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Birth of Alexander M. Sibiryakov, trade and industry worker, philanthropist, organizer of expeditions on the study of Siberia and the Arctic

8 October 1849

September 26 (October 8) 1849 in Irkutsk was born Alexander M. Sibiryakov, merchant, owner of gold mines, major philanthropist, one of the most active supporters of the Northern Sea Route.

Alexander Mikhailovich belonged to an old merchant family of Sibiryakovs which settled in Irkutsk in early 18th century. Alexander’s father was a merchant of the top guild, co-owned distilleries, of rich gold mines, of the Bodaibo Railway and of steamship line.

After graduating from high school, Alexander went to study in Switzerland, to the Zurich Polytechnic. After his father's death, had successfully continued his business, having obtained the right to participate in several gold mining companies, as well as the "Company of Lena-Vitim Shipping," the largest shipping company in the system of the Lena. In addition, he acquired the Alexander Nevsky glass factory and stationery factory; in 1885 created a Towing Company on the Angara River; and in 1894 - the Amur Shipping and Trade Society.

Pursuing entrepreneurship, Sibiryakov dreamed of developing Siberia by "improving communication lines, creating of roads and canals there, establishing of maritime relations with the neighboring countries." He made the first steps in this direction as soon as he entered the inheritance rights: in 1875 and 1876 Sibiryakov sponsored the navigation of Scottish Captain, W. Wiggins. The most significant enterprise of Sibiryakov was his contribution to the organization of the famous expedition of A. E. Nordenskiold to the Northeast Passage and around Eurasia in 1878-1880. The information about Siberia and the state of the ice in the adjacent seas that Alexander provided to the expedition was very important for its preparation.

Besides "Vega", the main vessel, the expedition included the steamer "Lena", built in Sweden by means of Sibiryakov, and "Fraser" and "Express" that he had chartered. The vessels were supposed to deliver European goods to the Yenisei, and Siberian bread back to Europe. In 1879, in search of the expedition of Nordenskiöld, who had not given news for a long time, Sibiryakov sent his steamer to the mouth of the Yenisei and provided means to study the region adjacent to the Arctic Ocean. Sweden appreciated the merits of all the organizers and the participants of the expedition. Siberyakov was awarded the Order of the Polar Star, elected an honorary member of the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography, corresponding member of the Society of sailors, a member of the scientific and literary societies of the city of Gothenburg.

In the 1880s, Sibiriakov explored the estuaries of Pechora, Yenisey, Ob, Amur, and the coast of Kara and Okhotsk Seas, land routes between the rivers of Western and Eastern Siberia. He discovered an important trade route from Pechora to Ob, later known as Sibiryakov Route to the north. The route was used to export Siberian goods to the Pechora region, to Mezensky County, to Murmansk coast, to northern Norway, and Denmark. Establishment of the connection between Ob and Pechora was only part of an extensive plan of Alexander Mikhailovich to connect all major areas of Siberia, both among themselves and with the European Russia and other countries. In 1876, he sponsored the Society of German North Pole expedition in Bremen, which sent its naturalists, O. Finsch and A. Brehm to Ob. For the support of a French expedition, traveling from Kazan to the Urals via Sibiryakov Route, he was awarded the "Olive Branch."

Alexander Mikhailovich paid much attention to the development of education and culture in Siberia. In 1878 he donated 100, 000 rubles to the first Siberian University in Tomsk. In 1880 he purchased and donated to the university the book collection of Vasily Zhukovsky, and in 1882 handed over to botanical and zoological university museums the collections of Nordenskiöld’s expedition to the polar regions of Siberia and America. Sibiryakov donated large sums for the establishment and maintenance of four elementary schools n. a. A. M. Kladischevoy in Irkutsk, the establishment of the Higher Technical School, of a printing plant of the "Siberia" newspaper, for the construction and improvement of the churches. He provided the sum of 10 thousand rubles to the Academy of Sciences: on which every three years a prize for the best historical work on Siberia was to be awarded using the interest of the sum.

In 1893, Alexander Mikhailovich was awarded the title of honorary citizen of Irkutsk, and in 1904, Sibiryakov was elected honorary member of the Tomsk University.

About 30 articles published in 1881-1914, mainly in "Siberian Life" newspaper of Tomsk, Sibiryakov devoted to the problems of Siberian communication with other countries. In 1910, in Zurich, was published his book "On the external relations of Siberia with Europe."

In early twentieth century, Alexander Mikhailovich retired from active entrepreneurship, handed the business over to his son and left Irkutsk.

The biggest benefactor of Arctic research in Russia, who had subsidized several Swedish polar expeditions, died in poverty and loneliness November 2, 1933 in a Swiss hospital and was buried at the Russian cemetery near Nice.

After Sibiryakov have been named islands in the Kara Sea and the Sea of Japan, as well as two icebreakers, one of which in 1932 made the first in history through voyage along the Northern Sea Route from the White Sea to the Bering Sea, within one navigation.

Lit.: Вехов Н. В. Сибиряковы // Московский журнал. 2001. № 6. С. 15-21; Голубчиков С. Н. Взойдёт ли вновь звезда Сибирякова?: к 150-летию со дня рождения А. М. Сибирякова // Энергия: экономика, техника, экология. 1999. № 7. С. 61-66; Краткая энциклопедия истории купечества и коммерции Сибири: в 4 т. // Новосибирск, 1997. Т. 4 (С-Я). Кн. 1. С. 50-52; Мешалкин П. Н. Меценатство и благотворительность сибирских купцов-предпринимателей. Красноярск, 1995. С. 78-80; Потапов И. Ф. Красноярск: история в документах и фотографиях. Красноярск, 2007. С. 186-188; Северная энциклопедия // М., 2004. С. 892-893; Сибиряков А. М. К вопросу о внешних рынках Сибири. Тобольск, 1894; Он же. О путях сообщения Сибири и морских сношений её с другими странами. СПб., 1907; Он же. Очерк из Забайкальской жизни. СПб., 1878; Он же. Плавание парохода «Оскар Диксон» к устьям Енисея в 1880 // Изв. Русского географического общества. 1881. Т. 17. Вып. 1; Соловьёва Б. А. Александр Михайлович Сибиряков // Природа. № 9. 2000.