New “North-West Passage”


    A BULLETIN from the office of the High Commissioner for Canada announces the receipt of a radio-telegram from the S.S. Nascopie, a vessel now under charter to the Canadian Government for the 1937 Arctic Expedition, in which it is stated that the vessel has effected the first crossing of Bellot Strait, forming a second North-West Passage across the Canadian Arctic. The strait separates Somerset Island from the Boothia Peninsula, the northern tip of Canadian mainland. The original "North-West Passage", the discovery of which was for many years the dream of Arctic navigators, as a short route from Europe to Asia, runs farther north than the Bellot route. So early as 1585, John Davis set sail to locate this passage, but it was not until 1903–7 that Captain Roald Amundsen made the voyage along Lancaster Sound, Barrow Strait and Peel Sound which defined the route. The Bellot route, a shorter and possibly better passage, has engaged the attention of Arctic explorers since 1858, when Captain Thomas McClintock, searching for the lost Franklin expedition, endeavoured to make his way through. The attempt, unfortunately, was futile, and other later attempts were equally unsuccessful. The Strait was discovered by Captain W. Kennedy in 1852, when he crossed it by dog-team. The appearance of the waterway is that of a Greenland fjord. It is about twenty miles long and barely a mile wide at its narrowest part. The shores are of granite formation of bold and lofty elevation, with a fair sprinkling of Arctic vegetation. Some of the hill ranges attain heights of 1,500–1,600 feet.

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    New “North-West Passage”. Nature 140, 802 (1937).

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