King William Island
|Native name: Qikiqtaq|
|Archipelago||Canadian Arctic Archipelago|
|Area||12,516 km2 (4,832.5 sq mi) -13,111 km2 (5,062 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||137 m (449 ft)|
|Highest point||Mount Matheson|
|Largest city||Gjoa Haven (pop. 1,064)|
|Population||1,064 (as of 2006)|
|Density||0.08 /km2 (0.21 /sq mi)|
King William Island (previously: King William Land; Inuktitut: Qikiqtaq) is an island in the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut and forms part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. In area it is between 12,516 km2 (4,832 sq mi) and 13,111 km2 (5,062 sq mi) making it the 61st largest island in the world and Canada's 15th largest island. Its population, as of the 2006 census, was 1,064, all of which live in the island's only community Gjoa Haven.
The island is separated from the Boothia Peninsula by the James Ross Strait to the northeast, and the Rae Strait to the east. To the west is the Victoria Strait and beyond it Victoria Island. Within the Simpson Strait, to the south of the island, is Todd Island, and beyond it, further to the south, is the Adelaide Peninsula. Queen Maud Gulf lies to the southwest.
Some places on the coast are: (counterclockwise from the northern tip) Cape Felix, Victory Point and Gore Point at the mouth of an inlet, Point Le Vesconte, Erebus Bay, Cape Crozier, (south side) Terror Bay, Irving Islands, Washington Bay, Cape Herschel, Gladman Point, entrance to Simpson Strait, Todd Islets, (east side) Gjoa Haven, Matheson Peninsula, Latrobe Bay, Cape Norton at mouth of Peel Inlet, Matty Island, Tennent Islands, Clarence Islands, Cape Felix.
Role in Arctic exploration
The island, long occupied by Inuit people, was originally named 'King William Land' for the reigning British King William IV in 1830 by the Arctic explorer John Ross, who thought it was a peninsula. In 1834, its south shore was seen from Chantry Inlet by George Back.
John Franklin's 1845 expedition became stranded in the sea ice northwest of the island. After the ships were abandoned, most of the crew gradually perished from exposure and starvation as they attempted to walk south near the western coastline. Two of Franklin's men are buried at Hall Point on the island's south coast.
In 1903, explorer Roald Amundsen, looking for the Northwest Passage, sailed through the James Ross Strait and stopped at a natural harbour on the island's south coast. There, unable to proceed due to sea ice, he spent the winters of 1903-4 and 1904-5. During his stays there he learned Arctic living skills from the local Netsilik Inuit that were later to be invaluable in his expedition to the South Pole. He used his ship Gjøa as a base for explorations in the summer of 1904, sledding the Boothia Peninsula and travelling to the North Magnetic Pole. Amundsen finally left, after 22 months on the island, in August 1905. The harbour where he lived is now the island's only settlement, Gjoa Haven.
- Darren Keith, Jerry Arqviq (November 23, 2006). "Environmental Change, Polar Bears and Adaptation in the East Kitikmeot: An Initial Assessment Final Report". Kitikmeot Heritage Society. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
- King William Island at the Atlas of Canada
- Other Arctic Islands at the Atlas of Canada
- 2006 census
- Page 2 fig. 1 in Keenleyside, A., M. Bertulli, and H. C. Fricke. 1997. "The Final Days of the Franklin Expedition: New Skeletal Evidence". Arctic. 50, no. 1: 36.
- Fraser, J. Keith. Notes on the Glaciation of King William Island and Adelaide Peninsula, N.W.T. Ottawa: Geographical Branch, Dept. of Mines and Technical Surveys, 1959.
- Taylor, J. Garth. Netsilik Eskimo Material Culture. The Roald Amundsen Collection from King William Island. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 1974. ISBN 82-00-08945-2
- Woodworth-Lynas, C. M. T. Surveying and Trenching an Iceberg Scour, King William Island, Arctic Canada. St. John's: Memorial University of Newfoundland, Centre for Cold Ocean Resources Engineering, 1985.