Page Heading for Arctic Archipelago


Luke Foxe (1586-1635)

Luke Foxe is much remembered by the literary/historical crowd as the "Literary Mariner," or as "North-West" Foxe.
"Foxe went home in 1631 after what is still one of the northernmost penetrations of Fox Channel and Fox Basin. James wintered miserably on Charlton Island in James Bay (See Map), where he found relics which may have been of the marooned Hudson.
Foxe and James covered about the same territory from the northern ice-barrier of the west coast down to the bottom of the Bay. Between them they temporarily ended the hopes of a North-West Passage. Coleridge was later to use James' sorrowful narrative as the raw material for his Rime of an Ancient Mariner."1
"Fox did not discover a northwest passage, though he considered what is now Roes Welcome Sound promising. He cancelled the last hope for Hudson Bay, and found the tide through Foxe Channel to be from the southeast (not from the west, as Henry Hudson and Button had encouragingly reported); these were negative discoveries, but they abated the zeal for arctic exploration for almost 200 years."2
It remains to compare the two voyages of 1671: the one of James and that of Foxe. I quote Alan Cooke who wrote of Thomas James in the DCB.
"Of the two voyages, Foxís was the more productive in geographic discovery, and it was easily executed; Foxís rough common sense and professional seamanship are in strong contrast to Jamesís academic qualities and his amateurish misadventures. But Jamesís narrative, a literary success, had the greater popularity. Some critics think that Coleridge drew upon Jamesís account of hardship and lamentation in writing, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

1 Brebner, p. 217. These "found relics" might, as well, have been Button's who explored the area in 1612.

2 DCB -


Found this material Helpful?


Peter Landry