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14 - Canada and the High Arctic Islands, 1880–1950

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 March 2023

Adrian Howkins
University of Bristol
Peder Roberts
University of Stavanger
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Of all the north circumpolar lands, only Greenland extends farther towards the top of the globe than the uppermost reaches of the Arctic Archipelago. Politicians and media commentators regularly extol Canada’s identity as a northern nation, yet this area’s official name since 1954 – the Queen Elizabeth Islands – is not widely known or often used, and most citizens’ knowledge of High Arctic geography is rather vague. Only the military station at Alert on the north coast of Ellesmere Island, about 800 km from the pole, stands out clearly amid the general blur.

The High Arctic region’s southern boundary is Parry Channel, the major east–west waterway through the archipelago, in latitude 74° north. Parry Channel also divides the islands where Indigenous people have lived continuously for millennia from those that were abandoned during the harsh climatic conditions of the Little Ice Age (which lasted roughly from 1300 to 1850 ad).

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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