Boothia Peninsula

The Boothia Peninsula, a component of the new Canadian territory of Nunavut, is a fingerlike projection of land extending northward from the Canadian mainland. It represents the northernmost tip of the North American mainland extending to a latitude of 71o58' N. It is connected to the mainland by the narrow Isthmus of Boothia. The narrow Bellot Strait separates the Boothia Peninsula from Somerset Island to the north. To the east, the Gulf of Boothia separates it from Baffin Island. To the northwest, Franklin Strait separates it from Prince of Wales Island, and to the southwest, James Ross Strait separates the peninsula from King William Island.

The Boothia Peninsula was discovered and explored by the British explorer Sir John Ross, who named it for the wealthy brewer Sir Felix Booth, a patron of his expedition. In 1829, Ross had set out on a voyage to discover the North West Passage. His ship became trapped in ice off the northwest coast of the Boothia Peninsula, where it remained icebound for the next four years. Living off the land in a manner similar to the indigenous inhabitants of the area, Ross successfully maintained his entire crew without a single loss of life and free of scurvy until his subsequent rescue.

Sir John's nephew, James Clark Ross, made a number of observations concerning the location of the magnetic north pole during this period, finally measuring a dip in the compass needle of 89o59' at Cape Adelaide on the west coast of the Boothia Peninsula. The location of the north magnetic pole has gradually moved to the northwest at a rate of

10-15 km per year, and most recently was located on the Noice Peninsula in southwest Ellef Ringnes Island.

Topographically and climatically, the Boothia Peninsula resembles the islands of the Arctic Archipelago. Although occupying an area of 12,483 sq mi (32,331 sq km—about the combined land areas of Connecticut and New Jersey), the area is virtually uninhabited except for a few settlers at Taloyoak (formerly Spence Bay) at the southern tip of the peninsula. Taloyoak has a population of about 700 and is a budding tourist center in the area. The community is best known for producing Inuit dolls and other Inuit crafts. The Netsilik School in Taloyoak is organized under the Aboriginal Headstart Program of Canada and serves the educational needs of 240 local students, offering classes in English, French, mathematics, art, music, and sponsoring science and HIV/AIDS fairs.

Ralph M. Myerson See also Baffin Island; Prince of Wales Island

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