Over the five hundred or so years that man searched for an elusive sea passage from Europe to Asia through the North American land mass, dozens of ships were lost and hundreds of mariners died. Eventually, a sea route stretching through the waters of the archipelago and along Canada's mainland Arctic coast was pieced together. But could ships navigate the Northwest Passage to the extent that it could be used as an international shipping route? Two seagoing captains and their ships – a Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, and a Canadian of Norwegian birth, Henry Asbjorn Larsen – answered that question in the first half of the 20th century.
The first part of this book recounts their successful efforts. The second part addresses the many unsettling environmental and sovereignty issues concerning the future of the Northwest Passage in this time of melting ice caps, glaciers and sea ice in the Arctic.