This Week in History
Death of Constable A.J. Chartrand
For the week of Monday February 13, 2012
On February 13, 1942, Constable A.J. “Frenchie” Chartrand died in Boothia Peninsula, Northwest Territories. Chartrand had been serving as a member of the crew of the St. Roch, the second vessel to traverse the entire Northwest Passage and the first to make the voyage from west to east.
On June 23, 1940, Constable Chartrand set sail from Vancouver aboard the St. Roch, a wooden schooner powered by an auxiliary engine and sails. The voyage was commissioned by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, under the command of Sergeant Henry A. Larsen. The goal was to make the eastward crossing of the Northwest Passage for the first time, in order to establish Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic.
Although the St. Roch accomplished its traverse across the Arctic, Chartrand died of a heart attack en route and was not able to witness the end of this historic journey. However, following the voyage’s success, Chartrand was commemorated both with a Polar Medal recognizing his role in the voyage, and with the naming of Chartrand Lake in Nunavut in his honour. As the first vessel to navigate the Northwest Passage from west to east, the ship St. Roch was designated a national historic site. In addition, the First Eastward Crossing of the Northwest Passage has been commemorated as a national historic event.
Be sure to read other This Week in History stories on the Northwest Passage such as: In Search of the Northwest Passage, John Ross Explores the Arctic, Lost in the Arctic, Dreams of Arctic Riches, Generosity in Early Canada: a Key to Franklin's Success and Happy Birthday Henry!! For more information on the Parks Canada searches for HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, check out the 2011 Arctic Expeditions.
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