Chart of the Discoveries & Route of his Majesty's Ships Helca and Griper in search of a Northwest Passage...
WILLIAM EDWARD PARRY
An interesting chart by William Parry's showing his expedition in search of the Northwest Passage in 1819 and 1820. The chart was published in his Journal of a Voyage to Discover a North-west Passage and depicts the route from Lancaster Sound to Melville Island aboard the ships the Helca and Griper. Cartographic elements include lines of longitude and latitude, names of bodies of water and geographical locations. Parry’s chart also includes the route traveled in search of the Northwest passage and the dates on which they reached certain locations.
Parry’s 1819-20 expedition represents 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 and in 1824, 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.