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021113 The Arctic Grail.doc

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GEO 605
David Atkinson

GEO605 Geography of the Canadian North 021113 The Arctic Grail: The Northwest Passage THE FIRST EXPLORERS • 330BC Greek mathematician, astronomer, and geographer Pytheas sailed from Marsilles to Scotland to Iceland • 874AD – First Viking settlements in Iceland (by 930AD 40,000 Norse in Iceland) • By 1500 Viking settlements in Greenland were abandoned (change in climate and conflict with newly arrived Thule) THE NORTH WEST PASSAGE • Started in the south to explore various islands • Used sailing passages to discover the Northwest Passage between 1500 and 1868 (?) • Only after aircrafts invented, detailed images of islands discovered • Probing of the southern area and the north to the discovery of Hudson Bay • Hoping to discover passage rather than a large bay 16TH AND 17TH CENTURY • Martin Frobisher (named from Frobisher Bay) o Voyage 1 (1576) – mapped Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island  Thought he found gold  Five of his crew were captured by Inuit  An Inuk was captured and taken to England o Voyage 2 (1577) – for commercial reasons thinking they discovered gold  Largest expedition to the Arctic with 3 ships  200 tons of ore on Frobisher Bay (was not gold; it was Iron Pyrite) o Voyage 3 (1578) – lead by Davis Straight mapped southern Greenland, Across the Davis Strait, to Cumberland Sound  To this day, the largest expedition to the Canadian Arctic  1350 tons of ore • Henry Hudson sailed into Hudson Straight and into a huge expanse of water which he thought he was in the pacific o Reached the southern coast to the Bay and was forced to winter  First European to over winter since the Vikings o 22 crew died but he wanted to continue to explore • 1616 – Robert Bylot and William Baffin (their second voyage) o Found very favorable ice conditions – Jones, Smith, and Lancaster Sound o These names of the explorers are the names of the islands • 1631 – Thomas James sailed to the bottom to discover James Bay • 1632 – it was clear that there was no entrance to the Northwest passage in the Hudson Bay • Practical route did not exist – for 200 years there wasn`t much in the realm of arctic exploration BRITISH EXPLORATION 1818-1845 • 1818 – The British Admiralty sent two ships under the direction of John Barrow o John Ross in command and William Parry in the second ship • Ships were made of wood; not a good material in this environment especially when the ice contracts and expands by 10% • Outfit for exploring was made of wool, which is absorbs sweat and water making it heavy to travel • Ross and Parry rediscovered Baffin Bay and sailed 40KM into Lancaster Sound GEO605 Geography of the Canadian North o Rediscovered Baffin Bay because it’s been 200 years since its last discovery o Lancaster Sound is currently what we consider the Northwest Passage • Ross “was certain” he saw ice and mountain range across the bay so he turned around o Parry didn’t see any mountains and thought it was open water o Ross was mocked back in England about the “Mountains” and loses position in the Navy o There actually wasn’t any mountains or ice THE BOUNTY • Admiralty set goals if a ship passed a particular line of longitude they would receive the Prize the “Bounty” 110 degrees • Theories that if you passed 110 degrees west, considered you went through majority of NA and the end of the Northwest Passage WILLIAM PARRY • 1819 – Parry set out with two ships o Helca and Griper with James Ross • Found Lancaster Sound empty of ice and sailed down Price Regent Sound, but missed Bellot Straight o Bellot Straight is hard to find because always blocked with ice and has high mountains on both sides o If discovered at the time, would have been able to complete the NW passage • Went back to Lancaster Sound all the way to Melville Island • By late September they were stopped by ice and spent the winter at Winter Harbour, Cape Bounty MELVILLE ISLAND • Winter Harbour is passed 110 degrees therefore they passed Cape Bounty • Equally passed through borderline of Alberta
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