Thomas Blakiston was born in 1832 in Lymington, Hampshire, England. In 1851 he received his commission in the Royal Artillery and served in England, Ireland and Nova Scotia before fighting in the Crimean War.
In 1857-59 he explored western Canada with the Palliser Expedition and three years later was in China where he organized an expedition up the Yangtze River going 900 miles further than any westerner before him.
He crossed Siberia and decided to develop a lumber industry in an area so far untouched. He sent for three shiploads of equipment from England but by the time it arrived he still did not have permission from the Russian government. Possibly the first western entrepreneur in the area, he decided to take his equipment and develop an industry in northern Japan.
Although most of the next 23 years was spent in business, he compiled a catalogue of the birds of northern Japan and is today renowned as one of Japan's outstanding naturalists.
In 1886 he moved to the United States where he recorded some of his work for the United States National Museum. A number of species of birds are named after him such as Blakiston's Fish Owl (Ketupa Blakiston).
While visiting San Diego he caught pneumonia and died in 1891. He was buried in Columbus, Ohio.
Thomas Blakiston's 1858 Exploration of the Canadian Rockies
Thomas Blakiston in Japan
Thomas Blakiston's Gravesite
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