Exploration

Canada’s 90 Greatest Explorers: Vital insights

Part of our roundup of 90 of Canada’s greatest explorers, these 17 explorers made major contributions to our understanding of Canada’s history and geography
  • Jan 20, 2020
  • 848 words
  • 4 minutes
  • By 
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ALEXANDER HENRY “THE YOUNGER” 
1765-1814 | Western Canada
Criss-crossed the nation between Lake Superior and the Pacific coast in the employ of major fur companies, exploring and, most importantly, writing the finest record of any northern fur trader. 

SYLVESTER JOE 
Unknown-1839 | Newfoundland
A famous Mi’kmaq hunter and explorer who guided William Cormack, the first Euro-Canadian to cross Newfoundland. Together they searched for signs of the lost Beothuk people. 

WILLIAM CORMACK 
1796-1868 | St. John’s
Naturalist and humanitarian who crossed Newfoundland with Mi’kmaq guide Sylvester Joe while attempting to locate survivors of the extirpated Beothuk people. 

CATHARINE PARR TRAILL 
1802-99 | Lakefield, Ont.
Author and botanist who performed early studies of Canada’s natural history. Wrote Studies of Plant Life in Canada, The Backwoods of Canada and other works about life as a pioneer. 

SUSANNA MOODIE 
1803-85 | Belleville, Ont. / Toronto
Author and anti-slavery activist. Wrote Roughing It in the Bush and other works about pioneer life in Upper Canada’s backwoods and clearings. 

IPIRVIK & TAQULITTUQ 
ca. 1837-81 / ca.1838-76 | Qikiqtaaluk, Nunavut 

Ipirvik & Taqulittuq Expand Image
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ARTHUR PHILEMON COLEMAN (FRCGS)
1852-1939 | Lachute, Que.
A renowned geologist, mountaineer and academic whose explorations of Rocky Mountain ranges, the Great Lakes and other regions introduced many to Canada’s geological wonders. 

ROBERT BARTLETT 
1875-1946 | Newfoundland 
An Arctic mariner and cartographer who undertook more than 40 expeditions, including the 1913-18 Canadian Arctic Expedition, adding much to our understanding of the North. 

ALICE E. WILSON (FRCGS)
1881-1964 | Cobourg, Ont. 

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J. DEWEY SOPER (FRCGS)
1893-1982 | Guelph, Ont. / Edmonton
Famed naturalist known best for his discovery of the elusive breeding grounds of the blue goose on southern Baffin Island — after a six-year search that depended on Inuit traditional knowledge. 

YVES FORTIER (FRCGS)
1914-2014 | Quebec City 

Yves Fortier, painted by Chris Cran Expand Image

DAVID GRAY (FRCGS)
1945- | Metcalfe,Ont.
Arctic wildlife biologist, writer and documentarian who has studied the behaviour of birds and mammals across the archipelago. He also led the 2013 search for the remains of the 1913-18 Canadian Arctic Expedition. 

JOHN ENGLAND (FRCGS)
1946- | Edmonton
Scientist and specialist in northern environmental change who has spent 50 years studying the Arctic Archipelago and mentoring numerous students in and out of the field. He was instrumental in the founding of Canada’s northernmost national park, Quttinirpaaq. 

PHILIP CURRIE (FRCGS)
1949- | Edmonton 
World-renowned paleontologist and Royal Tyrrell Museum founder. He has named dozens of dinosaur and pre-dinosaur species, and was integral to several game-changing discoveries and theories, including that dinosaurs were feathered and that some hunted in packs. 

NATALIA RYBCZYNSKI (FRCGS)
1971- | Ottawa 

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Previous: Introduction • Next: Charting the unknown 

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