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George Vancouver

George Vancouver, naval officer, explorer (b at King's Lynn, Eng 22 June 1757; d at Petersham, London, Eng 12 May 1798). Vancouver was with James COOK on his expeditions to the South Seas (1772-75) and the NORTHWEST COAST

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Alejandro Malaspina

Alejandro Malaspina, explorer (b at Mulazzo, Italy 5 Nov 1754; d at Pontremoli, Italy 9 Apr 1810). Born to an illustrious but impoverished family, Malaspina entered the Spanish naval service. In 1784 he sailed around the world in the frigate Astrea.

Editorial

Roald Amundsen Crosses the Northwest Passage

The great Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen clung grimly to the tiller of his little ship Gjøa. Adrift in the remote waters of Simpson Strait, the Gjøa had just spent two agonizing weeks in August 1905 avoiding the death grip of the polar ice. Over and over the exhausted crew begged Amundsen to turn back. Haggard and ill, he had not eaten for days and he dared not sleep. He knew that his dream of sailing across the top of the world was within his grasp.

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François Dollier de Casson

François Dollier de Casson, explorer, superior of the Sulpicians in New France (1670-74, 1678-1701), seigneur of Montréal, vicar general, historian (b in the château of Casson-sur-l'Erdre in Lower Brittany 1636; d at Montréal 27 Sept 1701).

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Henry Hudson

Henry Hudson, mariner, explorer (born c. 1570 in England; disappeared 1611). Hudson was among a long list of explorers who searched in vain for a northern passage through Arctic waters from Europe to East Asia. He made four voyages historians are aware of, in 1607, 1608, 1609 and 1610–11. While he never found a route, in Canada, Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait are named for him, as well as the Hudson River in New York state. He disappeared, along with his son and seven companions, after being set adrift in a ship’s boat during a mutiny on James Bay in June 1611. (See also Northwest Passage; Arctic Exploration.)

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Peter Fidler

Peter Fidler, fur trader, mapmaker, explorer (b at Bolsover, Eng 16 Aug 1769; d at Fort Dauphin [Man] 17 Dec 1822).

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Roald Amundsen

   Roald Amundsen, arctic explorer (b at Sarpsborg, Norway 16 July 1872; d between Norway and Spitsbergen 18 June 1928). Amundsen went to sea as a young man. Determined to navigate the NORTHWEST PASSAGE, he purchased the Gjoa, readied it for arctic waters and embarked in 1903.

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Giovanni da Verrazzano

Giovanni da Verrazzano, explorer (born in or near Florence circa 1485; died in the West Indies circa 1528). Verrazzano explored North America’s eastern coastline on behalf of France, while searching for a westward route to China. His explorations demonstrated to Europeans that the coast from Florida to Cape Breton was continuous. He also provided Europeans with the first ethnographic account of Indigenous people north of Mexico.

Article

Leif Eriksson

Leif Eriksson (Old Norse Leifr Eiríksson, a.k.a. Leifr hinn heppni, Leif the Lucky), explorer, chieftain (born in the 970s CE in Iceland; died between 1018 and 1025 in Greenland). Leif Eriksson was the first European to explore the east coast of North America, including areas that are now part of Arctic and Atlantic Canada. Upon the death of his father, Erik the Red, Leif became paramount chieftain of the Norse colony in Greenland. The two main sources on him are The Saga of the Greenlanders and The Saga of Erik the Red. There are also references to him in The Saga of Olaf Tryggvason and The Saga of St. Olaf.

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Bjarni Herjolfsson

Bjarni Herjolfsson, Norse explorer (dates of birth and death unknown; lived in the 10th century). Herjolfsson was likely the first European to sight the east coast of North America. While sailing from Iceland to Greenland in 986 CE, Herjolfsson sighted lands that were later determined to be Baffin Island, Labrador and Newfoundland. Although Herjolfsson never set foot in North America, Leif Ericsson later retraced his voyage, establishing a settlement at what he called Vinland.

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Tookoolito

Tookoolito, also known as Hannah and Taqulittuq (born in 1838 near Cumberland Sound, NU; died 31 December 1876 in Groton, Connecticut), Inuk translator and guide to American explorer Charles Francis Hall. Tookoolito and her husband, Ebierbing (traditionally spelt Ipiirvik), were well-known Inuit explorers of the 19th century who significantly contributed to non-Inuit’s knowledge of the North. The Government of Canada has recognized Tookoolito and Ebierbing as National Historic Persons.

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James Cook

  James Cook, explorer (b near Marton, Eng 27 Oct 1728; d at Kealakekua Bay, Sandwich Is [Hawaii] 14 Feb 1779). The greatest navigator of his era, he served as master of the Pembroke at the siege of LOUISBOURG (1758) during the SEVEN YEARS' WAR.

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Samuel de Champlain

Samuel de Champlain, cartographer, explorer, colonial administrator, author (born circa 1567 in Brouage, France; died 25 December 1635 in Quebec City). Known as the “Father of New France,” Samuel de Champlain played a major role in establishing New France from 1603 to 1635. He is also credited with founding Quebec City in 1608. He explored the Atlantic coastline (in Acadia), the Canadian interior and the Great Lakes region. He also helped found French colonies in Acadia and at Trois-Rivières, and he established friendly relations and alliances with many First Nations, including the Montagnais, the Huron, the Odawa and the Nipissing. For many years, he was the chief person responsible for administrating the colony of New France. Champlain published four books as well as several maps of North America. His works are the only written account of New France at the beginning of the 17th century.

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Louis-Joseph Gaultier de La Vérendrye

Louis-Joseph Gaultier de La Vérendrye, explorer, cartographer, fur trader, military officer (born 9 November 1717 at Île aux Vaches, Quebec (New France); died at sea off the coast of Cape Breton 15 November 1761). Known by his title Chevalier, the youngest son of Pierre Gaultier de Varennes et de la Vérendrye led the first European exploration across the Missouri River into the Great Plains. He served New France in the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War.

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Jacques Cartier

Jacques Cartier, navigator (born between 7 June and 23 December 1491 in Saint-Malo, France; died 1 September 1557 in Saint-Malo, France). From 1534 to 1542, Cartier led three maritime expeditions to the interior of the Gulf of the St. Lawrence River. During these expeditions, he explored, but more importantly accurately mapped for the first time the interior of the river, from the Gulf to Montreal (see also History of Cartography in Canada). For this navigational prowess, Cartier is still considered by many as the founder of “Canada.” At the time, however, this term described only the region immediately surrounding Quebec. Cartier’s upstream navigation of the St. Lawrence River in the 16th century ultimately led to France occupying this part of North America.

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Médard Chouart des Groseilliers

Médard Chouart Des Groseilliers, explorer, fur trader (bap at Charly-sur-Marne, France 31 July 1618; d at New France 1696?). A man of courage who valued personal freedom and initiative, Des Groseilliers opened Lakes Michigan and Superior to the fur trade and Jesuit missionaries.

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Franklin Search

The disappearance in 1845 of Sir John Franklin and his crew in the Canadian Arctic set off the greatest rescue operation in the history of exploration.