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Beechey Island is a small island off the southwest coast of Devon Island, separated by a narrow waterway called the Barrow Strait. Captain William Edward Parry was the first European to visit the island in 1819. His lieutenant, Frederick William Beechey, named the island after his father, the artist William Beechey (1753–1839). Beechey Island played a significant role in the history of Arctic Exploration. During the winter of 1845-46, Sir John Franklin and his men camped on the island as part of their ill-fated quest to find the Northwest Passage. Mummified remains of three of Franklin’s crew were discovered, giving a better understanding of what happened before the disappearance of the expedition. In 1850 Edward Belcher used the island as a base while surveying the area. Later, in 1903, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen stopped at the island at the beginning of his successful voyage in search for the Northwest Passage. Subsequently, Beechey Island has been declared a "Territorial Historic Site" by the Northwest Territories government in 1975 and a National Historic Site of Canada in 1993. It now is part of Nunavut.
Devon Island is Canada’s sixth largest island and was first seen by Europeans in the early 17th century. The Thule culture had already settled there many centuries before, and left behind qarmat homes, made of rocks, whale bones, rock and sod walls, and skins for roofs that tell a story of over 800 years of human habitation. Other striking finds in this area are the many fossils of corals, crinoids and nautiloids that can be seen. Just across Lancaster Sound is Prince Leopold Island, a Canadian Important Bird Area, a federally listed migratory bird sanctuary, and a Key Migratory Bird Terrestrial Habitat site with large numbers of Thick-billed Murres, Northern Fulmars and Black-legged Kittiwakes that breed there.