Collage of sepia photos

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Introduction

Leaving Nome, Alaska, in the summer of 1913, these Canadian explorers mapped most of Arctic Canada. Aided by the Inuit, the scientists travelled by dogsled, creating and correcting maps of the Canadian Arctic. The expedition was practically out of contact with Canadian society for three years, returning in 1916 to a war in Europe they knew nothing about, and with impressive artefacts and geological research which can be found in museums across Canada to this day.

Picture a group of thirty rugged men of many sorts and disciplines and from many different countries, gathered together with their two leaders for the first time, in the tiny coastal village of Nome, Alaska. It was July of 1913. They had no inkling of a world war starting the next year. They simply looked ahead to exploration and research in the icy wilderness of Canada’s Arctic for the next three years. Seventeen of those men would not return home. Most of the scientists, after working and living alongside the people of the north, returned almost four years later, scarcely informed about the war, and carrying with them thousands of artifacts, crates of specimens, photos, film and sound recordings; scientific data and knowledge which has been used in Arctic science ever since. Later the others returned, having carried the Canadian flag to 80° north, and having claimed three new islands for Canada.

Much of the story of this first major Canadian scientific expedition to the Arctic is yet untold. Though fourteen volumes of scientific data were published, and books have been written on the most tragic or adventuresome parts of the Expedition, much of the fascinating story has remained buried in Expedition diaries until now. Through this virtual exhibition you can explore first-hand the rugged lands and meet the people of the Canadian Arctic.

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