Minutes of an Ordinary Meeting of the Old Glasgow Club

Held at Adelaides, 209 Bath Street

On Thursday 8th January 2015 at 7.30pm




68 people



Ms Petrina Cairns (President)



Ms Cairns wished everyone a Happy New Year and a happy and healthy 2015. Members and visitors were welcomed to the first OGC meeting of 2015.


Ms Cairns wished a special Happy Birthday to Janette Knox who was 90 years young on the 3rd of January. Everyone sang a rousing rendition of 'Happy Birthday to You" for Janette and wished her well.


The fire drill procedures and house keeping rules were explained and all mobile phones were requested to be set to silent or off.


Ms Cairns also stated that now the weather has changed, members and visitors should be thinking about contingency plans should there be adverse weather conditions. If you have any doubts about a meeting taking place, please phone Adelaides 0141 248 4970. Should the Directors decide to stand down a meeting, Adelaides will be informed and there would also be a post on the Old Glasgow Club website and facebook page.



Isabel Haddow, Gaynor MacKinnon, Ian Frame, Maureen Robb and Anna Forrest.



The minutes of the last ordinary meeting, held on Thursday 11th December were approved and proposed by Sam Gordon and seconded by Sallie Marshall. There were no amendments or matters arising.

Secretary's Report

Mrs McNae welcomed everyone and wished them a Happy New Year..


Mrs McNae reminded everyone that next months meeting, February, was Members Night. This years theme is

World War I which Petrina is going to tell you about in her President's Report.


The launch of the 2015 St Mungo's Festival was earlier this evening in Glasgow City Chambers. A variety of events will take place over the next few days. These include photography exhibitions, Mungo's Bairns (schoolchildren from eleven primary schools in Glasgow Molendinar Awards), St Mungo's Life and Legends in the Mitchell Library on the 10th January. On the 10th there are activities for the entire family taking place in St Mungo's Museum. And, on the 11th there's an Arts Afternoon for adults taking place at St Mungo's Museum.


Glasgow Churches Together are having an ecumenical service in Glasgow Cathedral at 6.30pm on Sunday, 11th January.


On the Feast Day of St Mungo, 13th January, there will be a short service in Glasgow Cathedral at 12 noon and a 7pm Feast Day Mass in St Mungo's Church, Townhead.


More information on St Mungo's Festival is on peoplemakeglasgow.com


As ever, there's lots going on at all the Glasgow Museums. More information can be found at www.glasgowlife.org.uk  on all current and upcoming events at Glasgow galleries. You can sign up to an e letter informing you of upcoming events like "Alisdair Gray : From the Personal to the Universal" exhibition which is running until 22nd February 2015. This is the centrepiece in a number of events to mark his 80th birthday this year.


Celtic Connections beginning next week, 15th January until 1st February. A full listing of concerts and events can be found at celticconnections.com


For something a wee bit different there's a Whisky Tasting at the Radisson Hotel, Argyle Street on 15th January and a Chocolate Masterclass at Arta, 62 Albion Street. So....something for everyone, especially the Chocolate Masterclass.



President's Report


Firstly, I am sure we were all deeply shocked and saddened when we heard the unfolding of events on December 22nd on Queen Street. Our thought and sympathies go out to everyone affected, I'd like to propose we have a minutes silence in tribute to the 6 people killed. Another dark day in the history of the City.


Also, on behalf of the Club, we wish nurse Pauline Cafferkey from Cambuslang a full recovery from the Ebola infection that she contracted in Sierra Leone. She remains in a critical condition.


Looking forward, 2015 promises to be another busy year. Joyce's Report highlighted some of the events we can look forward to in the City - St Mungo's Festival, Celtic Connections etc.


It's a busy time for the Club Directors. This is when we start to organise next years syllabus, the Summer trip (details of which will be announced soon) on 13th June, the Tappit Hen Tournament and the J.A.S. Wilson Memorial Walk.


Members Night next month will have the theme of Glasgow's WWI. Peter Mortimer and myself have been doing some research into the Pals Battalions which we will incorporate into a short presentation. We hope to have a few other guest speakers too. For those who haven't attended a Members Night, it's a more informal meeting where we have more opportunity to chat, along with a refreshment and nibbles.


