Jens Munk Expedition 400th Anniversary

Jens Munk Expedition 400th Anniversary

On May 9, 1619, the Danish sea-captain Jens Munk and 64 crew set sail from Copenhagen across the North Atlantic in two small royal ships, the frigate “Unicorn” and the sloop “Lamprey”, under the auspices of Christian IV, King of Denmark-Norway,.  The Expedition’s mission was to find the Northwest Passage to China and India.  King Christian’s objective was to demonstrate and proclaim Denmark’s rightful and historic membership among the principal trading and sea-faring nations of western Europe.  The Expedition was almost 200 years before the more famous Franklin and other expeditions in the mid-1800s (British), and only a few years after the discovery of Hudson Bay and Champlain’s founding (1608) of what is now Quebec City (New France).

The mission failed.  The Munk expedition made valiant attempts to penetrate the ice of the Arctic, sailing as far north as 69 degrees latitude in Davis Strait, and in September fought its way into Hudson Bay and became the first European expedition to explore western Hudson Bay.  The expedition spent the winter caught in the ice near the mouth of what is now the Churchill River, near what is now Churchill, Manitoba.  Only three members of the Expedition, including Munk, survived the winter.  The rest died of starvation, the fierce winter, and of scurvy.  On July 16, 1620 these three sailed for home aboard the “Lamprey”, eastward again across the North Atlantic, two months later on September 20 almost inconceivably reaching Bergen in what is now Norway, and then sailed on to Copenhagen.

2019-2020 will therefore mark the 400th Anniversary of the Jens Munk Expedition.  The Federation of Danish Associations in Canada has established a Jens Munk Commemoration Steering Committee, with members from the Federation and others from across Canada, and with Carl Sorensen, Edmonton as chair, to work towards Manitoba and Canada, and Denmark, and people of Danish and Norwegian background in Canada, marking and celebrating the 400th Anniversary of this significant event in Canadian history.

For more information contact Carl Sorensen at sorensn1@telusplanet.net Email or 780-439-7883 Phone