This summer, the European Space Agency (ESA) reported that the Northwest (or North West) Passage was completely clear of ice for the first time since records began. A BBC science and environment correspondent, David Shukman, is currently aboard a Canadian Coast Guard research vessel, the Amundsen and is keeping a blog of its journey through the Northwest Passage.
The Northwest Passage, described as the "sea route linking the North Atlantic Ocean with the North Pacific Ocean" (Cited in Day 2006, xxxiii), has fascinated explorers since its existence was first proposed in the late 15th century. For some four hundred years numerous expeditions sought to navigate this most elusive of sea routes. All failed to discover the passage in its entirety and many perished in the attempt. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the route was successfully navigated from one end to the other by Roald Amundsen in an expedition the lasted from 1903-1906.
The Caird Library has a wonderful collection of material relating to the search for the Northwest Passage including maps, diaries, expedition accounts, and books. Listed below is a small selection of material relating to the many expeditions in chronological order.
1497-1498 : John Cabot
1576-1578 : Martin Frobisher
1585-1587 : John Davis
1767-1772 : Samuel Hearne
1631-1632 : Thomas James
1819-1848 : William Parry
1821-1822 : John Franklin
1850-1853 : Robert McClure
Gary (Assistant Librarian)