Opening up Greenland

Claiming the Far North

the Arctic 1892.0805

Opening up Greenland

Arctic exploration, colonization of Greenland and Northern Canada, Erik the Red's Land (5 August 1892)

Historical Map of the Arctic & the Far North

For more than a century, Denmark's Royal Greenland Trading Company (KGH) had administered Greenland in a strict monopoly which nonetheless minimized interference in the local Inuit communities. Then in the 1880s and '90s explorers from Sweden-Norway and the US began making expeditions across Greenland's interior, showing that it was an island rather than the peninsula of a supposed Arctic continent. With the increase in foreign influence, Denmark expanded its control over Greenland, ultimately taking over from the KGH in 1908.

Main Events

North-West Rebellion

Louis Riel led a second Métis uprising in Canada, setting up the Provisional Government of Saskatchewan at Batoche in March 1885. They were joined by the Cree and Assiniboine, who together with the Métis defeated government forces in several clashes in the region. The rebellion was soon crushed with the arrival of the Canadian militia and North-West Mounted Police in May.

Canadian Pacific Railway

With the support of Canadian government funding in the wake of the North-West Rebellion, the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed on 7 November 1885 with the last spike being driven in at Craigellachie, British Columbia. However, due to deterioration from cost-cutting and environmental conditions, the railway would not be able to take the first transcontinental passenger train until June 1886.

Crossing of Greenland

On 3 June 1888, the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen, leading a six-man expedition, was picked up from the Icelandic port of Ísafjörður by the sealer Jason. After being deposited off the coast of Greenland's east coast in small boats, the team made their way through the ice floes to Umivik Fjord. From here they set out on 15 August, traveling overland to Godthaab, on the west coast, and thereby making the first recorded crossing of Greenland.

Peary's Greenland crossing

After sailing from Brooklyn, New York, in June 1891 aboard the SS Kite, the American explorer Robert Peary and his team, including his wife Josephine, wintered in northwest Greenland, near what is now Qaanaaq (Thule). The following year, the expedition crossed northern Greenland, proving that it was an island and not part of some Arctic continent.

About this map