endpapers in Dead Reckoning: The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage. It was drawn by Dawn Huck, one of the principals at Heartland Associates in Winnipeg. I love the way it captures the discovery of the original Northwest Passage in three essential expeditions. The first, led by John Franklin, got halted by ice off King William Island. In the British (Royal Navy) version of exploration history, it stands alone, the culmination of a centuries-long search. The second highlights a profoundly Canadian moment that arose out of the fur trade. Here we find an Orcadian Scot, an Inuk, and an Ojibway — John Rae, William Ouligbuck, and Thomas Mistegan — locating the final missing link in the Passage: Rae Strait. The third expedition is that of Norwegian Roald Amundsen, who succeeds in completing the Passage by diverging from Franklin’s route and sailing through Rae Strait.

This map is one of half a dozen in Dead Reckoning, which launches on September 27, when I return from voyaging Out of the Northwest Passage

with Adventure Canada. But books may start trickling into bookstores mid-month, and I want to give faithful readers a heads-up: early copies from the first print run include a map-related glitch that will turn those books into collectors’ items. Most readers won’t notice, and the glitch disappears from later printings and won’t be found in the ebook. But for Arctic history buffs, it will identify that book as coming from the earliest printing. So, if you collect Arctic history or you are buying for a collector, you might want to pick up a copy sooner rather than later. Just saying!

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