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Fellows Journal

Summer 2015

Message from the President

As many of you already know, this has been a very busy spring for the Society.

For the first time since 2002, we held a live, in person, National Championships for the Canadian Geographic Challenge. Finalists from across Canada gathered in Ottawa to compete, with five reaching the final stage of the competition, held on May 4th at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

The event was moderated to tremendous success by radio personality and Ottawa Senators announcer “Stuntman” Stu Schwartz. Alex Trebek, a great friend of the Society and of geography, attended the event and presented the winners with their awards.

I would like to thank everyone involved, including staff and volunteers, for all their hard work to make the event such a great success!

This event closely followed the Society’s outstanding March 4th Erebus reception at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, where partners in the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition, led by Parks Canada, were honoured. The event included the participation and attendance of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mrs. Harper, Finance Minister Joe Oliver and Toronto Mayor John Tory.

Then, on April 15th, the Society held its annual Spring Lecture, at Ottawa’s National Aviation and Space Museum, featuring explorer and writer James Raffan.

As Fellows, you all will have recently received my letter outlining some of our Society’s major achievements this year, and asking for your generous support to help the Society pursue its vital mission. With that letter, you will also have received a special RCGS Fellows luggage tag, which I hope that you will use with pride. It is a small token of the Society’s thanks for your commitment and support.

If you have not done so already, I would urge you to please help support our Society’s work by making a generous donation to the RCGS. Together, we can continue to inspire Canadians with a love of country, and empower them with a stronger awareness and appreciation of their vast geographical heritage.

Dr. Paul Ruest


2015 Fellows Dinner

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society is pleased to announce that tickets are now on sale for the College of Fellows Annual Dinner 2015. Early-bird tickets are available for $200 until June 30th, 2015.

The dinner will be held at the Canadian Museum of History on Wednesday, November 18, 2015. Proceeds from the evening support the Society's vital programs.

We are thrilled to welcome celebrated authors Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson as our guests of honour.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit


Erebus Medal event in Toronto

Canadian folk singer-songwriter James Keelaghan performs Lady Franklin’s Lament (Photo: Tom Sandler / Canadian Geographic)

On March 4th, the Society hosted a special Erebus Reception at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, celebrating the historic find of Franklin’s flagship HMS Erebus, and the partnership that mounted the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition.

Bookended by hauntingly beautiful performances of the traditional “Lady Franklin’s Lament” and Stan Rogers’ “Northwest Passage” by Juno award winning folk singer, James Keelaghan, the event featured a speech by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mrs. Harper, and the presentation and dissemination of the RCGS Erebus Medal to many of the key Victoria Strait Expedition leaders, notably Parks Canada’s CEO Alan Latourelle, Marc-André Bernier and Ryan Harris of the Underwater Archaeology Team, as well as partners such as Jim Balsillie and Tim MacDonald of the Arctic Research Foundation.

Celebrated Inuit historian Louie Kamookak travelled from Gjoa Haven to attend the event, and was recognized with both an Erebus Medal and a standing ovation for his major contribution.

In addition to the Erebus Medals, Society President Paul Ruest presented the Lawrence J. Burpee Medal to Wendy Cecil, a Society Governor and supporter of geography.

Other distinguished attendees amongst the 200+ guests, who enjoyed a reception featuring two bespoke cocktails, “Erebus” and “Compass Rose”, included Finance Minister Joe Oliver, British Consul General Kevin McGurgan, U.S. Consul General James Dickmeyer, Toronto Mayor John Tory and RCGS Gold Medal recipient and Fellow Dr. Phil Currie.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper greets Inuit elder Louie Kamookak whose extensive research led to the Victoria Straight Expedition finding the HMS Erebus.
(Photo: Tom Sandler/Canadian Geographic)
Canadian businessman and founder of the Arctic Research Foundation, Jim Balsillie with
Rear Admiral John Newton, who are both honoured with the Erebus Medal.
(Photo: Tom Sandler/Canadian Geographic)
Alan Latourelle, CEO of Parks Canada, receives his Erebus Medal from
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Laureen Harper.
(Photo: Tom Sandler/Canadian Geographic)

Spring Speaker event in Ottawa

(Photo: Jessica Finn/Canadian Geographic)

James Raffan spoke to a packed house at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum on April 15th, for the Annual RCGS Spring Lecture. During his heartfelt presentation, Raffan, an author, Arctic explorer, geographer, and community activist, recounted stories from his latest book, Circling the Midnight Sun: Culture and Change in the Invisible Arctic. The cultural explorer's tales cast light on the modern experiences of many of the Arctic's indigenous peoples and the related environmental shifts felt so keenly across the North.

Canadian Geographic Challenge national final

At the Canadian Geographic Geography Challenge on May 4, former Challenge host and donor Alex Trebek congratulates the official judge RCGS Past President, Dr. Denis St-Onge. (Chrystia Chudczak/Canadian Geographic)

In 2015 the Canadian Geographic Challenge received support from Google Education and from the National Geographic Education Foundation (based on a donation from Fellow and Gold Medalist Alex Trebek) that made it possible to hold an in-person national final. The event took place May 2-4 in Ottawa. Twenty students from 10 provinces and territories participated in two days of rigorous testing that resulted in the top five competing in a game-show format. Witnessed by a near capacity audience, Anzo Nguyen from Calgary, Alberta was named the 2015 National Champion. In light of his tremendous support for geographic education in Canada, Alex Trebek was presented with the Lawrence J. Burpee Medal.

Society Notes

RCGS Strategic Plan reaches final stage

After several rounds of consultation and refinement, the Policy and Planning Committee is pleased to present The Royal Canadian Geographical Society: Strategic Plan, 2015-2020. The Plan will be submitted for approval at the RCGS Board Meeting in June. The Committee gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the Fellows who read and provided comments on the draft plan. All the comments that the Committee received were given due consideration and the final version of the plan is stronger and more representative of the views of the College of Fellows as a result of the consultation process.

Elisabeth Nadeau, Vice-President and Chair, Policy and Planning Committee

Fellows Committee

The Fellows Committee convened on June 9th, 2015, to review 21 nominations to the College of Fellows. From these 21 nominations, 20 have been recommended by the Fellows Committee for election.

The 10 men and 10 women recommended for nomination are all exceptional talents and leaders in their respective fields. Their diverse backgrounds, interests, and places of residence all give credence to the RCGS’ commitment to being “popular in nature”. Further, their shared love of Canada and Canadian geography leave them poised to make a significant contribution to our Society for many years to come.

