Discovery of the NW and NE passages

Route of the 1819 expedition led by William Parry

In 1492 Columbus re-discovered the Americas, completely changing everyone’s world-view. European trading powerhouses reacted immediately, dispatching ships to uncover potential shortcuts towards Asia around this ‘New World’. However, the Arctic was a vast unknown. Finding navigable routes through this frozen North was a treacherous undertaking, and would foil many explorers over the following centuries. This history of exploration, including tales of mutiny, cannibalism, and survival against the odds is recreated on this interactive map, showing how successive expeditions contributed to finally unlocking the Northwest and Northeast passages.

Interactive map