This blog documents our preparations as we get ready to travel to Cape Sheridan, Ellesmere Island. We are going there to study the archaeological remains of over-wintering sites established by Greenlandic Inughuit families who lived there during the winters of 1905-06 and 1908-09. They were there to work for Robert E. Peary as he tried to reach the North Pole.
Peary was determined to be the first person to reach the North Pole. He spent many years in the Arctic, always learning from his mistakes and refining his plans and techniques to achieve this goal. He used the best of both Western and local Inughuit technology, from a custom-built steam ship, the SS Roosevelt, to traditional fur clothing sewn by local seamstresses. He also relied heavily on the expertise of Inughuit men and women. They were so important to his work that for his last two expeditions, in 1905 and 1908, he brought some 50 men, women and children from Greenland to his base camp at Cape Sheridan. While he and his men overwintered aboard the ship, these families constructed houses and lived on shore. The women sewed clothing for the expedition (in addition to their own families), while the men hunted and drove dog sleds for the expedition.
Travelling to the Arctic today is faster, and in some ways simpler, but still requires a great deal of planning and preparation. Our preparations mirror Peary’s in many ways, and in this blog we will explore the similarities and differences in these Arctic expeditions some 100 years apart.