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Fellows Journal

Winter 2015

Message from the President

Late winter and spring 2015 will see a series of exciting events in different Canadian cities illustrating The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s growing reach and range of activities.

It all kicks off with a panel discussion and reception concerning the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management on March 2. Just two days later, on March 4, a special Erebus reception and event will be held at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum. An exclusive screening of Franklin’s Lost Ships, the new documentary film about the discovery of HMS Erebus, will be held in Calgary on April 8, followed by a speaker series lecture on Circling the Midnight Sun, with writer James Raffan at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa, on April 15.

I would encourage Fellows to attend the final if they can, to cheer on these young students of geography! Indeed, with this busy schedule of five major events in three different cities in three months, I hope many of you will be able to come out and see first-hand your dynamic Society in action, delivering on its mandate of making Canada better known!

Dr. Paul Ruest

Your Society in the News

National Bird Project soars!

The New Year kicked off with international coverage of Canadian Geographic’s National Bird Project, in both official languages. To date, over 26,000 Canadians have voted for their favourite native bird. The Globe and Mail’s Gloria Galloway highlighted our campaign with her “Race is on to pick the national bird of Canada” story and then the requests for interviews from coast to coast to coast poured in. Probably the most humorous reporting was by This Hour has 22 Minutes, CBC’s long-running comedy program with their faux ads featuring three of the top avian contenders.

Arctic Alive! Giant Floor Map a big success

Arctic Alive! Giant arctic floor map unveiled at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Ont. Tuesday, December 16, 2014. (Photo: Jessica Finn/Canadian Geographic)

Journalists were pretty impressed with how Grade 5 and 6 students from St. Gabriel Catholic School took part in an interactive lesson on a giant floor map of Canada’s Arctic at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. A picture of the students ‘exploring’ the Arctic was featured in newspapers across the country. The map is part of a new national education project titled ‘Arctic Alive!: Explore the natural history of Canada’s Arctic’ produced by the Canadian Museum of Nature and Canadian Geographic Education.

RCGS Award Winners get noticed

Parks Canada dive team does CBC interview (Photo: Canadian Geographic/Bonnie Findley)

This year’s RCGS award recipients made the news for all the right reasons. Parks Canada dive team took the media spotlight at the College of Fellows Annual Dinner enthralling journalists with their play by play accounts of finding Franklin’s ship, HMS Erebus. Ross Thurston, this year’s 3M Environmental Innovation Award winner, earned international media coverage. He’s created a system that reduces fresh water withdrawals on hog and dairy farms by 40 per cent.

Save the dates!

Last chance!

Erebus Celebration

HMS Erebus
(Photo: Parks Canada)

To commemorate the discovery of Her Majesty’s Ship Erebus, please join us for a cocktail reception at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Special guests will be joining us to celebrate the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition partnership that made the Franklin find possible. It is already near capacity, so hurry if you’d like to attend.

This memorable evening starts at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4th. Tickets are $100.00 and are available by visiting our Erebus Celebration event page.

2015 Spring Speaker Series

James Raffan paddling in Norway (Photo courtesy James Raffan)
The RCGS is pleased to welcome James Raffan; speaker, author, and adventurer to Ottawa as the speaker for the 2015 Spring Lecture. James will be sharing stories and adventures from his new book, Circling the Midnight Sun, which chronicles his journey around the world along the Arctic Circle.

The Spring Lecture will be held in the Theatre at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum on Wednesday, April 15th at 7pm. Tickets are $15. Parking is free. Last year the event sold out ahead of time, so we recommend you purchase advance tickets at:

Society Events

Fellows Dinner 2014

RCGS College of Fellows Annual Dinner (2014) at the Canada Space and Aviation Museum (Photo: Matt Zambonin/Canadian Geographic)

Once again we were honoured to have Governor General David Johnston officiate over the pre-dinner Medal Ceremony. A highlight was the presentation of the inaugural Lawrence J. Burpee Medal to Parks Canada’s dive team for their discovery of Sir John Franklin’s long-lost ship, the HMS Erebus. The fact that our 85th Anniversary College of Fellows Annual Dinner was a sold out event is a testament to the Society’s enduring appeal. It attracted 400 Fellows and supporters to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum celebration. The event also honoured the Canadian Space Agency’s 25th anniversary. Eight of Canada's current and former astronauts attended the celebration, Roberta Bondar, Steve MacLean, Marc Garneau, David Saint-Jacques, Robert Thirsk, Dave Williams, Bjarni Tryggvason, and Jeremy Hansen. The astronauts received the Society’s highest honour, the Gold Medal, for their part in a quarter-century of scientific research, space travel and major contributions to our understanding of geography. A focal point of the evening were candid stories told by Laureen Harper, wife of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq about the impact of 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition’s Franklin find.

Dec. 2014 Presentation of Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration to Dr. George Hobson

Dr. George Hobson received the 2014 Ondaajte Medal for Exploration at his home in December.

