The Disappearances of the Corte-Real Brothers

Statue of Gaspar Corte-Real
in Newfoundland 
The story of the Corte-Real brothers is strange, not because they disappeared, but because they both did the exact same thing to end up that way. One could argue that it was the fault of an intense pioneering spirit and the love of family that urged these two men to their assumed doom, but you can also argue that it was a bit of silliness too. Then again, most disappearance stories involving the Northwest Passage do have an element of "I could have told you that would happen." to them.

In 1501, Gaspar Corte-Real went on his second mission to try to find the Northwest Passage. The first time he made it as far as possibly Greenland. This second time around, he made it to what we now think was Canada and then sent two of the three Portuguese sailing ships that went with him on this mission home. One of them carried his brother Miguel Corte-Real. The ship with Gaspar and the man himself were never seen again. The two that were sent home made it there safely.

In an attempt to find his brother, Miguel Corte-Real headed to the Northwest Passage in 1502. He too brought three caravels with him. He too sent two of the three sailing ships home. He too was never seen again. Like his brother's expedition, the two ships that went home made it there just fine. In spite of receding ice and much safer travels in the north these days, no evidence of either of their ships has been found.