The North Pole did not become a goal of ARCTIC EXPLORATION until fairly late; the few early expeditions that tried to reach it were looking for a polar route to the East rather than for the pole itself. W.E. PARRY left Spitsbergen to try to reach the pole in 1827 and attained 82°45'; further expeditions, American and British, took place in the 1860s and 1870s. It is widely accepted today that the pole was first reached by the American explorer Robert E. Peary, who started from Ellesmere Island on 1 March 1909. With Peary on his final dash were his dog driver Matthew Henson and 4 Inuit. It is claimed that they arrived at the pole on April 6 and remained there 30 hours. A competing claim was made by F.A. Cook, a former traveller with Peary, who said he had reached the pole on 21 April 1908 and had remained there 2 days.
The controversy still continues, but Peary's claim seems the more valid and has been accepted by the US Congress and geographical institutions in many countries. In 1926 Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett made the first airplane flight over the pole; in the same year, it was reached by dirigible by the international team of Roald AMUNDSEN, Lincoln Ellsworth and Umberto Nobile. The pole was visited by the US nuclear submarine Nautilus in 1958.
Since 1907 various Canadians have invoked what is known as the "sector principle" as a possible legal basis to a claim for sovereignty in the polar region. By this claim Canada would have jurisdiction over a wedge-shaped segment between the line of longitude 60° west of Greenwich (north from a point on the meridian that is near Ellesmere Island) and the meridian 141° west of Greenwich (forming the border between the Yukon Territories and Alaska); these meridians converge (as do all meridians of the Northern Hemisphere) at the North Pole. The theory has not received general acceptance as a legal basis for a claim.
The North Pole is also the mythical home of Santa Claus. As a public service, Canada Post and its unions provide mail service to Santa at the North Pole, Canada, HOH OHO.
See also MAGNETIC POLES.
Author HUGH N. WALLACE
Links to Other Sites
Information about "magnetic declination," described as the angle between magnetic north and true north. From Natural Resources Canada.
John Ross: The Discovery Of The Magnetic Pole
Profiles of John Ross, early explorer of the Canadian Arctic and James Clark Ross, who discovered the location of the North Magnetic Pole. Includes images of related artifacts. From Library and Archives Canada.