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Henry Hudson

Henry Hudson, mariner, explorer (born c. 1570 in England; disappeared 1611). Hudson was among a long list of explorers who searched in vain for a northern passage through Arctic waters from Europe to East Asia. He made four voyages historians are aware of, in 1607, 1608, 1609 and 1610–11. While he never found a route, in Canada, Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait are named for him, as well as the Hudson River in New York state. He disappeared, along with his son and seven companions, after being set adrift in a ship’s boat during a mutiny on James Bay in June 1611. (See also Northwest Passage; Arctic Exploration.)

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Henry Kelsey

Henry Kelsey, explorer, fur trader, sailor (born c. 1667 in East Greenwich near London, England; died 1724 in East Greenwich, England). Kelsey was an explorer and trader who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) for nearly 40 years. He helped establish the Company’s fur trade operations at York Fort on the west coast of Hudson Bay and at Fort Albany on James Bay. Kelsey is best known for his two-year journey from Hudson Bay to the western interior between 1690 and 1692, making him the first European to see the Prairies. His goal was to encourage Indigenous peoples living inland to travel to York Fort to trade their furs.

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Pierre Dugua de Mons

Pierre Dugua de Mons (or Du Gua de Monts), colonizer, explorer, trader (born c. 1558 in Royan, France; died 22 February1628 near Fléac-sur-Seugne, France). Pierre Dugua de Mons oversaw the founding of Port Royal, in Acadia (present-day Annapolis Royal), and Quebec City, Quebec. These two places were the first successful French settlements in North America. At a time of significant religious tension in France, there were few people involved in that kingdom’s exploration and settlement of North America that better represent the social, political and religious context of the early 17th century. Both Samuel de Champlain and Mathieu Da Costa, who are better known from this period, were de Mons’s employees and acted under his direction. De Mons’s legacy has been overshadowed by Champlain in part because Champlain wrote extensively about his work, whereas de Mons did not. In addition, in some of Champlain’s writings he replaced de Mons with himself.

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Vancouver Feature: Gassy Jack Lands on the Burrard Shore

When Capt. Jack Deighton and his family pulled their canoe onto the south shore of the Burrrard Inlet in 1867, Jack was on one more search for riches. He had been a sailor on British and American ships, rushed for gold in California and the Cariboo, piloted boats on the Fraser River and ran a tavern in New Westminster. He was broke again, but he wasted no time in starting a new business and building the settlement that would become Vancouver.

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Eenoolooapik

Eenoolooapik, also known as Bobbie, Inuk traveller, guide (born circa 1820 in Qimisuk [or Qimmiqsut], Cumberland Sound, NT; died in 1847 in Cumberland Sound, NU). Eenoolooapik provided British whaling captain William Penny with a map of Cumberland Sound that led to the rediscovery of that area 255 years after English explorer John Davis first saw it. The geographic information Eenoolooapik provided to whalers led to years of permanent whaling camps in Cumberland Sound.

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Jacques Cartier

Jacques Cartier, navigator (born between 7 June and 23 December 1491 in Saint-Malo, France; died 1 September 1557 in Saint-Malo, France). From 1534 to 1542, Cartier led three maritime expeditions to the interior of the Gulf of the St. Lawrence River. During these expeditions, he explored, but more importantly accurately mapped for the first time the interior of the river, from the Gulf to Montreal (see also History of Cartography in Canada). For this navigational prowess, Cartier is still considered by many as the founder of “Canada.” At the time, however, this term described only the region immediately surrounding Quebec. Cartier’s upstream navigation of the St. Lawrence River in the 16th century ultimately led to France occupying this part of North America.

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John Cabot

John Cabot (a.k.a. Giovanni Caboto), merchant, explorer (born before 1450 in Italy, died at an unknown place and date). In 1496, King Henry VII of England granted Cabot the right to sail in search of a westward trade route to Asia and lands unclaimed by Christian monarchs. Cabot mounted three voyages, the second of which, in 1497, was the most successful. During this journey Cabot coasted the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador, possibly sighted the Beothuk or Innu people of the region, and famously noted that the waters teemed with cod. At the time, the land Cabot saw was thought to be the eastern shore of Asia, the fabled island of Brasil, or the equally fabled Isle of Seven Cities. Cabot and his crew were the second group of Europeans to reach what would become Canada, following Norse explorers around 1000 CE. Despite not yielding the trade route Cabot hoped for, the 1497 voyage provided England with a claim to North America and knowledge of an enormous new fishery.

