Historian calls on Canada to honor explorer of the North who helped establish claims to Arctic

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As Canada seeks to assert its Arctic claims, the founder of a Quebec historical society says the time has never been better to honour an explorer who helped the country claim a huge chunk of the North.

In the late 1800s, Quebec-based captain Joseph-Elzear Bernier tried to persuade a young Canada of the importance of claiming sovereignty over the islands of the North. The British government had formally ceded the land in 1880 but the Canadian government had yet to exercise its jurisdiction there.

Bernier's expeditions eventually helped the country claim sovereignty over 750,000 square kilometres in the Arctic, says Jeanne Coude of the Levis regional historic society. Coude has been prodding various governments for years to erect a monument paying homage to a man sometimes called "the greatest Canadian navigator."

"When I saw reports of other countries contesting the Northwest Passage . . . I thought we needed to honour him here (in Levis), where he lived," said Coude, who has approached federal, provincial and municipal governments to erect a monument.

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