Last months speaker, Kenny Forbes gave a wonderful talk on the Apollo. I'm sure it brought back a lot of memories for many of us. I sincerely hope he publishes a book featuring his unique photographs and insight.


The Club's Facebook page is ticking along nicely, we currently have 214 followers. I've found some images with Glasgow's Christmas lights from the 50's and 60's that I am going to post on our page. If anyone has anything of interest that they would like to share, please let me know and I will also post this onto the site.


There's a fabulous exhibition of Margaret Watkins photographs depicting Glasgow in the 1930's at the Hidden Lane Gallery, 1081 Argyle Street. It runs until the 7th February and is really worth a visit. It's also very interesting to see the area's regeneration.


Glasgow Film Festival 18th February until 1st March. A full what's on guide at visitgff.glasgowfilm.org


In keeping with the Glasgow Film Festival, "Jeely Jars and Seeing Stars: Glasgow's Love Affair with the Movies" is on at the Glasgow Room in the Mitchell Library. The exhibition is on from Thursday 12th February until Saturday 28th February.



Ms Cairns introduced tonights speaker, David Carson. David is a retired optical engineer from Barr and Stroud who enjoys hillwalking and photography. He is also the Chairman of Clydebank Local History Society.


David tells us that he has given a talk at the OGC before. It was in 2001 and the subject was cartoons!


David Laird McKinlay was an extraordinary man who made and survived an incredible journey to the Arctic in 1913.


He was born in Clydebank 1888, the first of 8 children, the son of a factory moulder. He was educated in Clydebank school and at the age of 14 became a pupil teacher. William won a scholarship to Glasgow University where he graduated both M.A. and B.Sc. in 1910.


After graduation McKinlay took a job with William Spiers Bruce who had organised and led the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition 1902-04. McKinlay was classifying specimens brought home from this expedition. This work was of great interest to him and would prove to be a life changing experience for him.


When this work came to an end in 1912, he took the post of teaching mathematics at Shawlands Academy. On the 23rd April 2013 a telegraph arrived at Montrose Street inviting him on an expedition to the Arctic. Bruce had recommended him to Vlijhalmar Stefansson for appointment as meteorologist and magnetologist. McKinlay jumped at the chance and  took the overnight train to London to meet Stefansson.

Stefansson had initially wanted to continue his Arctic studies and had initial financial backing. However, he wanted to extend his plans to include geographical exploration in the Beaufort Sea, then a blank space on the world's maps. For this more money was needed, so he approached the Canadian government for assistance. The Canadian government was hopeful that the expedition would strengthen Canada's claim to sovereignty over the Arctic Islands.


McKinlay arrived in Victoria, Vancouver Island on 1st June where the flagship of the expedition was being fitted out. The Karluk was a 29 year old brigantine, 129 feet in length with a beam of 23 feet. She had been built for the fishing industry (karluk is the Aleut word for fish) and later converted for whaling. Captain Bartlett had deep reservations about her fitness

for prolonged Arctic service. She had not been built to withstand sustained ice pressure and lacked the engine power to force a passage through the ice.


In addition to Karluk, Stefansson had purchased unseen a small schooner, 'Alaska' to act as a supply ship for the largely land based southern party. He later added a second schooner, 'Mary Sachs', when the hold space in Alaska proved inadequate. McKinlay was not really impressed by Stefansson, who seemed more interested in talking to the press than organising his ships and expedition parties. In the confusion surrounding their departure, McKinlay said that no attempt was made to align men or equipment to their appropriate parties. He may have been onboard the 'Karluk' but most of his equipment was on board 'Alaska'. Stefansson insisted that all would be sorted out when the ships reached Herschel Island.


