Douglas & McIntyre
Polar Imperative

Book details:

May 2010
ISBN 978-1-55365-418-6
6" x 9"
400 pages
80 b&w photographs
Current Affairs
$39.95 CAD


Douglas & McIntyre

Polar Imperative

A History of Arctic Sovereignty In North America

Excerpt / Additional Content


• • • •
maps • viii
preface and acknowledgements • ix

Part i: Setting the Stage
1 Defining the Parameters • 5
2 First Inhabitants, 3000 bc–1500 ad • 25
3 Merchants and Monarchs, 1500–1814 • 55

Part ii: The Nineteenth Century
4 The British Admiralty and the Arctic, 1818–53 • 97
5 Purchase of Alaska, 1818–67 • 115
6 Sale of Rupert’s Land, 1870 • 135
7 British Transfer of the Arctic Islands, 1870–1900 • 155

Part iii: The Twentieth Century
8 Perfecting Sovereign Titles, 1900–38 • 193
9 World War ii, 1939–45 • 247
10 Postwar and Cold War, 1946–91 • 285
11 Arctic Oil and Aboriginal Rights, 1960–2004 • 339

Part iv: The Twenty-first Century
12 Beginning of a New Era • 405
13 Conflicts and Challenges • 435

notes • 471
selected bibliogr aphy • 511
index • 519


• • • •
Circumpolar View of the Arctic, c 2009 • xv
Alaska, 2009 • xvi
The Canadian Arctic, 2009 • xvii
Greenland, 2009 • xviii
Migration Routes of the Palaeo-Eskimos, 3000 bc–1000 ad • 33
Migration Routes of the Thule Inuit, 1000–1500 ad • 40
Viking Explorations and Settlements in North America, c1000 ad • 43
Russian Settlements in Alaska, c1800 • 89
Canada in 1870 after Purchase of Hudson’s Bay Company Lands • 1 45
Sverdrup’s Explorations in the Arctic Islands, 1898–1902 • 197
Canadian Presence in the Arctic, c1933 • 243
Arctic Weather Stations, Ferry Routes and Airfields in World War ii • 261
Defence Activities in the Arctic during the Cold War • 325
Limits of Jurisdiction in Canadian Arctic Waters, c1986 • 377
Shrinking Arctic Sea Ice and Potential New Shipping Routes • 408
Inuit and Eskimo Self-Government in North America, c2009 • 417
Disputed Claims in the Circumpolar Arctic, c2009 • 453

Excerpt from Part i: Setting the Stage

A comparative history of this magnitude requires a road map to locate the geographical markers and define specific terms related to Arctic sovereignty. Equally important is the evolution of international law that established the guidelines for sovereign authority over land and seas. With the first chapter having established the parameters of the inquiry, the second chapter begins with a brief look at climatic changes occurring long before humans roamed the planet, followed by a description of the first inhabitants of the North American Arctic: the Palaeo- Eskimos from Siberia. Then several millennia later, Norse families from Iceland settled in southern Greenland. This was followed by yet another eastward migration of indigenous people commonly referred to as Thule Culture, this time from Alaska and crossing the Canadian Arctic to reach Greenland around 1250 ad. Eventually the Palaeo- Eskimos and Viking settlers disappeared from North America, yet the Thule Inuit survived. The reasons why are still the subject of contentious debate.

The final chapter in this section deals with early explorations by Europeans and Russians, the exploitation of Arctic marine and fur resources and establishment of trading company monopolies by Denmark in western Greenland, by Britain in Hudson Bay and by Imperial Russia in Alaska. Initially only Russia and Denmark seemed interested in establishing permanent settlements that provided employment opportunities for the aboriginal people as well as religious and educational instruction—once again raising the question why.