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Fellows Journal

Fall 2016

50 Sussex


From left to right: Dr. Mark Kristmanson CEO, NCC, Retired Lieutenant General Andrew Leslie, MP for Orléans, Alex Trebek, Honourary President, RCGS and John Geiger, CEO, RCGS (Photo: Patrick Woodbury/ LeDroit)

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society has joined with the National Capital Commission to announce that it has a new home at 50 Sussex Drive, Ottawa. The building stands above the confluence of the Rideau and Ottawa rivers and shares a stretch of Confederation Boulevard, the national capital’s ceremonial and discovery route, with Parliament Hill, the National Gallery of Canada, the Prime Minister’s residence and Rideau Hall.

“This will be a place to which we can invite Canadians to join us in celebrating this country and learning about it in an immersive, state-of-the-art Canadian Centre for Geography and Exploration,” says RCGS CEO John Geiger. “It is a spectacular development in the life of the Society.”

A large crowd, many of them Fellows, gathered for the historic announcement at 50 Sussex. As the signing ceremony were Dr. Mark Kristmanson CEO, representing the National Capital Commission, and Retired Lieutenant General Andrew Leslie, MP for Orléans, representing the Government of Canada. RCGS Honourary President Alex Trebek also was present at the ceremony. During his remarks, Mr. Trebek asked “Does it get any better than this?”, gesturing toward the commanding view of the Ottawa River, and the adjacent Rideau Falls.

Others attending were RCGS Vice President Elisabeth Nadeau, Governors Wendy Cecil and Joe Frey, Society counsel Andrew Pritchard, former President Denis St-Onge, former Vice Presidents Chris Burn and Peter Harrison, former Governors Grete Hale and Kathy McCain, former Executive Director Jim Maxwell, Explorer-in-residence Jill Heinerth, explorer and best-selling author Adam Shoalts, and Andrew Prossin, managing director of One Ocean Expeditions. They were joined by Russ Mills, President of the National Capital Commission board, and Councillor Tobi Nussbaum, among many others.

In summer 2017, the RCGS will open two exhibits to the public, one in partnership with the National Capital Commission on the future of planning for Canada’s capital. Plans for the second exhibit will be announced shortly. When the exhibits close next September, the building will undergo extensive renovation to ensure all the office and public spaces will be move-in ready for the RCGS in 2018.

President's Message

Our annual meeting of the College of Fellows, and the Fellows Dinner that follows, should be joyous occasions as we have so much to celebrate this year.

The news last month that 50 Sussex Drive is the new home of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society is perhaps the most important announcement in the Society’s history, and it marks a turning point for the Society. This prestigious address is going to be a global centre for geography and a showcase for the RCGS, Canadian Geographic and all of our vital programs.

Plans for a special commemorative Special Interest Publication, created by the talented editorial teams at Canadian Geographic and The Walrus, also represents a first, a collaboration by two great organizations and their award-winning magazines that both speak so eloquently for and celebrate Canada. Get your copy of The Story of Canada in 150 Objects on newsstands starting in January.

The National Bird Project has touched tens of thousands of Canadians, who have voted or written passionately in favour of their choice for a national bird for Canada. A debate between advocates for the five finalists, the Canada Goose, Whisky Jack, Chickadee, Snowy Owl and Common Loon was held at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Environment Minister Catherine McKenna attended and spoke eloquently at the event. Afterwards the Minister tweeted about the need for Parliament to take up the matter! Stay tuned as we announce our choice at the Fellows Dinner on November 16. The Dinner itself is a sell-out, with a record crowd of 525 people planning to attend.

These are just a few of the many exciting achievement this year, and I thank you for your constant support for this Society that does so much for Canada.

This will be my last letter as President of the Society since I have decided not to take on a second term. I am leaving the position with the sense that much has been accomplished over the last few years and that our organization is once again healthy and ready to meet new challenges. I wish to thank our CEO, John Geiger, who has been a tremendous champion for our Society. His numerous initiatives have been successful in helping The Royal Canadian Geographical Society face the future with much confidence.

I also wish to thank our Board members for their unwavering support and their generous contribution in time, talent and financial donations.  I could not have chosen a better group of people with whom to work.

Finally, I must offer a very special thank you to our Fellows who have kept in contact with us, especially those of you who have accepted to serve on our committees and who have generously helped us in our fundraising efforts. Your donations have been and will keep on being very important to assure the future of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

— Paul Ruest


Birds are fascinating, intriguing and ubiquitous. With more than 450 species in Canada, birds can be found throughout the country. They share our spaces and provide a soundscape in cities and country alike. And their appeal should not be underestimated, as Canadian Geographic has learned.

The National Bird Project, launched in 2015 by Canadian Geographic with our conservation partner Bird Studies Canada, attracted Canadians in surprisingly large numbers. The opportunity to cast a ballot for a favoured species resulted in 50,000 votes with more than a quarter of those who voted adding an essay or commentary. In September, the Honorable Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment, addressed the full house at a panel debate where five impassioned Canadians advocated for one of the final species. Two days following the event, the hashtag #CanadaBird had received 2,845 posts, resulting in 7.6 million unique users.

