“The Adventurous Voyage”: St. Roch and the Northwest Passage, 1940-42 and 1944

“The Adventurous Voyage” tells the story of the RCMP schooner’s famous transits through the Northwest Passages during the Second World War. This volume reproduces three important documents offering diverse perspectives on the wartime voyages. Skipper Henry Asbjørn Larsen Larsen’s official report provides a succinct overview of the routes taken by the ship as well as valuable descriptions of the experiences of the crews, their activities while over-wintering in the Arctic, and relationships with Inuit. Geographer J. Lewis Robinson of the Bureau of Northwest Territories and Yukon Affairs situates the ship’s “conquest of the Northwest Passage” in the history of exploration of the fabled waterway. Finally, Joe Panipakuttuk recounts his story as an Inuk who embarked on St. Roch with his family at Pond Inlet for its 1944 voyage to Herschel Island and returned to his community by schooner and sled over the next two years. An introduction, written by two of Canada’s leading historians of the Arctic, situates these narratives in historical context.

P. Whitney Lackenbauer, Ph.D., is Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in the Study of the Canadian North with the School for the Study of Canada at Trent University. His recent books include Shaping Arctic Policy: The Minutes of the Eskimo Affairs Committee, 1952-62 (co-edited 2019); Familiar Fields to Foreign Soil: Three Rural Townships and the Great War (co-authored 2018); China’s Arctic Ambitions and What They Mean for Canada (co-authored 2018); Roots of Entanglement: Essays in Native-Newcomer Relations (co-edited 2017); and (Re)Conceptualizing Arctic Security: Selected Articles from the Journal of Military and Security Studies (co-edited 2017).

Shelagh Grant, PhD taught history and Canadian Studies at Trent University for seventeen years. Her previous books include Sovereignty or Security? Government Policy in the Canadian North, 1939-1950 (1988), Arctic Justice: On Trial for Murder — Pond Inlet, 1923 (2002), and Polar Imperative: A History of Arctic Sovereignty in North America (2010). Shelagh was the first historian and first woman to receive the Northern Science Award (1996), was made a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (2011), and has been awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012) and the Governor General’s Polar Medal (2015), and received an honorary Doctor of Letters (DLitt) from Trent University in June 2014.

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