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Banner: Pathfinders and Passageways: The Exploration of Canada About This Site
The Mapmakers: An Essay in Four Parts
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Triumph in the High North

20th Century

By the turn of the twentieth century, the growing importance of gathering geographic information on Canada's northern regions continued, and a new emphasis on the ethnographic study of the Inuit emerged.

The search for the Northwest Passage by water to the East remained. Encouraged by the success of Robert McClure as well as by his own adventurous streak, Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian, finally sailed the Passage. He conquered the route which had intrigued centuries of travellers before him.

A new motive for knowledge and exploration of Canada's north appeared  --  the need for Canada to assert sovereignty over the Arctic archipelago that it had inherited from Britain several years after Confederation. In the wake of Amundsen's voyage, the Laurier government found itself having to defend what it considered to be Canadian territory against foreigners who were exploiting Arctic waters freely, not paying duties, and even claiming parts of it for other nations.

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