The crew consisted of Captain Barlett, Alexander 'Sandy' Anderson (first officer and fellow Scot from Inverkeithing), Charles Barker (second officer), John Munro (chief engineer and fellow Scot from Inveraray), Robert Williamson (second engineer), John Brady (seaman), Archie King (seaman), T. Stanley Morris (seaman), Hugh 'Clam' Williams (seaman), George Breddy (fireman), Fred Maurer (fireman), Robert 'Bob' Templeman (cook), Ernest 'Charlie' Chaff (assistant steward)


The Scientific staff consisted of Vilhjalmur Stefansson (expedition leader), M. Henri Beuchat (anthropologist), Diamond Jenness (anthropologist), Alister Forbes MacKay (surgeon and fellow Scot), George Stewart Malloch (geologist), Bjarne Mamen (assistant topographer), Burt McConnell (secretary), William Laird McKinlay "wee mac" (magnetician/ meteorologist), James Murray (oceanographer), George H Wilkins (photographer).


On 18th June Karluk set sail from Vancouver Island towards Alaska. The immediate destination was Nome on the coast of the Bearing Sea then heading towards Herschel Island. There was trouble from the beginning with the steering gear and the engines as well as the very stormy trip they had.


At Port Clarence, Karluk took 28 dogs on board before crossing the Arctic Circle on the 28th July. On 31st July they reached Point Hope, where two Inuit hunters, known as 'Jerry' and 'Jimmy' joined the ship. The ship eventually reached Cape Smythe on 6th August after drifting in pack ice for 3 days. At Cape Smythe 'Jack Hadley' a fur trapper and long- time acquaintance of Stefansson's joined the crew and was entered in the ship's books as carpenter. Two more Inuit hunters, 'Keraluk' and 'Kataktovik'  joined the expedition, together with Keraluk's family - wife 'Keruk' and two young daughters 'Helen' and 'Mugpi'.


The Karluk struggled to make headway, as Bartlett took the ship northwards away from the coast, following channels of open water and stay away from the pack ice. At 235 miles east of Point Barrow and with a similar distance to Herschel Island the Karluk became firmly trapped in the ice. By 10th September Karluk had retreated nearly 100 miles back towards Point Barrow. The ice moved continuously. Stefansson informed Bartlett that Karluk would have to winter in ice.


On 19th September, Stefansson announced that he would lead a small hunting party for Caribou ! Everybody, including McKinlay thought he was bailing out since he took 'Jimmy'', 'Jerry', Burt McConnell the expedition secretary, George Wilkins the photographer and Diamond Jenness the anthropologist. Whether it was true or not, the crew felt they were being abandoned. Stefansson left Captain Bartlett in charge.


As the weather grew worse and with virtually no daylight at this time of year, Karluk continued to drift. Bartlett ordered supplies and equipment to be transferred on to the ice, both to lighten the ship and as a precaution. It was a very bleak outlook, morale was low and food supplies had to be augmented by seal hunts.


By the end of December land was visible in the distance and morale was slightly lifted but in the New Year the ice began breaking up and forming pressure ridges. At 4.45am on January 10th 1914 a severe shudder and cracking noise shook the whole ship. The ship was being crushed and at 6.45pm a loud bang indicated that the hull had been punctured. Water was pouring into the engine room and with no possibility of the pumps being able to deal with this, the Captain gave orders to abandon ship.  As tradition demands, Captain Bartlett was last to leave the sinking ship.


Shipwreck camp now consisted of 22 men, 1 woman, 2 children, 16 dogs and a cat. Bartlett wanted to wait out the weather but was convinced to send out an advance group to Wrangel Island. A party of 4, led by Karluk's first officer left on 21st January. On 4th February the scout Bjarn Mamen returned to say that he had left the group a few miles from land, land that was evidently not Wrangel Island and probably Herald Island, 38 miles from Wrangel Island. This was the

last sighting of Anderson's party, their fate not know until their remains were found 10 years later on Herald Island.

Bartlett sent a team consisting of Ernest Chafe, Kataktovik and Kuraluk to find out if Anderson had made it. The group came within a few miles of Herald Island before being stopped by open water.


Meanwhile, at camp, 4th February, MacKay, Murray, Beuchat and Morris announced they were leaving and presented a signed letter to Captain Bartlett requesting appropriate supplies and absolving him from all responsibilities. They left on the 5th February. The last sighting of them being when Chafe and his party came upon them when they were returning from their trip to Herald Island. MacKay's party were struggling and refused to go back to Shipwreck Camp.