For his work as a scientist, an explorer and a leader, Dr. George Hobson was presented with the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration at his home in December 2014. Due to ill health, Dr. Hobson had been unable to participate in the RCGS Awards Ceremony. As Director of the Polar Continental Shelf Project, Dr. Hobson provided logistical support to scientific and exploratory work in Canada’s Arctic.  He operated as base commander for the Society’s 1992 Mount Logan expedition which established the actual 5,959 metres height of Canada’s highest mountain. In addition, Hobson provided leadership for 1994, 1995 and 2000 Franklin expedition searches.

Martin Bergmann Medal for Excellence in Arctic Leadership and Science

The 2014 Martin Bergmann Medal winner Don Forbes, left, and the 2013 winner, David Hik, right, attended the Arctic Change 2014 Conference in Ottawa, December 2014. For more information about the conference, see


RCGS has become known for the giant floor maps which are circulating around the country and promoting active geographic understanding. What better way to make Canada better known to Canadians and the world than to physically touch the expanse of the country. And there could be no more fitting way to celebrate the success of these maps than to recognize that this is the International Map Year (IMY) as endorsed by the International Cartographic Association (ICA) and the United Nations initiative on Global Geographic Information Management (UN-GGIM). The banner for the IMY is "We Love Maps" and through Canadian Geographic Education and our partners, the next year is sure to bring in opportunities to celebrate the wonders of cartography and the contributions of mapping and earth observation to Canada.

Fellow and Governor James Boxall is helping to celebrate IMY by working with Canadian Geographic Education to link into the National Committee for IMY in Canada. This could include promotion of the Canadian round of the international Barbara Petchenik Children's Map Competition, contribution to the exhibit of Canadian maps at the ICA meeting this year, and support to a Canadian effort to help promote geographic education and literacy through partnerships with allied organizations. Much of this will also be reflected in the International Symposium on Digital Earth being held in Halifax this October, of which James is on the local committee. Within all this effort to promote mapping and geographic technologies is the desire to increase awareness, knowledge and skills amongst the next generation of geographical thinkers.

Society Notes

Fellows Committee

2014 inductees to the RCGS College of Fellows (Photo: Matt Zambonin/Canadian Geographic)

2014 saw an injection of new energy and talent into the RCGS College of Fellows with 55 new Fellows and Honorary Fellows elected in November.

Following this election, the Society disseminated its first ever “Fellows Survey”, as a tool to better understand Fellows’ vision for the RCGS and how they could best be engaged to help move it forward.  The consultation was extremely successful, as Fellows responded in strong numbers, sharing their enthusiasm for the Society, and provided valuable recommendations for action. Click here to see the report.

One of the most shared recommendations, to increase the number of local events for Fellows, is already being acted upon, as the Society will be holding an event in Toronto on March 4th, and are currently planning more events for Calgary and Halifax.

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.

Fellows Neck Badge

Fellow Jean Fournier at RCGS College of Fellows Annual Dinner (2014) at the Canada Space and Aviation Museum (Photo: Matt Zambonin/Canadian Geographic)

Want to make an impression at special occasions? Consider buying the gold plated and sterling silver Fellows Neck Badge to wear at ceremonial events. The price is $435.00 which covers the cost of this impressive medal. The deadline for orders is fast approaching. For more details and/or to order a Fellows Neck Badge, please contact Sandra Smith.

Strategic Partnerships
A grade 3 class from Fort McMurray Alberta participating in the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge learn about the importance of carbon offsetting by building their own garden. (Photo : Kathleen Cochrane/teacher)

Topping the public agenda in Canada is the price of oil. The fluctuation in oil prices has a direct and immediate impact on the Canadian economy and consumer. To understand the influence of oil on the country the Society has a number of projects and initiatives designed to strengthen the energy literacy of both students and adults.

For several years, the Society has partnered with Shell Canada and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers for the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge and Energy IQ, respectively. These multi-year educational projects cover the entire spectrum of the energy system from reserves and resources to consumption and conservation.

The Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation is another Society partner dedicated to raising energy literacy rates across the country. Its Let’s Talk Energy program has launched a ‘community of practice’ initiative and a monthly Google+ hangout on energy matters in which the Society plays a role. Joining the Society and the Museum in the inaugural hangout is Energy Exchange, a program of another of the Society’s partners, Pollution Probe.

The significance of energy literacy is evidenced in the number and range of the Society’s partners with this common goal. The Society hopes to extends its partnerships in the field and to this end is in discussion with the Energy Council of Canada whose mission is to forge a better understanding of energy issues in order to optimally shape the energy sector for the benefit of all Canadians.

Together, the Society and its partners are combining their strengths and working towards an informed citizenry capable of engaging with energy, the topical matter of national and personal import.

Program Notes

Advancement Committee

The Advancement Committee has continued to meet and work towards building the Society’s fundraising capacity.  With their leadership, the Society has continued to achieve strong fundraising results through our first two Quarters, consistently exceeding our monthly targets, and putting us on pace for a very successful year.

Following a wonderfully successful College of Fellows Annual Dinner, there are a number of exciting advancement opportunities on the horizon for our Society. Fellows can look forward to Society fundraising events and initiatives in their area, and are encouraged to attend and participate.

Importantly, our Compass Rose Club continues to capture the imagination of our supporters, with 27 members from across Canada now in the program.  With a strong push to come over the next couple of months, the program is poised to see even greater growth in the coming weeks.

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).

Awards Committee

Nominations for Society’s 2015 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.

