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Fellows Journal

Spring 2014

Message from the President

One of the many important ways The Royal Canadian Geographical Society celebrates and promotes geography is by honouring those who contribute to geographic research, teaching and exploration, and by helping the Society fulfill its mission. You can see the various medals and awards presented by the Society through its Awards Program by visiting From the Bergmann Medal to the Ondaatje Medal, from the 3M Environmental Innovation Award to the Geographic Literacy Award, these are exceptional honours. On the website you can also view the names of those who have been honoured in the past, and learn more about their accomplishments.

I am grateful for the Awards Committee’s work reviewing many of the high-quality nominations that are submitted for many of these honours, including the Society’s oldest recognition, the Massey Medal. I’m proud that our medals and awards are among the most coveted and prestigious given in the country.

The decision by the Board of Governors to approve the creation of the Lawrence J. Burpee Medal adds greater flexibility to the Awards Program by allowing the RCGS to recognize those who have made a notable contribution to the Society or to geography. A founder of our Society, Burpee was the first editor of its magazine and an eminent Canadian. On top of his important work as Canadian Secretary of the International Joint Commission he was a writer, and his adventurous accounts of the West and North were well-known in his day. For The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Burpee’s work establishing the Canadian Geographical Journal, now Canadian Geographic, is his greatest legacy. 

Similar to the Gold Medal, one side of the new Lawrence J. Burpee Medal features the Society’s Coat of Arms, while the obverse shows the original stylized globe that appeared on the first Canadian Geographical Journal, published in 1930.

This will be a coveted honour, and future recipients of the Lawrence J. Burpee Medal will no doubt be deeply honoured to have received a medal in this great Canadian’s name.

Paul Ruest

Save the date

Photographer Nick Caloyianis captures Jill Heinerth exploring an artificial reef growing on what remains of a submerged oil rig structure. She is using a rebreather, which like a space suit, captures the diver's exhaled breath and recycles it to extend the range of divers and allowing them to interact with marine life without creating bubbles.

Ottawa Spring Speaker Series — Inside a shifting iceberg

Ottawa Spring Speaker Series — Inside a shifting iceberg

As one of the world’s most skilled technical cave divers, Canadian Jill Heinerth has set diving records and encountered extremes the world over. But nothing prepared her for what she encountered exploring cave systems inside Antartica’s giant icebergs.
Take the plunge and join us for an epic talk on undersea exploration and adventure by Jill Heinerth, winner of the Society’s prestigious Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration.
Date: Wednesday, April 30th at 7 p.m.
Venue: Canada Aviation and Space Museum, 11 Aviation Parkway, Ottawa
Admission: Tickets are $15 and are available at Please don’t wait to buy your tickets as seating is limited.

For more information on this fascinating event, please visit


The 85th Annual College of Fellows Dinner: Honouring the Canadian Space Agency

Photo: NASA

Join us on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa as we honour the Canadian Space Agency’s 25th anniversary, and Canadian astronauts. CSA President General Walter Natynczyk will be our keynote speaker. The Fellows Dinner will also mark the Society’s own 85th anniversary.

Tickets for the Fellows Dinner will be available soon!

Full price tickets will be available for $225 per ticket. Buy early, and you can get the early bird price of $200. Purchase after the sales cut off date in October and the ticket price rises to $250.

Keep an eye on your email for the early bird dates, an invitation to the dinner and instructions for purchasing tickets.

Society Notes

Update on Fellows Committee

The Society encourages all Fellows to host activities that help Canadians learn more about their country. If you have an idea for an event in your province or territory, please let us know about it.

Do you know someone who is helping to make Canada better known to Canadians and can contribute to the Society? Please fill out the Fellows nomination form by clicking here. Completed nominations must be received by Sunday, August 31, 2014 to be considered.

Your Society in the news

Children learning about energy distribution on the giant energy floor map at Calgary’s Chinook Centre. (Photo: Courtenay Davidson)

The ink on the 2014 Expedition contracts is not even dry and the media has started covering the Great Hike, the RCGS Expedition of the Year. The Great Hike has already received province-wide coverage on CBC radio in British Columbia.

Canadian Geographic Education programs are receiving great media attention. The Classroom Energy Diet Challenge had a great start with Global TV filming students in Chilliwack, B.C. and Fort McMurray, Alberta, showing how they are tackling energy conservation problems in their classrooms. Local media were also impressed with how these students came up with innovative solutions to everyday energy conservation challenges.

Our giant floor maps are also a media hit. In late February, the Giant Energy Floor Map was the star attraction of Canada’s inaugural Let’s Talk Energy Week. At the Chinook Shopping Centre event in Calgary, journalists were impressed with the way the Giant Energy Floor Map attracted, engaged and educated visitors from the age of two to 92! Our giant traveling floor map of Canada’s vast boreal forest was the feature attraction at a Trent University town hall event and captivated Peterborough’s media for two days running. A short video highlighting the town hall discussion has been created called At Wood’s Edge: Conversations on the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. Click here to view the video and see this map in action.