If you know someone who is helping to make Canada better known to Canadians and can contribute to the Society, please fill out the nomination form by clicking here. Completed nominations must be received by Monday, August 31, 2015 to be considered.

Your Society in the News

The Society’s profile continues to rise with a steady stream of media stories aimed at ‘making Canada better known’.

  • Canadian Geographic’s National Bird Project has stimulated ongoing reporting that’s keeping up the pressure for Canadians to vote for a national bird. The passionate nature of the debate is aptly captured in this Cable Public Affairs Channel story that aired in May.
  • Erebus medalists show off their awards. (Tom Sandler / Canadian Geographic)
  • Canadian Geographic’s June feature on Canada’s 100 greatest modern-day explorers earned a front page story in the Calgary Herald.
  • The Erebus Medal reception in Toronto drew national media coverage as Prime Minister Harper used the event to announce the early spring dives back to the HMS Erebus. Still, the Erebus Medal recipients were the stars of the evening as can be seen in this CBC story.
  • Canadian Geographic Education’s OPEN Water planning project brought together young Canadian and American students for the first time to study the Lake Winnipeg watershed. The project, highlighted in this TV story, demonstrates the power of international collaboration on geo-literacy projects.
  • CG Education also supported the cutting-edge work of Dr. Lynn Moorman and her 3-D Digital Earth Geo-literacy project, which helped the story go international.
  • St. Mark’s School in King’s Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador receives the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge’s top award, the School Energy Project Prize and wins $10,000 for their efforts. (Photo : Sara Black/ Canadian Geographic)
  • The involvement of Alex Trebek in the 20th anniversary edition of the CG Challenge guaranteed coverage, but it was this CBC story that put the overall impact of the Challenge into context.
  • The Classroom Energy Diet Challenge has also been a media darling. This story shows St. Mark’s School in Kings Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador winning $10,000 for their school’s environmental project.
  • Since our last Fellows Journal, we’ve lost two much-loved and admired Fellows. D-Day veteran, Ernest Côté, left us in February. His life was celebrated in this Globe and Mail obituary that highlighted his extraordinary work and his attitude towards life. The same holds true for our 2014 RCGS Ondaatje Medal for Exploration winner, George Hobson, who left us in April. The Ottawa Citizen’s obituary told the poignant story of a man who lived for his work in Canada’s Arctic. His story motivated a letter to the editor that noted Hobson’s work wasn’t a job, but a calling.

International Map Year Update — James Boxall

Canadian contributions to International Map Year (IMY) are being discussed across numerous associations and agencies through a very representative and inclusive committee. For the latest IMY developments and for more input, please visit: Fellows with a Twitter feed can follow (@IMY_ca).

As an IMY representative, I met with some of our RCGS staff to talk about what the Society can do, and how Fellows can contribute to the celebrations. This is critical as there is, for the Society and Fellows, a direct link between the ongoing and highly successful work of the Canadian Geographic Education group and the efforts of IMY. The focus on enhancing geoliteracy and improving Canadians understanding of their country is clearly a theme running through these projects and a cause for celebration through IMY.

One of the largest IMY celebrations is the upcoming International Digital Earth Symposium, a major event taking place in Halifax the first and second week of October. The symposium will provide a dynamic venue to profile the Society and Canadian Geographic Education initiatives. The Society’s efforts to make Canada better known through the displays of the floor maps, displays of imagery, and photographs using unique technologies developed through the private sector partners joining us in Halifax. More information about special events will be circulated soon.

These actions and events provide for a very nice progression of efforts to promote the value of geographic understanding and spatial technologies which help us to explain Canada's amazing places and spaces to our people, and those outside our country. I recently met with representatives of the International Geographical Union while in Vancouver where we discussed how to raise our profile and the issues of geoliteracy within the IGU meeting slated for August, 2018 in Quebec City. This could be a very interesting time for Fellows as we can link efforts from 2015 through to many other commemorative events such as the end of WWI in 2018. Events like IMY for 2016 need not be efforts that come and go; they can live on and be highlighted again and again leading into other great moments for the Society.

Strategic Partnerships
(From left to right) CG Education Manitoba representative Rob Langston, Minot high school teacher Joe Super, Claire Herbert (University of Manitoba) and students from Minot high school collecting water samples from Willow Creek.

CG Education is leading OPEN Water, a planning project with the Minnesota Alliance for Geographic Education (MAGE) and the North Dakota Geographic Alliance (NDGA) which is supported by the National Geographic Education Foundation. The OPEN Water project is focused on the Lake Winnipeg watershed and is intended to engage American and Canadian students in freshwater field study. In mid-April, OPEN Water convened a planning workshop with students from three sub-basins in the Lake Winnipeg watershed. The students and their teachers from Minot, ND, The Pas, and Brandon were joined by experts from the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the University of Manitoba. Manitoba Pork provided financial assistance to acquire water-testing equipment. In late April OPEN Water received a grant from the Lake Winnipeg Foundation to create a new map of the Lake Winnipeg Watershed that reflects educational curricula and priorities in the 4 states and 4 provinces within the basin. The students created a story map that captured three educational, enjoyable and valuable days.

Lynn Moorman with students from Calgary’s Connect Charter School learning to use the WorldView Studio during geography class.
(Photo: PYXIS Innovation Inc.)

The RCGS has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Energy Council of Canada (ECC). The first collaborative initiative is in support of the 2015 Canadian Energy Summit, May 26-28 in Toronto. Canadian Geographic is developing multi-platform content in order to broaden the audience for the energy story beyond the Council’s own membership of public and private sector organizations.

CG Education partnered in ground-breaking research in geospatial literacy for elementary students led by Dr. Lynn Moorman (Mount Royal University) and supported by TECTERRA. The GeoLiteracy Project uses Pyxis’s WorldView technology and was launched in mid-April in Calgary and drew media attention from Radio Canada International among other outlets. CG Education is interested in making the GeoLiteracy Project available more widely to Canadian schools.

The RCGS recently signed an MOU with Bird Studies Canada (BSC), a national organization dedicated to wild birds and their conservation. BSC is the national conservation partner for Canadian Geographic’s National Bird Project providing avian expertise and helping CG widen its audience for the Project and for Canadian Geographic more broadly.

CGE and Sound Venture, an Ottawa-based production company, have received additional funding from Canadian Heritage for a second documentary on aerial photography, cartography and the First World War. The project now includes the creation of 2 distinct giant floor maps and accompanying educator resources to be available in successive Remembrance Weeks in 2015 and 2016.