For Canadian Geographic it was an unprecedented expression of public interest. It far exceeded our expectation that the concept of naming a national bird would only draw in the community of avid, committed birders. In fact, the project drew attention from a much wider audience — from students and teenagers to senior citizens and new Canadians.

It’s clear the National Bird Project tapped into something different — something more powerful and less tangible — than merely expressing a preference for a particular species. The project ignited a groundswell of public support because those taking part recognized they were joining a movement to identify a new national symbol. Having a voice in a national initiative of this kind was a singular chance to create a positive legacy on the cusp of the country’s 150th birthday.

When Canadian Geographic unveils its choice for National Bird in mid-November it will do so against a background of an impressive expression of public interest — a murmuration of desire for a national symbol of pride, identity and belonging.

Wade Davis captures attention with spellbinding lecture at the ROM

John Hovland, CGE Management Board and Finance Committee member and RCGS Honorary Vice-President Wade Davis, CM, at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, November 5, 2016

A 40-year career, much of it spent travelling the globe in an effort to better understand the planet’s panoply of human communities and cultures, can yield astounding tales. In Wade Davis’ case, however, it also yields astounding images, as those attending the noted anthropologist’s free public lecture about his new book, Wade Davis: Photographs, witnessed at the Royal Ontario Museum on Nov. 5.

The near-capacity event, part of the museum’s ROM Connects program, was presented in partnership with the RCGS, of which Davis is an Honorary Vice-President, and featured the British Columbia native discussing the stories behind some of the book’s 140 images, many of which he captured while on assignment for the National Geographic Society.

Prior to the lecture, Davis and Neil Ever Osborne, a photographer who regularly shoots for Canadian Geographic, conducted a photo masterclass on storytelling through the art of photography for some of the attendees.


With the creation of the Canadian Council for Geographic Education in the early 1990’s, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society set in motion an organization that would radically alter the landscape for the teaching and learning of geography in this country. Whether the founders could have imagined a community of practice that now numbers more than 18,000 members, we will never know. What we do know though is that Canadian Geographic Education, as it is now known, is a vibrant, dynamic and every-increasing volunteer membership organization that through its programming is strengthening the geographic and geospatial literacy of students throughout Canada.

Ask the current leadership what drives the dramatic increase in Canadian Geographic Education’s membership and you will get a range of responses. On a few key factors however they all agree: investment in pre-service education, partnerships with major players in Canada, brand alignment with Canadian Geographic, leveraging the magazine’s content for classroom teaching, contests that inform, educate and engage (as well as reward achievement), and a focus on topical issues such as energy, climate change, wildlife and the Arctic.


Chris Brackley speaks at the Toronto Reference Library, October 3, 2016.

The Toronto Public Library’s recent exhibit, The Art of Cartography, presented a stunning selection of historical maps that offered ample proof of their enduring interest. As part of the associated public programming for the exhibit, Canadian Geographic Education brought the Canada from Space giant floor map to the atrium of the Toronto Reference Library (TRL) for a day of activity with local classes. And in early October Chris Brackley, Canadian Geographic’s cartographer, captivated a standing-room only audience at the TRL with an illustrated talk on his practice of contemporary cartography.

At a reception to celebrate the exhibit, RCGS CEO John Geiger underlined the power of maps as means of communication and as avenues to understanding. Maps, he noted, play many roles. “They help us find our way, tell our stories, stake our claims, conduct our battles, settle our disputes and, sad to say, sometimes start them. They fascinate and intrigue us. They engender our dreams and ground us in reality.”

Canadian Geographic Education’s teachers don’t need to be convinced. The lengthy wait list for the giant floor maps is a testament to the function of maps as learning tools. And the number of downloaded tiled versions of maps is a positive sign of their place in engaging students in journeys of discovery, exploration, and learning.


On Wednesday November 16th, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s College of Fellows will gather for the 2016 gala dinner at the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa. This year’s sold-out dinner will feature a salute to the Geological Survey of Canada’s upcoming 175th anniversary, an announcement of Canadian Geographic’s choice for national bird, and formal acknowledgment of the dedication, commitment and achievement of the recipients of the Society’s awards and honours. A round-up of the gala dinner will appear in the January 2017 issue of Canadian Geographic.

Fellows in the news

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

David Barber, professor in the Department of Environment and Geography, University of Manitoba, has been elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada this year, one of the highest honours for Canadian academics in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. David has made significant, innovative and sustained contributions in the field of Arctic system science and climate change for more than 30 years. He has illustrated how changes in dynamic and thermodynamic processes in sea ice have implications throughout the natural and human systems both within and outside of the Arctic, including the marine ecosystem; northern peoples; with the oil and gas industry and hydro-electric companies; with various regulators, and with several space agencies.

