About Lands Forlorn

Lands Forlorn is an extraordinary tale of exploration buttressed by shear willpower and pluck. The book documents a 1911-1912 expedition to Great Bear Lake and the lower Coppermine River to search for copper deposits. The three-man exploration party was led by George M. Douglas and included his brother, Lionel, a master seaman, and Dr. August Sandburg, a geologist. They tracked a York boat up the rapids-filled Great Bear River to Great Bear Lake, then sailed across the stormy lake to the northeasterly corner at the mouth of the Dease River. There, Lionel Douglas built a sturdy cabin for the winter while George Douglas and August Sandburg canoed, walked, and portaged up the Dease to the Dismal Lakes and then down the Kendall River to the Coppermine River. They explored the Coppermine Mountains during the first season before returning to the cabin. In the spring of 1912 the Douglas party returned to the Coppermine by dogsled and foot. The party went to the Coronation Gulf, meeting some of the Copper Inuit.

The book is also of interest because the Douglas party befriended John Hornby, who was later to die of starvation in the Canadian barrenlands with his young nephew and another lad; and Father Rouviere, who along with another priest was killed by Inuit the following year. Douglas was an excellent photographer and his photos are compelling and of great documentary value. In so many ways Lands Forlorn is essential reading into the history of exploration within North America.

This new and expanded edition includes an extended foreword, documenting the lives of George and Lionel Douglas; various letters to and from James Douglas, sponsor of the expedition; and a diary, with maps, of their first two-man trip to the Coppermine River.

The volume was compiled and edited by Dr. Robert S. Hildebrand, who spent 25 years working as a research scientist in northern Canada and is currently an adjunct professor at Utah State University. Hildebrand searched archival and familial records to uncover photographs, the diary, maps, and letters included in the new edition, and wrote a foreword documenting the lives of George & Lionel Douglas.