Map of the North Pole and the Adjoining Regions of Europe, Asia and North America, 1803.
This map shows the Arctic region in the early 19th century. Whereas the northernmost parts of Europe and Russia had already been well mapped when the map was first released in 1803, the northern coastline of North America is only marked by a dotted line suggesting the probable position of the coastline.
The Northwest Passage that would connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans had been quested for centuries; there had been a number of voyages in the area aiming to explore the passage. The explorers Robert Bylot, Henry Hudson, and William Baffin mapped a large part of what is now eastern Canada in the early 17th century. Another important step in mapping this area was done by Samuel Hearne who was the first European to cross northern Canada to the Arctic Ocean shore in 1774. A more detailed mapping of the region, however, did not take place until the mid-19th century and it was not until 1903 – one hundred years after this map was printed – that the famous Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen set off on his voyage to be the first human in recorded history to complete the Northwest Passage.
The remoteness and the complicated access to the region are clearly described in Samuel Hearne’s memoirs: “A Journey to the Northern Ocean: the Adventures of Samuel Hearne“.