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Albert Peter Low

In 1903-04, Albert Peter Low (1861-1942), an experienced geologist with the Geological Survey of Canada, undertook a scientific expedition to the Arctic on the steamship Neptune. His mandate included the exploration and mapping of the waters and islands of Hudson Bay and lands further north in order to assert federal government authority over the area. Low sailed up the Labrador Coast to Cumberland Sound, continuing on to Fullerton Harbour, north of Chesterfield Inlet, where he spent the winter. While there, a small detachment of Northwest Mounted Police disembarked to establish the first police post in northern Hudson Bay.

For ten months, Low and his fellow scientists conducted geological studies, and photographed and recorded information on Inuit inhabitants on the west side of Hudson Bay and Southampton Island. The following summer, Low sailed north taking formal possession of Ellesmere, Beechey and Somerset Islands for Canada.

Several years later Low was appointed Director of the Geological Survey. His book The Cruise of the Neptune, published in 1906, provides a documentary account of the people, geology and geography he observed on the voyage.

Although an amateur photographer working in conditions of severe cold and low light with fragile glass-plate negatives and cumbersome equipment, Low managed to create a valuable photographic legacy. Particularly interesting are the details of clothing, hairstyles and personal adornment of the peoples living along the west side of Hudson Bay including the Aivilingmiut and Qairnirmiut.

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