A List of the Early Partial Transits of the Canadian North West Passage 1921 to 2004

by John MacFarlane (1990 - Revised 2010, 2011, 2012)

Year Vessel Leader Country Type of Voyage Details
1921-24 n/a Knut Rasmussen Norway Overland Transit by dog team Traveling from the Atlantic Ocean to Wainwright Alaska along the coast by dog team, supported with supply caches set out in advance by the Hudson's Bay Company.
1928 Fort James Fred Bush Canada HBC Trading Schooner Partial Transit, (East to West Newfoundland through Lancaster Sound to Gjoa Haven, to meet the HBC Fort Macpherson arriving from Vancouver B.C.)
1937 Aklavik Scotty Gall Canada HBC Trading Schooner Partial Transit, (West to East, Beaufort Sea through Bellot Strait to meet the Hudson Bay Company ship RMS Nascopie and return (Patsy Klengenberg skipper on return voyage).)
1957 H.M.C.S. Labrador Captain T.C. Pullen RCN Canada Naval Icebreaker She escorted a US Coast Guard Squadron through Bellot Strait and Eastern Arctic. (Partial Transit)
1964-65 Arlis II n/a USA Ice Drift Island An ice drift island which traveled from near Ellef Ringne Island to an area in the Beaufort Sea north of Point Barrow AK where it was occupied by scientists. It drifted past the North Pole and traveled south into the Denmark Strait where it was abandoned and broke up.
1969 CCGS Camsell J.A. Strand Canada Icebreaker Partial Transit, Eastward, through James Ross Strait, Peel Sound, Barrow Strait, Prince Regent Inlet.
1974 n/a (Dog Team) Colin Irwin UK Overland Transit by dog team, East to West, from Repulse Bay to Barrow AK
1975 CCGS John A. MacDonald G. Yarn Canada Icebreaker Partial Transit, Westward, through Lancaster Sound, Peel Sound, Victoria Strait
1976 Endeavour Colin Irwin UK Sailing dinghy (18') From Alaska to Spence Bay,NT. The CCGS Bernier took Colin Irwin to Quebec City (Partial Transit)
1976 Canmar Explorer II E.G. Harvey & D. Schofield Canada Ice-strengthened Drillship Partial Transit, probably traveling from east to west. (further details not known).
1976 Canmar Supplier VI n/k Canada Icebreaker Possible partial transit traveling from East to West with Canmar Explorer.
1976 Canmar Supplier V n/k Canada Icebreaker Possible partial transit traveling from East to West with the Canmar Explorer.
1976 CCGS Louis S. St. Laurent P.M. Fournier Canada Icebreaker Partial Transit, traveling from East to West, through Lancaster Sound, Peel Sound, Victoria Strait.
1977 Arktika U. Kuchiev USSR Icebreaker, nuclear On 17/08/1977 she reached the North Pole traveling through the ice on the surface. (This vessel was later renamed as the Leonid Brezhnev).
1978 CCGS John A. MacDonald G. Yarn Canada Icebreaker East to West (Partial Transit), traveling on charter to Dome Petroleum. Through Lancaster Sound, Prince of Wales Strait, Beaufort Sea.
1979 CCGS John A. MacDonald S. Goodyear Canada Icebreaker Partial Transit West to East traveling Eastward return from charter operation.
1979 CCGS Sir John Franklin A. Piercey Canada Icebreaker West to East traveling Partial Transit, maiden voyage traveling eastward Beaufort Sea, Prince of Wales Strait, Viscount Melville Sound.
1979 Canmar Kigoriak C. Cunningham Canada Icebreaking Tug Supply Vessel. Partial Transit traveling Westward, Lancaster Sound, Prince of Wales Strait, Beaufort Sea.
1980 Irving Arctic Kenneth Milburne Canada Oil tanker Partial Transit traveling Westward, largest Canadian commercial vessel to penetrate as far as Rea Point, Melville Island.
1980 CCGS Pierre Radisson n/k Canada Icebreaker Partial Transit, she was accompanied by the Irving Arctic.
1980 Irving Birch n/k Canada Tugboat Partial Transit, accompanied by the Irving Arctic.
1980 (umiak & canoe) John Bockstoce USA Motorized Eskimo umiak and motorized canvas-covered canoe Partial transit, traveling Westward from Nome AK to Resolute NT.
1981-82 Morgan Stanley Sir Ranulph Fiennes UK Boston Whaler He was a part of the Trans-globe Expedition 1979-82 (Up the Yukon River to Dawson, by highway to Inuvik. West to East transit via Resolute up to Alert completed in one season in a Boston Whaler (powered with two 60hp. outboard engines) Then over ice to the North Pole, over ice towards Spitzbergen, where they were picked up and transported to the UK)
1985 Arctic Mallik C. Eckford Canada Ice-strengthened supply ship Partial transit traveling Eastward, through Peel Sound to Resolute and return. The Arctic Malik is the ex-Federal 6, ex-Seafed Avalon.
1985 CCGS John A. MacDonald G. Barry Canada Icebreaker Ice-breaker. Partial Transit traveling Westward, Peel Sound, Victoria Strait,Amundsen Gulf and return.
1986 Kalvik S.G. Schenk Canada Icebreaking Tug/Supply Vessel Partial Transit traveling Eastward through Viscount Melville Sound, Barrow strait, Resolute and return.
1986-88 MacInnis> Perception Jeff MacInnis & Mike Beedell Canada Sailing Catamaran (Hobie Cat) Partial transit traveling from Inuvik though to Pond Inlet NT.
1987 Sibir A.N. Chilingarov Russia Icebreaker, nuclear In 05/1987 she reached the North Pole traveling through the ice on the surface.
1988 CCGS John A. MacDonald G. Barry Canada Ice-breaker Partial Transit, traveling Westward, through Lancaster Sound, Peel Sound, Demarcation Point and return.
1989 Arctic Nanook Selby Wisema Canada Tug Partial Transit, traveling Eastward, from Tuktoyaktuk, through Peel Sound, Lancaster Sound
1989 Arctic Nanabush Selby Wiseman Canada Tug, (Partial Transit) She traveled Eastward, from Tuktoyaktuk, through Peel Sound, Lancaster Sound. This was the first transit of two different vessels by one skipper in one season.
1989 CCGS Sir John Franklin P. Chafe & D. McGarvie Canada Icebreaker Partial Transit, traveling Westward, she accompanied the USCGS Polar Star through Lancaster Sound, Victoria Strait, Demarcation Point and return
1990 CCGS Pierre Radisson P. Toomey Canada Icebreaker Partial Transit traveling Westward to accompany USCG Polar Sea, Lancaster Sound, Peel Sound, Demarcation Point and return.
1990 CCGS Henry Larsen S. Gomes & B. MacQuarrie Canada Icebreaker (Partial Transit), traveling Westward, through Lancaster Sound,Victoria Strait, Demarcation Point and return.
1991 CCGS Sir John Franklin P. Chafe Canada Icebreaker (Partial Transit), traveling Westward, through Prince Regent Inlet, Bellot Strait, Tuktoyaktuk, and return via Peel Sound.
1991 CCGS Henry Larsen S. Gomes Canada Icebreaker (Partial Transit), traveling Westward, through Peel Sound, Victoria Strait to Beaufort Sea.
1991 Sovietskiy Soyuz nk Russia Icebreaker She carried 100 tourists on a surface passage to the North Pole.
1997-99 nk Jonathan Waterman USA Yach He sailed from Prudhoe Bay AK to eastern Canada in a catamaran yacht, covering 2,200 miles.
2003 Amundsen Captain Stephane Julien Canada Icebreaker
2003 Yamal nk Russia Icebreaker, nuclear She voyaged to the North Pole, Murmansk Russia to Spitzbergen (carrying passengers).
2003 Avenger IV nk Canada Tug She was accompanied by the tug Radium Yellowknife she traveled from the Mackenzie River to Thunder Bay Ontario with a tow of nine deck barges. (Three barges each had two others stacked on the deck)
2003 Radium Yellowknife nk Canada Tug She was accompanied by the tug Avenger IV she traveled from the Mackenzie River to Thunder Bay Ontario with a tow of nine deck barges. (Three barges each had two others stacked on the deck)
2004 Yamal nk Russia Nuclear-powered polar ice breaker She voyaged to the North Pole, Murmansk Russia to Spitzbergen (carrying passengers).
2004 Akademik Loffe nk Russia Research vessel She carried out a passenger voyage from Greenland, East to West in a possible partial transit of the Northwest Passage.

