The Search for The North West Passage

Beginning in the late Elizabethan age English seafarers, such as Frobisher, Davis and Hudson began to explore for a north west passage to Russia and the Far East. All these early efforts were defeated by cold, wild weather and ice. It was not until the mid 18th century that land based exploration reached the shore of the Beaufort sea. In the early 19th Cent both sea and land exploration was very active with Ross finding the magnetic pole and Sir John Franklin undertaking a number of near disastrous land expeditions north of the Great Slave Lake. In 1845 Franklin commanded a British expedition in two steam powered ships to search for the fabled NW Passage. The entire expedition perished and some 40 subsequent search expeditions progressively pieced together the story of the tragedy, but it was not until the 1980’s that lead poisoning was shown to be a major factor in the disaster.

This class will be delivered online via the online platform Zoom. Enrolling students need to ensure they have an email, a reliable internet connection, microphone/speakers and access to a tablet, smartphone or computer.


  • Owen Beattie & John Geiger, Frozen in Time. Bloomsbury 1987
  • James Delgado, Across the Top of the World: The Quest for the Nortwest Passage. D&M Publishers 2009

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