Massey Medal — January 7
Gold Medal — March 14
Camsell Medal — March 15
Martin Bergmann Arctic Medal — June 30
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

Membership in Canadian Geographic Education continues to increase steadily. There are now nearly 14,000 members from coast to coast to coast. This incredible growth reflects the number and quality of resources that are now available for geography teachers. Here are updates on some of CG Education’s newest resources.

Tiled Maps
Through a generous donation from Dr. Shelagh and Jon Grant, CG Education has produced a tiled circumpolar map, which will be available for download in mid-March at The circumpolar tiled map complements the Arctic Imperative resource package created in 2014. This is the third tiled map that CG Education has produced and is expected to be received with as much enthusiasm and positive response as the previous two (First World War and Canada).

Muskox (Illustration: David Wysotski)

Canadian Geographic In the classroom
With each new issue of Canadian Geographic, the CG Education executive members are creating classroom activities that are available for download at Each activity highlights one of the many ways that teachers can use the magazine in their classrooms. The first activities focused on the "National Bird Project", "The big bad wolf?", and "Fine Specimens" articles.

Giant Floor Maps
January saw the beginning of two new giant floor maps for schools across the country. Arctic Alive, created in partnership with the Canadian Museum of Nature, and Wild Migrations, created in partnership with the Canadian Wildlife Federation, are now available to be booked free of charge for three-week periods.


Classroom Energy Diet Challenge
February 2 marks the start of the 2015 Classroom Energy Diet Challenge. Follow along with this year’s classrooms as they endeavour to decrease their carbon footprints and increase their (and your) energy literacy. The CEDC has also created an app this year that will ensure that participating is as easy as possible.

Canada’s Coolest School Trip
107 classrooms will be fighting it out this March for the chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip for their whole class to Quebec City and La Mauricie National Park this June. You will be able to see all video submissions on starting on March 2. Be sure to go back daily and vote for your favourite.

OPEN Water
The collaborative planning project, OPEN Water, is now completing its action plan and actively seeking support for the pilot phase scheduled to begin in summer 2015. The international project involving the geographic alliances of North Dakota, Minnesota and Canada and led by Connie Wyatt Anderson, CG Education Chair is currently funded by the National Geographic Education Foundation (NGEF). Focused on the Lake Winnipeg watershed, OPEN Water is a rich and promising mixture of citizen science, geography, GIS mapping and software, Aboriginal perspectives and research methodologies.

Expeditions Committee

Dana Meise at Historic Mile 392 with the RCGS flag along the path of The Great Hike
(Photo: Dana Meise/Canadian Geographic)

The annual application deadline for expedition support is January 21st. The Expeditions Committee is currently reviewing 13 applications for funding and endorsement for 2015. The process of selecting and notifying recipients of RCGS support is underway, and will be announced on the RCGS website and through social media in the near future. Look for some exciting expeditions for 2015!

The Expedition Committee has also just completed and launched a new web site for the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration. All nominations will now be made on line via the new interface. The annual deadline is September 5 but it is not too early to get nominations submitted. Have a look, nominate someone and help us get the word out - reminder: anyone, anywhere in the world can submit a nomination.

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

Research Grants Committee

The Research and Grants Program continues to receive a high volume of worthy applications for funding from across Canada. The committee is excited to begin reviewing and selecting recipients to receive funding for the 2015 field work season. Funding recipients and the details of their research will be publicized on the RCGS website in the early spring.

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.

Peter Adams and Alan Brunger are members of a group devoted to drawing attention to the role of Peterborough in Samuel de Champlain’s visits to Ontario, 400 years ago. This year, 2015, is the 400th anniversary of Champlain’s two visits to Peterborough. In the late summer of 1615, an army of 500 Huron and Algonquin warriors took Champlain and colleagues from Huronia, Ontario, to Syracuse, NY, to raid a fortified Iroquois town. They travelled down an ancient First Nations route, now followed by the Trent Severn Waterway. They passed through, if not staying over in, downtown Peterborough. They then descended the Otonabee, and the Trent, Rivers to Lake Ontario and followed that lake’s north and east shores to a site near Oswego where they struck inland for the Iroquois town. This was Champlain’s first visit to Peterborough. Defeated by the Iroquois, they retreated back to Peterborough, literally carrying their wounded, including Champlain. A group of twenty-five or so First Nations then stayed in Peterborough County while Champlain rested and convalesced. They left to return to Huronia when the Kawartha Lakes froze over. This was Champlain’s second visit to Peterborough.

The site of “Champlain’s Rest” is disputed. One possible location is by the ancient Chemong Lake portage, near the village of Bridgenorth, another is at Haultain, both sited in Peterborough County. In a long career of exploration and mapping, Champlain’s time in what is now Ontario (the evolution of which he greatly influenced) is measured in months rather than years. Through its Heritage Gazette of the Trent Valley, the Trent Valley Archives, Peterborough, has been publishing articles on Champlain and Ontario since the spring of 2014 and will continue to do so in 2015. It hopes to produce a commemorative volume on Champlain and French Heritage in Peterborough later this year.

