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Fort Reliance Photographs, 1987-88

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y30687A

Scope and Contents

Collection of coloured photographs, 175 x 125 mm. As described in the notice shown in 4-5, 'Fort Reliance is one of the best preserved sites of early exploration in the western Subarctic. It was originally erected in 1833 by the Arctic Land expedition led by Captain George Back, R.N., as winter quarters for an overland journey to the Arctic coast. A fort in name only, Fort Reliance consisted of a main house with several rooms, as well as several separate houses, each heated with a chimney. An observatory for scientific work was also built here. The fort was later used by other explorers, adventurers and scientists who travelled through the area to the Barrens. These fragile remains are protected from any disturbance by the Northwest Territories Archaeological Sites Regulations. Removing artifacts or altering structures destroys unique information from the past'. Sir George Back (1796-1878) served on four Arctic expeditions, that of 1833-35 being initially in search of Captain Ross.

Fort Reliance was first occupied on 5 November 1833, and Back records 'As every post in the country is distinguished by a name, I gave to ours that of Fort Reliance ... The exact site is in latitude 62° 46' 29" N., longitude, 109° 0' 38.9" W ...' (Back 1836, p. 107). In Blanchet (1926) p. 11, there is a photograph of the ruins of Fort Reliance showing a wooden hut constructed around one of the old fireplaces in 1897 by 'Buffalo' Jones, a hunter and traveller endeavouring to capture musk ox calves for the Bronx Zoo, New York. This Fort Reliance is to be distinguished from the Fort Reliance in the Yukon, which between 1874 and 1886 was a fur and mining centre.

Presumably the summer scenes were taken in August 1987 and the remainder, snow scenes, in February 1988.


  • Creation: 1987-08 - 1988-02


Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

Killoran lived in Fort Reliance, Northwest Territories. No further information is available.


9 item(s) (9 images)

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Good condition.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was sent by R.D. Killoran to the Royal Historical Society on 30 August 1988 and then presented by its secretary to the Royal Commonwealth Society on 26 September 1988 as it was thought to be a more appropriate home for it.


The establishment of Fort Reliance is chronicled in: Back, Sir, George (1836), 'Narrative of the arctic land expedition to the mouth of the great Fish River, and along the shores of the Arctic Ocean: in the years 1833, 1834, and 1835', London. The photograph of the ruins of Fort Reliance can be seen in: Blanchet, Guy Houghton (1926), 'Great Slave Lake area, Northwest Territories', Ottawa: F.A. Acland, King's Printer. For more information on Fort Reliance in the Yukon see: Canadian Encyclopaedia II, p.677.


This collection level description was entered by SG using information from the original typescript catalogue.

Date information

DateText: Mr Killoran's letter indicates that the photographs were taken between August 1987 and February 1988..


Killoran, R D, fl 1987-1988

Includes index.
2003-12-17 11:18:02+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom