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The 2013 Expedition


In order to complete the story of the Canadian Arctic Expedition, and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the CAE, we set out on a two-part research and filming expedition to Banks Island in the summer of 2013.

The 2013 research expedition to Banks Island in July and August 2013 was planned to have both land- and sea-based components. The land expedition was based in Sachs Harbour; the expedition by sea, utilized a 46-foot motor-sailboat, the Bernard Explorer.

Banks Island - July 18 to August 15, 2013

In July 2013, Mitzi Dodd and David Gray, with Kyle Wolki, from Sachs Harbour, as wildlife monitor, spent a week as planned investigating the Canadian Arctic Expedition headquarters at Mary Sachs Creek which was occupied by the Northern Party between 1914 and 1917. The team measured, mapped, photographed, and documented the major structures and artifacts. As expected, coastal erosion is slowly encroaching on the site and small artifacts on the surface of the site are falling to the beach below, and being lost in the sand.

The 2013 expedition vessel, the motor-sailor Bernard Explorer, en route from Alaska, was held up by ice and prevented from reaching the land party at Sachs Harbour. This meant the planned ship voyage to the northwest corner of Banks Island was not possible. Instead, David Gray and Mack MacDonald attempted to reach Terror Island, about half way up the west coast, by small boat. On August 3, with John and Samantha Lucas and John Lucas Jr. they set off from Sachs Harbour in two 18-foot outboard aluminum boats. Unfortunately, ice conditions prevented them from getting around Cape Kellet. The ice had moved in with the westerly winds, blocking the shore and extending well out to sea. There was no possibility of getting around the ice.

After a trial day trip to Cape Kellet in an ATV, they set out overland on a three-day trip to try to reach at least some of the CAE northern coastal sites. They used an ATV and trailer driven by John Lucas Sr. and a Polaris Ranger (side-by-side) with John Jr. driving and Mack and David as passengers. They reached and photographed major historic sites at Sea Otter and North Star Harbours, and did see Terror Island and Storkerson Bay, though from a distance. The team found and documented several small unrecorded archaeological and historic sites both on the coast and inland.

Following the return to Sachs Harbour, they completed a one-day trip to Blue Fox Harbour where they visited two historic sites on the coast, places probably visited by the CAE, and located the grave of Fred Wolki, a young member of the CAE in 1918.

In Sachs Harbour, a small historic site east of the hamlet was documented and the team interviewed a number of CAE-related people, both Elders and youth, in the community.

The Bernard Expedition

Bob Bernard and Paul Krejci on the Bernard Explorer eventually made it as far east as the Horton River on their second attempt, but were unable to cross the Northwest Passage to Banks Island because of the heavy ice. They photographed several CAE sites in Alaska, including the CAE’s Collinson Point 1913 winter headquarters, and CAE employee Pipsuk’s 1918 grave on Barter Island.