Jules Blais, biology professor at the University of Ottawa, is serving as the founding Editor-in-Chief for the first multidisciplinary open-access science journal called FACETS launched by Canadian Science Publishing in April 2016.  See:

His work on arsenic from Giant Mine made headlines recently — based on a study he published in the Royal Society Proceedings. Here are a few links related to that work:
My Yellowknife Now

His work on a flow-to-surface bitumen spill at Primrose Lake was also publicized in the media. Here is a sampling.
Globe and Mail

Dr. Roberta Bondar (winner of RCGS Gold Medal, 2014) and Professor John Warkentin (winner of RCGS Massey Medal, 1988) attended the Art of Cartography exhibition in Toronto, shown here with John Geiger, CEO of the RCGS.

Written and hosted by noted author Silver Donald Cameron, the capstone of his Green Rightsproject is a feature-length documentary, Green Rights: The Human Right to a Healthy World. The film was produced and directed by master videographer Chris Beckett. Cameron and Beckett are also the producers of The Green Interview, a subscription website that now includes extended interviews with nearly 100 green warriors from all over the globe. Silver Donald Cameron is also the author of the Green Rights book,Warrior Lawyers: From Manila to Manhattan, Attorneys for the Earth — fifteen interviews with trailblazing lawyers from nine countries, plus a wide-ranging interpretive essay by the author. After the release of the book and the film in September 2016, Dr. Cameron is embarking on a transcontinental promotional tour, lecturing and speaking about the book and related topics, and screening the film, in universities right across Canada. He will be accompanied by his wife, Marjorie Simmins — also an author, promoting her own new book, Year of the Horse. The couple will be travelling by motorhome, along with their Shetland Sheepdogs, MacTavish and Franki. The schedule is posted at

At the RCGS annual dinner and silent auction in 2014, Allen Clarke was fortunate enough to bid on and win a 4 day Heli-Hiking experience in the Bugaboos with CMH, so this August he and his buddy Jim Brown had the experience of a lifetime. The food and lodgings were first class, but the hiking and scenery were even better. To say they were spectacular doesn't do them justice. If you like to hike and have your breath taken away by the scenery, CMH Heli Hiking is for you. He cautions that the Bugaboos Lodge is at 6,000 ft and the hiking is above the tree line often at 8,000 ft. As a result, anyone prone to altitude problems might find it a difficulty.  If that’s not the case, then you should go. CMH delivers an incredible experience.

The University of Victoria’s Dr. Philip Dearden received the Canadian Association of Geographers Award for Scholarly Distinction in June 2016. He has produced a steady output of innovative academic research over his 35-year career, generating more than 240 publications and nearly 3,400 citations. His research accomplishments are extensive, but also remarkable in generating direct policy outcomes. Dearden was one of the first scholars to pay serious attention to assessing nonmarket values related to landscape planning. He published extensively in this area, including Landscape Evaluation, a book co-edited with Barry Sadler some 30 years ago. This field is now generating significant interest, particularly related to payment for ecosystem services. Best known for extensive work in protected area management, he has been a member of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas for over 30 years. He is lead editor of Parks and Protected Areas in Canada: Planning and Management, the standard textbook in this area, published by OUP and in its fourth edition. His article analyzing changes in policy and practice in Canada’s national parks (with Dempsey, 2004) remains one of the most downloaded from The Canadian Geographer.

Phil Dearden also assisted an international research team which recently placed the first-ever satellite-tracking tag on a tiger shark in one of the world’s most pristine reefs, the UNESCO world heritage site, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in the Philippines which teems with marine life and draws scuba divers from around the world, and is now tracking its movements in real time. This project is led by the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) and the marine conservation group Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines (LAMAVE).

Last May Professor Karl Donert, President of the European Association of Geographers (EUROGEO), was one of five institutional coordinators to be presented with the distinguished Erasmus Minister award for his long-term contributions to international education.

Karl has been working for more than 30 years to internationalize geographic education by promoting staff and student exchanges between universities, encouraging international fieldwork and a large number of innovative international geographical projects. The most recent of these include GeoCapabilities, Spatial Citizenship, YouthMetre and GI-Learner. He also coordinated the large international university network HERODOT connecting more than 350 organisations seeking to improve the quality of learning and teaching in geography departments.

Brad Faught is giving a lecture based on his new book, Kitchener: Hero and Anti-Hero, for the National Army Museum at the Army and Navy Club in London, UK, on November 2, 2016.

Joseph Frey was invited by James Delgado to participate in the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Battle of the Atlantic Expedition with its marine archaeologists off North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The objective of the expedition was to map German submarine U-576 and the merchant ship Bluefields. Both were sank and last seen during a naval action on July 15, 1942. U-576 and Bluefields are 56 kilometres offshore and 228 metres deep and are located in close proximity to each other, which makes this site a unique representation of a convoy battle. Historically, they are emblematic of the decline of U-boat activity off the US east coast.

The first time that U-576 has been seen in 74 years. (Photo: NOAA)

Getting ready to dive on U-576 off R/V Explorer Baseline. (Photo: Joseph Frey)

Meric Gertler, President of the University of Toronto, has been appointed to the Toronto SickKids Board of Trustees.

