Bellot Strait is a passage of water in Nunavut separating Somerset Island on the north from the Boothia Peninsula on the south. At its eastern end is the Murchison Promontory, the northernmost part of mainland North America. The 2 km (1.2 mi) wide 25 km long strait connects the Gulf of Boothia and Prince Regent Inlet on the east with Peel Sound and Franklin Strait on the west.
The north side of the strait rises steeply to approximately 450 m (1,480 ft), and the south shore to approximately 750 m (2,460 ft). The current in the strait can run at up to 8 kn (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) and often changes its direction. It is also often filled with small icebergs which pose a danger to ships in the strait.
The first Europeans to see the strait were Captain William Kennedy and Joseph René Bellot who reached it by dogsled from Batty Bay in 1852. This proved that Somerset Island was an island and that Prince Regent Inlet had a difficult westward exit. In 1858 Francis Leopold McClintock tried to pass the strait and gave up. The strait was first crossed from west to east by the Hudson's Bay Company ship Aklavik in 1937, piloted by Scotty Gall. Henry Larsen (explorer) crossed it in 1942 on the first west-east transit of the Northwest Passage.
The Fort Ross trading post, on the northern shore, was established in 1937.
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“We approached the Indian Island through the narrow strait called Cook. He said, I xpect we take in some water there, river so high,never see it so high at this season. Very rough water there, but short; swamp steamboat once. Dont paddle till I tell you, then you paddle right along. It was a very short rapid. When we were in the midst of it he shouted paddle, and we shot through without taking in a drop.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)