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Erik the Red

Erik the Red (Eiríkr rauða in Old Norse and Eiríkur rauði in modern Icelandic, a.k.a. Erik Thorvaldsson), colonizer, explorer, chief (born in the Jæren district in Norway; died c. 1000 CE at Brattahlid, Greenland). An Icelandic settler of modest means who was exiled for his involvement in a violent dispute, Erik the Red rose in status as he explored Greenland and founded the first Norse settlement there. One of his sons, Leif Eriksson, led some of the first European explorations of the east coast of North America, including regions that are now part of Arctic and Atlantic Canada.

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Leif Eriksson

Leif Eriksson (Old Norse Leifr Eiríksson, a.k.a. Leifr hinn heppni, Leif the Lucky), explorer, chieftain (born in the 970s CE in Iceland; died between 1018 and 1025 in Greenland). Leif Eriksson was the first European to explore the east coast of North America, including areas that are now part of Arctic and Atlantic Canada. Upon the death of his father, Erik the Red, Leif became paramount chieftain of the Norse colony in Greenland. The two main sources on him are The Saga of the Greenlanders and The Saga of Erik the Red. There are also references to him in The Saga of Olaf Tryggvason and The Saga of St. Olaf.

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Prince George

Prince George, British Columbia, incorporated as a city in 1915, population 74,003 (2016 census), 71,974 (2011 census). Prince George is the largest city in the northern part of the province. It is situated in the geographical centre of British Columbia at the junction of the Nechako and Fraser rivers. Prince George was founded on the traditional territory of the Lheidli T'enneh, a sub-group of the Dakelh or Carrier Dene. The Dakelh aided Alexander Mackenzie on his journey to the Pacific coast in 1793.

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Tookoolito

Tookoolito, also known as Hannah and Taqulittuq (born in 1838 near Cumberland Sound, NU; died 31 December 1876 in Groton, Connecticut), Inuk translator and guide to American explorer Charles Francis Hall. Tookoolito and her husband, Ebierbing (traditionally spelt Ipiirvik), were well-known Inuit explorers of the 19th century who significantly contributed to non-Inuit’s knowledge of the North. The Government of Canada has recognized Tookoolito and Ebierbing as National Historic Persons.

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Karlsefni

Thorfinn Karlsefni (Old Norse Þórfinnr Karlsefni), explorer and trader (born c. 980–95 CE in Iceland; year of death unknown). Born Thorfinn Thordarson, this Icelandic aristocrat and wealthy merchant ship owner led one of the Norse expeditions to Vinland, located in what is now Atlantic Canada. He is usually referred to by his nickname, Karlsefni, meaning “the makings of a man.” Karlsefni appears in several historical sources. A long passage in The Saga of the Greenlanders is devoted to him, and he is the chief subject of The Saga of Erik the Red. There are also short accounts in the Old Norse manuscripts known as the Arni Magnusson codex 770b and Vellum codex No. 192.

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Samuel de Champlain

Samuel de Champlain, cartographer, explorer, colonial administrator, author (born circa 1567 in Brouage, France; died 25 December 1635 in Quebec City). Known as the “Father of New France,” Samuel de Champlain played a major role in establishing New France from 1603 to 1635. He is also credited with founding Quebec City in 1608. He explored the Atlantic coastline (in Acadia), the Canadian interior and the Great Lakes region. He also helped found French colonies in Acadia and at Trois-Rivières, and he established friendly relations and alliances with many First Nations, including the Montagnais, the Huron, the Odawa and the Nipissing. For many years, he was the chief person responsible for administrating the colony of New France. Champlain published four books as well as several maps of North America. His works are the only written account of New France at the beginning of the 17th century.