Arctic Ambitions

Captain Cook and the Northwest Passage

Preface by: Robin Inglis
ISBN 9781772030617
Hardcover | Publication Date: February 15, 2015
Book Dimensions: 8.5 in x 10.5 in
432 Pages

About the Book

Captain James Cook is justly famous for his explorations of the southern Pacific Ocean, but the exploration of the northern Pacific and the Arctic are equally significant. On his third and final great voyage, Cook surveyed the northwest American coast hoping to find the legendary Northwest Passage. While dreams of a passage proved illusory, Cook’s journey produced some of the finest charts, collections and anthropological observations of his career. It also helped establish British relations with Russia and opened the door to the hugely influential maritime fur trade.

This collection of essays from an international and interdisciplinary group of scholars—including former Vancouver Maritime Museum executive director James P. Delgado; Canada’s preeminent naval historian, Barry Gough; Richard Inglis, former head of anthropology at the Royal British Columbia Museum; and University of Alberta historian I.S. MacLaren—uses artifacts, charts, and records of the encounters between Native peoples and explorers to tell the story of this remarkable voyage. The book also provides new insights into Cook’s legacy and his influence on subsequent expeditions in the Pacific Northwest. Finally, the collection uses Cook’s voyage as a springboard to consider the promise and challenge of the “new north” today, demonstrating its importance as a meeting place of political, cultural, economic, and environmental forces.

About the Author(s)

James K. Barnett is the author of Captain Cook in Alaska and the North Pacific and coeditor of Enlightenment and Exploration in the North Pacific, 1741-1805.


"Whether you are a Captain Cook fan or a Captain Cook debunker, an activist concerned with colonialism or someone fascinated by All Things Arctic, Arctic Ambitions will get you dreaming of someday travelling through the Northwest Passage."

—Caroline Woodward, BC Bookworld

"A lavish and exceptionally well-illustrated volume."

—Robin Fisher, BC Studies

"A beautifully presented anthology of 18 essays [that] cover subjects such as Cook's life, his navigational techniques, his interactions with indignous peoples and his personal jounral in great detail."

—Calvin Dao, Canadian Geographic