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Aulavik National Park

Members of the Canadian Arctic Expedition travelled extensively over Banks Island, following the coastlines in winter and crossing overland in summer. CAE members "discovered" Castel Bay, and named many features of the landscape in and around Aulavik National Park. In the summer of 1914 Stefansson, Storkerson, and Andreasen explored the west side of Banks Island and in 1915 Stefansson and his northern party returned (from the north) to Banks Island in mid-summer, landing on the east side of Mercy Bay on 13 July 1915 (Stefansson 1921). Stefansson's party remained at Mercy Bay hunting caribou and seals for several days. At the place where M'Clure's ship, Investigator, over-wintered in Mercy Bay in 1851, they found a pile of coal, hundreds of barrel staves, decayed leather boots, and two heavy pieces of iron – an ice anchor and a grappling hook.

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Remains of Captain M'Clure's cache, Mercy Bay, northern Banks Island, N.W.T. April 1, 1916. GHW 51447. Source: Canadian Museum of Civilization

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Captain M'Clure's monument, Mercy Bay, northern Banks Island, N.W.T. April 2, 1916. GHW 51110. Source: Canadian Museum of Civilization

En route south to Kellett Camp, they followed the Thomsen River (at that time unnamed) for eight days before they found a place shallow enough to cross. They killed several caribou on the way and found numerous old Eskimo camps, all with evidence showing that the campers had been at Mercy Bay. In early August they came to a camp of Minto Inlet Inuvialuit about 30 to 40 miles northeast of the base at Kellett. The family consisted of Kullak (Kudlak), his wife Neriyok, their daughter Titalik (10), and son Herona (6). They had met Wilkins and Natkusiak on the ice of Prince of Wales Strait and with two other families had come to Banksland to trade and hunt snow geese.

In 1916 Wilkins also explored the Castel Bay and Mercy Bay area. From there he travelled down the east coast of the island, crossed to Victoria Island, visited a large Inuit camp, then crossed back to eastern Banks Island.

After the New Land explorations in 1917, Stefansson again crossed Banks Island. With his three companions (Knight, Noice, and Emiu) and two sledges they arrived on Banksland from Melville Island in mid-July. Stefansson found a brass tube containing a record left by M'Clure in April 1851. At their camp near Knight Harbour, they cached two sledges and some supplies including a number of books, as well as some materials taken from the Dealy Island cache on Melville Island before starting their walk south to Kellett Base on 28 July.