Whitby hosts visitor from twin town

James Barnett is shown around the museum by Dr Sophie Forgan
James Barnett is shown around the museum by Dr Sophie Forgan

WHITBY played host to a special visitor from its sister city in Alaska who was paying his first visit to the town where explorer Captain Cook learnt his seafaring skills.

James Barnett, president of the Cook Inlet Historical Society in Anchorage, was given a tour around the Captain Cook Museum during his stay in the town and presented it with a copy of his book, Captain Cook in Alaska and the North Pacific (2008).

Although the town of Anchorage is relatively new and celebrating its 100th anniversary only this year, it sits on the Cook Inlet discovered by the navigator during his third voyage.

According to Mr Barnett, his interest in the adventurer stems from the fact that “he was the first European ever to come to Alaska, and produced the first maps and pictures of inhabitants. His voyage was the first time people discovered what Alaska actually looked like”.

Mr Barnett himself has “been all over the world to Cook’s various destinations” and has even been as far as Antarctica in his following of Cook’s trail.

However, he was keen to visit Whitby “to explore his roots, the son of a farmer who became a navy officer at a time when if you weren’t upper class, it was almost impossible”.

Mr Barnett is also planning to produce a large exhibition on Cook in a few years appearing in Anchorage, Ottowa, and even Washington State Museum.

Instead of focusing on his famed voyages to the South Pacific he plans to draw attention to his equally important exploration of the North.

He added that despite being 4,500 miles away, Anchorage’s link with Whitby is still as strong as ever.

For example, the statue of Cook that stands on the West Cliff in Whitby also looks over its twin town.

“We have an exact replica of the same statue. In Anchorage, we think about you all the time.”