- Hearne, Samuel
▪ British explorerborn 1745, London, Eng.died November 1792, EnglandEnglish seaman, fur trader, and explorer, the first European to make an overland trip to the Arctic Ocean. He was the first to show the trend of the Arctic shore.At the age of 11, Hearne became a midshipman in the British Royal Navy. From 1766 he worked for the British-based Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) as mate on company vessels, one of which took him in 1769 to Fort Prince of Wales at the mouth of the Churchill River in present Manitoba.Between the fort and the Arctic Ocean lay an immense region known only as the Barren Grounds, rumoured to be filled with riches, including copper. It was speculated that the mysterious tundra even offered a route to the Orient. Twice frustrated in attempts to explore the territory for the Hudson's Bay Company, Hearne left the Churchill River in December 1770, accompanied only by an Indian guide and the guide's eight wives. The following July he found the mouth of the river that he is said to have named the Coppermine (in present Northwest Territories). When he returned to the fort in June 1772, he had walked some 5,000 miles and explored more than 250,000 square miles.In 1774 Hearne built for the Hudson's Bay Company its first interior trading post, Cumberland House, on the Saskatchewan River, the first permanent settlement in present Saskatchewan. He was serving the Hudson's Bay Company as governor in 1782 when the French plundered and destroyed the post and took Hearne prisoner.To the credit of the French navy, Hearne was treated with dignity. The Count de La Perouse, himself an explorer, encouraged Hearne not only to preserve his papers but also to publish an account of his fabulous journey to the Arctic. Released by the French, Hearne spent four relatively uneventful years in Canada (1783–87) before he returned to England to write A Journey from Prince of Wales' Fort . . . to the Northern Ocean (published posthumously, 1795; new eds., 1911 and 1958).
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