The 240 nautical mile sea going passage between Ellesmere Island and Greenland is comprised of the Smith Sound, the Kane Basin, the Kennedy Channel and the Robeson Channel and narrows to fifteen nautical miles in some places. In the last half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century it was the gateway to both the North Pole and to northern Greenland.
The Kane expedition of 1853-55, the Hayes’ expedition of 1860-61, the Hall expedition of 1871-73 and the Nares’ expedition of 1875-76 all sailed some distance in the passage. Fort Conger on Ellesmere Island’s east coast was the base of operations for the Greely expedition in the 1880’s and a base for Robert Peary in 1900 when he traversed Greenland’s north coast. In 1905-06 and again in 1908-09 Peary’s ship the Roosevelt sailed through the passage and into the Lincoln Sea on the edge of the Arctic Ocean.
In the later half of the twentieth century, the Canadian Forces Station Alert on the northeast coast of Ellesmere Island has served as a base of operations for the exploration of northern Greenland. Alert, the northernmost settlement in the world, has a landing strip which provides aircraft convenient access to northern Greenland. Particularly in 1968 and 1969 aircraft flying by way of Ellesmere Island and Alert supported important aspects of the exploration and mapping of Peary Land..
My book Beyond the Edge documents the historic role that this sea going passage between Ellesmere Island and Greenland played as Polar explorers attempted to go farther and farther north.
Interested in learning more about the Ellesmere Island? Get your copy of Beyond the Edge today!