Show Navigation

Collectors & Explorers

Sir John Ross

Sir John Ross' Beef Can

19th Century

Admiral Sir John Ross took this beef can on three expeditions to the North Pole.


The can is first recorded in 1812 when it went on a voyage to Bermuda.  By 1818 it had been acquired by John Ross and accompanied him on his first Arctic expedition in search of the North West Passage.  Ross, who was born at Inch near Stranraer in 1777, was to become one of Britain’s best known Polar explorers.  The can went back to the Arctic with Ross in 1829 and returned, still unopened, in 1833.


Ross presented the can to the Stair family of Lochinch Castle where it remained for many years. Then in 1869 it was finally opened to mark the 21st birthday of the Earl of Stair. The meat, despite its great age, was eaten.  It was pronounced “quite good” and all the party guests survived the meal.


The North West Castle, Sir John Ross’s Stranraer home, is now a hotel.

Stranraer Museum
Accession number:
Digital Number:
Creation Date:
Dumfries & Galloway Council

Alternative Views:

alternative small picturealternative small picturealternative small picture