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In Canada's national collections there are a number of objects that were used by members of the Canadian Arctic Expedition. Many of these were retrieved from Stefansson's cache on northern Banks Island by the icebreaker HMCS Labrador in 1954. Others were donated to museums by the families of CAE members; e.g., Cox's camera, R.M.Anderson's first aid kit and snow goggles.

Stefansson's Cache

"We constructed a cache by standing our sledges on end and lashing them together at the top. There we made a platform in the A thus formed, upon which we deposited those articles which were too heavy to take with us" (Noice 1924). "A few articles we left on the ground. Some books we had to abandon - Dickens' Christmas Stories, Churchill's Crisis, Bigelow's Applied Biology, Mikkelsen's Conquering the Arctic Ice" (Stefansson 1921).

Among the artifacts brought back from Stefansson's cache at Knight Harbour to the National Archives Museum in Ottawa in 1954 were: one sled (G-4 Sledge), part of a sounding winch (G-9 Strap, iron), two skis (G-15, 16), an ice chisel (G-70), a compass (G-74), several paddles, and a primus stove (G-58). The second of the cached sleds was picked up in 1972 and donated to the Canadian Museum of Civilization (HNN-13 Dog Sled). This sled is in poorer condition and is probably the one that Stefansson described as "rickety" in 1917 (Stefansson 1921).

Stefansson's Primus Stove

When Stefansson and his exploratory party arrived on Banks Island from the north in July 1917, they discarded their sleds, books, tools and anything not necessary for the walk across the island to Kellett Base. The Primus stove they left in the cache was recovered by the crew of the icebreaker, HMCS Labrador in 1954. The stove went first to the National Archives Museum, then was transferred to the National Museum of Man (now the Canadian Museum of Civilization) in 1967. The mark on the bottom of the stove indicates that it was made in 1915.


Stop for tea, cooking with a Primus stove in the shelter of an ice ridge. Source: David Gray