For more information about the Society’s media relations activities, please visit the Society’s News Room.

Strategic Partnerships

The Society enters into formal arrangements with organizations that share similar goals and interests. Currently several of our partnerships cluster around energy literacy and environmental stewardship.

Increasing the energy literacy of Canadians is the focus of the ongoing relationship with Shell Canada that is represented by the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge. Now in its third year, the Challenge has attracted more than a thousand Canadian classrooms with a demonstrable impact on understanding energy consumption and conservation. With the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), the Society offers the unique Energy IQ website and giant floor map, resources designed to support teaching and learning about all kinds of energy in Canada. A new project with CAPP will examine the country’s energy sources and reserves. Enlarging the dialogue on energy systems is one of the objectives of a new magazine, Energy Exchange, being produced by Canadian Geographic for Pollution Probe’s Energy Exchange initiative.

Environmental stewardship is the theme of another set of partner relationships. The Canadian Museum of Nature and the Society are developing educator resources on Arctic flora and fauna that will include a giant floor map and associated activities. This resource will come on stream in fall 2014 as will another giant floor map being developed with the Canadian Wildlife Federation. For this educational project, the map will show all of North America and the topic will be migratory species. In collaboration with Parks Canada, the Society is playing a leadership role in the formation of a pan-Canadian movement to connect young Canadians with nature and history. On February 19th, the Society participated in the Youth Engagement Symposium (YES) which took place simultaneously in Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal.

Program Notes

The Society’s programs are governed by committee members who mostly meet by teleconference. Starting with this edition of the Journal, these hard-working committee members will be listed for the information of all Fellows and in recognition of the essential contribution they make to the Society’s programs.

Advancement Committee

For the upcoming year, our Society’s advancement strategy will focus on celebrating The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s 85th anniversary.  This remarkable achievement has already been reflected in a number of significant results in key fund development areas.

To begin, for the second consecutive year, the Society can proudly boast the generous support of the entire Board of Governors.  Not only has the entire Board participated, but the donorship received from the Board has increased from last year; an encouraging sign for all who support our Society’s work.  Moreover, two of our Governors have achieved Compass Rose Club membership, a program that our Society has launched to recognize Society supporters that have donated at least $2,500 in a given fiscal year.  The Advancement Committee looks forward to being able to develop the Compass Rose Club, and add to its membership numbers.

Following the strong support shown by our Board of Governors, our Society has launched its annual Fellows campaign.  In it, we are challenging our Fellows to recognize the Society’s 85th anniversary with a generous gift that will allow us to continue to help keep geographical learning accessible and alive to Canadians everywhere.  In tribute to our 85th year, our goal is to meet and exceed an 85% participation rate amongst Fellows for this campaign.

The Advancement Committee is working with the RCGS’s new Director of Advancement, Jason Muscant, to expand and enhance our Society’s fund development tools.  This process was formally “kicked off” with our Committee’s first face-to-face working retreat in Toronto, on April 9th, at Victoria University.  This meeting serves as the first step in the essential process of diversifying and strengthening our Society’s approach towards generating donor revenue.

Should you wish to get more involved in our upcoming fundraising initiatives, please feel free to contact Jason Muscant, Director of Advancement, at (613) 740-2025, or via e-mail at

The Advancement Committee is chaired by Governor David Mitchell of Ottawa. Members include Amy Boddington (Toronto), Wendy Cecil (Toronto), Allen Clarke (Toronto), Tony Hendrie (Toronto), Jim Hole (Edmonton), Paul Klein (Toronto) and Bob Page (Calgary).

Awards Committee

Nominations for the Society’s 2014 medals and awards are now open. The deadlines are listed below. For more information on any of the medals and the nomination process, please click on the link.

Sir Christopher Ondaatje Exploration Medal — September 5
3M Environmental Innovation Award — September 12
Martin Bergmann Arctic Medal — June 30
Geographic Literacy Award — September 15
Innovation in Geography Teaching Award — September 15

The Awards Committee is chaired by Fellow Helen Kerfoot of Ottawa. Committee members include Richard Berthelsen (Toronto), Peter Dobell (Ottawa), Dianne Draper (Calgary), Alison Gill (Burnaby), Phil Howarth (Dundas), Chris McCreery (Halifax) and Wayne Pollard (Montréal).

Canadian Geographic Education

Canadian Geographic Education has started 2014 off with an ambitious program in support of the strategic plan, Fostering Geographic Engagement. As a result of the strategic focus, more partnerships and Society investment, membership in CG Education has increased to more than 10,700 educators across the country.