On 26 December 2014, the Governor General of Canada announced the appointment of Christina Cameron as a member of the Order of Canada “for her contributions to heritage preservation through her work with Parks Canada, with UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention, and as a university professor.” Christina has a chapter entitled “Entre chien et loup: World Heritage Cultural Landscapes on the Fortieth Anniversary of the World Heritage Convention” in the recent Routledge publication on Conserving Cultural Landscapes: Challenges and New Directions edited by K. Taylor, A. St. Clair and N. J. Mitchell. On 6 November 2014, Christina gave a public lecture on Histoire critique, valeurs durable du Patrimoine mondial, at the École de Chaillot, in Paris, France. On 22 October 2014, Christina gave the keynote address on The Making of the Nara Document at the 20th Anniversary of the Nara Document Authenticity Meeting in Nara, Japan.

Wendy Cecil, of Toronto, was appointed a member of the Order of Canada by the Governor General of Canada on December 26, 2014, for her contributions as a business leader and her community involvement.

Michael Church has published The regulation of Peace River: a case study for river management (Chichester, UK., Wiley-Blackwell, 296 pp), the report of a 55-year longitudinal study of the impact of Bennett Dam on the subsequent history of the 1100-km downstream river. This is the first study to derive from a continuous study of the effects of a major hydroelectric power dam and the first study of the damming of a major boreal river (where much of the remaining hydroelectric power potential in the Northern Hemisphere remains).

Cassie Doyle, formerly of Ottawa, had her term extended as Consul General of Canada in San Francisco. She has served in that position since January 2011 with accreditation in northern California, Nevada, Hawaii and Guam.

James Fleck of Toronto was promoted to a Companion of the Order of Canada on December 26, 2014 (this was a promotion within the Order). He is recognized as one of Canada’s leading art patrons.

En novembre dernier, le Vice-chef de la Défense (VCDS) des Forces canadiennes, le Lieutenant-général Guy R. Thibault, remettait à Jean Fournier de Trois-Rivières, au nom du Chef d'état-major (CDS) de la Défense, le Général Tom Lawson, le Médaillon du Service distingué. Ce Médaillon constitue la plus haute récompense pouvant être remise à un civil par les Forces armées canadiennes pour honorer la qualité du travail du Président du Conseil de liaison au Québec. Ainsi, ce symbole récompense ses efforts afin d’offrir un appui accentué aux réservistes du Québec auprès de leur employeur.

Geoff Green of Chelsea QC reports that Students on Ice (SOI) is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2015. To kick off the year, SOI returned to Antarctica on December 25 — January 8 with an impressive team of 66 youth and 23 staff representing 12 countries. This was an exciting expedition involving many valued and long-time educators such as polar historian David Fletcher, ornithologist Santiago Imberti, oceanographer Daniele Bianchi and photographer Lee Narraway as well as many new experts covering multiple disciplines. The 15th anniversary year will also see new projects and events, including the launch of an Inuit Relations Program to better support SOI alumni and partners in the North, a new website to better tell the SOI story and the many initiatives of the SOI Foundation, a photo exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Nature, and a 15th anniversary coffee table book.

Norman Hallendy has completed documenting and donating his entire Arctic archives to four of Canada’s leading cultural institutions.  A catalogue of Norman’s extensive donations to The McMichael Gallery, The Art Gallery of Ontario, The National Gallery of Canada and the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre is available from Norman in the form of a PDF. Contact him at

George Hobson (left) shown receiving the 2014 Ondaatje Medal for Exploration from RCGS Fellow Mike Schmidt in December 2014. George and Michael are wearing unique “Pang” hats. Mike had two of these hats made back in the ‘80s for the Ice Island project with the idea to have a lot more made for people who came to the project; however the Ice Island floated the wrong way and that was the end of it. The Ice Island was named “Hobson’s Choice”, a double entendre — the term “Hobson’s Choice” refers to a “free choice in which only one option is offered”. George was the director of Polar Continental Shelf Project (PCSP) at the time. The hats are embroidered with PCSP and Ice Island, Mike gave one of the hats to George on the occasion of presenting the Ondaatje Medal.

On December 5, 2014, George Hobson was presented with the 2014 Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration at his home in Manotick ON. Unfortunately, George was not able to attend the RCGS Awards Ceremony at the College of Fellows Dinner due to illness. As it happened, Fellow Michael Schmidt, RCGS Expeditions Committee vice-chair and a long-time friend and colleague of George’s, was in Ottawa in December and took the opportunity to present George with the medal on behalf of the Society. Michael had worked closely with George on the 1992 Mt. Logan Expedition. The medal presentation was moving for George and he felt immensely honoured to receive it. Afterwards, he and Michael not only discussed times they had shared at Mt. Logan but also experiences from when they had worked together on the Ice Island when George was Director of the Polar Continental Shelf Project. The photo above was taken the afternoon of December 5th, 2014 when the medal was given to George.

Royal Canadian Geographical Society fellows Ree Brennin Houston and John Houston (third and fifth from left) traveled to Japan in November at Adventure Canada’s invitation.  At Adventure Canada’s Japan debut event at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (FCCJ) John told the story of the birth of Inuit printmaking — and its link to Japan — to an audience of 100 journalists and travel industry representatives.  John recounted how his father, the late James Houston, visited Japan in 1958 to study printmaking under master Hiratsuka Un’ichi.  Houston then brought these techniques back to the Inuit artists of Cape Dorset, where their intense experimentation created a new movement, one now known around the world as Inuit printmaking.

