Virtual Trip… Canada

The Athabasca Falls is part of Jasper National Park, Alberta, that became a national park in 1930, and it is said to be the most powerful waterfall in the Rocky Mountain area in Canada. It drops a distance of 24 metres (80 feet) and reaches 18 metres (60 feet) in width. The geology is primarily of quartzite, very hard rock, and limestone also exists in some parts

Scenic Jasper, MA photo
The Force be with you Jasper. MA photo

The story of the Fundy Basin begins about 200 million years ago in the early Jurassic, when all the earth’s land was part of a supercontinent called Pangaea. At that time this area was situated near the equator and had a warm tropical climate and vegetation was lush. As continental drift reshaped the world, rift valleys formed, including the Cobequid-Chedabucto fault system.

The rifts which formed during continental separation filled with sediment which became sedimentary rock. Many fossils have been found along the Fundy shoreline including oldest dinosaur fossil in Canada found at Burntcoat Head. Very early reptiles have been discovered in Carboniferous tree trunks at Joggins. Wasson Bluff has a rich trove of Jurassic fossils.

Joggins Fossil Cliffs in Nova Scotia Canada
wikimedia commons

The North West Passage

History of Exploration
Several European kings commissioned dozens of their explorers to find the fabled Passage throughout the past five hundred years. John Cabot, Jacques Cartier, Martin Frobisher, John Davis, and Henry Hudson amongst others, searched for the route. Europeans wanted a shortcut of their own to East Asia, where they could trade for spices unavailable in Europe. They tried this by searching for what then came to be called the Northwest Passage, a sea route through North America from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and East Asia beyond. The Northwest Passage, in its traditional sense, was never found. However, in the early twentieth century, the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen successfully sailed through the Canadian Arctic, proving that a Northwest Passage does exist.

Amundsen and his crew were the first to cross the Northwest Passage entirely by sea in 1906. Although the crossing was an important “first,” it had little economic value because the journey took three years in a small fishing boat and used waters that were too shallow for commercial shipping.

Amundsen, sailed north of Baffin Island and through Parry Sound. Despite his discovery, the path was blocked by sea ice during the first period of the search and is only viable today as a route for larger, commercial vessels because of the warming climate’s impact on seasonal sea ice.

The first single-season trip through the passage was by Henry Larsen and crew in 1944. Again, the route taken was not deep enough for commercial shipping.

Gjoa (Amundsen’s Ship)
(courtesy Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley)
At Nome, Alaska, in 1906 after the completion of the Northwest Passage.

In 1957, three United States Coast Guard Cutters – Storis, Bramble, and SPAR – became the first ships to cross the Northwest Passage along a deep draft route. They covered the 4,500 miles of semi-charted water in 64 days. The first ship capable of carrying significant cargo to traverse the Passage was the SS Manhattan, a specially reinforced supertanker, in 1969. It was accompanied by the John A. MacDonald, a Canadian icebreaker. This trip was taken to test the Northwest Passage as an alternative to building the Alaska Pipeline. At that time, it was determined that the Northwest Passage was not economical, and the Alaska Pipeline was built.

Canadian flag.



Aurora Borealis Wikimedia commons

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Flash packer.

3 thoughts on “Virtual Trip… Canada”

  1. Fascinating- thank you. I went whale watching in the Bay of Fundy 10 years ago, but sadly because of storms the previous night didn’t see many whales!


  2. Roy and I met Bob & Irene in Jasper in 1974 and had a wonderful holiday together, camping and hiking. Oh to be young again but what great memories.


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