David Hanbury collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the British Exploring Expedition, 1901-1902 (led by Hanbury) to the Keewatin area of Canada

Administrative / Biographical History

David Theophilus Hanbury was born on 8 March 1864 in England. He was educated at Elstree and at Clifton College in Bristol. He began to travel at an early age, visiting among other places the Rocky Mountains, Chinese Turkistan and Siberia. He studied surveying and geology under the auspices of the Royal Geographical Society, of which he became a member in 1894.

In 1899, Hanbury led the British Exploring Expedition, a private expedition to explore the unknown region between Chesterfield Inlet and Great Slave Lake. He had first attempted this journey in 1898, but had failed because poor ice conditions in Hudson Bay prevented him from setting out from Churchill, Manitoba, early enough. He returned to Churchill by dog sledge in 1899, later travelling to Marble Island and through Chesterfield Inlet to Baker Lake, before reaching the Thelon River. Mapping the Thelon River, he ascended its western branch, Hanbury River, crossing from there to Clinton-Colden Lake before reaching Great Slave Lake. He continued to Fort McMurray from where he returned by dog sledge to Edmonton. After the expedition, Hanbury served with the Light Horse Regiment during the Boer War in South Africa, participating in the capture of Pretoria in 1900.

Hanbury returned to the Canadian north with the British Exploring Expedition, 1901-1902, a private expedition to explore the interior of Keewatin District. In 1901, accompanied by his assistant, Hubert Darrell, Hanbury performed in reverse his previous journey, travelling from Great Slave Lake to Baker Lake, before continuing to Chesterfield Inlet and later to Depot Island, where he collected supplies from the New Bedford whaler Francis Allyn. In 1902, Hanbury and Darrell travelled from Baker Lake to the mouth of the Coppermine River on the Arctic coast, before returning to Edmonton by way of Great Bear Lake. During the expedition, he and Darrell gathered information on geology, natural history, anthropology, and meteorology. His account of the expedition, Sport and travel in the northland of Canada, was published in 1904. He spent his later years as a farmer on an island in San Francisco Bay. He died on 26 October 1910 in San Francisco.


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) and Exploring Polar Frontiers, a historical encyclopaedia by William Mills, San Diego and Oxford, 2003 and Canadian biography

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