Bartlett's party now consisted of 8 Karluk crew members, 3 scientists, 5 Inuit and Hadley the fur trapper. Bartlett sent his most experienced team out first to lay down supplies on the route to Wrangel Island to help the more inexperienced groups when they set out. The first two teams left on the 19th February and Bartlett, leading the last two groups on the 24th February. It was arduous going and the broken up ice surface made travel slow and difficult. On 12th March the groups eventually reached a long spit of sand on the northern shores of Wrangel Island.


Because members of the group were injured, weak and frostbitten, Bartlett decided to set off on foot for Siberia with Kataktovik. They set off on 18th March with the sole objective of locating a ship that would come and rescue the group. Munro was left in charge and told to consult with the canny Scot, McKinlay. Bartlett left instructions for them to set up several small camps around the island, which would increase hunting areas and assist general harmony. He wanted all groups to reassemble at Rogers Harbour, on the south side of the island in the middle of July.


Bartlett and Kataktovik reached the northern coast of Siberia on 4th April. On 16th May they reached Emma Harbour where a Captain Pedersen arrived in a whaler and immediately took Bartlett on board and set out for Alaska. They eventually landed at St Michael, Alaska where Bartlett was able to send a radio message to Ottawa informing the goverment of Karluk's fate. The Bear and Captain, along with Bartlett onboard had permission to go to Wrangel Island and rescue the remaining group. At Point Barrow, Bartlett encountered Stefansson's Secretary, McConnell who was onboard the King and Winge. It was the King and Winge that picked up the stranded party from Wrangel Island before transferring them to Bear. The reunited party of 11 survivors, including 4 year old Mugpi arrived at Nome on the 13th September to a great welcome.


McKinlay returned to Clydebank and was given a Civic Reception in Clydebank Town Hall in February 2015. In October of the same year he was pronounced fit and received a commission in the 51st of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and fought on the Western Front.


After the war McKinlay went back to teaching and became headmaster of Mount School, Greenock in the 1930s. He was a pioneer of school summer camps and was awarded an MBE when he retired in 1953 for his work with youth. He was also made a Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland.


McKinlay had promised his family that he would write his story, this turned into the book "Karluk: The Great Untold Story of Arctic Exploration". Published in 1976, when he was 87. In 1979, at the age of 90 he accepted an invitation to revisit the Arctic. When he was born the Doctor said that it was unlikely that he would survive and here, he reached the grand old age of 93/94 (1888-1983).


This talk came about because my brother-in-law came across the "Karluk" book in a charity shop in Bristol and thought I would be interested because I am also from Clydebank. I did a little bit of detective work and phoned the publishers to ask where the royalties were going. It turned out that McKinlay's daughter, Nancy was alive and living in Kilmacolm. I went to meet her and she generously allowed me to see her fathers albums.


Q  David, I think that we all enjoyed your talk tonight. Can you tell us if William Laird McKinlay was the first Scottish

     explorer at the Artic ?

A  No, there were lots who had gone before him, like the Hudson Bay Company.

Q  What happened to the other two ships ?

A  They survived but were stuck in the ice for a while. They had a few casualties on board.

Q  Did William's daughter, Nancy have any children ?

A  Yes, 2 girls, Trisha Scott (the actress) and Jennifer who had gone to Canada and had 2 sons. I shouldn't really say this

    but Nancy was murdered by her daughter Jennifer in 2003. Jennifer had been drinking and taking drugs when she

    attacked her mother and then tried to take her own life. The home help found Nancy. Jennifer was tried and sent to

    Carstairs. I have no idea if she is still there.


Vote of Thanks

Cameron Low said that he had been asked to give a vote of thanks to David for his wonderful talk on William Laird McKinlay. Thank goodness David's talk was every bit as good as when he spoke at the Rutherglen Probus Club since it was me who recommended him.

My Dad told me about William Laird McKinlay when I was 7, he had to eat his own boots. My Dad was a teacher when McKinlay was Head Master and they used to meet, eat and drink at our house. So, I can say that I have met the man who ate his boots.


Q Which Glasgow library was the final Carnegie library to be built. ? A  Langside Library. Winner was Marion McGuigan


AOCB - None


Next Directors Meeting - 22nd January 2015                                                                              Shona Crozer

Next Ordinary Meeting / Members Night - 12th February 2015                                                 Recording Secretary