- Donald B. MacMillan
Donald Baxter MacMillan (
November 10, 1874- September 7, 1970) was an American explorer, sailor, researcher and lecturer who made over 30 expeditions to the Arcticduring his 46-year career. He pioneered the use of radios, airplanes, and electricity in the Arctic, brought back films and thousands of photographs of Arctic scenes, and put together a dictionary of the Inuktitutlanguage.
Born in Provincetown,
Massachusettsin 1874, MacMillan lived in Freeport, Maineafter the deaths of both his parents in 1883 (his father died while captaining a Grand Banks fishing schooner) and 1886 (his mother died suddenly), and was educated at Bowdoin Collegein Brunswick, graduating in 1898 with a degree in geology. He later taught at Worcester Academyfrom 1903 to 1908.
Arctic Explorations and Two World Wars
After ten years as a high school teacher, MacMillan caught the attention of explorer and fellow Bowdoin graduate
Robert E. Pearywhen he saved the lives of nine shipwrecked people in two nights.cite book |last=West |first=James E. |authorlink=James E. West (Scouting) |coauthors= |title=The Boy Scouts Book of True Adventure |year=1931 |publisher=Putnam |location=New York |oclc=8484128] Peary subsequently invited MacMillan to join his 1908 journey to the North Pole. Although MacMillan himself had to turn back at 84°29' on March 14 because of frozen heels, Peary allegedly reached the Pole 26 days later.
MacMillan spent the next few years travelling in
Labrador, carrying out ethnological studies among the Innuand Inuit. He organized and commanded the ill-fated Crocker Land Expeditionto northern Greenlandin 1913. Unfortunately Crocker Landturned out to be a mirage. The expedition members were was stranded until 1917, when Captain Robert A. Bartlett of "The Neptune" finally rescued them.
After serving in the Navy during
World War I, MacMillan began raising money for another Arctic expedition. In 1921, the schooner"Bowdoin" -- named for MacMillan's alma mater -- was launched from East Boothbay, Maineand set sail for Baffin Island, where MacMillan and his crew spent the winter.
In September 1926 MacMillan led a group of explorers which included three women and five scientists to
Sydney, Nova Scotia. The team spent several months beforehand collecting flora and fauna in Labradorand Greenland. He believed it was possible that the ancient ruins off Sculpin Island, twenty miles from Nain, Labrador, are the remains of a Norsesettlement 1,000 years old. On the side bordering the mainland MacMillan found what he considered the vestiges of ten or twelve houses. He estimated the age of the dwellings to be hundreds of years old according to the lichens which partially covered their foundations. However MacMillan could not say for certain if these had been built by Vikings. According to Eskimotradition the "stone igloos" were constructed by men who came from the sea in ships. Eskimos called the site"Tunitvik", meaning "the place of the Norseman". MacMillan said the strongest argument that the Sculpin dwellings were of Viking origin was their resemblance to those he found in Greenland the previous year. ["MacMillan Finds Old Norse Ruins", New York Times, September 5, 1926, pg. 1.]
He joined the Navy again during
World War II, serving in the Hydrographic Office in Washington, DC, and transferred the "Bowdoin" to the Navy for the duration of the war.
After the war, MacMillan continued his trips to the Arctic, taking researchers north and carrying supplies for the MacMillan-Moravian School he established in 1929. He made his final trip to the Arctic in 1954 at age 80, and lived until 1970. MacMillan is buried in Provincetown.
In 1927, the
Boy Scouts of Americamade MacMillan an "Honorary Scout", a new category of Scout created that same year. This distinction was give to "American citizens whose achievements in outdoor activity, exploration and worthwhile adventure are of such an exceptional character as to capture the imagination of boys...". The other eighteen who were awarded this distinction were: Roy Chapman Andrews; Robert Bartlett; Frederick Russell Burnham; Richard E. Byrd; George Kruck Cherrie; James L. Clark; Merian C. Cooper; Lincoln Ellsworth; Louis Agassiz Fuertes; George Bird Grinnell; Charles A. Lindbergh; Clifford H. Pope; George Palmer Putnam; Kermit Roosevelt; Carl Rungius; Stewart Edward White; Orville Wright. cite journal |last= |first= |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1927 |month=August 29 |title=Around the World |journal= Time (magazine)|volume= |issue= |pages= |id= |url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,723029,00.html |accessdate= 2007-10-24 |quote= ]
MacMillan Pier in
Provincetown, MAis named in his honor.
* A more complete MacMillan biography, courtesy of [http://academic.bowdoin.edu/arcticmuseum/biographies/html/macmillan.shtml Bowdoin College]
* [http://academic.bowdoin.edu/arcticmuseum/ The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum]
* [http://pilgrim-monument.org/t3/index.php?id=131 Bio by Laurel Gaudazno] of
Pilgrim Monumentand Provincetown Museum
* [http://www.whoi.edu/home/about/whatsnew_arctic_expedition.html An Arctic Expedition Rediscovered] by Amy Nevala of
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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