North West Passage Territories – Early History

Controversy over the North West Passage


I thought it might be interesting to have a brief look at the history of the area; to maybe better understand the controversy over who owns the waters of the North West Passage.

  • Originally there were the First Nations, Inuits from Mackenzie, Copper, Caribou and Central nation and First Nations  Peoples lived in this area well before European explorers came.
  • In the 1570’s, Martin Frobisher, an English sea captain and privateer ( licensed Pirate) made three attempts to find the NorthWest passage: managing to find and name Frobisher Bay and land on Baffin Island. It here he found his ‘gold ore’ and later returned to collect more. This ore turned out to be Fool’s gold or iron pyrite and after the third expedition funding was not available, so he did not again return to the area.
  • Frobisher’s discovery though increased interest in the area and led to the exploration of the interior by explorers many of whom where british and belonged to The Company of Merchants of London, Discoverers of the North-West Passage , formed in 1612.
  • In 1612 the King of England, King Charles 11 gave a charter to what is now known as the Hudson Bay Company

I have found looking at the history of the area fascinating and so much it is difficult to narrow it down. I wandered off track for a while following some really interesting information on the Inuits and First Nations – far too much to write in one post. So maybe as this blog continues I can share some of what I am finding and trying to understand. I am planning to look from the 1700’s next post ( that’s if I do not get sidetracked again). Also I would be really interested in what are your thoughts on ownership of the NW Passage?

In my wanderings I found this song –  it was a favourite of my granddad. Enjoy Stan Rogers, North West Passage.