Dramatic Arctic rescue story of Captain Robert Abram Bartlett the focus of PUBlic Professor Series talk

Captain Robert Abram Bartlett (1875-1946) attempted the Pole with Admiral Peary, worked to advance Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic, and, in 1914, was responsible for one of the most remarkable Arctic rescues of all time. His fame extended throughout North America to Europe where he won awards and dined with royalty. Bartlett’s story mirrors that of other early 20th century explorers such as Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Ernest Shackleton, Robert Falcon Scott, Donald MacMillan, and others.

On Thursday, October 25, University of Lethbridge geography professor, Dr. Maura Hanrahan, will present, Creating Heroes and Claiming the North: Captain Robert Abram Bartlett in the Arctic, as the second talk of the 2018/19 Faculty of Arts & Science’s PUBlic Professor Series. The free event runs from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Sandman Signature Lethbridge Lodge and is open to the public.

Hanrahan earned degrees at Memorial University, Carleton University and the London School of Economics where she was a Rothermere Fellow and an LSE Fellow. She worked in First Nations and Inuit land claims, right litigation and policy for Indigenous governments across Canada, the federal government and the UN. Later, she was Memorial University’s first Special Advisor to the President for Aboriginal Affairs and, following that, Chair of Memorial’s Humanities Program.

She is currently an associate professor in the Department of Geography at the U of L and an adjunct professor at Memorial University’s Environmental Policy Institute. She was born and raised in Newfoundland. Through her mother, she is a citizen of Ireland. Through her father, she is a member of Splet’q Mi’Kmaq First Nation, now under the umbrella of Qalipu Mi’Kmaq First Nation.

Like the other explorers, Bartlett's successes in Arctic exploration were made possible by deliberate and sustained heroic masculine image-making, which masked the complexities of his personality and of his work in the Arctic. On the lecture circuit, in his books and on film, Bartlett carefully constructed a well-received image, buoyed by general understandings of the Arctic as undiscovered and devoid of any organized society. This made the Arctic a unique site for western male exploits. Its harsh environment and climate elevated the Arctic to a testing and proving ground. As explorers foregrounded themselves, they backgrounded the Inuit whose participation in Arctic expeditions was vital. This approach cost and still costs the Inuit. It cost the explorers, too; Bartlett, for one, suppressed his personal struggles as he sought to mirror the image he so successfully created.

This talk promises compelling images, gripping stories of danger and human drama, and important insights on the role Arctic exploration continues to play in Canada for the Inuit and for all Canadians.

Further talks scheduled for 2018/19 feature Dr. Amy Shaw (history), Dr. Alexander Darku (economics), Dr. Tom Johnston (geography) and Dr. Hester Jiskoot (geography). Details on each of their presentations can be found at: