Sir John Richardson

Explorations and Expeditions

It's the anniversary of the death of the botanist and Scottish explorer Sir John Richardson who died on this day in 1865.  
Richardson explored with his friend, John Franklin. Their first expedition to Northern Coast of Canada was disastrous. After they were shipwrecked, the men split into groups, attempting to get back to civilization. Richardson's group were forced to survive by eating lichen from rocks and even the leather of their boots. 
After hearing a gunshot, Richardson and others found one of the men, named Terohaute, standing over the dead body of another group member.  Terohaute claimed the other man had accidentally shot himself ... Richardson didn't buy it after examining the man. He'd been shot in the back of the head. Even worse, the men believed that Terohaute had resorted to cannibalization to help keep them alive. Convinced Terohaute was about to kill the rest of the group, Richardson shot Terohaute dead. 

Richardson is commemorated in the names of numerous plants, fish, birds, and mammals (including Richardson’s ground squirrel and Richardson's owl).

In his work as a naval physician, he collaborated with Florence Nightingale.

As his biographer David A. Stewart said:

"[Richardson] ....was perhaps a life of industry more than a life of genius, but it was a full, good life, and in many ways a great life. It is not every day that we meet in one person - surgeon, physician, sailor, soldier, administrator, explorer, naturalist, author, and scholar, who has been eminent in some roles and commendable in all."

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Sir John Richardson
Sir John Richardson

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