This Week in History
In Search of the Northwest Passage
For the week of Monday May 19, 2008
On May 19, 1587, John Davis set out from England on his third Arctic voyage. A navigator, explorer and cartographer, Davis travelled further north into the Canadian Arctic than any explorer before him.
On May 7, 1586, Davis again set out from England in search of the Northwest Passage and continued to explore the southwestern coast of Greenland and the coasts of Labrador.
For Davis’ final voyage he explored Baffin Bay and conducted a more thorough exploration of the Cumberland Gulf where he discovered what would later be called Hudson Strait. He pushed far north into Baffin Bay before turning back due to ice and wind. He was the first to report the dangerous riptides around Resolution Island while crossing the Hudson Strait. He then sailed to Labrador, turning back to England when the fresh water and wood ran low.
He has been credited with the discovery of the Falkland Islands and he later began exploring the East Indies. It was during one of these trips on December 27, 1605, while piloting the Tiger, Davis was killed by Japanese pirates.
Although John Davis failed to find the Northwest Passage, he has been designated a National Historic Person due to his contributions to the exploration and cartography of the area surrounding Baffin Island, Greenland and Newfoundland.
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