The Canadian Museum of History and the Society are negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding that will form the basis of a number of collaborative projects in coming years. Discussion is already underway between CG Education and the Museum’s education team on areas of intersection, and the Canadian War Museum (a part of the Canadian Museum of History) and the Society are partnering on the First World War projects with Sound Venture.

The Society is in discussion with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) on both an MOU and a project for content creation and dissemination. In a similar vein, the Society is awaiting approval from long-standing partner Natural Resources Canada on a series of initiatives leading up to Canada’s 150th anniversary celebration in 2017.

The Society is grateful to a number of strategic partners that contributed to the success of the recent national championship of the Canadian Geographic Challenge including the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canadian Wildlife Federation and the National Geographic Education Foundation. The Society was also immensely appreciative of the support from Alex Trebek, First Air, Vistek and Google Education.

Program Notes

Advancement Committee

The Advancement Committee has continued to meet and work towards building the Society’s fundraising capacity. With their guidance, the Society has surpassed its fundraising targets for the current year, and will achieve its strongest yearly fundraising totals to date.

As a major plank of its fundraising strategy for the upcoming year, the Society will be looking to invest strongly into building its Compass Rose Club Program. By providing our Club members with an emphasized and more tangible connection to the RCGS and its programming, we hope to capture the imagination of as many of our key supporters as possible, and provide them with strong reason and encouragement to continue supporting the Society as major donors.

To learn more about the Compass Rose Club, or to discuss how you or someone you know can join the program, please contact Jason Muscant, Director of Advancement, at (613) 745-4629 ex.139, 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).


In 2015, the Awards Committee has met and selected the recipients of the Camsell, the Gold, and the Massey. Renowned geographer, Dr. Jacob Verhoef, will be the 2015 recipient of the RCGS Gold Medal. Dr. Brian Osborne, will be receiving the Massey Medal. Bruce Amos and Louise Maffett are being awarded the Camsell Medal. All award winners will accept their medals at the Fellows Dinner in November.

Gold Medal — Jacob Verhoef

The 2015 recipient of the Gold Medal is Dr. Jacob Verhoef. Until he retired from the Public Service in October last year, he had spent his past 10 years at the Geological Survey of Canada in the Atlantic Region, directing Canada's research to delineate the continental shelf (Atlantic and Arctic) for Canada's submission to UNCLOS. The original proposal was put forward through the Deputy Ministers Committee on the Arctic recognizing Dr. Verhoef's leadership and international collaboration of the project that is to lead to a substantial claim and extension of Canada's continental shelf. This was a multi-year project with logistical issues, arrangements for multiple joint surveys with US and Denmark, vast amounts of data, technical challenges, and so on. It is an exceptional accomplishment and contribution to geographic knowledge.

Brian Osborne with former RCGS president Gisèle Jacob in 2007. (Photo: David Barbour/Canadian Geographic Archives)

Massey Medal — Brian Osborne
Queen’s University professor emeritus Brian Osborne, a scholar of historical and cultural geography, has been awarded the 2015 Massey Medal for outstanding career achievements in the exploration, development or description of the geography of Canada. Brian Osborne’s research work in aboriginal history, settlement history and cultural landscapes has contributed to the development of a Canadian sense of place. Osborne was instrumental in the inclusion of Fort Henry and the Martello tower fortifications in Kingston as part of the Rideau Canal’s 2007 designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Brian is also well known for inspiring students with his enthusiasm for geography since he started teaching at Queen’s in 1967. He has also served as a consultant for the National Capital Commission, Heritage Canada, Parks Canada, Canada Post and the National Film Board.

Camsell Medals — Bruce Amos and Louise Maffett
The Camsell Medal is awarded for outstanding service to the Society, up to 2 medals may be awarded each year.

Bruce Amos became a Governor of the Society in 2002. He quickly involved himself in the activities of the Society, in particular the Editorial Advisory Committee. In 2007, he became a Vice President of the Society and took over as Chair of the Management Board for Canadian Geographic Enterprises (CGE). Bruce helped steer CGE through very difficult financial times during the 2008-09 economic crisis which severely affected magazine publishing. Probably his most treasured contribution to the Society and CGE was the start-up of the Canadian Geographic Photo Club, since Bruce himself is an accomplished amateur photographer.

Louise Maffett became a Governor of the Society in 1988. She served on a number of committees (Editorial Advisory, Lectures and Merchandising) and became a Vice President of the Society in 1992. In 1995, Louise moved from the volunteer side and became the Executive Director. The 1990s were exciting times at the Society, the start of Canadian Geographic Enterprises partnership with Key Publishers, the launch of the Great Canadian Geography Challenge and the creation of the Canadian Geographic Education Fund within the National Geographic Education Foundation. Louise retired in December 2010 but has continued to volunteer as the Editor of the Fellows Journal.

Lawrence J. Burpee Medals — Wendy Cecil and Alex Trebek

Wendy Cecil
Since becoming a RCGS Fellow since 2012, Wendy Cecil has worked tirelessly to support the Society’s efforts to make the Society’s work better known to Canadians. Her commitment to increasing the Society’s profile is having a positive impact and in November 2014 was elected to the RCGS Board of Governors. It is for Wendy’s dedication to the Society’s mandate she received the Lawrence J. Burpee Medal at the Erebus reception.

Alex Trebek
While many of us know Alex Trebek as the celebrity host of Jeopardy! Trebek is also a champion of geographic learning and education. He has been involved with the Canadian Geographic (CG) Challenge since 1995. Since then his commitment to geographic learning has never wavered. Though a generous donation, Alek Trebek reinstated the CG Challenge’s face-to-face competition after it being held online since 2003. For his dedication to raising awareness about the importance of geographic literacy, Alex Trebek received the Lawrence J. Burpee Medal at the CG Challenge finals in Ottawa.

Wendy Cecil receives Burpee Medal from RCGS President, Paul Ruest at Erebus reception. (Photo: Tom Sandler/Canadian Geographic)
Alex Trebek receives Burpee Medal at Canadian Geographic Challenge finals in Ottawa
(Photo: Chrystia Chudczak/Canadian Geographic)

The next meeting of the Awards Committee will be in late summer to discuss the candidates for the Martin Bergmann Arctic Medal. The deadline for this award is June 30th. Deadlines for the remaining 2015 medals is as follows:

Sir Christopher Ondaatje Exploration Medal — September 5
3M Environmental Innovation Award — September 12
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

CG Education will welcome its first Saskatchewan representative, elementary school teacher Andrew Kitchen, at the annual general meeting November 15-18, 2015. Membership in Canadian Geographic Education continues to increase. Currently there are more than 14,350 members across Canada. The growth in membership can be attributed to the quality and range of educator resources that CG Education makes available to the membership from giant floor maps and tiled maps to free registration to the CG Challenge.

