This article is about Somerset Island in Canada. See also Somerset Island, Bermuda.
The north coast of Somerset Island was inhabited by the Thule around 1000 AD, and ruins of stone, tunnels, and whale bones can be found. In late 1848 James Clark Ross, commanding two ships, landed at Port Leopold on the northeast coast and wintered over, launching a sled exploration of the island in April for the John Franklin expedition of three years earlier without success.
In 1937 the Fort Ross (72°01'N 94°12'W) trading post was established by Hudson's Bay Company. It was closed in 1948 because of severe ice conditions, rendering it uneconomical and difficult to access. This left the island uninhabited. The former store and managers house are still used as shelters for the Inuit from Spence Bay who transit the area hunting caribou.
The northern coast of the island has become a popular tourist destination due to the ruins and wildlife and because it is easily accessible from Resolute, which in turn is serviced by jet aircraft.