Yet another "help me find this book" question
September 22, 2020 4:34 PM   Subscribe

I read this book some years ago about what might have been the first "lost colony" established in the North American region by English explorers, somewhere in the Arctic or Northern Canada. For years, I've been searching for it, but I cannot find it.

I read this book probably sometime in the very early aughts or maaaybe late '90s, because I remember first thumbing through it in the old Borders in downtown Seattle, and they closed in like 2008 or 9. I feel like the cover was really pretty, with a big iceberg or glacier or something and lots of blue sky, but I could be conflating that with another book. Pretty sure the author was male. I was interested because I rather oddly enjoy reading about doomed Imperialist expeditions.

It detailed the explorations by some Englishmen of Arctic/Northeastern Canadian lands, and they claimed to have discovered lots of gold, which is how they convinced Queen Elizabeth to fund a return and developing a small colony where they could mine. Of course most of them croaked. It predates the Lost Colony of Roanoke, but all my interwebs searching constantly turns up Roanoke no matter what I do. I can't recall the names of the English explorers, but it was framed as almost being something of a con, in a way. I do remember that some of the background about Elizabeth was that she was notoriously stingey with the country's money but everyone had stars in their eyes over endless supplies of gold or something.

I've gone through library catalogs looking at every bit of English exploration I could find, and I never seem to find exactly this book. It's been bugging me for years, and especially after watching The Terror, about Franklin's lost expedition, I've wanted to read this again. Has anyone else ever read this, or does it sound familiar to you?
posted by kitten kaboodle to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
It wouldn't have happened to have been about one of Martin Frobisher's gold mining expeditions, would it? Those were contemporary with Elizabeth I. No gold was to be had, in the end. Sort of an Elizabethan Bre-X.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:50 PM on September 22


Was it Unknown Shore: The Lost History of England's Arctic Colony, by Robert Ruby? It's got an iceberg on the cover.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:08 PM on September 22 [1 favorite]


From the blurb:

England's first attempt at colonizing the New World was not at Roanoke or Jamestown but on a mostly frozen, pocket-sized island in the Canadian Arctic. Queen Elizabeth I called that place Meta Incognita -- the Unknown Shore. Backed by Elizabeth I and her key advisors, including the legendary spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham and the shadowy Dr. John Dee, the erstwhile pirate Sir Martin Frobisher set out three times across the North Atlantic, in the process leading what is still the largest Arctic expedition in history.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:11 PM on September 22 [1 favorite]


AAAAAHHHHHhhh yes!!! That looks like it!

Oh my god, why has this been so hard for me to find? At the very least, you'd think I'd have been able to remember Frobisher's name from the dedicated years of Due South fandom and spending so much time in Canada I practically lived there. I just could not recall his name. Even a librarian friend couldn't seem to find this book for me.

Thank you! I'm running off to get a copy asap.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 5:58 PM on September 22 [3 favorites]


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