Samuel Hearne

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     Samuel Hearne was born in London, England. He served in the Royal Navy, then joined the Hudson's Bay Company, who sent him to Fort Prince of Wales (Churchill) in 1769. He became the first European to travel overland by canoe and sled to the Arctic Ocean by following the Copper Mine River north of the Great Slave Lake.
     In 1971 Canada observed the bicentenary of Samuel Hearne’s expedition to the Copper Mine River with a stamp which displays a reproduction of Samuel Hearne’s map of the Copper Mine River at the point where it empties into the Arctic Ocean.

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     In his journal Hearne wrote, "Some Chipewyan Indians who came to trade at Prince of Wale’s Fort in the Spring of 1768 brought accounts of the grand river...and also several pieces of copper, as samples of the produce of the mine near it; which determined Mr. Moses Norton, who was then Governor at Churchill to represent it to the Company as an affair worthy of their attention. in consequence, the company resolved to send an intelligent person by land to observe the longitude and latitude of the river’s mouth and to make a chart of the country he might walk through....I was pitched upon as a proper person to conduct the expedition. “I did not hesitate to comply with the request of the Company....”
     After two false starts Hearne left on December 7, 1770, accompanied by Matonabbee, an Indian guide. He reached the Coppermine River on July 14, 1771, and three days later he reached the Ocean. In his journal he wrote, “On my arrival there I was not a little surprised to find the river differ so much from the description which the Indians had given of it...for instead of being so large as to be navigable for was at that part scarcely navigable for an Indian canoe....” He summarized the results of his venture as follows: “Though my discoveries are not likely to prove of any material advantage to the Nation at large, or indeed to the Hudson’s Bay Company, yet I have the pleasure to think that I have fully complied with the orders of my masters.”
     In 1775 Hearne was named Governor of Fort Prince of Wales. On August 8, 1782 French warships engaged in the American revolution demanded the surrender of the Fort. Hearne complied, and was taken to France as a prisoner. A year later he was released and returned to Canada. In 1787 he retired to England and died there in 1795. His journal , A Journey from Fort Prince of Wales in Hudson’s Bay to the Northern Ocean, and his map were published in the same year.

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