Kitchener, Ontario’s Williamsburg Public School won two CEDC awards (Photo: Sara Black / Canadian Geographic)

Classroom Energy Diet Challenge
The fourth year of the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge (CEDC) has reached its conclusion. Participating teachers welcomed the introduction of a CEDC app to make it easier to submit the proof of activity. After four years this partnership project with Shell Canada has strengthened the energy literacy of thousands of Canadian students and is distinguished by a professional development workshop each summer for high-performing teachers in the CEDC.

Students from Caledonia Regional High School in Hillsborough, New Brunswick visit La Mauricie National Park (Photo: Jessica Finn / Canadian Geographic)

Canada’s Coolest School Trip
In partnership with Parks Canada, Historica Canada, Nature Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Federation, CG Education played a key role in Canada’s Coolest School Trip Contest. The winning class from Hillsborough, NB competed for an all-expenses-paid class trip to Quebec City and La Mauricie national park in June 2015.

Giant Floor Maps
The unabated demand for the Giant Floor Map program continues to drive membership in CG Education. Arctic Alive and Wild Migration are the latest themes and were developed with the Canadian Museum of Nature and the Canadian Wildlife Federation respectively. In fall 2016 two new maps will explore cartography at the time of the First World War.

Arctic Circumpolar Tiled Map

Tiled Maps
CG Education released its first tiled map last fall. Teachers can freely download maps from the CG Education website in either colour or black and white. Each map comes with suggestions for classroom activities in support of geographical and spatial literacy. The list of tiled maps continues to grow and now includes:

  • A Nation Takes Shape: Canada and the First World War, was an essential element of the First World War educator resources.
  • A political map of Canada that has quickly become CG Education’s number one educator resource. In a recent three-week period teachers downloaded the Canada map more than 300 times.
  • An Arctic map featuring a circumpolar projection that was developed as a result of a donation by Fellow Shelagh Grant
  • A series of provincial and territorial maps (4 tiles each).

On April 20, a group of private, public and not-for-profit organizations convened to officially launch GeoAlliance Canada. This innovative approach to policy and program design and delivery is the result of years of discussion most recently under the aegis of the Canadian Geomatics Community RoundTable, co-chaired by James Boxall and Brad Ashley. The RCGS is a founding member of GeoAlliance Canada and will be playing an active role in the Education Forum particularly as it concerns geographic and geomatics education at the Kindergarten to 12 levels.

Under the leadership of CG Education, OPEN Water is a collaborative partnership of three geographic education alliances (Minnesota Alliance for Geographic Education, North Dakota Geographic Alliance and CG Education) with the support of the National Geographic Education Foundation. This international educational project centered on the Lake Winnipeg watershed enables students to explore the watershed in both the classroom and the field. In April, Fellow Rob Langston hosted a planning workshop at École Neelin High School in Brandon. The workshop brought together teachers and students from three sub-basins with the watershed (The Pas, Brandon and Minot) along with representatives from the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Centre for Earth Observation at the University of Manitoba. The students used Esri Canada’s Collector for Arc-GIS app and Arc-GIS online to share the results of their fieldwork and citizen science.

Canadian Geographic Challenge

Beth Dye, Chair, CG Challenge Committee, and RCGS Governor, with Aaron Abraham (Calgary) and Malhaar Moharir (Toronto) finishing second and third, then Anzo Nguyen (Calgary) named the National Champion and RCGS Fellow, Alex Trebek. (Photo: Chrystia Chudczak/Canadian Geographic)
In 2015 the Canadian Geographic Challenge received support from Google Education and from the National Geographic Education Foundation (based on a donation from Fellow and Gold Medalist Alex Trebek) that made it possible to hold an in-person national final. The event took place on the weekend of May 2nd to 4th in Ottawa. Twenty students from ten (10) provinces and territories participated in two days of rigorous testing that resulted in the top 5 competing in a game-show format. In the end, Anzo Nguyen from Calgary, Alberta was named the 2015 National Champion. In light of his tremendous support for geographic education in Canada, Alex Trebek was presented with the Lawrence J. Burpee Medal.


The Expeditions Committee is happy to report that all of the selected Expeditions for 2015 have been accepted and most are currently underway.

Expedition of the Year: Les chemins de l'or bleu
Funding: $10,000

This expedition is a historic canoe camping adventure. Six travelers will realize a dream to cross Canada via lakes and rivers. This expedition began on April 25, 2015 on the icy waters of Lake of Two Mountains, Montreal. Their journey will conclude nearly 7,000 miles from its starting point on October 20, 2015 in Inuvik, on the banks of the Mackenzie River.

Follow the expedition on:
Expedition website
RCGS Expeditions page

The paddling home crew tests out their new 17 foot long prospector canoe (Photo Courtesy Paddling Home 2015)

Paddling Home
Funding: $3,000

Traveling with their young son, the Gendreau-Berthiaume family hopes to inspire others, including families with young children, to plan their own adventures and discover what our country has to offer. During this expedition they will paddle approximately 5000km in five different provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec), on four rivers that are part of the Canadian Heritage Rivers System (North Saskatchewan River, Boundary Waters, French River and Mattawa Rivers) and two rivers nominated to this system (Saskatchewan River and Ottawa River). Added to this they want to raise awareness about the current, and historical importance of these bodies of water to Canada.

Follow the expedition on:
Expedition website
RCGS Expeditions page

Together to the Tundra
Funding: $3,000

This expedition will explore waterways of ages past in Canada’s least populated biome. Following the journals of Back, Pike and Seaton, the circuit starts in Yellowknife along Great Slave Lake and passes through the proposed Thaydene Nene National Park on the historic Pike’s Portage route. By paddling through the transition from Boreal forest to tundra they aim to better understand the richness and diversity of the tundra, and communicate this to Canadians.

Follow the expedition on:
Expedition website
RCGS Expeditions page

Tahltan Leadership Expedition
Funding: $2,000

The project will share the experiences and learnings by a multi-generational, multi-cultural team of Tahltan and non-Tahltan during a 12-day backpacking journey to the Mt. Edziza region of Northern BC. The journey was recorded using film, photography, and art. The feature film is being broadly distributed featuring Tahltan stories, artistic works, and speaking engagements. RCGS funding is supporting the distribution of the film and their stories to foster a world in unity through leadership and respect for each other and the land.

