Henry Asbjørn Larsen was born on September 30, 1899 at Herføl, one of the outermost islands of the Hvaler group. Larsen graduated from the Norwegian Polytechnic of Navigation and he spent a short period in the Norwegian Navy. After leaving Norway, he made two voyages to the Arctic as a Mate and Navigator on Captain Klingenberg’s ship Old Maid.
After becoming a naturalized Canadian, Larsen joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1928. Larsen commanded the R.C.M.P. vessel the St. Roch on her voyage through the Northwest Passage from west to east in 1942 and from east to west in 1944. He was commissioned a Sub-Inspector in the force in September 1941, promoted to Inspector in 1946, and Superintendent in 1953. From 1949 until his retirement on February 7, 1961, he was stationed at Ottawa in command of the "G" Division of the R.C.M.P. whose work dealt with the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.
Larsen was a fellow of the Arctic Institute of North America and an honorary member of the Royal Geographic Society. He was awarded the Patron's gold medal by the Royal Geographic Society and also received the Polar medal and bar. In May 1961, Larsen received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Waterloo University College.
After his retirement, Larsen resided in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia before moving to Vancouver, British Columbia. Henry Larsen died in Vancouver on October 29, 1964 at the age of 65. He was buried in the R.C.M.P. cemetery at Regina, Saskatchewan and is survived by his wife Mary, a son and two daughters.
Records in the collection consist of personal papers belonging to Henry Larsen and related items accumulated by his family. Records include correspondence, newspaper clippings, a comic book, notice of medals and awards received by Larsen, a copy of the Life Magazine news article on the R.C.M.P., Larsen and the St. Roch, Larsen’s Honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Waterloo University, copies of Masonic by-laws, and correspondence regarding the naming of Larsen Sound and the Coast Guard vessel CCGS Henry Larsen. Also included are three photographs and M.E. Foster’s unfinished typed manuscript about the St. Roch.
The collection also includes one file of material that were transferred from the “Lar” book collection housed in the Librarian’s office - Knud Rassmussen’s personal papers (copies), previously listed as ephemera “Lar G 615 R3”.
For further records related to Superintendent Larsen and the St. Roch, see the Parks Canada St. Roch Research Collection (VMM03); the Larsen Collection (books & periodicals); VMM photograph collection (VMM48); and artifacts in the VMM collection.