Stefansson, Vilhjalmur (1879-1962), a Canadian-born Arctic explorer and anthropologist. His explorations convinced him that the Arctic was a habitable environment, and he encouraged development of the region. Stefansson was one of the first to demonstrate that whites could survive in the Arctic by adopting the Eskimo mode of living.
Stefansson's first expeditions were to Iceland, 1904 and 1905. During 1906-07, he made an ethnological expedition to the Eskimos on Canada's northern coast. After another trip to the Arctic, 1908-12, he claimed that he had found blond and blue-eyed Eskimos, presumably descendants of Vikings, but most scientists discounted the report. In his explorations from 1913 to 1918, Stefansson crossed the Beaufort Sea on moving ice and discovered many uncharted areas. In later years he served various organizations as a consultant on Arctic matters.
Stefansson was born at Arnes, Manitoba, of Icelandic parents. He studied at Harvard University and received his Ph.D. at the University of Iceland in 1930.
His many books include My Life with the Eskimo (1913), Unsolved Mysteries of the Arctic (1938), and his autobiography, Discovery (1964).