A National Voice for Geography in Canada
The coalition of organizations that developed the St. John’s Declaration on Advancing Geographic Education has been promoting the initiative at workshops, meetings and professional forums. A panel discussion is scheduled for the Canadian Association of Geographers’ annual conference, Brock University, May 2014.

Connie Wyatt-Anderson, CG Education Chair, participated in the annual gathering of geographic alliances organized by National Geographic Education, in Washington, DC in February 2014.

The Leading Source of Educator Resources in Geography

Students take the lead in this Classroom Energy Diet Challenge about photosynthesis in Miss Barker's Grade 5/6 Class at Point Leamington Academy in Newfoundland.
The Classroom Energy Diet Challenge began in February and continues to pick up steam every day. Although fewer classes registered this year, those that are participating have completed more than four times as many challenges than at this time last year. Check out the amazing work that students are doing at

On April 17 at 12:00ET fifty of Canada’s greatest geography students will compete live in the National Final of the Geography Challenge. This year saw 408 schools participate, seven more than last year. You can watch the National online final live at

Thirty-eight grade 8 and secondary 2 classes from coast to coast are in a race to win Canada’s Coolest School Trip. You can participate in the selection of a winner by voting for your favourite video at One of these lucky classes will win an all-expenses-paid trip to Vancouver Island this June.

We are proud to announce that “Canada from Space”, a giant floor map (GFM) developed in partnership with the Canadian Space Agency and Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation, will be available for borrowing by schools in April. This map is the first of its kind and provides a truly unique look at our great nation. By the fall two more GFMs will be added to the program, one focusing on the flora and fauna of Canada’s Arctic and the other showing the migratory routes of North American species.

Building Capacity in the Teaching of Geography
CG Education has had quite a large presence across the country in the past few months. In total, 15 presentations have been made to teacher candidates and CG Education members have led 4 professional development sessions.

The CG Education Executive is chaired by Governor Connie Wyatt Anderson of Le Pas. Members include James Boxall (Halifax), Jozsef Budai (Coquitlam), Geoff Buerger (Ulukhaktok, NT), Norm Catto (St. John’s), Chantal Déry (Gatineau), (Rob Langston (Brandon), Lynn Moorman (Calgary), Greg Neil (Calgary), John Trites (Berwick, NS) and Kim Wallace (Burlington).

Expeditions Committee

Photo: Dana Meise

The RCGS Expeditions Committee is pleased to announce that out of the 11 expedition applications received last January, the following four expeditions have been selected for funding:

Expedition of the Year
The Great Hike

Dana Meise has hiked the entire length of the Trans Canada Trail from Cape Spear, N.L., to Clover Point, B.C. — 16,500 kilometres. Starting in April, he will complete the northern leg of the trail from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., to Inuvik, N.W.T. The 3,800-kilometre hike will take six months.

The 2014-2016 Sedna Epic Expedition
An all-woman team, led by Susan R. Eaton and including explorer Jill Heinerth, host of the upcoming RCGS Speaker Series, will mount a 15-day proof-of-concept expedition in July 2014, traveling on a 116-foot expedition vessel from Labrador to Baffin Island, and then across Davis Strait to Disko Bay, Greenland in preparation for the proposed main expedition, an ambitious and challenging snorkel relay of the Northwest Passage during the summer of 2016. During the 2014 reconnaissance expedition, Team Sedna will conduct sea trials of the equipment needed to snorkel the Northwest Passage, demonstrating that snorkelers — using diver propulsion vehicles — can travel great distances in often ice-infested waters.

The four members of this expedition will cross-country ski 2,300 kilometres north through Quebec, from Montreal to Kuujjuaq, the administrative capital of Nunavik. The team will pass through the Laurentides region and by Lac Mistassini and the Otish Mountains as they retrace the route of another cross-province expedition taken in 1980. Through the resulting documentary, Projet-Karibu will revive the stories of the people who have travelled this territory and pay tribute to early explorers.

For the latest details about these expeditions visit the Expeditions Program page on the RCGS website.

The Expeditions Committee is chaired by Fellow Bernard Voyer of Montreal. Members include Jean Marie Beaulieu (Chelsea, QC), Lisel Currie (Calgary), Judith Kennedy (Ottawa), David Pelly (Ottawa) Mike Schmidt (North Saanich, BC), and Steve Smith (Canmore. AB).

Research Grants Committee

Dr. Charles Yonge is conducting research in Alberta’s ice caves by collecting ice and water samples for analysis while mapping the caves. (Photo: Francois-Xavier de Ruydts)

Thanks to the generous support of our donors, the Research Grants Program is flourishing. The Program received 46 applications from across Canada in each of the Program’s four funding categories. The Committee is particularly pleased with the quality and quantity of applications for the new RCGS Graduate Research Scholarship category that was implemented this year. Stay tuned to the next edition of the Fellow’s Journal to learn more about the winning research projects for 2014.