Walter Gollick, Linda Gollick, George Kourunis, Joseph Frey and Emma Gattoni at the Art of Cartography exhibit at the Toronto Reference Library.

Anne Gilbert of the Département de géographie, Université d’Ottawa, has been elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada this year, one of the highest honours for Canadian academics in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Anne is a world-renowned specialist in social geography. She has made seminal contributions to the concept of spatial ideology, and has authored unique propositions on the idea of region and borders framed in both English-speaking and French geography. Her innovative approaches on the spaces and places of official language minorities in Canada have earned her several prestigious honours in the academy as well as from community authorities.

Daniel Goodwin

Daniel Goodwin received a Vine Award for Canadian Jewish Literature in the Poetry category for his book of poems Catullus’s Soldiers. This is Goodwin's first collection of finely crafted poems that take aim at traditional dichotomies: love and war, the personal and the public, high culture and pop culture, the ancient and modern worlds

Norman Hallendy's latest book An Intimate Wilderness: Arctic Voices form a Land of Vast Horizons, has been attracting very high praise. Wm. Fitzhugh, the Director of Arctic Studies Centre, Smithsonian Institution refers to Hallendy as a modern day Rasmussen. The National Geographic's Wade Davis comments "With passion, conviction and humour, Hallendy offers us a window into a cultural realm that never ceases to astonish." Hallendy's first book, Inuksuit: Silent Messengers of the Arctic, sold over 35,000 copies and is being reprinted to meet the constant demand. His photographic exhibit and lecture comparing life at the margins in the deserts of the American southwest and the Canadian Arctic was an outstanding event held at the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario.

For the past two years David Hik has been working with Zac Robinson at the University of Alberta, and a whole host of collaborators, including Parks Canada and the Alpine Club of Canada, to develop and produce a new online course called Mountains 101.  Mountains 101 is a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) teaching a comprehensive overview of Mountain Studies. It is interdisciplinary in its scope and presentation, focusing on the diverse physical, biological, and human dimensions of mountain places in Alberta, Canada, and around the world. Since registration for Mountains 101 opened on Tuesday, November 1 over 4000 students/learners from around the world have registered for the free version of this course.  There is no cap on the number of the students who can take Mountains 101 so please let your friends, family, colleagues and professional networks know that they are welcome to take Mountains 101 - and its free! The first offering of Mountains 101 will begin on 9 January 2017, so there is still lots of time to register.  The course description and link to the registration site through Coursera can be accessed here (including preview, course syllabus, partners, TechTips, and media stories): or

Jill Heinerth, RCGS Explorer in Residence, provided the link for the RCGS Expedition of the Year website.

Hester Jiskoot, Associate Professor at the University of Lethbridge, became one of four Associate Chief Editors (ACE) for the scientific publications of the International Glaciological Society(IGS): the Journal of Glaciology and the Annals of Glaciology. The Journal, first published in 1947, publishes original articles and letters concerning scientific research into any aspect of ice and snow, and interactions between ice, snow, climate and other environmental phenomena including the biosphere and permafrost. The Annals, first published in 1980, is a thematic journal that contains papers on specific glaciological themes, which may be related to the theme of an IGS International Symposium. As of 1 January 2016, the Journal and Annals are published by Cambridge University Press (CUP) as Gold Open Access. Hester Jiskoot will mainly deal with manuscript submissions on alpine glaciers, glacier-climate interactions, and glacier surging. By taking on this new role as ACE, Hester will step down from the editorial boards of Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research, and the Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface, while she will complete her term as President of the Western Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers (WDCAG) in March 2017.

Burmese schoolchildren

Lorie Karnath is working to build a school in a remote part of Burma. The village where the school will be built a few hours outside of Yangon does not have electricity or other modern amenities. Villagers are helping by making the bricks and other items needed for the building. The project involves a number of partners including The Explorers Museum and Jason Learning where Lorie is a board member and heads the international initiatives for this not-for-project educational group.

Karnath is also in the process of contributing to a book due out in 2017 on the oral legends and histories of Burma.She is working with the novelist Jan-Philipp Senker who is renowned for his books on China and Burma. She is a contributor to the book project compiled and edited by Tor and Siffy Torkildson on The Walkabout Chronicles due out late 2016. Karnath is also co-chairing a symposium on "Tailored Biology" on the new paradigms in biology and medicine related to recent scientific discoveries that took place in May at The Swedish Royal Academy of Science under the auspices of The Swedish Academy and Molecular Frontiers Foundation.

