Talks and Presentations

Forget the dates, let’s talk about the deeds.

There is nothing more fascinating than Canadian Arctic history. The cast of characters that ventured into the North and their exploits – exploring, mapping, cairn building, and flag raising – are what make our history come alive.

I am enthusiastic about the incredible, intrepid men and the expeditions that took them throughout the Arctic and subarctic. I am always keen to share this history. Contact me at s.l.osborne{at}rogers{dot}com if you’d like me to come speak to your class or group.


The Strait Story

The Strait Story: The Hudson Strait & Bay Expeditions, 1884-1912
In the 1880s, Prairie farmers petitioned for a quicker, cheaper route to grain markets in Europe. A route from a railway port on western Hudson Bay, across Hudson Bay and through the Strait to the Atlantic waters seemed ideal. To assess the navigability of this Hudson Bay and Strait route, the Dominion government sent up an annual expedition ship to traverse the strait, and set up observation posts to study ice and meteorological conditions.

NWP Holding slide.2

The Ins and Outs of the Northwest Passage
Going over the top of the world was the quickest route from Europe to the riches of the Orient. Over several centuries, the British government sent numerous expeditions in search of this route. The determination to find the Northwest Passage heightened in the 19th century.  The search for Sir John Franklin’s missing expedition from 1848 to 1859 led to the mapping of almost all of the islands in the Archipelago. However, although it resulted in the Northwest Passage being identified, no transit was made until the early 20th century.


In the Shadow of the Pole: Claiming the Arctic for Canada, 1903-1911
With the knowledge that foreigners were exploring the Canadian Arctic with the possibility of claiming land, the Dominion government decided to send out patrols to alert those in the North that they were now under Canadian jurisdiction.  Expeditions were sent to Hudson Bay to establish a North West Mounted Police Post, and keep an eye on American whalers there. An annual expedition was also commissioned to sail into the High Eastern Arctic and raise the flag on all the islands in the Archipelago to claim them for Canada.

Front Door slide

Closing the Front Door of the Arctic: The First Eastern Arctic Patrols, 1922-1925
Canada’s claim to the High Arctic was still tenuous in the 1920s. So in order to firmly establish Canadian sovereignty, the government sent a wooden sailing steamship to patrol the northern waters and set up RCMP posts at key places in the High Arctic. These Eastern Arctic Patrols established posts in some of the remotest places on earth, such as Ellesemere Island. However, the patrols succeeded in putting men on the ground. As occupation is necessary to assert sovereignty, the Eastern Arctic Patrols accomplished what they set out to do.



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