We are also pleased to welcome two new members to the Research Grants Committee. Dr. Sarah de Leeuw (UNBC) and Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray (Dalhousie) bring an additional geographic mix to the committee, as well as a broad range of skills.

The Research Grants Committee is chaired by Governor Jody Decker of Waterloo. Members include Chris Burn (Ottawa), Janis Dale (Regina), (Christine Duverger-Harrison (Ottawa), Alison Gill (Burnaby), Greg Halseth (Prince George), Peter Lafleur (Peterborough), Sarah de Leeuw (Prince George) Denis St-Onge (Ottawa) and Robert Summerby-Murray (Halifax).
Fellows in the news

On April 8, 2014, Peter Adams of Peterborough addressed The Arctic Circle’s meeting in Ottawa. Since 1947 the Arctic Circle has brought together friends who share a lively interest in the Canadian north for monthly presentations by members and guests. April 8 marked the Circle’s 500th meeting. There was entertainment, a northern menu, and Peter’s address on " The Arctic Circle and polar science: seven decades and onwards."

Julie Angus of Victoria, BC reports that her newest book Olive Odyssey - Searching for the Secrets of the Fruit that Seduced the World will be released this May by Greystone Books. It covers the history of the olive tree from early domestication to modern day issues such as corruption in the olive oil industry and its prominent role in centenarian diets. Her book is based on research she did on a National Geographic sponsored expedition which she organized.

On June 10, 2014, Shawn Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations will receive an honorary degree from the University of Western Ontario - Doctor of Laws, Honorius causa (LL.D.). As a hereditary Chief of the Ahousaht First Nation, Atleo has been a negotiator, facilitator, mediator, educator, strategic planner and community activist over the past 20 years, working tirelessly for the rights and freedoms of First Nations.

Selma Barkham receives the Lagun Onari from the Basque President.

In March, Selma Huxley Barkham of Ottawa (now retired in England) received the highest honour for foreigners and most prestigious distinction of Lagun Onari (“To a Good Friend”) from the President of the Basque Country. Selma dedicated much of her life to the study and investigation of the presence of Basque fishermen on the Atlantic coast of Canada in the 16th and 17th centuries, making important archival, historical and archaeological discoveries and exposing an unknown part of Canadian and Basque history. The title Lagun Onari recognizes individuals or entities which, despite not being Basque, in the performance of their activities have contributed significantly to the benefit of the Basque Country, its economic promotion and to the historical and cultural dissemination of all things Basque abroad. Typically presidents and countries are the recipients.

Selma Barkham specialized in the maritime history of Canada and the Basque Country. In the 1970s, she found thousands of manuscripts, mostly in Basque and Spanish archives, about the Basque cod and whale fisheries especially in Newfoundland and Labrador in the 16th century. She discovered the existence of a Basque whaling industry in southern Labrador and adjacent Québec, their whaling ports, archaeological remains of their bases including at Red Bay, and the presence of Basque galleons sunk in those ports, such as the San Juan (1565). Red Bay was declared a National Historic Site in 1979 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013.

Selma Barkham received the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s Gold Medal, its highest honour, in 1980. She was awarded the Order of Canada in 1981 for having made: "one of the most outstanding contributions, in recent years, to the story of this nation". In his speech the Basque President stated that "Selma Huxley Barkham's helm has marked new routes for the Basque Country" and that the Basque Country wanted to recognize "one of the most outstanding contributions to the history of our nation." Last year, Selma Barkham received the Gold Medal of the Oceanographical Society of Gipuzkoa (one of the Basque provinces) "in recognition of her pioneering research and discoveries".

Jules Blais (left) and John Smol will share the $250,000 Brockhouse Canada Prize.
(Photo: Linda Kimpe).
Brothers Jules Blais and John Smol, biology professors at the University of Ottawa and Queen’s University respectively, have won the top prize for interdisciplinary science research in Canada, the Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering.

Jules is an environmental toxicologist who studies the effects of industrial pollutants on ecological systems. His toxicological work helps define past environmental stressors, while John’s ecological work characterizes the ecosystem responses to these stressors. Both Dr. Blais and Dr. Smol were recognized as Environmental Scientists of the Year by Canadian Geographic magazine in June 2008. Together they have produced over 40 papers on how pollutants move through the water, soil, plants and animals of Canadian ecosystems, and what effects they have. Much of their work is in the Arctic.

Sarah Boon, Lab Director of the Mountain Hydrology Research Group at the University of Lethbridge, is a founding member and the Editorial Manager of a new Canadian science blog aggregator: Science Borealis: Blogging from Canadian Perspectives.

Science Borealis is a volunteer-run initiative supported by Canadian Science Publishing and Genome Alberta. It brings all Canadian science blogs together in one location, from physics and stats, to science history, policy and art. For educators, the public, policy makers and scientists — find out what's going on in Canada and around the world! Sarah has written a series of posts on the Canadian Science Publishing blog that will be of interest to RCGS members. The first is about Scientific Societies in the Internet Age, and will be followed by posts on science communication and citizen science. Stay tuned to the CSP blog for more!

