Explorer’s Stunning Photographs of The Arctic Sun from 100 Years Ago
Donald Baxter MacMillan (November 10, 1874 – September 7, 1970) was an American explorer, sailor, researcher and lecturer who made over 30 expeditions to the Arctic during his 46-year career. He pioneered the use of radios, airplanes, and electricity in the Arctic, brought back films and thousands of photographs of Arctic scenes, and put together a dictionary of the Inuktitut language.
Born in Provincetown, Massachusetts in 1874, MacMillan lived in Freeport, Maine after the deaths of both his parents in 1883 (his father died while captaining a Grand Banks fishing schooner) and 1886 (his mother died suddenly), and was educated at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, graduating in 1898 with a degree in geology. He later taught at Worcester Academy from 1903 to 1908.
After five years as a high school teacher, MacMillan caught the attention of explorer and fellow Bowdoin graduate Robert E. Peary when he saved the lives of nine shipwrecked people in two nights. Peary subsequently invited MacMillan to join his 1908 journey to the North Pole. Although MacMillan himself had to turn back at 84°29′ on March 14 because of frozen heels, Peary allegedly reached the Pole 26 days later.
MacMillan spent the next few years traveling in Labrador, carrying out ethnological studies among the Innu and Inuit. He organized and commanded the ill-fated Crocker Land Expedition to northern Greenland in 1913. Unfortunately Crocker Land turned out to be a mirage.
While looking for Crocker Land, MacMillan took many photographs, not least of all these sensational pictures of the sun rising and setting over the ice.