Follow the expedition on:
Expedition website
RCGS Expeditions page

The Great Hike
Funding: $2,000

The RCGS is providing additional support to last year’s Expedition of the Year to help Dana Meise finish the last leg of his expedition from Whitehorse, Yukon to Tuktyuktuk, NWT. Meise aims to depart on June 25th on his solo hike to complete his expedition to all three of Canada's Oceans via the Trans Canada Trail. To date, he has completed the over 16,000km journey from Cape Spear Newfoundland to Clover Point Victoria B.C. He is the first person to do so on the world’s longest recreational trail.

Follow the expedition on:
Expedition website
RCGS Expeditions page

Updates on all of the Expeditions will be posted as they’re received to the RCGS social media accounts and 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

Researchers dig for ancient Dene artifacts (Photo: Canadian Geographic Archives)

1. The James Bourque Northern Doctoral Scholarship ($5,000)
Adrienne White

Over the past 15 years dramatic changes have occurred to marine ice masses along northern Ellesmere Island, including 50% loss in ice shelf area since mid-2000s and the complete loss of 690 km square of 55-60 year old multiyear landfast sea ice from Yelverton Bay. The objective of this study is to complete an inventory of current glacier extents and recent changes on northern Ellesmere Island, and examine whether changes in one ice type can have cascading effects on the stability of remaining ice types (e.g., whether sea ice reductions lead to ice shelf collapse; whether ice shelf collapses lead to glacier accelerations).

2. The James Maxwell Human Geography Scholarship ($5,000)
Trevor Wideman

Using a case study of a participatory neighbourhood revitalization planning process in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, this study will examine the politics of place naming. The aim is to provide an empirical contribution to critical studies of place naming insofar as its increasing role in the mediating of the contentious politics of the “branded” city.

3. RCGS Graduate Research Scholarships

Jeanette Carney ($2,500)
This research will focus on the operational history of the Asbestos Hill mine in Nunavik (northern Québec), as well as the mine’s past and current impacts on Inuit. The aim is to deepen the knowledge of how mining operations impact communities in Nunavik, and on Inuit in the Canadian North. It will also provide a historical context to current mineral development issues in the region. The documented community experiences and other research results will be disseminated to the communities of Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq, regional authorities and organizations through presentations, a summary report, posters, and radio podcasts (also shared through social media networks). Communities will also receive the digital recordings of interviews to contribute to community and regional heritage through the production and archiving of oral histories.

Frances Stewart ($2,500)
This research will scientifically document the wildlife community in Alberta’s Cooking Lake Moraine (CLM), a mixed-use agricultural landscape. The research could serve as a model for human-wildlife coexistence across Canada. Through engaging the local community and Parks Canada volunteer groups, the researchers employ three questions using the mesocarnivore (ie. mid-sized carnivore) community to develop their model:

  1. What landscape elements — including natural and human features — positively or negatively affect species occurrence and movement?
  2. Are species responses to patch types consistent within the mesocarnivore community, or species-specific?
  3. How can we utilize animal genetics to determine the effect of habitat fragmentation on population persistence and long-term viability?

The research aims to assess the value of Alberta’s CLM, an example human-modified landscape for all areas of human wildlife coexistence in Canada, by scientifically quantifying it’s ecological contribution to maintaining mammalian biodiversity as a fragmented landscape.

4. RCGS Independent Research Grants ($5,000)

Photo: Kyle Blaney

Salmon Coast
Though drastically reduced due to whaling last century, humpback whale numbers in the North Pacific are recovering. The whales, however, still face continued and increasing threats from numerous human activities. Salmon Coast researchers will perform five surveys circumnavigating Gilford Island to support research priorities outlined in the humpback recovery strategy. Activities will include taking humpback identification photos, marking locations of potential threats to humpbacks, and collecting sightings data for all species of cetaceans. The data collected will be incorporated into larger data collection initiatives by conservation and research organizations working to implement the humpback recovery strategy. The survey data will also be used to support and raise awareness among Salmon Coast boaters about entanglement and vessel strike threats to humpbacks, and include high school and college marine mammal ecology students in an authentic marine mammal study.

The Research Grants Committee is comprised of the following members: 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

NOTE: Contributions from the Fellows are published in the language in which they are submitted.

Professor Jean Andrey of the University of Waterloo has been appointed dean of the Faculty of Environment for a five-year term commencing 1 July 2015. Professor Andrey has been acting as interim dean since August 2014. Jean Andrey completed her BA (1977) at Wilfrid Laurier University, her MSc in physical geography (1980) at University of Calgary, and her PhD (1989) in geography at University of Waterloo. A faculty member at Waterloo for 25 years, she currently holds the position of professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management. Her past administrative service includes her appointment as interim dean (August 2014 to present), associate dean of graduate studies (2006-08, 2012-14), associate dean of graduate studies and research (2005-06), director of the joint graduate program in geography (2008-10), and graduate officer and associate chair of the department of geography (1991, 1998-2002). Her research expertise spans a variety of fields including climate resilience, weather-transport interactions, natural hazards and risk assessment, and sustainable transportation. Her work has been recognized with her election as a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in 2011, the University’s Outstanding Performance Award which she received in 2006 and 2007, and numerous teaching awards. In addition to her university responsibilities, she has served as president of the Canadian Association of Geographers (2012-14) and also vice-president (2011-12), and she has served on the board of governors for St. Jerome’s University (2005-11).

Glenn Blackwood of Memorial University reports that a multi-national team of Canadian, European and American ocean mapping experts have launched the first trans-Atlantic mapping survey under the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance. The survey is one of the first projects to be launched by the Alliance, formed in May 2013 following the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation, whose goals are to join resources of its three signatories to better understand the North Atlantic Ocean and to promote the sustainable management of its resources. Under this new era of cooperation on ocean research, Canada’s Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland will use the Irish research vessel, RV Celtic Explorer, to map the seafloor between St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada and Galway, Ireland. The team will gather information on the physical characteristics of the seafloor, such as water depth, hardness, roughness, and the presence of geohazards. The structure and composition of the near subsurface are key considerations for shipping safety, development-related seabed engineering and sustainable fisheries. The survey will broadly follow the great circle route between Ireland and Newfoundland where the first trans-Atlantic cable was deployed in 1857. The team hopes to map the location where the cable was dropped in the mid-Atlantic, which happened to coincide with the most dramatic topographic feature in the North Atlantic, the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone.

