20. Dease, Peter Warren (1788-1863);
Simpson, Thomas
(d. 1840)

“Narrative of the progress of Arctic discovery on the northern shore of America, in the summer of 1839.”  Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, 1841, vol. 10, pp. 268-274.


Map of the Arctic coast between Coronation Gulf and Boothia Peninsula, from Peter Dease and Thomas Simpson, “Narrative of the progress of Arctic discovery,” 1841.

Dease and Simpson both worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company, Dease being a Chief Factor and Simpson a young but intrepid explorer.  At the request of Governor Pelly, they made three trips to the Arctic coastline, in the summers of 1837, 1838, and 1839.  In 1837 they went up the Mackenzie River and then west, seeking to surpass Franklin’s furthest of Return Reef in 1826.  This they did, with Simpson sledging the final distance to Point Barrow, thus linking up with Beechey’s survey of 1826. 

In 1838, the duo went down the Coppermine and then eastward to Point Turnagain, with Simpson again going further on foot, mapping and naming Victoria Land in the process.  In 1839, they were even more successful, discovering Dease and Simpson Strait (now Simpson Strait) south of King William Island, reaching Montreal Island in Chantrey Inlet (where they discovered a cache that Back had left in 1834—see item 18), and getting as far as the Castor and Pollux river on Boothia Peninsula.  Only a small strip of the North American coastline was left to map, and John Rae would finish this off in 1854.    

Accounts of the three journeys were published in three successive volumes of the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society.  The Society had been established in 1830, largely through the efforts of John Barrow and Francis Beaufort, to put geography on a par with general science, zoology, and horticulture, all of which had royal societies in their name.  We exhibit the account of the third journey, which includes a map of the region between the mouth of the Coppermine River and the Boothia Peninsula. On the map, Castor and Pollux River—named after their two boats—is abbreviated as “Boat R.”   The southern coast of Victoria Land is also outlined here, for the first time.

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