British Arctic territories
|16th century – 1880|
|Status||Territory of the United Kingdom|
• Expeditions of Martin Frobisher
|Today part of||Nunavut and Northwest Territories, Canada|
The British Arctic territories, now known as the Arctic Archipelago (excepting islands in Hudson Bay, which were part of Rupert's Land) were claimed by the United Kingdom in North America. The region was part of British North America.
The British claim to the area was based on the discoveries of Martin Frobisher (1535–1594) in the 16th century. Britain passed control of the islands to Canada in 1880, by means of an Imperial Order in Council, the Adjacent Territories Order, passed under the Royal Prerogative. After the 1880 transfer Canada gradually incorporated the islands with Rupert's Land into the Northwest Territories. The transfer was made out of fear of American interest in the area as part of the Monroe Doctrine.
On April 1, 1999, the territory of Nunavut was created from the eastern portion of the Northwest Territories. The majority of the islands became part of Nunavut. Islands split between Nunavut and Northwest Territories include Victoria Island, Melville Island, Mackenzie King Island and Borden Island.
These islands were never part of Rupert's Land (Hudson Bay drainage basin) nor the North-Western Territory (mainland north and west of Rupert's Land), both of whose trade monopolies were managed by the Hudson's Bay Company. Canada had acquired those regions in 1870, creating the new Province of Manitoba and Northwest Territories (which originally included northern Ontario, northern Quebec, the rest of Manitoba, all of Saskatchewan, part of Alberta, part of British Columbia, Yukon, and Nunavut), with the name Northwest Territories retained by the successor government in the region flanked by the Mackenzie River drainage to the north of Alberta.
Flags of the World has a tradition of posting a new flag for the British Arctic Territory every April 1. It has led to some persistent misinformation on the web.