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Northwest Passages

29 Apr

The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways amidst the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Sought by explorers for centuries as a possible trade route, it was first navigated by Roald Amundsen in 1903–1906. Before that it attracted an almost mythical significance as the link between Asia and the Americas and numerous attempts were made to map it. Perhaps the most famous (or rather infamous) of these was the ‘Lost Expedition’ of Sir John Franklin. This was a doomed British voyage of Arctic exploration which departed in 1845. Much-heralded at the time as the British Empire’s grand effort to explore one of the last frontiers of mankind, it ended in death, despair and darkness. Despite the expedition’s failure, the Victorian media nevertheless portrayed Franklin as a hero. It was only many years later that the horrific truth of what happened to Franklin and his men gradually  began to emerge.

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