Exploration of Canada between 1821 and 1851 was concentrated north of Latitude 60 degrees North and in central Ungava and Labrador. These were the last inland frontiers in Canada, locales of the canoe. Beyond, the Arctic islands were one more frontier, reached in sailing ships that could withstand year-round ice floes.

Hudson’s Bay Company personnel penetrated Ungava and the interior of Labrador, including places beyond the original company limits established in 1670 (interactive map: Exploration 1818-1851 -> map layers: Primary routes, 1822-1834, and 1834-1845). They also took up new responsibilities in New Caledonia (later British Columbia) and the Northwestern area (later Northwest Territories and Yukon) in the 1820s. Scots had come to dominate the HBC operations, judging from the many Scottish names among the explorers. Their maps achieved new levels of sophistication, using the rectangular grid and demonstrating better and better proportions of the land masses. (static maps: Arrowsmith 1832, and 1854)

Exploration among the Arctic Islands fell to Great Britain, and progress there was fitfully slow. By 1851 the gap between navigators seeking the Northwest passage westward from Davis Strait and those headed eastward from Beaufort Sea (Arctic Ocean) was tantalizingly close to being closed. (map layer: Primary routes, 1846-1851). But the circuit of the Russian Alaska coast remained unfulfilled, and a full passage between Atlantic and Pacific would await another century.

By 1850 the Canadian region as a whole was known continuously north to latitude 55 degrees (about half way between the American border and the northern limit of the Prairie Provinces and BC). The area beyond was largely unpenetrated boreal forest and tundra criss-crossed by established routeways repeatedly travelled. There was a shift from exploration for its own sake to creating standard corridors of access for resource exploitation, and not just furs. Incidental, opportunistic exploration would continue and ultimately the full land would be revealed through aerial surveys and photography in the second quarter of the 20th century.