The Bartlett Lecture was established in 2000 as part of the Historic Sites Association’s commitment to sharing the story of Hawthorne Cottage National Historic Site and that of famous arctic navigator Captain Bob Bartlett.  Held biannually, each lecture explores a different aspect of Newfoundland history and northern exploration. The lecture style is inspired by Captain Bob’s own lectures tours, which he undertook across the United States, successfully raising international awareness about his voyages.  


The 2019 Bartlett Lecture is presented in partnership with the NL Historical Society.  Please join us for the 13th Bartlett lecture with Dr. Latonia Hartery.

Latonia in Alexandra Fjord, Ellesemere Island Surveying Archaeological Site

Latonia in Alexandra Fjord, Ellesemere Island Surveying Archaeological Site

Lecture Title: Newfoundland as Part of the North
Date: October 24, 2019
Time: 7:30PM
Location: Hampton Hall, Marine Institute, St. John’s, NL

In the lecture, Newfoundland as Part of the North, Dr. Hartery discusses Newfoundland as a gateway to the Arctic, as well as the critical role it played in Arctic exploration during the 1900s. The lecture also tackles the question: could the island be considered the southernmost extension of the North? Dr. Hartery illustrates her points using the adventures of Bob Bartlett, her own Arctic expedition experience over two decades, as well archaeological and historical examples that tie Newfoundland to people, and places, in the circumpolar world.  Join us for a bold talk that brings you everywhere from the Atlantic high seas to the icy North Pole, as we honour the life of one of this province’s greatest Captains.

2017 Bartlett Lecture:

Andrew C McNeill photo.jpg

Captain Andrew McNeill - “Arctic Exploration: Maritime Tradition vs. Modern Technology”

  • Captain Andrew McNeill is highly regarded for his extensive knowledge and expertise in Arctic exploration, and for his support of scientific research in the North. Captain McNeill commanded many different vessels at sea during his 37-year career with the Canadian Coast Guard.  Ultimately, he was assigned to the heavy icebreaker CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, the largest icebreaker in the nation’s fleet, eventually becoming the vessel’s longest serving captain. In his retirement, Captain McNeill has maintained an active connection with the Arctic, teaching an ice navigation course at the Marine Institute in St. John's, and contributing to the working group developing Ice Navigation training under the IMO Polar Code.

Past Lectures:

2015: Philip Pratt - "Settled by the Sea"

  • Philip Pratt is a renowned architect with a long held interest in Newfoundland and Labrador's historical buildings. His informal, sometimes lighthearted, lecture led the audience through a series of personal observations about old and new NL architecture. Pratt started his exploration in historic Brigus with Hawthorne Cottage and continued into the modern era with some of his own works such as The Rooms and the Memorial Stadium.

2012: Maura Hanrahan - "The Elusive Robert A. Bartlett

  • Maura Hanrahan is a professor of humanities and has had a lifelong interest in Bartlett, which has lead her to research and write numerous articles on the life of the captain and his family. Know as an intensely private man, Hanrahan's lecture provided personal details about Bartlett and shed light on the personality of one of the greatest modern explorers.

2011: Ted Blades - "Captain Bartlett in Film"

  • CBC journalist Ted Blades produced an award-winning radio documentary called "Blowin' the Livin' Gale: The Life and Times of Captain Bob Bartlett". From newsreels to a brief adventure in drama, Bartlett clearly had a love for the camera. But what did these reels of film reveal about the man? Mr. Blades brought his unique perspective to the portrayal of Captain Robert Bartlett in film and shared some thoughts on Newfoundland's greatest explorer.

2008: Susan Kaplan - "Robert Bartlett and George Wardwell Bring SS Roosevelt Home"

  • Dr. Susan Kaplan, Director of the Peary-Macmillan Arctic Museum at Bowdoin College presented on the events involving the men onboard SS Roosevelt, the auxiliary steamer essential to Robert E. Peary’s 1905-06 and 1908-09 North Pole Expeditions. The richly illustrated talk featured new information about the Roosevelt’s maiden voyage, gleaned from various archives and the diaries of George Wardwell, the vessel’s chief engineer.

2007: Jennifer Niven - "The Ice Master"

  • Jennifer Niven is the author of "The Ice Master", which explored the doomed final voyage of the Karluk and the aftermath. During the 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition, the Karluk was crushed in pack ice and its crew were marooned on Wrangel Island for nine months while Captain Robert A. Bartlett trekked across the Chukchi Sea to summon help. Ms. Niven spoke on her experience of writing The Ice Master, some of the paths the research led her down, and her own journey to Wrangel Island.

2006: Lyle Dick - "Two Centuries of High Arctic History"

  • Lyle Dick is a historian with Parks Canada and author of the book "Muskox Land: Ellesmere Island in the Age of Contact" His lecture dealt with the last 200 years of High Arctic history, focusing on European-Inuit exchanges since initial contact in 1818. It presented the complex relationships between the two cultures -- one large, powerful and connected to international trade, and the other small, self-contained, and organized around hunting and seasons. Illustrated by historical images, the lecture examined cross-cultural interactions in the Arctic as well as the North Pole expeditions by Robert Peary and his navigator, Captain Bob Bartlett.

2005: Anne Hart - "The Woman Who Mapped Labrador"

  • Anne Hart, author of "The Woman Who Mapped Labrador" gave a presentation about the life and accomplishments of Mina Hubbard, first lady of Labrador exploration. On June 27th, 1905, Mina Hubbard pushed off from the wharf in North West River and headed into the uncharted interior of Labrador with four indigenous guides. In honour of the centenary of her remarkable expedition, Hart delivered an illustrated presentation of Hubbard’s adventure, along with a look at her life until her death in 1956.

2004: Victoria King - "White Thunder"

  • Filmmaker Victoria King gave a presentation on her award-winning documentary “White Thunder,” exploring the story of American filmmaker Varick Frissell. In 1930, Frissell and a large film crew headed to the North Atlantic ice floes to make a feature film about the Newfoundland seal hunt. Tragically, an accidental explosion killed Frissell and 26 crew members while filming off the coast of Newfoundland. The explosion was the largest disaster of its kind in Hollywood history.

2003: Wayne Johnston - "The Navigator of Newfoundland"

  • Wayne Johnston is the author of the best-selling novel, The Navigator of New York. which brought history to life through a unique blend of historical fact, fictional probability, and a riveting, page-turning style. Mr. Johnston explained the process of creating this novel and why he chose to use the story of Frederick Cook to examine the larger story of arctic exploration and competition between men driven by the lure of being first to the pole

2002: Susan Kaplan - "Arctic Collections, Northern Connections"

  • Dr. Susan Kaplan is Director of the Peary-Macmillan Arctic Museum at Bowdoin College. Kaplan's lecture highlighed the museum's large collections of photographs and films which recorded past lifeways of northern peoples. These recordings were taken on the expeditions of various explorers, including Robert Peary, Robert Bartlett and Donald MacMillan, as well as by students and faculty of the college in it's 140 year history of northern exploration.

2000: Clyde Wells - "Captain Robert A. Bartlett, Master of the North"

  • Clyde Wells is a former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as former Chief Justice. Through his life Wells has maintained a love of history and his fascination with the life of Captain Bob Bartlett. He is well versed on Arctic Exploration and was featured as one of the “experts” on the biographical documentary Iceman - the Life and Times of Captain Bob Bartlett. Wells' lecture touched upon the many accomplishments of Captain Bob Bartlett's arctic career.