Dr. Boon also extends her congratulations to Dr. Dan Smith, Professor of Geography at the University of Victoria, for five excellent years of his GeogNews newsletter. Started on 23 Dec 2008, it comes out as often as Dan had enough to make a full issue, and contains many tidbits on geography research, papers, projects, people and fun across the country. Dan's been an excellent ambassador for geography across the country, and his keen personal interest in the field has been a benefit to many.

Christina Cameron, Canada Research Chair on Built Heritage at the Université de Montréal, hosted the 9th Montreal Round Table from 12 to 14 March 2014 on the theme Exploring the Cultural Value of Nature: a World Heritage Context. Some thirty experts in heritage conservation and related disciplines from Canada, Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America gathered to discuss how or if the World Heritage system can recognize the indissoluble bond between people and nature in large protected areas. The purpose of the meeting was to foster an exchange of research, experience and observations in order to clarify how the cultural value of nature might be better understood.

Christina also took part in an expert meeting to assess the impact of the Nara Document on Authenticity (1994) on cultural World Heritage Sites. This preparatory meeting took place at Kyushu University, in Fukuoka, Japan, from 21 to 23 February 2014. The Japanese Government will later take the lead in celebrating the 20th anniversary of this influential doctrinal text.

Christina and postdoctoral researcher Mathieu Dormaels are organizing a day-long conference as part of ACFAS 2014 (Association francophone pour le savoir). The session on “Local Development and World Heritage: attract tourists or integrate people?” will be held on May 13, 2014 at Concordia University in collaboration with the UNESCO Chair in Culture, Tourism, Development and EIREST (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne).

Christina has been appointed Chair of the Advisory Committee on Official Residences of Canada from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2017.

Arthur Philemon Coleman (1852-1939), Founding Honorary Vice President of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, in 1884 achieved the first ascent of Castle Mountain, and in total led eight exploratory trips to the Canadian Rockies. He is remembered as "one of Canada's great glacial geologists", and Mount Coleman and the Coleman Glacier in Banff National Park are named for him. This widely honoured geologist, explorer and founder of the Society is now featured in various articles and in tours of Toronto's historic Mount Pleasant Cemetery (also final resting place of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best, Glenn Gould, Northrop Frye, Sir Oliver Mowat, etc.), for his unusual grave marker — a large granite boulder.

In late Fall 2013, Kirstin Evenden was appointed Executive Director, Lougheed House and Gardens in Calgary, Alberta.  Kirstin has worked in diverse aspects of the museum sector for two decades, being with the Glenbow Museum for a number of years, most recently as its President and CEO. The Lougheed House was originally built in 1891 and is a National and Provincial Historic Site.  Designed by Ottawa architect James R. Bowes for Senator James and Isabella Lougheed (Peter Lougheed’s grandparents), it is one of the earliest surviving mansions of its kind on the Canadian prairies today.  Located in the Beltline District of Calgary amid several acres of heritage gardens and green space, it is a premier destination site in the city.

Mike Gill of Whitehorse, YT was nominated and elected as Vice-Chair of the Group on Earth Observations — Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON). GEO BON is one of nine ‘Societal-Benefit Areas’ of GEO focused on developing an integrated, interoperable global biodiversity observation network.  As Vice-Chair, Mike will be focused on providing overall leadership of GEO BON with the new Chair, Dr. Henrique Pereira, as well as on working with national and regional governments and institutes to facilitate the establishment and/or enhancement of harmonized biodiversity observations.

In March, Allen Gordon of Kuujjuak, QC participated in Ivakkak 2014, a 400 km sled dog race through the tundra with 11 other teams. The race down the western coast of Ungava Bay started at Kangiqsujuaq and finished in Tasiujaq (for more information, see It was Allen’s 5th entry and this year he succeeded in capturing 1st place after running his team of Inuit sled dogs 600 km. It is a very special cultural event that brings many emotions to the villages along the way. After the teams arrived in Tasiujaq, a community feast was hosted at the Ajagutak School where community members came to congratulate the mushers, their partners and support crew. After the meal, a slide show of past Ivakkak races was displayed for all to see. The medals and cash prizes were handed out by Vice President of Makivik Michael Gordon and Ivakkak coordinator Charlie Alaku.

Mark Graham, Vice President, Research and Collections, Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN) reports that the 2014 Brock Prize was awarded to CMN palaeontologist Dr. Xiao-Chun Wu for his work in identifying Qianxisaurus chajiangensis a new fossil species of sauropterygian, an amazing long-necked reptile that swam through the depths with paddle-like limbs. Click here to learn more this new discovery. The CMN Award is named after Reginald Walter Brock (1874-1935) who was the Director of the Geological Survey of Canada from 1907-1914 and an important figure in establishing the natural history collection within Canada's first national museum. Amongst many other talents, he was an active field researcher.