While in Japan, John and Ree were most honoured to be received at her residence by Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado, after first visiting the Canadian Embassy to view the Inuit art the Princess had collected with her late husband, Prince Takamado (portrayed in the background painting), during their three visits to the Canadian Arctic.  Another reason for the close connection to Canada is that Prince Takamado attended Queen’s University, where he studied law.  Also pictured (left to right) are colleagues Hiroshi (Hide) Katada, John R. Harris, and Matthew James Bradley Swan.  Princess Takamado is holding the 2006 print, Arnak ammalu Auvvi (The Woman and the Caterpillar) by Ningeokuluk Teevee of Cape Dorset, a gift from Matthew James Bradley Swan and John Houston.

George Kourounis reports that his Angry Planet TV series has been renewed for a 4th season, focusing on the effects of climate change. Click here for more information.

Ellsworth LeDrew is the Director of the Canadian Cryospheric Information Network at the University of Waterloo, which is partnering with the Canadian Space Agency and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, prime contractor for the Radarsat-2 program, to provide a detailed Antarctic mosaic map free to the public. The Canadian Cryospheric Information Network was developed in the mid-1990s to manage polar research data and make it accessible. The image of Antarctica is available on the network's Polar Data Catalogue website, an information portal where cryospheric science (science of sea ice, lake ice, snow cover, permafrost and glaciers) is shared. It's found at There's a detailed registration process, but it’s open to anyone. The Antarctic image was gathered by the Radarsat-2 satellite, which is Canadian technology.

Underwater explorer Joe MacInnis of Toronto presented a visual essay about his expedition to Sir Ernest Shackleton’s grave. Dr. MacInnis made the pilgrimage to the grave of Shackleton, on remote South Georgia Island, in the extreme South Atlantic Ocean. In so doing, as the first person to dive under the North Pole, he paid homage to the man who completely dominated South Pole exploration. The visual essay aired on CBC Ideas on December 9, 2014. Click here to see the 24-page visual essay.

Pat Maher’s TED talk “A Journey Begins” about Cape Breton is now available on You Tube. The talk focuses on connecting classrooms to the outdoors.

Ken McGoogan on Beechey Island. (Photo: Sheena Fraser McGoogan)

In March 2015, Toronto-based fellow Ken McGoogan will spend a week as writer-in-residence at Mount Royal University in Calgary. The best-selling author of a dozen books, including four about Arctic exploration, McGoogan will give a public slide-show presentation at the university's Lincoln Park Room on the evening of March 25. He will talk about his travels in Scotland, Ireland, and the Arctic, including his visits to Beechey Island and the three graves from the 1845 expedition led by Sir John Franklin.

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.

Paul Miller did a short video with National Geographic. Paul would like to receive feedback about the video from RCGS Fellows, he can be reached at Paul’s new book The Imaginary App, published by MIT Press, just came out. It’s about the art and philosophy of App Design, see

Haley Peterson, a former undergraduate student in the Department of Geography, drills into a 4,000-year-old patch of ice in the Selwyn Mountains of the Northwest Territories. (Photo: Brian Moorman)

University of Calgary Brian Moorman has discovered that a plant virus can be resurrected, after spending 700 years cryogenically preserved in frozen caribou feces. Extracted from layers of ice in the Selwyn Mountains of the Northwest Territories, he demonstrated that cryogenically preserved materials can act as repositories of viral nucleic acids, allowing scientists to regenerate ancient viruses for study. But the discovery has darker implications too, because as global warming continues to melt away the world’s ice, there’s no telling what sort of unknown viruses could be released into the environment. The project in the Selwyn Mountains began as an archaeological expedition with the goal of finding artifacts preserved in subarctic ice. Moorman was brought in as part of a team of 16 researchers because of his expertise in permafrost and glaciology. Using ground-penetrating radar, Moorman imaged the interior structure of the ice patches, determining how they developed and how they were preserved. Coring through the ice patches, he was also able to determine the age of each layer. The subarctic ice patch containing the caribou feces was found to be 4,000 years old. Remarkably, in the three-year period of the study, between 2008 and 2011, that patch melted away. That ice had been there continuously for 4,000 years, but in a period of only three years it disappeared completely.”

Fritz Mueller is working on a feature documentary with stories around the circumpolar north. In 2014 he scouted and shot in northern Norway, southern Iceland, and in Old Crow, with research trips to Yellowknife and Alaska. He attended a number of marketplaces — Banff World Media, Banff Mountain Film Festival, Merging Media — and was recently selected to attend an invitational film financing forum at Norway’s largest film festival, Tromso International Film Festival.

Dan Needles of Ottawa was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada on December 26, 2014. Dan is a playwright known for his Wingfield Farm series.

The cartelginous skeleton of a white tipped reef shark.

