Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Eastern Arctic Mails
R.M.S. Nascopie

The Nascopie was a Hudson's Bay Company supply ship that made annual trips into Hudson Strait and the Eastern Arctic from 1912 to 1947. In 1935, the ship became the R.M.S. Nascopie (Royal Mail Ship) a designated travelling post office with an official postmaster. On its Arctic tours, the Nascopie carried government personnel, RCMP, doctors, scientists and members of the public to the North.

On July 22, 1947, the Nascopie struck an uncharted reef at the entrance of Cape Dorset harbour. Much of the ship's contents was saved including mail that had been submerged. The mail was flown to Winnipeg for processing.

1939 Trip

Craig Harbour, NWT, August 22, 1939

1940 Trip

In June 1940, the Nascopie was sent to Greenland to obtain cryolite, a mineral used in aluminum processing. The Nascopie sailed to the Port Alfred, Quebec terminal and discharged its cargo before starting its annual Arctic tour.

Cover from Pangnirtung, Baffin Island to Halifax
Lake Harbour (now Kimmirut) cancellation, July 20, 1940
R.M.S. Nascopie oval handstamp August 15, 1940

R.M.S. "Nascopie" , August 15, 1940

1947 Trip

The Nascopie left Montreal on July 5, 1947, stopping at six posts before the ship ran aground at Cape Dorset on July 22, 1947, and eventually sank

Cancelled Mail Before Nascopie Ran Aground

Cover cancelled at Lake Harbour, July 16, 1947
Flown from Cape Dorset to Manitoba

Lake Harbour, NWT
July 16, 1947

Instructional Label affixed:

This mail was received in damaged
condition being salvaged from the
wreck of the R.M.S. "Nascopie"- lost at
Cape Dorset, Canadian Arctic, on
July 22nd, 1947. The original stamp
loosened by sea water has been re-affixed
Sterling, Ontario receiver, August 13, 1947

The next cover was addressed to Buitenzorg, Java, Netherlands East Indies receiving Eastern Arctic Patrol cancellations on July 20, 1947, two days before the Nascopie ran aground.

Dead Letter Office

The Winnipeg Dead Letter Office (DLO) processed the cover. Instructional labels were affixed and date stamps applied.

District Post Office Inspector
D.L.O. 5

Cancelled after Nascopie grounded

The next two covers, also addressed to Java, received the Eastern Arctic Patrol oval handstamp after the Nascopie ran aground. Both covers were processed by the Winnipeg D.L.O.

Eastern Arctic Patrol
August 1, 1947


Mowat, Ian, Eastern Arctic Mails 1876 to 1963, B.N.A.P.S. Exhibits No. 5, April 1997