Explore Topic: The Early Explorers

The first written accounts of the landscape and indigenous populations of the North were provided by the early explorers.  The Alaska Canada Barrenlands Traverse will visit a number of historic sites and travel in the shadow of a number of early northern explorers.

British explorer Sir John Franklin led several well-documented expeditions to the Canadian North in the first half of the 19th century. We will cross his path in the Great Bear Lake region and again in the Barrenlands. At the very moment that Alexander Murray was notching the logs for the new Fort Yukon trading post in the summer of 1847, Franklin and 130 of his men were dying fifteen hundred miles to the northeast in search of the famed Northwest Passage. It would be more than a decade before the world confirmed what happened to the missing Franklin expedition. The intervening search to discover their fate touched off an era of exploration that mapped most of the Canadian Arctic. Have your students research on their own and learn what they can about this prominent explorer.  

In addition to Franklin, have students do web-searches on these early Barrenlands explorers:
George Back
Samuel Hearne
Peter Warren Dease and Thomas Simpson
David Hanbury
Vilhjalmer Stefannson
John Hornby




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