Last January, Jacquie and Allen Clarke of Toronto travelled with Quark Expeditions to Antarctica. They chose to fly into the Chilean air base on King George Island and avoid the Drake Passage. They had been through the Drake before with no problems but saw no reason to press their luck, and the flight gave them 3 more days in Antarctica. First they travelled far south to the British Base on Detaille Island which is south of the Antarctic Circle, so Jacquie and Allen have been both north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle which puts them in rare company. Great adventures, they had a medivac as one of the crew had appendicitis, steamed through the Lemaire Channel in bright sunshine, sailed into the caldera of an active volcano at Deception Island, enjoyed Mull Wine on the stern and watched the sun set at 11:50 and rise at 12:10, had to hold up in the ice pack to weather out a 100 mph storm that swept through, visited the Chinese “Great Wall” Base and waited 2 days in the fog in Maxwell Bay, King George Island for the out-plane to come, all great fun. Everything about the Antarctic is on a grand scale, uncountable number of penguins and seals, lots of whales, mountains to the sky, huge ice formations, everything is just more wonderful than you could imagine. According to Allen, if you haven’t been, you should go.

Michael de Pencier of Toronto is involved with gardener Mark Cullen and others in planting at least 115,000 trees on the Highway of Heroes between Trenton and Toronto, one for each soldier who died fighting for Canadian freedom. The project will be supported by the many towns and cities along the 401, local industries, institutions, schools, farmers and citizens. The 401 is Canada's busiest highway. Their aim is to make it greener and more beautiful, as a tribute to our fallen heroes.

Edna Elias’ term as Commissioner of Nunavut concluded on May 11, 2015. She has relocated home to Kugluktuk, NU.

Shelly Elverum has lived in Pond Inlet, Nunavut for the past 14 years and works with four Nunavut communities through a program called Ikaarvik: Barriers to Bridges, seeking opportunities to enable Inuit youth to have a stronger voice in Arctic science. A Laureate of the 2013 Arctic Inspiration prize, Ikaarvik is now in its second year. Shelly's work focuses on supporting Inuit Mentors (graduates of Arctic College's Environmental Technology Program) to guide youth as leaders in developing and bridging community research priorities with ongoing and proposed research. Shelly has also recently worked with the Government of Nunavut and AANDC to host a workshop in the community of Pond Inlet for Inuit to create community-driven socio-economic monitoring priorities and research programs focused on the impacts of resource development on this high arctic community.

Jim Fleck

Jim Fleck, Chairman of Business for the Arts, was named a Companion of the Order of Canada on February 13, 2015.

Jean Fournier chats with HRH Princess Anne at the Montreal Hussars event in February (right).

Michael Goodchild received a Honorary degree from the University of Western Ontario. Recognized as a global leader in the ever-evolving field of geographic information systems, Michael is Emeritus Professor of Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The former chair of Western's Department of Geography, Goodchild won the Lauréat Prix International de Géographie Vautrin Lud, considered the Nobel Prize for Geography, in 2007. He will be the recipient of a Doctor of Science, honoris causa (D.Sc.), at the convocation ceremony on Tuesday, June 9, 2015.

Michael Goodchild

Neil Hartling of Whitehorse reports that his company Canadian River Expeditions and Nahanni River Adventures has been named one of National Geographic Adventure Magazine's "Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth"

Canadian River Expeditions and Nahanni River Adventures
Eco-River Expeditions from Alaska to Nunavut

Carman Joynt of Ottawa has been appointed the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Royal Canadian Mint. Carman is a retired partner of Deloitte, Chartered Accountants and Management Consultants.

In March/April, explorer Lorie Karnath of New York led a team into Kayah State, Burma having received special permit to venture into this remote and as of yet still mostly closed area. The expedition documented tribal animist traditions and ceremonies, a number of which are not believed to have been previously witnessed by outsiders to the region. Coming up on September 5/6, The Explorers Museum will hold its annual international film festival and gala in Ireland. Explorers from around the world will be honored at the event. For additional information please view the museum website and on Facebook at The Explorers Museum.

Lorie Karnath, right.

A new pole being raised in a village in Kayah State, carved from a tree chosen by the shaman as part of an animist ritual conducted to appease the spirit of nature. The tree was specially prepared and carried and the top woven by the villagers before it was finally raised. The new pole is to help ensure bountiful harvest and well-being.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is pleased to announce that its home city of Raleigh will host the 23rd Annual Conference of The Wildlife Society from 15-19 October 2016 and the 2nd Conference of the Citizen Science Association in mid-February 2017, each with events at the Museum. At the helm of this 136-year old institution is Emlyn Koster, former Assistant Professor in Geology at Concordia University and at the University of Saskatchewan (1977-80), Coal Exploration Manager at the Alberta Research Council (1980-86), Director of Alberta's Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology (1986-91), Director-General of the Ontario Science Centre (1991-96), and President and CEO of Liberty Science Center serving the NY-NJ region (1996-2011). In 1996-97, he was the 50th anniversary president of the Geological Association of Canada.

George Kourounis has been busy filming brand new episodes of his TV series “Angry Planet”, in such exotic locations as The Amazon Rainforest, Cape Verde Islands, Vanuatu, Tuvalu & Australia. The shows are already airing on Pivot TV in the U.S. He’s also in the middle of his annual tornado chase in the central United States, documenting twisters & supercell thunderstorms which can reach up to twice the height of Mount Everest. Immediately following that, he will be off to Norway to address the United Nations Environmental Emergencies Forum in Oslo.

With Celtic Lightning, slated for publication in September, Ken McGoogan of Toronto plunges into the perpetual debate about Canadian identity: who do we think we are? He argues that Canadians have never investigated the demographic reality that more than nine million Canadians claim Scottish or Irish heritage. Did the ancestors of more than one quarter of our population arrive without cultural baggage? No history, no values, no vision? Impossible. McGoogan writes that, to understand who we are and where we are going, Canadians must look to cultural genealogy.

Dr. Martin Haulena of the Vancouver Aquarium (wearing Go Pro) works to disentangle a sea lion off the coast of B.C. Photo Credit: Vancouver Aquarium.

