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1300's and Earlier 1400's Early 1500's Late 1500's 1600's 1700's 1800's 1900's Glossary of Exploration Terms

Martin Frobisher: English Explorer

Sir Martin Frobisher (1535?-1594) was an English privateer (a pirate licensed by the British government), navigator, explorer, and naval officer. After years of sailing to northwestern Africa, and then looting French ships in the English Channel, Frobisher sailed to northeastern North America to search for a Northwest Passage (a sea route across northern Canada from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, making the trip to Asia easier).

In 1576, Frobisher began a series of three trips to what is now Canada, and found some ore that he thought was gold (it was not - it was pyrite, also called Fool's Gold) on Baffin Island (Frobisher claimed Baffin Island for England). He also discovered Resolution Island, which he claimed for England, and Frobisher Bay. On his third trip, in 1578, Frobisher sailed 15 ships up the Hudson Strait, and set up a temporary mining settlement near what is now known as Frobisher Bay and formed a mining company called the Cathay Company. The mining venture was a failure.

Frobisher's stone house was discovered in 1862 by the American explorer Charles Francis Hall. Frobisher is said to have held the first Canadian Thanksgiving feast in what is now known as Newfoundland.

Frobisher was one of the first people to explore this area of Canada, although he failed to find either a Northwest Passage or gold. In 1585, Frobisher was a vice admiral on Sir Francis Drake's expedition to the West Indies. Frobisher died on November 22, 1594, from wounds he got fighting the Spanish.

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