Willard Wentzel collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the British Naval Exploring Expedition, 1819-1822 (leader John Franklin) sometimes called the first Arctic Land Expedition.

Administrative / Biographical History

Willard Ferdinand Wentzel was born circa 1780. In 1799, he was employed as a clerk by the North West Company, serving on the Mackenzie River and at Great Bear Lake before taking charge of the North West Company post at Fort Providence on Great Slave Lake. On reaching Fort Providence in July 1820, the British Naval Exploring Expedition [first Arctic Land Expedition], 1819-1822 (leader John Franklin), appointed Wentzel as an assistant. He undertook to accompany the expedition to the Arctic coast, recruiting Indians as guides and hunters. Setting out from Fort Providence in August 1820, the expedition reached Winter Lake where they built their winter base, Fort Enterprise. Leaving the fort in June 1821, they travelled to the mouth of the Coppermine River, where Wentzel and the Indians turned back, carrying dispatches and equipment for transmission to England.

After the expedition, Wentzel served the amalgamated Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Simpson between 1822 and 1824, at Fort Chipewyan between 1824 and 1825 and finally at Mingan, Montreal department between 1827 and 1829 before retiring. He died in 1832.


The collection is arranged chronologically.

Access Information

By appointment.

Some materials deposited at the Institute are NOT owned by the Institute. In such cases the archivist will advise about any requirements imposed by the owner. These may include seeking permission to read, extended closure, or other specific conditions.


Anyone wishing to consult material should ensure they note the entire MS reference and the name of the originator.

The term holograph is used when the item is wholly in the handwriting of the author. The term autograph is used when the author has signed the item

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Arctic, exploration and development c500 BC to 1915, an encyclopaedia by Clive Holland Garland Publishing, London (1994) ISBN number 0824076486 and Exploring Polar Frontiers, a historical encyclopaedia by William Mills San Diego and Oxford, 2003 and To the Arctic by canoe, 1819-1821. The journals and paintings of Robert Hood, midshipman with Franklin edited by C. Stuart Houston, Arctic Institute of North America and McGill-Queen's University Press Montreal (1974) SPRI Library Shelf (41)91(08)[1819-1822 Franklin] and Arctic ordeal, the journal of John Richardson, surgeon-naturalist with Franklin, 1820-1822 edited by C Stuart Houston, McGill-Queen's University Press, Kingston (1984) SPRI Library Shelf (41)91(08)[1819-1822 Franklin]

Other Finding Aids

Clive Holland Manuscripts in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England - a catalogue, Garland Publishing New York and London (1982) ISBN 0824093941.

Additional finding aids are available at the Institute.

Conditions Governing Use

Copying material by photography, electrostat, or scanning device by readers is prohibited. The Institute may be able to provide copies of some documents on request for lodgement in publicly available repositories. This is subject to conservation requirements, copyright law, and payment of fees.

Copyright restrictions apply to most material. The copyright may lie outside the Institute and, if so, it is necessary for the reader to seek appropriate permission to consult, copy, or publish any such material. (The Institute does not seek this permission on behalf of readers). Written permission to publish material subject to the Institute's copyright must be obtained from the Director. Details of conditions and fees may be had from the Archivist.


Further accessions possible