Banks Island is one of the larger members of the Canadian Arctic
Archipelago. Situated in the Inuvik Region, and part of the Inuvialuit
Settlement Region, of the Northwest Territories, it is separated from
Victoria Island to its east by the
Prince of Wales Strait
Prince of Wales Strait and from the
Amundsen Gulf to its south. The
Beaufort Sea lies to its
west, and to its northeast
M'Clure Strait separates the island from
Prince Patrick Island
Prince Patrick Island and Melville Island.
It is home to barren-ground caribou, polar bears, and birds such as
robins and swallows. Over 68,000 muskoxen also live on the island, the
majority of the world's population. As of the 2011 census it had a
human population of 112, all in Sachs Harbour.
1 European discovery
4 HMS Investigator
6 Further reading
7 External links
Pre-Dorset cultural sites have been found that date from approximately
1500 BCE but European contact came much later. In 1820 it was seen
from Melville Island by Sir
William Edward Parry
William Edward Parry and named "Banks
Land" in honour of Sir Joseph Banks. However, during the later
exploration of the area by the
McClure Arctic Expedition
McClure Arctic Expedition the island
was marked on their maps as "Baring Island". McClure's ship, the
HMS Investigator, was frozen in Prince of Wales Strait. That spring he
sent out sledging parties and determined that
Banks Island was an
island. In the following year he almost circumnavigated the island but
was again frozen in at
Mercy Bay where he and his crew spent the next
three before making their escape across the ice.
The only permanent settlement on the island is the
Sachs Harbour (Ikhuak), on the southwest coast.
Banks Island covers an area 70,028 km2 (27,038 sq mi)
and it is the world's 24th largest island and Canada's fifth largest
island. It is about 380 km (240 mi) long, and at its widest
point at the northern end, 290 km (180 mi) across. The
highest point of the island is in the south, Durham Heights and rises
to about 730 m (2,400 ft). It is part of the Canadian
Arctic Archipelago, and had a population of 112 in 2011, all in Sachs
The island is treeless, with the tallest plant, the
growing occasionally to about the height of a person's knee but
usually standing no taller than 10 cm (3.9 in).
Banks Island is home to two-thirds of the world's population of lesser
snow geese, which make their way across the
Amundsen Gulf from the
mainland. There is an annual goose hunt in the spring out of Sachs
Harbour. The island is part of the tundra world biome, which has
extremely cold winters. The island is home to barren-ground caribou,
polar bears, muskoxen, and birds such as robins and swallows. Over
68,000 muskoxen live on the island, the majority of the world's
Two federal migratory bird sanctuaries were founded on the island in
Aulavik National Park
Aulavik National Park of Canada, a fly-in park, protects about
12,274 km2 (4,739 sq mi) of
Arctic lowlands at the
northern end of the island. The park has the highest concentration
of muskoxen on earth, and is home to the endangered Peary caribou.
Thomsen River runs through the park, and is the northernmost
navigable river (by canoe) in North America. Ptarmigan and ravens are
considered the only year-round birds in the park, although 43 species
make seasonal use of the area. In
Inuvialuktun Aulavik means "place
where people travel" and the "wildlife and land have supported
aboriginal peoples for more than 3,400 years, from
to contemporary Inuvialuit."
The first confirmed grizzly–polar bear hybrid found in the wild was
Banks Island in April 2006, near Sachs Harbour.
In July 2010,
Parks Canada archaeologists looking for
HMS Investigator found it 15 minutes after they started a sonar
scan of Banks Island's Mercy Bay. The archaeology crew had no plans to
raise the ship. They planned to conduct a thorough sonar scan of the
area, then send a remotely operated vehicle.
^ Sachs Harbour, HAM
Northwest Territories (Census subdivision)
^ "Frozen Ocean Search for the North-West Passage".
Ve.tpl.toronto.on.ca. Archived from the original on 2012-02-05.
^ Armstrong, Alexander (1857). A Personal Narrative of the Discovery
of the Northwest Passage. London: Hurst and Blackett. Retrieved
^ James Marsh. "Banks Island". Thecanadianencyclopedia.com. Archived
from the original on 2011-11-05. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
^ a b c "
Aulavik National Park
Aulavik National Park of Canada", Parks Canada, 16 January
2014, retrieved 1 November 2014
^ "Abandoned 1854 ship found in Arctic". CBC News. July 29, 2010.
Retrieved February 26, 2012.
HMS Investigator, Baring Island, 1851
Canada. Banks Island, a Natural Area of Canadian Significance. Natural
area of Canadian significance. Ottawa: Parks Canada, 1978.
Cotter, R. C., and J. E. Hines. 2001. "Breeding Biology of Brant on
Banks Island, Northwest Territories, Canada". Arctic. 54: 357–366.
Gajewski, K, R Mott, J Ritchie, and K Hadden. 2000. "Holocene
Vegetation History of Banks Island, Northwest Territories, Canada".
Canadian Journal of Botany. 78: 430–436.
Holyoak, D. T. Notes on the Birds of Southwestern Banks Island,
Northwest Territories, Canada. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists'
Club, Vol.103,No.2, June. 1983.
Manning, T. H., E. O. Höhn, and A. H. Macpherson. The Birds of Banks
Stephens, L. E., L. W. Sobczak, and E. S. Wainwright. Gravity
Measurements on Banks Island, N.W.T. Gravity map series, no. 150.
Ottawa: Dept. of Energy, Mines and Resources, Earth Physics Branch,
Stephenson, S.A. 2010. Fishes of the Thomsen River, Banks Island,
Northwest Territories. Can. Manuscr. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2944: vi +
Struzik, Ed. 2000. "AND THEN THERE WERE 84,000 – The Return of
Musk-Oxen to Canada's
Banks Island in Recent Decades Is Just One
Chapter of a Beguiling
Arctic Mystery". International Wildlife. 30,
no. 1: 28.
Will, Richard T. Utilization of
Banks Island Muskoxen by Nineteenth
Century Copper Inuit. [S.l.]: Boreal Institute for Northern Studies,
Historical sites of the Northwest Passage
Chart of the Northwest Passage
Banks Island at civilization.ca
Banks Island Archaeological Site Early Dorset artifacts collected by
the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, Northwest Territories,
Beaufort Sea Islands
Mc Clure Island
Prince Patrick Island