In school, I think it was about Grade 5, we first learned about the search for the Northwest Passage and the fate of Henry Hudson.
But what we learned then was really just the tip of the iceberg. Of course they were looking for a route to the east, but what made men set out year after year to brave the unimaginable conditions found in the Canadian arctic.
Peter Mancall explores this question in Fatal Journey: The Final Expedition of Henry Hudson. What drew these men to the east is not that different than today’s search for energy or new drugs. The spices found in the east were believed to have extraordinary medicinal qualities and whoever found a way to get them would enjoy enourmous wealth. Investors were willing to pour huge amounts of money into the search for the North West Passage. As we know now, this search was Hudson’s undoing, and the common perceptions of the mutiny are also examined in this book.
Take some Canadian history off the shelf and you’ll discover that it’s incredibly fascinating.