Hubert Darrell collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material written by Darrell during his travels in Canada during 1899-1906 including the British Exploring Expedition, 1905-1907 (leader Alfred Harrison). The second part of the collection comprises of correspondence by Darrell

Administrative / Biographical History

Hubert Darrell was born circa 1875 in England. At the age of sixteen, he emigrated to Canada, to help on the farm of his elder brother in Manitoba. In the summer of 1897, he joined the Klondike gold-rush, panning for gold and prospecting for over a decade, without success. In order to support his exploring and mapping activities, Darrell worked at various trades, acquiring skills in hunting and trapping, which led to valuable friendships with indigenous people. In 1901, he joined the British Exploring Expedition, 1901-1902 (leader David Hanbury), a private expedition to explore the interior of Keewatin District. During the expedition, Darrell and Hanbury gathered information on geology, natural history, anthropology, and meteorology. In 1905, he served as assistant to Alfred Henry Harrison on the British Exploring Expedition, 1905-1907 (leader Alfred Harrison), a private expedition with the objective of discovering a 'polar continent' or any unknown land in the Arctic Ocean. Darrell left the expedition in 1905 while Harrison was absent on a sledge journey.

From time to time, Darrell was employed in various capacities by the Hudson's Bay Company, often carrying mail across hundreds of miles of uncharted wilderness. He was highly regarded for his abilities in exploration by other reputable Arctic explorers, including Vilhjalmur Stefansson and Roald Amundsen. Between 1906 and 1910, Darrell served as a special constable for the Royal North-West Mounted Police, guiding and assisting the police in four long patrols in the region bounded by Fort McPherson, Dawson, and Herschel Island. In the summer of 1910, he travelled with the trader, Joseph Jacquot, and his wife, on an exploring and prospecting expedition, part of which involved the correction of Harrison's maps of the Anderson River region. On 21 September, the Jacquots and Darrell parted, agreeing to meet at Fort McPherson on 5 December, but Darrell never appeared, vanishing in mysterious circumstances in late November 1910 in the Anderson River region of Mackenzie District.


The collection is split into two sub-fonds comprising of expedition material and correspondence respectively

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 Biographies and 'Address unknown' by Randy Freeman in Up-here volume 18 number 6 September 2002 p54-56

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