Captain James Cook, Royal Navy, 1770s

Caption: Captain James Cook, Royal Navy, 1770s

James Cook (1728-1779) was one of the most famous British naval officers of the 18th century. Best known for his South Pacific explorations, Cook also made huge contributions to Canadian history. His mapping of the St. Lawrence River in 1759 was crucial to the success of the British attack on Quebec City in that year. He also spent five seasons mapping the coasts of Newfoundland. Finally, in 1778 during Cook's last voyage, the explorer mapped sections of the British Columbia coast while searching for the Northwest Passage. This engraving is based on a 1776 portrait, and shows Cook wearing a Royal Navy captain's full dress uniform of 1774-87, and a grey wig.