Pat and Rosemarie Keough hosted The Explorers Club Salt Spring Symposium, an inspiring three-day event founded by the Keoughs in 2004. From September 8th to 11th, 2016 a total of 55 participants attended, including 48 Explorers passionate about their respective field of discipline, several of whom are also Fellows of the RCGS. Explorers came from near and far — British Columbia, Nunavut, Alberta, Ontario, six US states, and New Zealand —  and direct from activities in Mongolia, Japan, France, Gibraltar, and Canada’s Arctic. Stimulating presentations, 41 in all, ranged from diving the Marianas Trench; patterns of human predation; "Death Assemblages” found in the Clam Garden aquaculture of pre-contact coastal natives; discovery of previously unknown Adélie penguin colonies; new methods to determine paleo temperature from fossil leaves; whales; caribou; zeppelins; dinosaurs; Petra; Raivavae; Arctic oceanography; a novel concept for Arctic housing; Canadian Voyageurs to Khartoum; biological diversity as measured through time (inspired by mosquito research); futuristic ROV submersibles; snorkel-expedition; Live Dive broadcasting; Switzerland’s Matterhorn; Mount Everest; earthquakes; canyons… and much more! As noted by all, the Salt Spring Symposium is an excellent source of inspiration, connections and camaraderie that is already resulting in synergies and further explorations. The food that everyone prepared together — 450 meals in all — was great too!

Melanie Knight spoke at the International Aquarium Congress in Vancouver on September 26th about the future of aquariums and promoting coastal education centres which use the catch-and-release philosophy. Also the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium, the non-profit aquarium she founded in Newfoundland, held its end-of-year release party on Saturday October 1 where the community was invited to come down and release the animals back to the ocean! This is the aquarium's fourth operating season and release party.

George Kourounis was in Churchill, Manitoba and Nanuk Lodge on Hudson Bay, representing the RCGS and Canadian Geographic on a polar bear viewing trip with Churchill Wild. The group, along with Gilles Gagnier, COO of Can Geo, had numerous encounters with polar bears, belugas, wolves and several stunning displays of northern lights.

The 2016 World Tourism Award was presented to Sven Lindblad of Lindblad Expeditions on November 7, 2016, the opening day of World Travel Market London.

The distinguished 2016 honorees were recognized for their outstanding initiatives and commitment to conservation, fostering sustainable tourism and in developing programs that give back to the local communities. The award honored Lindblad Expeditions “in recognition of its commitment to conservation, research, education and community development in the geographies they explore, and their establishment of the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Fund. Together with their guests, Lindblad has raised over $12.7 million for critical projects since 1997.”

The Flathead River meanders through a basin. Beneath the gravelly floor on either side of the channel, circulating water nourishes the floodplain ecosystem. (Photo: © Harvey Locke)

Harvey Locke, renowned Alberta conservationist, Ric Hauer of the University of Montana and a diverse team of biologists, have published a paper in Science Advances about gravel-bed river floodplains that are some of the most ecologically important habitats in North America. Their research shows how broad valleys coming out of glaciated mountains provide highly productive and important habitat for a large diversity of aquatic, avian and terrestrial species. In certain places, river water circulates freely through lattices of stone that can fill entire valleys, extending a quarter mile from the central channel. Such floodplains are the ecological nexus of glaciated mountain landscapes, supporting everything from songbirds to bears.

Akaash Maharaj represented the community of parliamentarians at the International Anti-Corruption Summit in London.  He led an effort by legislators from Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and Oceania to end the ability of terrorist groups and organized crime syndicates to operate through anonymous corporations.  He participated in the Summit in his capacity as head of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC).

Art Milne of Kingston, Ontario has been busy promoting his new book that celebrate Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s 175th birthday. It is published by McClelland and Stewart and called Canada Always: The Defining Speeches of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. A variety of distinguished commentators including all seven living past Prime Ministers (Clark to Harper), Tony Blair of the UK and sitting Premiers Clark of BC and Notley of Alberta and many others graciously contributed commentary essays to his book.

Willowbank, Queenston, Ontario
Nigel Molaro of Ottawa has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Willowbank, the world-renowned school of cultural heritage on the Canada-U.S. border in Queenston, Ontario. He is a graduate of the program which is re-defining the field of heritage conservation and developing an ecological approach to the sustainable regeneration of the built and natural environment. The non-profit institution, which counts HRH The Prince of Wales as its Patron, combines theory with hands-on learning on a layered, 15-acre campus with a National Historic Site at its core. Fellows also involved in Willowbank include Lisa Prosper (Inuvik), Victoria Angel (Ottawa/Toronto) and Christina Cameron (Montréal). An emerging conservation practitioner, Nigel has contributed to projects in Halifax, Kingston, the Niagara Peninsula and the National Capital Region, building on a career in the public realm that included place-based programming for Canada’s prime minister across the globe.

University of Calgary geography professor Brian Moorman is working with the Canadian Space Agency on a new project using satellite imagery to try to measure the ice loss of glaciers in the Canadian Arctic due to the process known as dry calving. Dry calving is a natural process wherein the front of glaciers breaks off and crumbles to the ground at the base of the glacier. This process develops as a function of how the ice is flowing and sliding over the ground beneath it. It has been observed that these smaller chunks of ice at the base of the glacier melt more rapidly than the main part of the glacier. Given modern concerns over global warming, glaciers have increasingly become a concern because, when they melt, the water flows into the ocean, contributing to rising sea levels. Today scientists have the technology to determine how fast the glaciers are melting and how sea levels will be impacted by the runoff. So far, scientists do not have a working model to measure the ice loss from dry calving.

