Four Degrees Celsius

Overview

A dramatic story of the rescue of eight men on a prospecting mission in the Arctic that covers a period of four suspenseful months in the fall of 1929.

This true story began in August 1929. A group of eight prospectors, led by C.D.H. MacAlpine of the Dominion Explorers, flew into the Arctic in search of mineral wealth. Grossly underequipped, the expedition ran out of fuel and was stranded above the Arctic Circle. Within days, Western Canada Airways sent a rescue team headed by Captain Andy Cruickshank, in what was to become the most extensive aviation search in Canadian history.

The searchers encountered trouble: turbulent weather, forced landings, and plane crashes. The prospectors were also struggling, as they waited edgily for freeze-up and the anticipated crossing to Cambridge Bay. While Cruickshank and his team were trying to reconstruct a damaged aircraft, MacAlpine and his men were forced to run more than 112 kilometres on barely frozen ice to arrive at Cambridge Bay, where they still awaited rescue.

Reviews

The MacAlpine search and rescue was one of the most expensive successful search and rescues in the twentieth centur y. [This] book brings the reader into an intimate association with the imperilled men marooned in the Arctic in 1929, like no other written work I have read on the subject. A great read!

This is a well-crafted story that captures the heart and the imagination. It portrays in colourful detail the hardships suffered by both the lost members of the MacAlpine Party and the group of dedicated searchers. The author has presented a picture of the sheer determination of Cruickshank and the pilots and air engineers who overcame almost insurmountable odds to safely bring home all of the missing adventurers. What could have been a tragedy was instead a triumph, and credit must be given to the Inuit who contributed generously and unselfishly wherever they were needed. If you enjoy a tale designed to keep you glued to your seat from beginning to end, this book is for you.

Kerry has used the diaries of her grandfather Andy Cruickshank, one of the search pilots, and Richard Pearce, one of the survivors of the MacAlpine Expedition, to bring a human dimension to the technical aspects of the 1929 aerial search and rescue as well as some new information. What is already a riveting story is all the more fascinating when Kerry brings to light that lessons learned from the survivors were applied in the NASA space program.

Combining entries from her grandfather’s diary with other reports and sources from the MacAlpine expedition, Karram’s book tells a tale of misadventure and recovery that is worth reading.

Altitude magazine

This narrative history has much to recommend it, and readers will be carried along by Karram’s writing, as well as the book’s excellent structure and pacing. In Four Degrees Celsius, Karram has not only documented part of her family’s history in thrilling detail, but an important chapter in Canada’s aviation heritage.

What’s Up magazine (July, 2013)

About the Author

Kerry Karram

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014
Kerry Karram photo

Kerry Karram

Kerry Karram uses the handwritten diary of Inspector F.J. Fitzgerald to chronicle the harrowing ordeal of four NWMP officers lost in the Yukon wilderness for 52 days in the winter of 1910-11. Death Wins in the Arctic reflects her deep interest in Canadian history and her love for the North. She lives in North Vancouver with her family.