From March to September 2015, John Nightingale and the Vancouver Aquarium will host the Canadian premiere of BASE Entertainment's groundbreaking Sea Monsters Revealed: The Exhibition. Sea Monsters Revealed is an exhibition of the world’s largest plastinated sea creatures. Similar to popular human anatomy exhibitions, this polymer preservation technique brings sea creatures on to dry land for an up-close and personal look at the most mysterious creatures the deep sea has to offer. Visitors will see not only outside, but also the inside of the most elusive aquatic life ever discovered, including a 6-foot-wide manta ray, a 15-foot-long mako shark, and a 18-foot-long, 3,000 pound whale shark. In total there will be close to 18 full body sea creatures on display and up to 150 individual organs and smaller specimens.

In September 2014, Fednav's MV Nunavik undertook a historic voyage, carrying Canadian Arctic cargo to China through the Northwest Passage. In so doing, the Nunavik became the first cargo ship to perform an unescorted transit of the fabled northern route.

Tom Paterson, Senior Vice President of Fednav Limited based in Montreal, reports that Fednav is the largest bulk shipping company in Canada and also the owners and operators of the largest fleet of ice class vessels in the world. They currently ship over 2 million tons of base metal concentrates from the Arctic and are active in most Arctic projects. They have developed the best ice navigation system in the world and recently successfully sailed through the NW passage with a cargo for China (see photo below). They are also the first shipping company in the world to have used drones in ice detection, which has gathered a great deal of interest worldwide. They are partners with local Innuit groups, the WWF and operate to the highest standards of safety with the pristine environment at the forefront of all their operations. Within the Arctic marine community they are seen as leaders in their field.

This photo was taken in October 2013 at the controversial first Arctic Circle Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland, convened by Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson to talk about the future of the Arctic. Ironically, in spite of all the worries about the fate and future of the polar bear, these particular bears weren't allowed in to the conference because they were protesting Russia's imprisonment of environmental activists who had attempted to board a drilling rig in the Barents Sea. In the photo (left) is Leena Lahti, an activist and web designer from Helsinki, Finland and (right) is activist Caterina Torresani, born in Italy, living in Oslo, Norway, who alternates work as deckhand on the ship Arctic Sunrise and working as a volunteer in the Norwegian Greenpeace office in Oslo.

After nearly five years of episodic travels to complete his circumnavigation of the world at the Arctic Circle, during which he carried Canadian geographic messages (and Society merchandise) into schools and universities in all eight polar nations, RCGS Fellow, past Governor and Kickass Canadian, James Raffan has published Circling the Midnight Sun: Culture and change in the invisible Arctic, an excerpt of which was published online with an interview in the November issue of Canadian Geographic Travel.  James spoke at 28 events in schools and public spaces across Canada in September and October and finished the fall in Norway, where he was introduced by Canadian Ambassador, David Sproule, at the Litteraturhuset in Oslo, at an event hosted by the Canadian International Centre for the Arctic Region.  This was one of a sequence of engagements in Scandinavia that ended with a youth rally hosted by Natur of Ungdom, 350km above the Arctic Circle in the lively City of Tromsø where on November 30, it was 9°C in spite of the fact that the sun never appeared.  In February 2015 he'll be in the United Kingdom, delivering a series of lectures for the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and then back to Canada in March with planned school visits and a Fellows Lecture in Halifax hosted by Fellow and current RCGS Governor, James Boxall.

The podcast of James in conversation with Shelagh Rogers on The Next Chapter is here:

France Rivet and Johannes Lampe, Nain's chief elder, presenting the findings to the elders' committee.

In the fall 2014, France Rivet published her first book In the Footsteps of Abraham Ulrikab (Sur les traces d’Abraham Ulrikab) which reveals the results of her four-year investigation into the story of two Labrador Inuit families who died in Europe in 1880-1881 while being exhibited in zoos. France traveled to Nain, Labrador to meet with the elders committee and to inform the community that the remains (full or partial) of 7 of the 8 individuals have been located in museums in Paris and Berlin. As part of a documentary being produced by Gatineau-based Pix3 Films, and to be aired in Fall 2015 on CBC’s The Nature of Things with David Suzuki, France traveled to Hamburg, Berlin and Paris with Johannes Lampe, Nain’s chief elder, to retrace Abraham’s footsteps. They visited some of the zoos where the Inuit where exhibited, met with descendants of those who recruited and exhibited them, and discussed with the curators of the various museums who preserve the human remains and the artifacts associated to the 1880 Labrador Inuit. The decision to initiate the repatriation request now lies with the Nunatsiavut government who is in the process of writing its repatriation policy and trying to locate living descendants. France will soon be starting to give presentations about her research. In Ottawa, a talk is scheduled for March 18 at the Canadian Nordic Society.

France fera des présentations au Salon du livre de l’Outaouais (26 février), à la Maison amérindienne (Mont-Saint-Hilaire) le 21 mars ainsi qu’au Centre culturel canadien à Paris (vers la mi-avril). For more information: / Pour plus de renseignements: Publication of the book In the Footsteps of Abraham Ulrikab reveals the results of a four-year investigation into the fate of the remains of a group of eight Labrador Inuit who died of smallpox in Europe in 1880-1881? – See more at:

Marine archaeologist Rob Rondeau spoke at this year’s annual Divers’ Weekend at the Vancouver Aquarium on Saturday, January 17th about the recent find of HMS Erebus.  He also elaborated on his research, to a capacity crowd, about what caused the Franklin disaster. Later this year, Rondeau will unveil a new project to the public, the search for the HMT Royal Edward.  Overshadowed by the sinking of larger liners like the Lusitania and Britannic, the loss of the Royal Edward was a major blow to the Allied effort in World War One.