The process of dry calving is seen here in the broken off ice chunks at the base of this glacier. University of Calgary geographer Brian Moorman is working with the Canadian Space Agency to study the effects of dry calving on rising sea levels. (Photo: Brian Moorman)

Gordon Nelson's book, The Magnificent Nahanni: A Struggle to Protect a Wild Place, will be published in March 2017 by University of Regina Press. The book describes the wonders of the Nahanni and the lengthy and still incomplete efforts to protect it in a National Park Reserve. The text is accompanied by 17 figures and 30 colour photos.

Twelve young explorers from The Explorers Club participated in Adventure Canada’s Arctic expedition in July 2016. (Photo: Michelle Valberg)

Milbry Polk reports that last July 12 young explorers from The Explorers Club embarked on Adventure Canada’s Heart of the Arctic Expedition Cruise.  Last spring Adventure Canada most generously created a new program to underwrite 12 places aboard their cruise to Greenland and South Baffin Island for Explorers Club members and friends aged 18-30. Alerted by chapter chairs and other members the program received over 30 outstanding applications from around the world from which the awards team picked the 12 to pilot the program. They are Trevor Wallace, David Prieto, Nicole Collier, Scott Ferrara, James Calderwood, Kate Sutter, Joshua Powell, Antonella Wilby, Mike Dexter, Aleksandr Rikhterman, Natalie Treadwell, and Johan Sigurdson. They were joined on board by Explorers Club Archivist Lacey Flint and Executive Assistant Brittany Barbezat, AC Director Alana Faber, project managers Stefan Kindberg and Milbry Polk. Each young explorer completed a project consisting of either film, photographs, interviews, surveys and observations. The projects included underwater filming, reactions of first time people to the Arctic, environmental impacts, tool development, passing of Inuit culture to the next generation, geology and landscape, economic and social issues of communities, citizen science and whale identification,  climate resilience in communities, oil painting with natural products, and early Icelandic explorers. They conducted interviews in communities and onboard the Ocean Endeavor. They were greatly aided by the amazing resource staff on board that consisted on long time polar explorers, scholars, scientists, Inuit cultural representatives and artists. The projects will be presented at Explorers Club chapter events during the year and at the Polar Film Festival in NY in November. If you would like to know more about the program please contact Stefan at or Milbry at

RCGS book launch for Russell Potter’s book Finding Franklin in Toronto, September 2016.

Professor Maureen Reed of the University of Saskatchewan is working with The Canadian Biosphere Reserves to help plan a big event for June 2017 that will coincide with the Biosphere Reserve’s AGM and the “Students on Ice” Sea to Sea to Sea expedition. The event will help to bring Biosphere Reserve practitioners, academics, Indigenous peoples, and others together. Maureen also notes that a documentary series will be showing on Knowledge Network and TVOntario, starting October 4. Narrated by Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, Striking Balance is an eight-part series that explores the following of Canada’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserves (Long Point, ON, Clayoquot Sound, BC, Mont Saint-Hilaire, QC, Bras d’Or, NS, Georgian Bay, ON, Redberry Lake, SK, Fundy, NB and Waterton, AB). Each episode will be available across Canada at following the first broadcast.  A link to the 2-minute trailer is here:

Dave Reid is planning an expedition to circumnavigate Bylot Island next year. See website It will represent the largest island in the world ever to be circumnavigated by ski. In addition, the expedition will celebrate Canada's 150th and conduct meaningful and important science.

Maria Merkuratsuk and France Rivet reading excerpts from Abraham Ulrikab’s diary during Adventure Canada’s Greenland and Northern Labrador cruise, July 2016.

In Summer 2016, France Rivet took part in the two-day workshop “Johan Adrian Jacobsen: Collector of People and Things” held at the Tromso University Museum, Norway. She was also an invited guest on Adventure Canada’s Greenland and Northern Labrador cruise. Passengers were very touched by Abraham Ulrikab’s story. During the expedition, they not only had the opportunity to watch the documentary Trapped in a Human Zoo and attend a reading of Abraham’s diary, they also landed in Hebron to discover Abraham’s home community. In Fall 2016, France will be presenting the film, as well as her latest findings in Abraham’s story, at the 20th Inuit Studies Conference in St. John’s. As a co-sponsor of Biosphere Environmental Education’s photo exhibit Arctic Impressions France made the arrangements to have the exhibit shown at the Katingavik Inuit Arts Festival. In Fall 2016, France will also take part in screenings of Trapped in a Human Zoo at The Rooms (St. John’s, NL), the North America Native Museum (Zurich, Switzerland) and at the Canadian Cultural Centre (Paris, France), among others.

Aaron Salus with Amanda Pick, Missing Children Society of Canada’s CEO, demonstrating the platform at the Microsoft Conference.

