Separated from Devon Island by the Barrow Strait, the two were discovered at the same time by Captain William Edward Parry, though Beechey Island was named by his lieutenant Frederick William Beechey for his father, the artist William Beechey. Though small, this island has played a key role in a number of Arctic explorations, most notably as a camp for Sir John Franklin’s tragic expedition to find the Northwest Passage. The remains of three of the crew were found on the island, a hint as to the events of that ill-fated journey. It was used as a base in 1850 by Edward Belcher as he surveyed the area and again in 1903 by Roald Amundsen on his successful journey to the Northwest Passage. It has since been declared a Territorial Historic Site in recognition of this illustrious history of Arctic exploration.

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