Owned and operated by the Canadian Northern Railway, it was torpedoed by a German U-boat in the summer of 1915. Requisitioned by the Admiralty, it was the first British transport sunk by an enemy submarine. He will present “Royal Edward, Canada’s Lusitania” at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax on May 12th and at the Vancouver Maritime Museum on October 28th.  Join him for an exciting evening of discovery as he explains this unique part of Canada’s long-forgotten wartime past.

Rondeau also encourages his fellow RCGS Fellows to visit him this summer at the new Maritime Archaeology Centre in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  It’s open to the public from Victoria Day to Labour Day. Rondeau is also the author of the best-selling book, Titanic Lives: On Board, Destination Canada (Formac, 2012).

Denis St-Onge of Ottawa reports that he and Jeanne celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on January 7th, 2015. The "Legal" wedding was on January 5th at the British High Commissioner's bureau in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Church ceremony on January 7th was presided by The Papal Delegate Mgr Monnens, S.J., at St. Sauveur church in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia. Here’s a photo of the happy couple as people were beginning to exit the church.

Olav Slaymaker, professor emeritus of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada on December 26, 2014, in recognition of his contributions to the field of geology and landform evolution.

Last November/December, Rob Stimpson worked on the ship — Akademik Sergey Vavilov - as an expedition photographer with One Ocean Expeditions celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 1914 Ernest Shackleton expedition. Ten of the descendants from that trip were also on-board. The trip visited the Falkland Islands, with a visit from the Governor of the Falklands while in Stanley, a rare landing in King Haakon Bay on South Georgia Island where Shackleton landed after sailing 800 nautical miles from Elephant Island, a visit to Stromness whaling station where he ended up after traversing South Georgia, and his grave in Grytviken as well as a look at Elephant Island.

Stromness Whaling Station on South Georgia Island where Shackleton walked to from King Haakon Bay – a 35 km hike over 9000 ft mountains. The church at Grytviken, built in 1913, part of the whaling station. Shackleton is buried in Grytviken.
King Haakan Bay, where Shackleton and his men landed the 24 ft James Caird, after sailing 800 nautical miles from Elephant Island. From here they started their 35 km epic hike over to the Stromness Whaling station.

Renowned Canadian singer-songwriter Ian Tamblyn has been appointed Music Artist in Residence at Carleton University for the 2014-15 academic year. Ian has recorded more than 35 albums and CDs, and received a long list of awards and honours, including multiple Juno awards and an Honorary Doctorate from Trent University.

Fraser Taylor, distinguished research professor at Carleton University, is a co-author of a new online, interactive Pan Arctic Inuit Trails Atlas that documents hundreds of traditional Inuit place names and thousands of routes through the sea ice, coastlines and vast expanses of the Canadian North from Lake Winnipeg to the tip of Ellesmere Island. The atlas resulting from more than 15 years of work, combines interviews with dozens of elders as well as explorer and trader accounts to trace the trails, some hundreds of years old and many still in regular use. The atlas is a joint project of Carleton, Dalhousie and Cambridge University.

Mark Terry of Toronto’s York University is developing a course on producing documentary film and television. In particular, it's designed for explorers and researchers who often need to document their work in the field but struggle with the medium of film and video. He explains how to work with scientists, how to prep and use equipment in harsh environments and how to package their work for public release. For more information, go to

Robert Waite of Ottawa led a three-day Corporate Social Responsibility training session for ten Caribbean postal administrations in November. Held in Bridgetown, Barbados, the UN-sponsored training focused on reducing the overall postal carbon footprint in the region. The Caribbean is seen as being particularly vulnerable to climate change, including rising sea levels and more intense storms, including hurricanes. Mr. Waite served as Senior Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, at Canada Post Corporation prior to establishing his own firm, Waite + Co., in 2010.

Heidi Wyle of Weston, Mass. was elected President of the Massachusetts Women's Forum. The Massachusetts Women’s Forum (MWF) was founded in 1991 with the purpose of bringing together women leaders across industries and sectors to enrich and enhance their professional development, encourage exposure to a broad spectrum of ideas, provide opportunities for new relationships, and to validate the contributions women are making to the Massachusetts Commonwealth. The MWF is a chapter of the International Women’s Forum (IWF), a group of over 4,000 impressive female leaders throughout the world. This year, for the first time in almost two decades, the MWF is hosting the International Women's Forum conference in Boston in October 2015, with 750 senior leaders from around the globe.

In January 2015, Ray Zahab and two team-mates, ran over 800 miles to cross the Patagonian Desert — one of the most remote and extreme deserts on Earth. The team traversed the desert in the South American summer with temperatures over 30°C. On a daily basis, they communicated with thousands of students all over the world using satellite technology, bringing the expedition into classrooms and the classrooms onto the expedition virtually. Film footage and photos were made available to schools free of cost.

The Patagonian Crossing Expedition. Ray reached the Pacific Ocean on January 26.


