In many respects, the overall experience of the first overland expedition could be characterized as a tale of suffering and horror, where those who survived escaped death by the slimmest of margins. The following timeline enumerates the fortunate members who turned back and those that perished in the desperate flight to Fort Enterprise. It draws heavily on Houston’s To the Arctic by Canoe 1819-1821, where very helpful appendices about the men of the expedition have been compiled.


January 10 1820

Samuel Wilks and Orkneymen discharged

A British seaman who accompanied the expedition to Cumberland House, Wilks could proceed no further due to fatigue. Three Orkneymen from Stromness are also discharged at this time by Franklin.
June 19 1820

Louis St. Jean drowns

On Richardson and Hood’s alternative route to Fort Chipewyan from Cumberland House, the foreman of one of the canoes drowns at Otter Rapids.

December 28 1820

Jean Baptiste Belleau discharged

After journeying from Fort Enterprise to Moose Deer Island in search of provisions, Belleau is discharged by Back due to weakness and exhaustion.

April 17 1821

Emanuel Cournoyee discharged

Discharged from Fort Enterprise due to prolonged illness over the winter.

June 19 1821

Wentzel and Four Voyageurs take leave

Willard Wentzel and four voyageurs — Joseph Gagné, Pierre Dumas, Joseph Forcier, and Jean Baptiste Parent — turn back at the mouth of the Coppermine. Along with Yellowknives hunters, the return party endures 11 days without food.

September 27 1821

Junius disappears

Junius, one of the party’s Inuit interpreters and hunters, is lost while hunting. Once the Obstruction Rapids are forded after a delay of 8 days, the party hopes Junius had found safety.

October 6 1821

Mathew Pelonquin “Crédit” lost

After frequent collapses, falls behind for final time from exhaustion and diarrhea. A search fails to find him.

October 7 1821

Registe Vaillant freezes to death

The carpenter and axeman of the party, Vaillant falls behind. Multiple attempts to rouse him fail, and he soon freezes.

October 8 1821

Jean Baptiste Belanger lost

Along with Michel Terohaute, Belanger asks to turn back to Hood’s encampment. Leaves the main party two hours ahead of Michel, but is never seen again. Suspected to have been killed by Terohaute.

October 8 1821

Ignace Perreault lost

Turns back to join Michel and Belanger after a quarter of a mile of further walking. Michel is carrying his gun when he reaches Hood’s encampment.

October 8 1821

Antonio Fontano lost

The only Italian voyageur, Fontano had earlier exhibited extreme exhaustion. Two miles after Perrault turns back, Fontano begs to join him. He is not seen again.

October 16 1821

Gabriel Beauparlant freezes to death

Beauparlant had accompanied Back to Fort Chipewyan the previous fall and was again with his advanced party in search of Akaitcho. Despondent and exhausted, he collapses and freezes to death.

October 20 1821

Robert Hood shot

After a loud bang, Hepburn and Richardson return to camp to find Hood shot in the head. Holding a pistol, Michel claims Hood had killed himself by an accidental discharge of his long gun.

October 23 1821

Michel Terohaute executed

Sole survivor of the four voyageurs who turned back to Hood’s camp. After Hood’s death, Richardson and Hepburn grow fearful that Terohaute would kill them next. After he leaves the camp for a short period, Richardson loads his pistol and shoots him in the head.

November 1 1821

Joseph Peltier passes away

Peltier was with Franklin at Fort Enterprise, gathering firewood and pounding bones. Ten days earlier, he had predicted he would die on November 1.

November 2 1821

François Samandre passes away

Samandre was the expedition cook and was with Franklin at Fort Enterprise. Passes away several hours after Peltier.