Aaron Salus’ company Strut Creative built a technology platform for the Missing Children Society which was chosen to be the featured partner project at Microsoft’s Worldwide Developers Conference in July 2016. Microsoft asked him to guest-present a cloud-based social media technology platform, called the Most Valuable Network, that his company developed for the Missing Children Society of Canada.

Donat Savoie wearing the Polar Medal (white) that he received October 5, 2016 from the Governor General.  He is also wearing the National Order of Quebec (on left side in blue and white) that he received in 2010 from the Prime Minister of Quebec.

Donat Savoie, C.Q., of Gatineau, QC received the Polar Medal on October 5th from the Governor General of Canada Mr. David Johnston. The Polar Medal celebrates Canada’s northern heritage and recognizes persons who render extraordinary services in the polar regions and in Canada’s North. Donat was awarded the Polar Medal for the work he has been doing for the last 8 years in regards to Montréal Inuit who are in difficulty or homeless. The ceremony took place at La Citadelle in Quebec City. Makivik Corporation, the organization that represents the Inuit of Nunavik, Northern Quebec, and those living outside the territory mainly in Montreal, initiated this work in 2008.

Joan Schwartz, professor at Queen’s University in the Department of Art History and Art Conservation, has been elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, one of the highest honours for Canadian academics in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Joan is an internationally recognized photographic historian, archival theorist, and historical geographer. As the leading authority on early photography in Canada, and an advocate of its importance to archival collections, she has pioneered new understandings of photographs as spaces of power and sites of knowledge production. Her research challenges traditional approaches to photographs in historical analysis and provides creative strategies for scholarly engagement with visual images across a range of disciplines.

Mary Simon, a diplomat and longtime Inuit leader, has been named a special representative to Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development Minister Carolyn Bennett, to find investments that encourage sustainable jobs in Canada’s North, while ensuring that those living there have a voice in how the money is spent. Mary was the recipient of the Society’s Gold Medal in 1998 for her role in the creation of the Arctic Council.

Ian Stirling, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta, and world-renowned Canadian polar marine mammal scientist was awarded the 5th annual $50,000 Weston Family Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Northern Research.  Dr. Stirling has dedicated more than 40 years to studying the ecology and behaviour of Arctic marine ammals and was the first to identify the negative impact of climate warming on polar bear populations.

On October 11, 2006 Denis A. St-Onge gave an illustrated talk at The Arctic Circle in Ottawa on "THE POLAR CONTINENTAL SHELF PROJECT, the early years."  Polar Shelf was created in 1958 and its first season was in 1959 based in Isachsen, Ellef Ringnes Island. That first season Denis was part of a small group mostly responsible for testing a whole array of equipment which would eventually help scientists carry out their research in the High Arctic. Although assigned to study geomorphology in this extreme environment he was often found in the garage repairing a small amphibious tracked vehicle built by Canadair. The talk traced the rapid evolution of Polar Shelf to become the most efficient logistic support organization for scientists working in the High Arctic.

Michelle Valberg is super excited (and deservedly so) about her drum dancer image being on a Canadian coin... her image represents Nunavut.  You’ll have to visit the Royal Canadian Mint’s website to see the Nunavut coin. Celebrating Canada's 150th Coin Series: 1/2 oz. Pure Silver 13-Coin Monthly Subscription (2017).

Robert Waite is now a Professor at Seneca College, Toronto, teaching graduate courses in the Department of Media and Communications.

Environmental scientist and activist, professor Dr. Brad Walters of Mount Allison University received its top teaching award in June 2016.  A long-time coordinator of the environmental studies program in the Department of Geography, he received the Herbert and Leota Tucker Teaching Award. The Tucker Award is the highest teaching honour at Mount Allison. Walters joined Mount Allison in 1999 as a member of the Department of Geography and Environment, where he developed the Environmental Studies program, one of the University’s most popular programs.

Ming-ko Woo, a McMaster University professor, received his degree of Doctor of Environmental Studies honoris causa, from the University of Waterloo on Tuesday, June 14, "to recognize his outstanding contribution and pioneering work in the fields of cold-regions hydrology, wetland ecosystems, and hydrological modelling."

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

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


Dr. Margaret (Marmie) Hess of Calgary passed away in September 2016 at the age of 100.  A community leader, internationally recognized art historian and lecturer, businesswoman and rancher, Marmie leaves a remarkable legacy of contributions to the quality and fabric of life in Calgary, Alberta and Canada. Throughout her lifetime, Marmie was described as the quintessential 'western' Canadian who was a proud champion of her heritage and culture.  One of her notable achievements was introducing Calgarians and Canadians to Inuit art by establishing Calgary Galleries Ltd. in 1970. She also helped establish the Arctic Institute of North America at the University of Calgary. In 1988, the Government of Canada recognized her contributions to the Inuit by naming the archeological site on Ekkalluk River 'Hess Site.' Marmie received numerous awards and honours for her many accomplishments and community service. She was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1981 and an officer in 1993. She also received the Alberta Order of Excellence along with a number of honorary doctorates. She was honored by Premier Peter Lougheed who appointed her to the Kananaskis Citizens Advisory Committee to spearhead the development of a provincial park in preparation for the 1988 Winter Olympics. Marmie was a true pioneer and ahead of her time.