Dr. Xiao-chun Wu (right), a palaeontologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature and this year’s Brock Award recipient, and his co-author Dr. Tamaki Sato, an associate researcher at the museum, proudly display their winnings in the CMN fossil collection. (Photo: Paul Sokoloff © Canadian Museum of Nature)

Through Ice and Time, a 20-minute film depicting a poetic journey through Jasper National Park’s Columbia Icefields, and co-produced by Rogier Gruys of Jasper, AB, was recently awarded best Canadian film at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.

Local Jasper actor Dylan Skinner stars in Through Ice and Time. (Photo: Parks Canada/Rogier Gruys)

Norman Hallendy of Ottawa has completed season two of his winter project documenting Anasazi petroglyphs in Nevada and Arizona.

Anasazi Petrogyph of a shaman

Inuit artist Pitaloosie’s drawing of a shaman

The manuscript of Norman’s journal "An Intimate Wilderness" documenting his life and experience with the Sikusiilarmiut of southwest Baffin is completed, edited and ready for publication. American film maker C. Wyland and French film maker A. Maigre-Touche have separately produced one hour film documentaries on Norman's experiences in the Arctic. Currently, Norman is creating a huge database for his entire Arctic archives consisting of field notes, films, drawings, research, sculptures, graphics, maps and books. The purpose of this undertaking is to prepare his entire Arctic Archives to be donated to the McMichael Gallery of Canadian Art currently possessing his entire photographic collection as well as his substantial collection of Inuit Art.

John Houston and Ree Brennin Houston presented to two grade 6 classes at Sir Charles Tupper School in Halifax, Nova Scotia on February 25, 2014 at the invitation of their teacher Andrea Fader. The classes are studying Inuit culture and one of their student teachers will soon head off to Cape Dorset for her practicum in teaching. John shared his knowledge of Inuit art, Inuktitut, and fun stories about growing up in Cape Dorset, while Ree shared her wildlife biology knowledge including letting the students feel and lift her heavy 7-foot narwhal tusk (pictured). The sylabics on the whiteboard read “Welcome”, which John taught the class to say in Inuktitut.

John Houston of Halifax is one of three authors of a new book In Predatory Light: Lions and Tigers and Polar Bears. The hardcover book features stunning duotone images by Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson of some of Earth's most fearsome predators — lions, tigers and polar bears, with engaging texts by anthropologist Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, naturalist Sy Montgomery and film-maker John Houston. This beautiful book will appeal to all fans of wildlife photography. John met Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson on an Adventure Canada voyage made with John’s godfather, the late Kananginak Pootoogook. John translated for some interviews Cyril made with Kananginak, and then one day he called to offer John the privilege of contributing the piece on the polar bear to the book.

From late May through mid June 2014, Ray Hyland of Hope, BC will be joining an expedition to climb Mt Logan in Canada's Yukon. Based in the St Elias range, Mt Logan is North America's second highest peak at 5959 m (19,551 feet), Canada's tallest peak, and the world's largest peak by mass. The remote northern location results in very little human traffic on Mt Logan. Ray plans to do a repeatable photo survey of ice and snow levels on the mountain. He would like to hear from other RCGS Fellows who may have interest in the data he plans to collect. He can be contacted at

In January, Hester Jiskoot, Associate Professor at the University of Lethbridge, was interviewed by GlobalTV Lethbridge about rare frozen foam pillars near Pincher Creek, Alberta. These foam pillars are caused by mild, thawing temperatures that are followed by a flash freeze resulting from a drastic drop in temperature. Organic matter in the water causes the creation of the foam and a crack or hole in the ice allows the foam to push through.

On Wednesday, April 9th, Alberta Premier Hancock announced that Martin Kennedy will be joining the Alberta Public Service to lead the Public Affairs Bureau as Deputy Chief, and sit on the Executive Council. Mark is leaving behind his position as Vice President of External Affairs for Capital Power Corporation. He has also resigned from his positions on the Premier’s Council on Culture and Alberta’s Results Based Budget Panels, and no longer holds any membership in a provincial or federal political party. His term on the Edmonton Historical Board ends April 30th. His new position will give him the opportunity to take on an executive leadership challenge, and to make a difference on some key policy files he cares deeply about.

George Kourounis in Antarctica. (Photo: Mark Robinson)
George Kourounis, explorer/adventurer and TV presenter best known for his television series Angry Planet, has recently returned from Antarctica on a filming mission in which he teamed up with One Ocean Expeditions, documenting some of the weather, wildlife and ice conditions found on the frozen continent. This expedition will be featured in new episodes of a brand new television series entitled “Unearthed” which will be broadcast on The Weather Network in the coming months.

