The Land That Devours Ships: The Search for the Breadalbane


191 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 0-88794-196-6






Reviewed by George A. Rawlyk

G.A. Rawlyk is a history professor at Queen’s University and the
author of Champions of the Truth: Fundamentalism, Modernism, and the
Maritime Baptists.


The British vessel the Breadalbane was, on August 21, 1853, crushed by Arctic ice off Beechey Island, on Lancaster Sound, northwest of Baffin Island. The supply ship quickly sank in some 100 meters of water about 1000 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. In 1971, Dr. Joe MacInnis, the expert marine scientist and diver, resolved to find the Breadalbane. Locating the ship in its Arctic grave became an obsession with MacInnis. The actual search began in August 1978. In May 1983 a diving crew led by MacInnis set foot on the deck of the Breadalbane. The Land that Devours Ships is a fascinating story of the search for the Breadalbane.

Not only is MacInnis an outstanding diver and marine scientist, he is also a first-class writer. He brilliantly weaves together a sensitive description of his five-year search for the Breadalbane with journal excerpts written by W.H. Fawckner, who served on the ship in 1853. The end result is a powerful and evocative descriptive narrative. There are some excellent photographs, but the volume would have certainly benefitted from a better map and a more tastefully designed cover.


MacInnis, Joe, “The Land That Devours Ships: The Search for the Breadalbane,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 12, 2024,