Myth confirmed

A male polar bear

Image via Wikipedia

My great grandfather wasn’t lying. Polar bears were sighted in the north Atlantic.

In a previous blog I told the story of my great grandfather William Frank Christie’s passage across the Atlantic in 1905.

It is titled WF’s great north Atlantic adventure.

During that journey he recorded how the passengers lined the deck and scoured icebergs looking for polar bears. I thought it had to be a myth, but in the past there appeared to be sightings of these marooned bears. One of them occurred on the ship SS Wisconsin on the morning of May 23 1885.

One of the passengers Percy Groom wrote this in his journal:

“We started across the mighty deep. The old ship was a rather rickety tub and it was in the habit of twisting, yawning, squeaking and groaning as it made its way against the buffeting of the waves.
The trip was quite exciting seeing whales, porpoises and other marine animals and birds. It is strange how long a flock of seagulls will follow a ship and keep up with it without resting a spell. Some thirty large icebergs were seen on the way as May is a good time to cross if one wants to see these dull, silent, gray piles of arctic glaciers as they majestically float down from Greenland and eventually melt in the Gulf Stream.

One large pile of ice had as a passenger a polar bear. This boy was no doubt beyond his depths, as when the iceberg melted, which it surely would do, then the bear would be without a footing and while very clever in water, they have to come up for breathing, and eventually the poor bear would become a victim of its own thoughtlessness”.

Sorry  granddad.

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About Shaun Smillie

Journalist, with a love of bones, fossils and other things dug up. Fisherman and occasional beer maker.
This entry was posted in artefacts from the attic, christie family and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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