Synopsis: One of the world’s greatest stories of exploration was the 400-year-old quest by a series of valiant adventurers in small ships to find the fabled 'Northwest Passage' across the top of North America. From 1500 to 1900, their incremental voyages were the equivalent of the 20th century Apollo Program to land humans on the moon then return them safely back home. The early European searchers for the Northwest Passage were the astronauts of their era.
For centuries, Europeans sought the elusive Northwest Passage that was thought to be an open sea route, a short cut through the Arctic ice, from Europe to the Pacific Ocean and the riches of Cathay (China) and Asia. This northern way would avoid both the much longer sea journey around the tip of South America, which was jealously guarded by Spain and Portugal or, a trek across the interior of the North American continent.
Early visitors to Canada’s eastern and northern coasts included Viking sailors and Basque whalers. Then came prominent explorers like John Cabot, Jacques Cartier, Martin Frobisher and Sir John Franklin. On the Pacific side, James Cook and George Vancouver sought a western outlet of the Passage while Samuel Hearne and Alexander Mackenzie searched overland. John Rae found the remnants of Franklin’s lost expedition and Roald Amundsen found one of the water routes through the Passage in 1905-06.
But, instead of being the route to instant fame and fortune, this Passage was the perilous route to centuries of disaster, despair and death. And today it is still the subject of controversy and competing sovereignty claims. Now that temperature change once again threatens to melt much of the Arctic ice cap, conflicts over transiting the Northwest Passage and harvesting the resource riches of the Arctic, are intensifying. So, in the 21st century, is it still the Northwest Passage or the Canadian Arctic Passage? 150 pp.
ISBN: 10:1-55277-432-5; 13: 978-1-55277-432-8
Available: Chapters Indigo, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, from the author
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