John Nightingale reports that a team from the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, led by head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena, embarked on several expeditions in early 2015 to disentangle Steller sea lions entangled in marine debris off Vancouver Island. The rescues are not without risk and require an enormous amount of resources and funding, but the team believes it’s worth it. It is estimated that there are more than 400 sea lions entangled in marine debris off the coast of B.C. alone. Link to most recent disentanglement story:

Tero Vauraste (Arctia Shipping), Tara Sweeney, (Alaska Slope Regional Corporation), Tom Paddon (Baffinland Iron Mines Limited), and Evgeny Ambrosov (Sovcomflot). (Photo: Arne O. Holm)

Tom Paddon just completed his term as the Founding Chair of the Arctic Economic Council (AEC), a new international polar organization.  He remains on the executive as the Past Chair with the rest of the executive coming from Russia, Finland and the U.S. Founded in 2014 in Iqaluit, Nunavut, the AEC set up its governance and operational structures. There are three thematic working groups on Arctic Stewardship, Responsible Resource Development and Maritime Transportation. Additionally, AEC representatives have delivered more than 40 outreach presentations around the world and met with business leaders seeking partnerships to promote responsible economic development in the Arctic. Tara Sweeney from the United States, who represents the Inuit Circumpolar Council, will take over as the organization’s second Chair for 2015-2017. She will be assisted by an Executive Committee consisting of Vice Chairs Tero Vauraste from Finland, Evgeny Ambrosov from Russia and the outgoing Chair Tom Paddon from Canada. The AEC accepted the generous offer by the Norwegian business community to finance for the next three years the establishment of an AEC secretariat in Tromsø, Norway. The Secretariat is expected to be operational from mid-May 2015.

Eric Ayalik Okalitana Pelly

David Pelly, together with his wife Laurie, both of whom have lived and worked in Nunavut for many years, have established a foundation to assist Inuit youth, in memory of their adopted Inuit son who died recently of cardiac arrhythmia at age 19.  For more information, and to donate, please visit

Milbry Polk has just launched a new website which is mostly about exploration.

Maureen Reed, right

Maureen Reed of the University of Saskatchewan was in Kyoto, Japan as a visiting scholar for 3 months at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature. She was studying models of local engagement in forestry and biosphere reserves in Japan and trying to make bridges between Japanese and Canadian organizations. For example, she linked up the Kyoto Model Forest Association with the Prince Albert Model Forest (SK) and they developed ideas for some joint projects. As part of her stay there, she co-organized a symposium on Community-based Management of Forest Resources: Perspectives on Culture, Learning and Adaptation in Canada and Japan.

Maureen Reed, right

The Honourable Peter Miliken of Elginburg, Ontario was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada on December 26, 2014, in recognition of his contribution to public service and as the longest-serving Speaker of the House of Commons.

France Rivet, right.

France Rivet of Gatineau QC who found the remains of Abraham Ulrikab and the other Labrador Inuit who died in Europe in 1880 was featured in The Economist (A long road home: Reclaiming human remains kept in foreign museums is not easy) as well as on TV and radio reports by CBC North (Abraham Ulrikab's remains may be returned to Labrador). / La découverte des restes d'Abraham Ulrikab par France Rivet a fait l'objet, entre autre, d'un article dans le journal Le Droit, (Le voeu d'Abraham), et s'est méritée une mention dans l'éditorial du magazine français GEO de mai 2015. De plus, France a été interviewée sur les ondes de Radio-Canada Ottawa-Gatineau (Bernier & cie du 24 avril) ainsi qu'à l'émission Entre-Nous de la télé Rogers. Sa conférence au Centre culturel canadien à Paris en avril a été très bien reçue.

Nat Rutter, Professor Emeritus of the University of Alberta will travel to Nagoya, Japan in July to be the first recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal from the International Union of Quaternary Research (INQUA), the premier association for such fields as climate change, natural hazards and civilization research. The medal is in recognition of his service to INQUA and Quaternary science. Professor Rutter has spent over 40 years, teaching, carrying out leading edge research, and participating in an array of scientific commissions and committees including the International Geologic Correlation Program (IGCP) Scientific Board of UNESCO, and a founding member of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program on past global changes (PAGES). He founded in 1989, and was editor-in-Chief for 10 years, of Quaternary International, the official journal of INQUA, the President of the Organizing Committee of the XII INQUA Congress in Ottawa, in 1987, a Vice President and then President of INQUA. He has been on the editorial boards of several international scientific journals and has authored over 300 scientific papers and carried out Quaternary research in Canada, United States, China, Argentina, Namibia, Russia, Mongolia, and France. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and an Officer of the Order of Canada. At present, he is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta.

David Silcox of Toronto will be receiving an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Victoria University in the University of Toronto on June 16th. Although this honour is from his alma mater, it really acknowledges his lengthy career in the cultural life of Canada, where he was active as a writer of numerous articles, gallery catalogues on art and artists, and several award-winning books on Tom Thomson, David Milne, Christopher Pratt, and the Group of Seven. As an administrator, he held senior posts in the cultural sector at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels of government. He also served on over thirty boards of cultural organizations, and was the chairman of what is now Téléfilm Canada, of the Artists and Producers Professional Relations Tribunal (a federal labour board), of the 1978 International Sculpture Symposium, and of the Art Gallery of York University. He is presently the Chairman of the Canadian Friends of the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, UK, which mounted the immensely successful and popular exhibitions of Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven and Emily Carr: From the Forest to the Sea.

Dr. Judi L. Malone, Director-at-Large with the Canadian Psychology Association presents the award to Dr. Suedfeld.

Dr. Peter Suedfeld of Vancouver has won this year’s Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology. Dr. Suedfeld was given this prestigious award for his contribution to our global understanding of cognition, affect, and behaviour of individuals and teams who work in extreme and unusual environments.

Mark Terry works with the United Nations Environment Programme. Each year he produces a film for their annual climate summits, this year in Paris Nov. 30 - Dec. 11.

This year, he’s done something a little different. Google has just launched a new app called Fusion. It creates a Geographic Information System (GIS) map of the world with pins that contain media. His map shows where new climate research is being done and provides video interviews with scientists and researchers in the field. The interactive map comprising of video interviews with climate scientists from around the world can be found on the landing page of the United Nations Environment Programme (scroll down to view):

The map and its accompanying films will be featured this year at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in Paris Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

As videos continue to be made for this project throughout the year, the map will be automatically updated with them as they are submitted. He is looking for more videos to populate this map. If any RCGS Fellows would like to participate and have their research showcased at COP21 this year in Paris, please have them contact him. His email is and his phone is 416-899-5855.

Alex Trebek showed his support for Canadian geography education with a donation to the National Geographic Education Foundation which enabled the Society to host a live in-person Canadian Geographic Challenge National Final in Ottawa on May 4. He also gave a large donation to his alma mater, the University of Ottawa, where the new alumni hall will be named after him.