Tim Leslie, Supervisor of Flying Operations and Training, Flight Research Laboratory at the National Research Council (NRC) in Ottawa, oversees Canadian experiments in microgravity. The NRC operates a specially modified Falcon 20 aircraft in support of microgravity research that affords researchers the opportunity of microgravity exposure (near zero gravity) of approximately twenty seconds. The NRC has hosted Rick Mercer aboard the Falcon 20.

Nik Lopoukhine of Ottawa serves on the boards of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and Wildlands Network and is active in the planning of the "Inspiring a New Generation" segment of the upcoming International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia in Nov. 2014.

Dave MacLean of the Centre of Geographic Sciences at the Nova Scotia Community College took advantage of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games to lead his students in the Advanced GIS course in developing an online map tour of twitter feeds by broadcasters around the world. A few of the many things the students learned: 1) Olympic content differs among countries, 2) style of coverage by various news organizations, 3) provides an online atlas for students at any school, 4) shows variation in twitter/technology use/integration around the world, 5) popularity of the Winter Olympics, and 6) that there are many twitter hashtags for #Sochi: #sotchi . The map has been viewed over 1,100 times in over 25 countries. Technically, the map required twitter widgets, HTML coding, use of dropbox, Esri ArcGIS Online account. To see the map in action, either type into any browser (works on iPhone/Android/iPad, too) or click

Patrick Maher of Cape Breton University has been awarded a 2014 3M National Teaching Fellowship. This award is considered one of Canada’s top teaching honours.

“This recognition speaks volumes about Dr. Maher and his capacity to bring innovative and engaging practices to the classroom at Cape Breton University (CBU). He represents a generation of university educators who are delivering an outstanding education to our students,” says Dr. David Wheeler, CBU president and vice-chancellor. Previously a professor at the University of Northern British Columbia, Dr. Maher is thrilled to be back on the East Coast as an associate professor of Community Studies. He hopes to continue the tradition of teaching problem based and experiential learning. Dr. Maher adds, “Much of my nomination focused on my use of experiential learning, and it’s great to see that style of teaching and learning recognized.  I’ve been a long-time advocate of this philosophy/method.” As a new 3M Fellow, Dr. Maher is the only 2014 award recipient from Nova Scotia.

Lynn Moorman of Calgary attended a presentation by author Robert Kaplan who was speaking about his new book, The Revenge of Geography: What the Map tells us about Coming Conflicts and the Battle against Fate. Kaplan is among the world's foremost advocates for geography. Also attending the presentation was the Mayor of Calgary, Naheed Nenshi.

Left to right: Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, RCGS Fellow Lynn Moorman and author Robert Kaplan.

Privateers will be the focus of Lunenburg’s new Marine Archaeology Centre (MAC), which will open later this year. Its founder is marine archaeologist and RCGS Fellow, Rob Rondeau.

Efforts to locate the wrecks of two privateer vessels will be part of MAC’s focus this summer. One is from the American Revolution, the other the War of 1812. Rob is no stranger to studying Colonial-era shipwrecks.  He was a marine archaeologist in Florida for many years before returning to Canada.  And, he’s worked on other shipwrecks around the world. MAC will operate in partnership with the Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation, which is located in the former residence of Angus Walters, the captain of the famed Bluenose.

Olav Slaymaker, Professor Emeritus of the University of British Columbia, will be giving an invited lecture at a special session (SS22) of the Geological and Mineralogical Associations of Canada’s annual meeting in Fredericton, New Brunswick, May 21-23. The special session celebrates the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Canadian Geomorphological Research Group which is affiliated with the Canadian Association of Geographers, the Canadian Geophysical Union, the Geological Association of Canada, the Canadian Quaternary Association and  l’Association Québecoise pour l’étude du Quaternaire.

Stephen Smith of Canmore, AB has spent most of his life amongst the human and wildlife inhabitants of the remote polar regions. Originally trained as a biologist, he has three decades of experience in polar wildlife research, including four months in Antarctica studying the diving behaviour of Emperor penguins. He has led more than 50 expeditions in the High Arctic. Drawing upon insights from a lifetime of polar explorations, his 2012 feature Vanishing Point bears witness to the challenges facing indigenous hunting culture in the 21st century Arctic.

Vanishing Point is a human and wildlife story set in the wild reaches of the Northwest Passage. The film's narrative is observational and inquisitive in tone: just what does it mean to make a life in today's Arctic? The vision of its creators was to draw attention to climate change and sustainability issues without clubbing audiences over the head with expert testimonials. Vanishing Point has received a number of awards and award nominations around the world. In 2013 the film picked up Best Production Reflecting Cultural Diversity at the Alberta Film and Television Awards and was shortlisted in the top feature documentary category by the Directors Guild of Canada. It was most recently nominated by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television for Best Feature Documentary in the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards. The film has been officially selected at festivals nationally and internationally, and is presently available for home viewing on iTunes and Netflix. Next year Toronto's PanAm Games will be including the film in its cultural event programming.

