We are often told that the occasional opening of the North-West Passage in the Arctic is an indication of “global warming”, when in fact all it indicates is the well-known volatility of the Arctic climate.
Amundsen sailed through the North-West Passage in a sailing vessel in 1903. A reader has kindly sent us the following account of a Canadian supply-ship that sailed the North-West Passage in the 1940s.
The Arctic vessel St. Roch, built for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Force to serve as a supply ship for isolated, far-flung Arctic detachments, was also designed to serve when frozen-in for the winter as a floating detachment with its constables mounting dog sled patrols from the ship. Between 1929 and 1939, St. Roch made three voyages to the Arctic.
Between 1940 and 1942, St. Roch navigated the Northwest Passage, arriving in Halifax harbor on October 11, 1942. St. Roch was the second ship to make the passage, and the first to travel the passage from west to east. In 1944, St. Roch returned to Vancouver via the more northerly route of the Northwest Passage, making her run in 86 days.
The epic voyages of St. Roch demonstrated Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic during the difficult wartime years, and extended Canadian control over her vast northern territories.