Gorgeous first edition of Hearne’s description of his discoveries on behalf of the Hudson’s Bay Company

A Journey from Prince of Wales’s Fort in Hudson’s Bay, to the Northern Ocean: Undertaken by Order of the Hudson’s Bay Company, for the Discovery of Copper Mines, a North West Passage, &c., in the Years 1769, 1770, 1771 & 1772

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SKU: NL-00629 Category: Tag:
Cartographer(s): Samuel Hearne
Date: 1795
Place: London
Dimensions: Main map: 81 x 51.5 cm (32 x 23 in)
Condition Rating: VG
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For all their daring and enterprise, few of the early English fur trade explorers possessed the skill or carried the necessary instruments to report fully their discoveries. It was left to Samuel Hearne, an observant and industrious Hudson’s Bay employee, to publish the first comprehensive account of the inhabitants and terrain under the company’s control. Two initial attempts to reach the Arctic proved exhausting but fruitless. In 1770, Hearne set forward a third time, accompanied by the capable Indian guide Matonabbee, whose prestige and authority in the region seemed a guarantee of success. The party reached the mouth of the Coppermine River, establishing Hearne as the first European to see the North American Arctic and dissolving the myth of an ocean channel through the continent.

In 1774, Hearne built Cumberland House for the Hudson’s Bay Company, its first interior trading post and the first permanent settlement in present Saskatchewan. Appointed governor of Prince of Wales’s Fort in 1775, Hearne was forced to surrender to La Perouse in 1782 and return to England. La Perouse saved Hearne’s manuscript and returned it to the British for publication.


Samuel Hearne

Samuel Hearne (February 1745 – November 1792) was an English explorer, fur-trader, author, and naturalist. He was the first European to make an overland excursion across northern Canada to the Arctic Ocean (Coronation Gulf), via the Coppermine River.

Condition Description

Quarto (304 x 234mm). 4 engraved plates, 5 folding maps, one of which handcolored in outline (some spotting and browning; repaired tears to first map). Modern half calf over marbled boards. Provenance: Christie’s Martin Greene Sale; Shapero Rare Books.


Arctic Bib. 95998; Hill 791; Sabin 31181 (incorrect plate count); Streeter sale 3652; TPL 445.