1578. The height of the Age of North American Exploration.

It's in 1578, that Henri IV of France appoints the first viceroy of New France (known today as Canada), and authorizes him to found colonies there. In England, Elizabeth I grants Sir Humphrey Gilbert the first English colonial charter and, at the same time, cancels the trading privileges of the rival Hanseatic League. South of the Equator, Freebooter Francis Drake discovers Cape Horn.

And on May 31st explorer-pirate Martin Frobisher sails from Harwich, England, on his third voyage to America, with a flotilla of fifteen ships carrying the materials of settlement, as well as gold mining supplies. It's the largest North Atlantic fleet to assemble until World War II.

Arriving at Greenland almost a month later, on June 30th, Frobisher takes possession for Elizabeth I, renaming it West England, before sailing on westward.

On July 2nd the fleet sights Meta Incognita (or as it's known today - Baffin Island). The weather soon turns foul and the fleet is driven south by unfavorable winds, through Hudson Strait. The seas continue to worsen and the flotilla begins breaking up. A number of the supply ships are sunk by the violent weather. One ship deserts, returning to England. Another is crushed by ice, although the crew is removed safely.

Sailing down the northeast coast of Baffin Island, the surviving ships arrive in more protected waters ­p; a deep inlet on the southeast end. On July 24th Frobisher names this arm of the sea Countess of Warwick Sound. Later it will be known as Frobisher Bay. Two of the missing ships - the Judith and the Michael ­p; turn up in the Bay.

In appreciation of this evidence of divine intervention, the Reverend Mr. Wolfal, Frobisher's Anglican chaplain, steps out on Anne Warwick (or Kodlunarn) Island, with the other surving Europeans. There ­p; not in Massachusetts; in 1578 ­p; not 1621, is celebrated what is probably the first service of Thanksgiving in North America.

For FM ninety-one five, this is David Minor.

© 1996 David Minor / Eagles Byte