European interest began in the 17th century, with the search for the NORTHWEST PASSAGE, and William BAFFIN was likely the first to record the existence of the sound (1616). It was named for English navigator Sir James Lancaster (d 1618). WHALING became important at the beginning of the 19th century. Later that century trading posts were established at Button Port, Albert Harbour, ARCTIC BAY, Pond Inlet and Dundas Harbour. In the late 20th century lead-zinc ore was mined at NANISIVIK. With ICEBREAKERS, the passage is open to local shipping from mid summer to early fall.
Increased human activity threatens the area's wildlife, which is concentrated at a few sites and therefore highly vulnerable. However, SIRMILIK NATIONAL PARK protects part of the Lancaster Sound marine region.
Author JAMES MARSH
Links to Other Sites
Sea Ice Climatic Atlas for the Northern Canadian Waters
A basic overview of factors affecting ice in the sea. Click on right side menu for related maps and charts. From Environment Canada.
Maps of provinces and territories from "The Atlas of Canada," Natural Resources Canada.
Sirmilik National Park
This illustrated Parks Canada website offers information about the ecology, geography, and history of Sirmilik National Park.
An overview of the physical, oceanographic, and ecological characteristics of the Hudson/Boothian Ecoregion in the Arctic. From the website for the North American Marine Protected Areas Network.
A brief description of the geography and wildlife of the Lancaster Sound region. A Parks Canada website.
The Muskox Patrol: High Arctic Sovereignty Revisited
A 2003 article about the role of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the Canadian government’s quest to secure international recognition of its claims to sovereignty over the High Arctic islands. Includes photos of the ship “Beothic,” the Dundas Harbour RCMP Detachment, and more. From the Arctic Institute of North America.
A superb online exhibit about the search for the Northwest Passage. Historic maps and images from books show how the Inuit assisted foreign led expeditions into the Canadian Arctic and how European explorers gradually accepted Inuit techniques of travel and survival. Contemporary maps show the lasting achievement of the expeditions: the mapping of the Canadian Arctic. From the Toronto Public Library.
The website for Arctic Mission, a scientific voyage through the Arctic’s fabled North-West Passage. Features interactive maps, videos, photos and written observations about the landscape, climate, and wildlife that inhabit this region. From the National Film Board.
Oceans North Canada
This website examines conservation strategies that address the impact of climate change in the Arctic. Programs include identification of marine conservation areas, land claims agreements, fisheries management plans, ecosystem studies, and related initiatives. Features maps and striking photographs of local landscapes.
Ottawa to establish Arctic marine sanctuary
A news story about the establishment of an Arctic marine sanctuary in Lancaster Sound, off the coast of Baffin Island in Nunavut. From nunatsiaqonline.ca.
Check out Sikunews for daily coverage of the top stories around the circumpolar world. Search for news items about specific issues and locations in the Canadian Arctic.