Captain James Cook is justly famous for his explorations of the southern Pacific Ocean, but the exploration of the northern Pacific and the Arctic are equally significant. On his third and final great voyage, Cook surveyed the northwest American coast hoping to find the legendary Northwest Passage. While dreams of a passage proved illusory, Cook’s journey produced some of the finest charts, collections and anthropological observations of his career. It also helped establish British relations with Russia and opened the door to the hugely influential maritime fur trade.
This collection of essays from an international and interdisciplinary group of scholars—including former Vancouver Maritime Museum executive director James P. Delgado; Canada’s preeminent naval historian, Barry Gough; Richard Inglis, former head of anthropology at the Royal British Columbia Museum; and University of Alberta historian I.S. MacLaren—uses artifacts, charts, and records of the encounters between Native peoples and explorers to tell the story of this remarkable voyage. The book also provides new insights into Cook’s legacy and his influence on subsequent expeditions in the Pacific Northwest. Finally, the collection uses Cook’s voyage as a springboard to consider the promise and challenge of the “new north” today, demonstrating its importance as a meeting place of political, cultural, economic, and environmental forces.