Manitoba Heritage Council Commemorative Plaques

Jens Munk Expedition (1619-20)

Jens Munk Expedition (1619-20)
(Courtesy of the Archives of Manitoba)
Installed 1991
Fort Prince of Wales National Historic Site

In 1619, the mariner Jens Munk was commissioned by Denmark's King Christian IV to seek a Northwest Passage to the Orient. In May 1619, his expedition of about 60 men sailed from Copenhagen in the ships Enhjørningen (Unicorn) and Lamprenen (Lamprey). They entered Hudson Bay in late August and wintered near present-day Churchill. This was the second European expedition to reach the Bay's west shore.

Munk and his crew first went ashore on 7 November and spent a terrible winter battling bitter cold and scurvy. Only Munk and two of his seamen survived. They embarked on their return voyage in the Lamprenen on 16 July 1620, and reached Norway on 21 September of that year.

Munk's memoirs, published in 1624, fostered future expeditions. Danes were amongst the earliest Europeans to winter in the Churchill area before a continuous European presence was established after 1717.

NOTE: since the plaque was installed, the exact date of the arrival of the Enhjørningen (Unicorn - note the corrected spelling) at the wintering site has been identified as September 7th, 1619.