Beechey Island, a National Historic Site of Canada, remains a favorite landing for travelers to Canada’s high Arctic. Beechey Island, part of Nunavut’s Arctic archipelago, is not actually an island at all, but a peninsula attached to Devon Island. Stepping foot on Beechey Island takes one back into history, into the era of Arctic exploration.
Captain William Edward Parry was Beechey Island’s first European visitor in 1819, and Franklin and his crew stopped by in 1845 on their ill-fated journey. You can even see the gravestones of 3 of Franklin’s crew on the island. Beyond Parry and Franklin, many explorers wintered on Beechey Island over the years, drawn by its smooth topography and small hill providing some shelter. After Franklin’s disappearance, Beechey Island was also used as a base-point and supply depot for the search parties.
When stopping by Beechey Island, look for the Franklin expedition’s wintering camp, the Northumberland House supply depot used after Franklin’s disappearance, two message cairns, the HMS Breadalbane site where the British ship went down, and the Devon Island site located at Cape Riley.