The Search for the Northwest Passage
For four hundred years, explorers tried to find a way through the Northwest Passage. None succeeded until one Norwegian crew made it through, with a little help from the locals.
North of the Canadian mainland lies a large group of islands, the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. It was this area – 1,700 nautical miles across and made up of approximately 36,500 islands – that various European sailors and scientists tried to navigate through in the 15th century, searching for new trading routes to Asia.
With deficient maps and winter temperatures of -40°C or colder, almost all who tried would ultimately have to abandon their attempt, frustrated by the passage’s labyrinth of channels which were dominated by ice most of the year. Some expeditions met with a sad end, but there was one that succeeded where others had failed.