Canada's Arctic sector claim in historical perspective: A response to Alan MacEachern
Explorer Joseph Elzéar Bernier's famous 1909 sector claim on Melville Island is often described as a key moment in the evolution of Canada's sovereignty over the Arctic archipelago. Writers such as Yolande Dorion-Robitaille and Marjolaine Saint-Pierre have argued that Bernier was unfairly deprived of the credit he deserved for his sovereignty contributions. Alan MacEachern has recently stated in Polar Record that civil servants in the 1920s were to blame for this supposed unfair treatment. In particular, he sees Oswald Finnie of the Department of the Interior as a man who was determined at all costs to rewrite the historical record. This article contests MacEachern's depiction of Finnie and his colleagues, based on a range of primary source documents. It also emphasises the little-known but very significant role played by James White, who first placed the sector lines on an official map five years before Bernier's 1909 proclamation. The article thus clarifies the complicated relationship between White's 1904 map, Bernier's 1909 claim, an earlier sector claim made by Bernier in 1907, and the views on the sector theory held by influential members of the Canadian civil service at the time when an official sector claim was made by Ottawa in 1925.