Grant Zazula, a paleontologist with the Yukon government, is currently involved in several collaborative research projects with the aim of uncovering new information on Ice Age animals, plants and ecosystems throughout Yukon Territory.

Some recent coverage about his work includes:

Grant sampling a mastodon bone for radiocarbon dates. A fossil American mastodon (Mammut americanum) molar from the Yukon.

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


J. Ross Mackay, geography professor emeritus of the University of British Columbia, passed away in Kelowna, BC on October 28, 2014 at the age of 98. Ross was the oldest living RCGS Fellow. He was noted for his explorations of permafrost phenomena in the western Canadian Arctic. His 40 plus years of study enabled the building of pipeline operations and petroleum explorations in areas of frozen ground. In 1967, he received the Massey Medal from the RCGS for his geographical research in the western Canadian Arctic and sub-Arctic resulting in new knowledge of permafrost phenomena and the influence of glaciers on landforms, and for a substantial contribution to the methodology of geography in the field of cartography.

Yves and his wife Zenaib (right) on their pilgrimage to Compostel city in 2009.

Yves Khoury, a geography teacher for many years at Riverdale High School in Montreal, and one of the founding members of the Canadian Council for Geographic Education (CCGE), now Canadian Geographic Education, passed away on January 11, 2015. Yves served as representative for Quebec on the Executive of the CCGE for six years from its foundation in1993 to June 1999.

Joseph Rotman, O.C., passed away on January 27, 2015 at the age of 80. He was a noted Canadian businessman and philanthropist. He was the founder, benefactor and member of many successful organizations, such as the Clairvest Group Inc., the Rotman Research Institute, the Rotman School of Management, and the Rotman Institute of Philosophy. Throughout his life, he received three honorary degrees, as well as an induction into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame and the Order of Canada. He was well-regarded for donating his time and financial assistance to numerous philanthropic causes including the arts, education and healthcare. He was a generous supporter of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and was instrumental in moving forward the strategic plan initiative of Canadian Geographic Education.

Canadian Geographic Notes


Canadian Geographic’s annual wildlife issue boasts a range of great content including, an exclusive interview with iconic Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki, a story on the newly launched Arctic Alive! giant floor map produced in conjunction with the Canadian Museum of Nature, along with a feature story highlighting species of particular importance to the museum’s Arctic collection, a feature on love-hate relationship with wolves by award-winning journalist Alanna Mitchell, a feature on wildlife rehabilitation, a photo essay on humpback whales by RCGS Fellow Mike Beedell, and essays on which species should be Canada’s national bird by Noah Richler, Will Ferguson, Alissa York and Fellow Charlotte Gray.

SPRING (March) Travel 2015

An issue dedicated to cruises, including feature stories on Sable Island (with Adventure Canada), the Salish Sea (with Maple Leaf Adventures), southern Chile’s coast and the Adriatic Sea. The issue also includes coverage of a range of other great cruises both national and international.

APRIL 2015

Coming soon: features include a story on the latest research about grizzly bear habits and habitats, our annual roundup of the latest RCGS-funded expeditions, a story on the 2014 3M Environmental Innovation Award winner, a story on research into how geography may be impacting obesity rates in Canada and the winners of the 19th annual Canadian Geographic photo contest; plus much more.


The winter 2015 issue of Energy Exchange magazine, created by Canadian Geographic staff on behalf of environmental NGO Pollution Probe, was circulated to subscribers with the January/February edition of Canadian Geographic. The issue is dedicated to energy innovation in Canada.

Launched in early January in conjunction with the January/February issue of Canadian Geographic, the National Bird Project is an initiative of the magazine and the Society to help Canada declare an official national bird. The project includes a website where people can vote for the species they think should be Canada’s national bird, and submit short essays of support for the species of their choice. In the first few weeks of this initiative, there have been thousands of votes, hundreds of essays and 16,000-plus unique visitors to the website. The project is also receiving great response and attention via social media (see #CanadaBird), as well as other organizations and media.

Canadian Geographic is continuing to develop its multimedia content platforms, and has been creating more video content of late. The latest videos include an interview with 2014 Camsell Medal winner Iain Wallace, coverage of the annual RCGS Fellows Dinner and an interview with Museum of Nature paleobiologist Kieran Shepherd on the facility’s Arctic collection, which coincides with the launch of Canadian Geographic Education’s Arctic Alive giant floor map.


Carys Mills, Canadian Geographic's social media editor (responsible for Facebook and Twitter), is looking for relevant articles or any other information to share online with the Society's followers. If any Fellows would like to contribute something of note, whether it's about your own work or of general interest, would you please send it her way? She can be reached at:

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Society Calendar
February 2015
25th 1-3 pm RCGS Board Conference Call
26th 11 am Expeditions Committee
March 2015
4th 6:30 pm Erebus Event at the ROM
24th 2 pm Research Grants
26th 2 pm Awards (Massey)
April 2015
9th 10 am Awards (Gold & Camsell)
15th 7:30 pm RCGS Speaker Series
30th 10 am CGE Management Board
May 2015
2nd to 4th Canadian Geographic Challenge (Ottawa)
Louise Maffett
Editor of the Fellows Journal

Deb Chapman
Communications Manager

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