Jaime Watt, Executive Chairman of Navigator, is thrilled to announce its new presence in London, UK. Navigator has built a reputation for helping investors of all sizes and mandates understand the complex political environments in which they operate, manage risk and significantly enhance rewards. As the economic ties between Canada and Europe strengthen, there will be significantly more opportunities for European investors in Canada. However, to successfully enter the Canadian marketplace, they will need critical insight not only into public opinion, but also Canada’s political environments and regulatory regimes. Now with a critical link into Europe’s leading financial hub joining offices across Canada, Navigator is uniquely positioned to offer this insight. To officially launch Navigator’s new London presence, Jaime had the pleasure of joining the UK-Canada Chamber of Commerce at Canada House to speak about the rapidly shifting investment, political and public opinion environments in Canada. Prior to speaking in London, Navigator conducted a national, bilingual survey and convened roundtable discussions with Canada’s top business and thought leaders. Led by Jaime, they explored and debated a number of themes and issues, ranging from the economy and trade to geo-politics and health care. The conversation and results of Navigator’s survey may surprise you. In fact, they may just change the way you think about Canada and the economic opportunities available to investors. Visit to learn more.

The City of Ottawa has appointed Bob Wilson to the Departmental Consultative Group of the Nepean Museum, a small group to help and advise now that the museum has become part of the City of Ottawa Museums. He is also involved in getting ready for the 2015 Canadian Little League Baseball Championships being held in Ottawa this year for the first time ever. See: He is coordinating all the ceremonies, is responsible for major fundraising and will act as the official spokesperson for the event. Bob would like to extend an invitation to everyone within any distance of Ottawa this August to come out to a game at the championship diamonds in Barrhaven, a south-western suburb of Ottawa, to see the very best players from all over Canada compete for a chance to become Canadian Champions and advance to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Heidi Wyle is a biotechnology entrepreneur and president of the Massachusetts Women’s Forum. She is the author of a forthcoming book on the 2003 Connaught Creek avalanche tragedy that killed seven children and changed Canada’s relationship with its winter backcountry. She can be reached at or at

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


Ernest Côté

Ernest Côté of Ottawa, the Society’s oldest Fellow, passed away from natural causes on February 25, 2015, at the age of 101. Ernest had a storied career in the military and civil service. He helped prepare the Canadian Army for D-Day, was involved in the formation of the United Nations, served in a number of Deputy Minister posts in the federal government and was Canada’s Ambassador to Finland. After he retired, he became involved with the RCGS which greatly benefited from his knowledge and experience. He served of the Board of Governors twice and was also the Society’s Secretary for a number of years.

George Hobson (Photo: Courtesy of Natural Resources Canada)

George Hobson of Ottawa, passed away at his home on April 16, 2015 at the age of 92. George was a geophysicist with a lifelong love of the Canadian north. He was Director of the Polar Continental Shelf Project from 1972 to 1988. After he retired from public service, he became involved with the RCGS. He served on the Board of Governors and a number of Society committees. One of his best known contributions was his volunteer role as base commander for the Society’s 1992 expedition to successfully climb Mount Logan, Canada’s highest mountain, to determine its actual height (5,959 metres). George received the RCGS Massey Medal in 1991 and more recently, the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration in 2014.

John Wheeler (Photo: Peter Bennett)

John Wheeler of Vancouver, passed away peacefully on May 24, 2015. John worked for the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) during the golden age of geological mapping in Canada. For more than 25 years he mapped mountain ranges in the Yukon and the Selkirk mountains in British Columbia. Subsequently he served as Chief Geologist and then as Deputy Director-General of the GSC. He received the Massey Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in 2002 and the Logan Medal from the Geological Society of Canada.

Canadian Geographic Notes

JUNE 2015

Canadian Geographic celebrates 100 of Canada’s greatest modern-day explorers, including a host of Fellows of the Society (this feature is getting great buzz on social media). Plus, a feature look at the nation’s first fused grid community, an in-depth look at how prepared we are for a big earthquake and an exclusive photo essay on life as a strawberry picker for Indian men and women working at produce farms in B.C., and much more.


Coming very soon: features include an exclusive photo essay on Wood Buffalo National Park by renowned landscape/wildlife photographer Paul Colangelo, a look at marine protected areas by award-winning science journalist Alanna Mitchell, an in-depth look at the innovative, geography linked programs helping the Missing Children Society of Canada find lost kids, and Fellow James Raffan on the gripping story of one of the world’s oldest birchbark canoes. Bonus: Canadian soccer star Christine Sinclair shares her favourite place.


Coming soon: features include the story of a cruise through B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest with Fellow Robert Bateman (including exclusive images from his sketchbook!), Fellow Sir Christopher Ondaatje on the Galapagos Islands, André Préfontaine relives his horseback trek through Alberta’s Kananaskis Country and Canada’s Coolest School trip. Plus, much, much more.


The summer 2015 issue of Energy Exchange magazine, created by Canadian Geographic staff on behalf of environmental NGO Pollution Probe, was circulated to subscribers with the June edition of Canadian Geographic. The issue is dedicated to exploring Canada’s future energy policy.


The National Bird Project, Greatest Explorers list and social media redesign have bolstered Canadian Geographic's social media following. On Twitter, @CanGeo's followers have grown to more than 15,000, an increase of more than 5,200 in the last year. The magazine's Facebook profile has grown by an incredible 6,110 likes in the last year, to a total of more than 17,900.

Meanwhile follow us on:

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The Canadian Geographic Atlas of Canada has just won the Certificate of Appreciation from the Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives. Here is what the Association noted about the atlas in their nomination letter: “Members of the Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives wish to acknowledge the cartographic production excellence of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society with this certificate and encourage them to continue to map Canada’s landscape.”

Society Calendar
3rd 2 pm Nominating Committee
9th 1 pm Advancement Committee
23rd 1 pm Fellows Committee
24th 2 pm Expeditions (Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal)
19th 2 pm Environmental Innovation Jury
1st 2 pm Awards (Bergmann)
6th 2 pm Environmental Innovation Jury
8th 10 am Audit
21st 10 am CGE Management Board
27th 10 am Finance Committee
27th noon Executive Committee
28th 2 pm RCGS Board (Approval of Audited Statements)
18th 9 am RCGS Board of Governors
18th 10:30 am Fellows Reception
18th 11-2 pm RCGS AGM
18th 9 am RCGS Board of Governors
18th 5 pm Medals Award Ceremony
18th 6 pm President’s Reception
18th 7 pm Fellows Dinner
18th 9 am RCGS Board of Governors
16-22 Geography Awareness Week
Louise Maffett
Editor of the Fellows Journal

Deb Chapman
Communications Manager

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