Chart of a Part of the North Eastern Coast of America and its adjacent Islands shewing the Track and Discoveries of His Majesty's Ships Fury and Hecla in Search of a North West Passage.
WILLIAM EDWARD PARRY
An interesting chart by William Parry's showing his expedition in search of the Northwest Passage in the years 1820 to 1823. The chart was published in Parry’s Journal of a Second Voyage for the Discovery a North-west Passage from The Atlantic to the Pacific… and depicts the route on board the Hecla and Fury between Melville Peninsula and Cockburn Island in what would become known as the Strait of the Fury and Hecla. The chart includes notations that show where the compass readings were affected, walrus sightings, fixed ice locations between 1821-23, land sightings and information garnered from native sources, and the location of where a flag staff was erected.
Parry’s initial 1819-20 expedition represented an important milestone in the exploration of the Arctic as it was the farthest that any European had sailed thus far in search of the elusive Northwest passage. As a result of his exploits, Parry was promoted to the rank of commander by the British Admiralty as well as receiving numerous civic awards and being elected to the Royal Society.
Parry would again attempt two more times to find the Northwest passage in 1821-23 and again in1824, albeit with different routes, but without ever being able repeat his earlier success.
Parry’s search for the Northwest passage came at a time when the British Admiralty looked upon these arctic explorations as a means to occupy its naval officers following the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. These voyages to far away lands under severe conditions were also seen by the public as representing British supremacy in exploration. Yet, however dedicated arctic explorers such as Parry were in finding the Northwest passage for fame and glory, the fact remained that the route through some of the harshest climatic conditions on earth proved overwhelming under contemporary technology. That being said although countless explorations to find the Northwest passage proved elusive, its search by early explorers is a testament of their desire to strive for success and their ability to test the limits of human endurance.