The rugged landscape of the Arctic, home to the Inuit who have a unique relationship with the land, is a region filled with mystery, legend and adventure. The Arctic Ocean, the smallest and shallowest of the world’s major oceans, covered in ice for many months of the year, has fascinated adventures for centuries.

The search for the Northwest Passage by Europeans began in the fifteenth century with John Cabot Martin. Many explorers attempted to find the Northwest Passage, but it was traversed for the first time only between 1903 and 1906 by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. This was after the famed and disastrous Franklin expedition. To this day, few people can say they have travelled this route.

On May 21, at 4:00 pm Sarah Carlson, programs coordinator at the VMM will give an interactive virtual presentation about exploration in the Arctic. She’ll look at some of the technology and knowledge of the Inuit who thrived in the harsh region for thousands of years. And she’ll discuss the challenges that European explorers face – ice that crushed sailing ships, severe climate, and a lack of obvious food sources.

map of the Arctic

Map of the routes taken by Parry in 1821 and 1824

The quest for the Northwest Passage took centuries – and many lives – and the same lessons had to be learned again and again. Sarah will cover some of those lessons and discuss how respect for the Inuit and their ways of knowing was critical to successful travel through the Arctic.

Sarah will compare the different routes taken by explorers and look at maps of the region. She will also discuss life on board the St. Roch, the ship that was first to make the west-east traverse of the Northwest Passage, and the first ship to travel Sarah will also look at some the recent discoveries of HMCS Erebus and HMCS Terror and how these ships contribute to our understanding of the ill-fated Franklin expedition.

photo of a woman

Sarah Carlson, Programs Coordinator, Vancouver Maritime Museum

Sarah Carlson joined the VMM as programs coordinator in May of 2019. As head of the programs department, she oversees all educational programming, from school programs and tours to public programs and events with support from the program staff and volunteers. An alumna of UBC and graduate of UCL MA Museum Studies program, Sarah is an active member of Lower Mainland Museum Educators (LMME) Conference Planning Committee and a columnist for BC Museum’s Association (BCMA) Round-Up Magazine. She has previously worked at the Museum of Anthropology (UBC), Delta Museum, British Museum, Museum of London and most recently, at four of Richmond’s Museum & Heritage Sites.

Tickets for this interactive presentation are only $5.