Sources:

  • Coast Guard Northern Arctic Operations Division (1991);
  • de Roos, Willy (1977);
  • de Poncins, Gontrans (1954);
  • French, Alice (1976);
  • Fillmore, Stanley and R.W. Sandilands (1983);
  • Harding, Les (1991);
  • Hancock, Lyn, (1974);
  • Johansson, Sven, Victoria BC;
  • Kemp, Peter (Ed.) (1976);
  • Keating, Bern (1970);
  • Lalor, William G. (1959) Submarine Through The North Pole. National Geographic. Vol. CXV, No. 1 January 1959;
  • Larsen, Henry. A. (1954)
  • Larsen, Henry A., Frank Sheer & Edward Omholt-Jensen. (1967);
  • McKinlay, William Laird. (1976);
  • McGrath, Robin (1989);
  • Marshall, C.J. (1958);
  • MacInnis, Jeff. (1989);
  • MacFarlane, J.M. (1992)Northwest Passage Challengers. In Resolution. Spring Issue. Maritime Museum of British Columbia;
  • Nuligak (1966);
  • Struzik, Edward. (1991);
  • Storrs, A.H.G. and T.C. Pullen. (1970);
  • Smith, William D. (1970);
  • Robinson, J. Lewis. (1945);
  • Robertson, O.C.S. (1964);
  • Rasmussen, Knud (1927);
  • Pullen, T.C. & C. Swithenbank (1990);
  • Pharand, D. (1984);
  • Polmar,Norman> (1987);
  • Sale, Richard (2002).

To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2012) A List of the Early Partial Transits of the Canadian Northwest Passage 1921 to 2004. Nauticapedia.ca 2012. http://nauticapedia.ca/Articles/NWP_Partialtransits.php

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