Peter Eric James (Jim) Prentice died in a tragic airplane accident in British Columbia in October 2016 at the age of 60.  He served as the 16th Premier of Alberta from 2014 to 2015. In the 2004 federal election he was elected to the Canadian House of Commons as a candidate of the Conservative Party of Canada. He was re-elected in the 2006 federal election and appointed to the cabinet as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians. Prentice was appointed Minister of Industry on August 14, 2007, and after the 2008 election became Minister of Environment on October 30, 2008. On November 4, 2010, Prentice announced his resignation from cabinet and as MP for Calgary Centre-North. After retiring from federal politics, he entered provincial politics in his home province of Alberta, and ran for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta. On September 6, 2014, he won the leadership election, becoming both the leader of the Progressive Conservatives and as such the Premier, as his party held a majority in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. After introducing his first budget in 2015, Prentice declared an early provincial election on May 5, 2015. In the election, the PCs were defeated. Despite winning re-election in his riding, on election night Prentice resigned as both PC leader and MLA and retired from politics.

Commenting on the death of Jim Prentice, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described him as a skilled politician who will be profoundly missed. "Jim was a man who brought his deep convictions to everything he turned his hand to, whether it was law, business or politics. At each step of his career, Jim was a strong voice for the people of Alberta and for the people of Canada. He was highly respected and well-liked in the House of Commons across all party lines, because he brought an intelligent, honest and straightforward approach to everything he did."

Fred Roots in Antarctica. (Photo © Lee Narraway)

Geologist Dr. Fredrick Roots passed away in East Sooke, BC on October 18, 2016.  Dr. Roots made significant contributions to polar science and international environmental research and policy.  Dr. Fred Roots was one of the world’s greatest living explorers. He was both legendary and extraordinary, and an explorer in the greatest meaning of the term. He was a major force in global polar, circumpolar and bipolar activities. The list of Fred’s contributions, achievements, roles, expeditions, discoveries are massive, including ground-breaking expeditions to the Arctic, the Antarctic, the Himalayas, the Rockies…and much more. He was a member of the famous Norwegian, British, Swedish Antarctic Expedition in 1949-1952. A few years later, he came up with the idea for the Polar Continental Shelf Program, which collected, for Canada, the first solid data about its own Arctic. Then he helped write the Antarctic Treaty, the reason the entire continent has been set aside for peace and scientific research, and for 30-plus years was science advisor to the Department of the Environment (later Environment Canada). He still holds the record (which will never be beaten) for the longest un-supported dogsled journey in the world, a six-month scientific journey into the Antarctic interior. He has a mountain range named after him in Antarctica (Roots Range). He planted a Flag at the North Pole in 1969, a few decades before the Russians did it. Except that the “pole” Fred and his colleagues planted had all the flags of the United Nations on it, reflecting the true spirit of the North. He was renowned and respected worldwide as a scientist, leader, visionary, intellect, diplomat, explorer and gentleman. His many awards include the Gold Medal from the Royal Geographical Society and the Order of Canada. Fred has also been bestowed four Polar medals (Britain, Norway, Sweden, Russia), and the RCGS Massey Medal (1979). On March 12, 2016 Dr. Fred Roots was awarded The Explorers Club's highest award, The Explorers Club Medal, a tribute to a legendary Canadian polar scientist and explorer who dedicated his life to better understanding our planet and the relationship we have with it.

Geologist Dr. Charlie Roots, age 60, passed away from ALS in June 2016 in Whitehorse. An accomplished and respected geoscientist with the Geological Survey of Canada, Charlie dedicated his career to mapping the geology of northern Canada, focusing primarily on Yukon. In 1992, Charlie and a small multi-disciplinary team completed a successful ascent of Canada’s highest mountain, Mount Logan.  The expedition was supported by the RCGS and had both historic and scientific significance as it marked three anniversaries of national importance: Canada’s 125th birthday, the Geological Survey of Canada’s 150th anniversary and the Alaska Highway’s 50th anniversary. It was the first time researchers were able to use GPS instruments to accurately measure the height of Canada’s highest mountain determined to be 5,959 metres.  (Charlie was Fred Roots’ son).

John Tuckwell of Edmonton, died in July 2016 of natural causes following a nearly 4-year battle with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease).  John was elected a Fellow in 2015 in recognition of a lifetime of travel and adventure around the world.  In May 2016, John became one of the first Canadians to be granted a constitutional exemption from the Criminal Code provisions prohibiting physician-assisted death.  In the court’s decision granting the exemption, it noted that John filed an affidavit in which he specifically mentioned having been elected a member of the RCGS’s College of Fellows—a true indication of the honour and pride John felt in being a Fellow.  As summarized by the court, John lived “a thoroughly engaged and interesting life.”

Louise Maffett
Editor of the Fellows Journal

Deb Chapman
Communications Manager

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