1902 Encyclopedia > Geography > George Vancouver. Hudson's Bay Company. Polar Exploration.

(Part 38)

George Vancouver. Hudson's Bay Company. Polar Exploration.

Yet another outcome of Captain Cook’s work was the voyage of George Vancouver, who had served as a midshipman in Cook’s second and third voyages. The Spaniards under Quadra had commenced a survey of north-western America and occupied Nootka Sound, which their Government eventually agreed to surrender. Captain Vancouver was sent out to receive the cession, and to survey the coast from Cape Mendocino northwards. He commanded the old "Discovery," and was at work during the seasons of 1792, 1793 and 1794, wintering at the Sandwich Islands. Returning home in 1795, he completed his narrative and very valuable series of charts, and died in 1798.

The 18th century saw the Arctic coast of North America reached at two points, as well as the first scientific attempts to reach the North Pole. The Hudson’s Bay Company had been incorporated in 1670, and its servants soon extended their operations over a wide area to the north and west of Canada. In 1741 Captain Christopher Middleton was ordered to solve the question of a passage from Hudson’s Bay top the westward. Leaving Fort Churchill in July 1742 he stood northwards and discovered the Wager River and Repulse Bay, bearing up again on August 9. He was followed by Captain W. Moor in 1746, and Captain Coats in 1751, who examined the Wager Inlet up to the end. On November 6, 1769, Samuel Hearne was sent by the Hudson’s Bay Company to discover the sea on the north side of America, but was obliged to return. On February 23, 1770, he set out again from Fort Prince of Wales; but, after great hardships, he was again forced to return to the fort. He started once more on December 7, 1771, and at length reached the Coppermine River, which he surveyed to its mouth, but his observations are very unreliable. With the same object of reaching the sea, Alexander Mackenzie, with a party of Canadians, set out from Fort Chepewyan on June 3, 1789, and descended a river which bears the explorers’ name. His account of the journey is even more unsatisfactory than that of Hearne.

In February 1773 the Royal Society submitted a proposal to the king for an expedition to try how far navigation was possible towards the Pole.The "Racehorse" and "Carcass" bombs were selected as best adapted for the service, and Captains Phipps and Lutwidge were appointed to command them. The expedition sailed on June 2, 1773, and sighted the coast of Spitzbergan on the 28th. Captain Phipps stood into every opening he could find in the ice, but was invariably stopped by a solid barrier. He examined a line extending over twenty degrees of longitude, and found no opening in the heavy polar pack in any direction. After a very careful and persevering examination of the ice, the expedition returned to England in September. The highest latitude reached was 80º 48´ N.

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