Matthew Swan of Adventure Canada reports that on the heels of their twenty-fifth anniversary last year, 2014 marks another milestone for Adventure Canada: twenty years of operating in Newfoundland and Labrador. And to mark the occasion, Adventure Canada has won the 2014 Cruise Vision Award, "presented to leaders who demonstrate a meaningful commitment to the provincial cruise industry". The Tourism Excellence Awards, held recently in Gander, Newfoundland, celebrates achievements and commitments to the region’s booming tourism industry.

Ian Tamblyn of Old Chelsea, QC has been appointed as artist in residence at Carleton University's Faculty of Music for the academic year 2014- 15.

This appointment will include teaching a songwriting course as well as concerts, production and recording seminars and sessions on music for film and drama. 

Ian has recently released a CD called Connected — a collection of Inuit student songs which were written by the students while he was on the Students on Ice expedition last summer. He is currently working on the last album of his Four Coast Project: The Labrador. Many of the songs for this album were written on Adventure Canada trips. The release date for this CD is set for April 6th at the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield, QC.

NB. Items for “Fellows in the News” are welcomed and should be sent to Louise Maffett at

Canadian Geographic Notes

APRIL 2014 Canadian Geographic

On newsstands now. Check out the cover story, the third installment in our three-part series in partnership with the Canadian Wildlife Federation, mapping the threats facing native endangered species with large continental ranges. Also featured in the issue: stories on the 2013 RCGS-funded expeditions, a profile of Jeff Golfman, winner of the 3M Environmental Innovation Award, and an exclusive story by Giller Prize-winning author Will Ferguson on a Canadian immigrant’s return to his native Rwanda, 20 years after he escaped the genocide. Plus, we interview Canadian graphic novelist Jeff Lemire, highlight the gear of RCGS Fellow Ray Zahab and find out the favourite place of CBCer Jian Ghomeshi.

SUMMER (May) 2014 Canadian Geographic Travel

Off to presses in early April, the all-Alberta issue is a first for Canadian Geographic Travel: while there have been previous issues dedicated to a single theme, this edition, created in partnership with Travel Alberta, boasts a “flip” format (a cover on both the front and back, with content related to summer in one end of the magazine and winter in the other). The issue is also the first in recent years to be perfect bound, a result of being a hefty 84 pages. Naturally, there’s a range of great stories, too — canoeing the Milk River, celebrating small town rodeo and the province’s best skiing, to name but a few — and amazing photography, and a slew of interesting maps.

JUNE 2014

Photo: Alex Fradkin

Coming up next, the June 2014 issue boasts a pair of companion features on two Newfoundlanders returning home to help rebuild their former communities: the stories of business woman Zita Cobb’s Fogo Island Inn and comedian Shaun Majumder’s Burlington Manor are in some ways world’s apart and in others remarkably similar. Plus there’s a feature on Canada’s non-renewable energy resources, created in partnership with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, and an accompanying poster map, a story on Alberta’s June 2013 flood by RCGS Fellow Jerry Kobalenko, a profile of London’s Canada Club by Sir Christopher Ondaatje, an exclusive photo essay of the biennial Van 360 sailing race, and much more.


As with all of Canadian Geographic’s educational programming, the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge continues to improve. This year’s teachers have engaged in unprecedented direct Twitter communication with CEDC coordinators, as well as with competing classrooms and community businesses. To join the conversation and get helpful energy-saving tips, follow @Energy_Lit on Twitter. Meanwhile, Canadian Geographic’s Compass Blog continues to ramp up its output with a new “Wildlife Wednesday” blog. And keep your eyes peeled for an exciting photo blog series, which is also in the works.

The CG Management Board is chaired by RCGS Treasurer Keith Exelby of Ottawa. Members include Bruce Amos (Ottawa), Pierre Bergeron (Gatineau), Ken Boland (Ottawa), Alison George (Toronto), Carman Joynt(Ottawa), Paul Maddison (Ottawa), Jim Murray (Montreal) and Andrew Zimakas (Toronto).
Society Calendar
APRIL 2014
17th noon National Online Challenge Final
30th 7 pm RCGS Speaker Series
MAY 2014
7th 1 pm Expeditions Committee
14th 9 am CGE Management Board
28th 10 am Finance Committee
28th noon Executive Committee
JUNE 2014
5th 1 pm Advancement Committee
10th 2 pm Nominating Committee
12th 9 am CGE Management Board
18th 10 am Finance Committee
18th noon Executive Committee
25th 1-3 pm RCGS Board Conference Call
26th 1 pm Fellows Committee
Louise Maffett
Editor of the Fellows Journal

Deb Chapman
Communications Manager

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