Norwegians, much like Canadians, are very drawn to the outdoors and we spend a majority of our free time exploring nature, both near and far. As Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary, hundreds of adventurous Canadians will have the opportunity to live out their inner explorer as participants of the Canada C3 expedition. As the C3 crew will travel from coast to coast to coast, they do so in the footsteps of great men and women.
The widespread fascination with nature and the strong desire to explore is something that has been a part of our national identity for centuries — ever since before the Vikings arrived in L’Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland around the year 1000 CE.
Since then, Canada and Norway have remained connected through history, something that is evident when looking at the many place names in the Canadian north with Norwegian heritage, such as Gjoa Haven, Ellef Ringnes Island, Grise Fiord and Axel Heiberg Land.
The Inuit have been living and travelling in the Canadian Arctic for thousands of years. These Arctic waters also held an allure for European explorers, who had sought a navigable passage as a possible trade route to Asia for centuries. But, perhaps, no one was as determined as the famed Roald Amundsen was, when he set his eyes on the coveted Northwest Passage at the turn of the 20th century.
Roald Amundsen was born on a small Norwegian farm in South-Eastern Norway in 1872. Growing up in Norway, Amundsen was no stranger to snow and ice. From an early age he explored the Norwegian mountains and soon developed a strong interest in the polar regions.
In the summer of 1903, Amundsen, accompanied by six companions, sailed from Oslo with the ship Gjoa to do research on the magnetic north and sail through the entire Northwest Passage. During the expedition, he and his crew performed a lot of scientific research on the magnetic north. At the same time, they developed a close and respectful relationship with the Inuit. Amundsen was a keen observer of the Inuit way of life, and kept detailed notes in his diaries of how they dressed, hunted, built, lived etc. The knowledge and experience that he gained by observing and participating in Inuit life in Gjoa Haven (named after his ship Gjøa) contributed greatly to his continued success as an explorer — in particular, during the Antarctic expedition when he became the first man to reach the South Pole.
Amundsen’s success in the Canadian North helped form the national identity of a newly independent Norway. In the ensuing years, Amundsen, now an international household name, travelled the world sharing his experiences of and enthusiasm for the Canadian Arctic, its landscape and its people. Ever since then, Canada and the Arctic have played important roles in the Norwegian narrative.
Now that Canada is about to mark its 150th anniversary, Canadians from coast to coast to coast will contribute to a dialogue about what has defined Canada in the past and what Canadians dream of for the future The Canada C3 expedition, a Canada 150 Signature project, will be a wonderful example of this dialogue. With modern technology, Canada C3 will be able to make the Arctic virtually accessible to the world by using an interactive map live video, photos and 360 video. This content will spark and captivate our imagination, sharing remote locations and forging meaningful connections that wouldn’t otherwise occur.
The Norwegian Embassy is proud to once again collaborate with Students on Ice for the Canada C3 expedition, and we look forward to sharing with Canada some of our joint history throughout the journey. We have marked Leg 5 and Leg 9 in our calendars as the ship will stop in both L’Anse Aux Meadows and Gjoa Haven. Throughout the journey, Canada C3 will also carry with it a special surprise from the Embassy to celebrate our strong ties and mark this special year. Stay tuned for the big reveal on June 1!