King William Island - Canada, Nunavut

King William Island is a Canadian Arctic island, in the Nunavut Territory. To the east it is separated from the Boothia Peninsula by the James Ross Strait and the Rae Strait. To the west is the Victoria Strait and beyond it Victoria Island. Beyond the Simpson Strait to the south is the Adelaide Peninsula, and the Queen Maud Gulf lies to the southwest. You may land at Gjoa Haven, small village with less than 1000 inhabitants, named after Amundsen's ship, the Gjoa (pronounced Joe). The Inuit name for the town is Usqsuqtuuq, which means "a place of plenty of fat", referring to the excellent hunting and fishing grounds close to the town. It is home to the Northwest Passage Territorial Park interpretation centre, where you can learn much about the European exploration of the region as well as the Inuit culture still present in the community. The island, long occupied by Inuit people, was originally named 'King William Land' for the reigning British King William IV in 1830 by John Ross, who thought it was a peninsula. A number of other polar explorers, while searching for the Northwest Passage, had spent their winters at King William Island. John Franklin's expedition was stranded in the sea ice northwest of the island. After the ships were abandoned, most of the crew gradually perished from exposure and starvation as they attempted to walk south near the western coastline. Two of Franklin's men are buried at Hall Point on the island's south coast. The only written record ever recovered from the expedition was found 10 years after its disappearance. Francis McClintock's expedition discovered the evidence buried in a cairn at Victory Point. Other traces have been found scattered along the coast of the island, but no trace of the ships has ever been discovered. In contrast to Franklin's disastrous expedition, in 1903 and 1904, Roald Amundsen, with very little trouble, sailed down the West Coast of King William Island. He set up scientific instrumentation in several locations and then located the magnetic North Pole, which at that time was very near King William Island. The island is known for its large populations of caribou who summer there, before walking south over the sea ice in the autumn. The following 6 cruises call at King William Island. Discover more by clicking the cruise name or ship or click the Enquire button if you want to check availability and pricing.