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Fellows Journal

Summer 2016

Message from the President

With the celebration of Canada Day, it is a great time to reflect on the impact your Society has already made this year. Among other accomplishments were a few outstanding events:

We hosted a major Can Geo Talks focused on Inuit Oral Tradition and Franklin. The lecture attracted a large crowd and underscored the critical role played by the Inuit in the search.

Our Canadian Geographic Challenge finals, held in Ottawa, saw 20 of the best young geographic minds in the country competing to become national champion. The winner, Jack Cheng of Calgary, then had the great honour of meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Then, the Society announced our first-ever Explorer-in-Residence, Jill Heinerth, at a packed event at Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. Jill spoke about her remarkable feats as a globally-celebrated cave diver.

Each of these events underscored the RCGS’s mission to make Canada better known to Canada and the world.

Perhaps the most special moment came with the appointment of Alex Trebek as the Society’s first Honorary President since 1982. Alex has been a great supporter of RCGS, and of geographic learning, particularly as a patron of the Canadian Geographic Challenge. We are all so pleased to have this great Canadian fill this important symbolic role for the Society.

At a recent meeting of the Board of Governors the impact of the Society's Strategic Plan was discussed, and each committee is now measuring their work against the goals set out in that document. The Board also heard that Fellows have participated in the annual Fellows Appeal at a higher rate than in recent years. I would encourage all Fellows to donate. If you have not had a chance to make your annual gift to RCGS, please take a moment to do so by clicking here!

Of course, with nearly half a year ahead of us, this is also a wonderful time to anticipate the events and news yet to come, particularly the College of Fellows Annual Dinner. It is particularly fitting that we celebrate this year the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Geological Survey of Canada, an organization to which RCGS has great and lasting ties! I would encourage you to get your tickets now, and of course, to enjoy your summer!

Dr. Paul Ruest,


Can Geo Challenge Champion Jack Cheng with Prime Minister Trudeau (Photo: Office of the Prime Minister)

Twenty of Canada’s top geography students took Ottawa by storm June 3 to 5 to compete for the title of National Champion in the annual Canadian Geographic Challenge, now in its 21st year (and made possible through the generous support of the Trebek Family Foundation and Google). After three gruelling rounds of questions that truly tested geography knowledge and field skills, Jack Cheng, a Grade 10 student from Western Canadian High School in Calgary, was named National Champion.

The biggest surprise of the Challenge, however, came the following day. During a special VIP tour of Parliament that had been arranged for Cheng, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan appeared to congratulate the young geographer, who had been accompanied by Royal Canadian Geographical Society CEO John Geiger and director of education Ellen Curtis. “Don’t stop reading all those books,” said the PM, “but the only way to really get to know Canada’s geography is by canoe. We’ve got to get you in a canoe now, Jack!”

“We’re so excited to have Jack as our new national champion,” says Geiger, who explained that the involvement of prominent Canadians such as Trebek and the support of the Prime Minister for the Challenge and geographic literacy in general is a great honour to the Society — and crucial to its mandate of making Canada better known to Canadians and to the world.

College of Fellows Dinner

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society is pleased to announce that the College of Fellows Annual Dinner 2016 will be held at the Canadian War Museum on Wednesday, November 16, 2016. Proceeds from the evening support the Society's vital programs. The society will also be celebrating the 175th Anniversary of the Geological Survey of Canada. We are thrilled to welcome Simon Winchester as one of our guests of honour. Get your tickets now!

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016
Canadian War Museum, 1 Vimy Place, Ottawa, ON
Medal Ceremony: 5pm / Cocktail Reception: 6pm / Dinner: 7pm
Early-bird tickets are available for $200 until July 31st


Alex Trebek becomes RCGS Honorary President

Alex Trebek with students from Robert Bondar Public School in Ottawa, Ont. (Photo: RBPS staff)

Alex Trebek launched his Honorary Presidency by exploring Canada’s National Parks on a Canadian Geographic Education Giant Floor Map with grades 7 and 8 students from Roberta Bondar Public School. For more information about this announcement see the Canadian Geographic website.

Jill Heinerth becomes the first Explorer-in Residence

Adam Shoalts and Jill Heinerth (Photo: John Geiger)

World famous Canadian cave diver and RCGS Fellow, Jill Heinerth has been named our first Explorer-in-Residence at a lunch in Toronto on June 8, World Oceans Day. The Explorer-in-Residence Program aims to provide Canadians, particularly school children, with visible modern-day role models for exploration, scientific discoveries and adventure travel in Canada. The lunch was held in the Private Dining Room at Massey College, and 14 of the Society's volunteers and supporters attended the event, including Dr. Shelagh Grant and Jon Grant, RCGS Governor Dr. Wendy Cecil, J-E Bernier medalist Kathryn McCain, and Adam Shoalts, celebrated explorer, Fellow and best-selling author of Alone Against the North. In announcing the decision by the Society's Expeditions Committee to appoint Jill Heinerth as Explorer-in-Residence, CEO John Geiger described the exploratory exploits of RCGS founders, stating, “exploration is in the DNA of the RCGS.”

RCGS Wins prestigious Emerald Award

Dr. Lynn Moorman celebrates Canadian Geographic Education’s Emerald Award win with, the Honourable Lois E. Mitchell, Alberta’s Lt. Governor (Photo: Lt. Governor’s Aide-de-Camp Lieutenant Commander Nancy Olmstead)

Canadian Geographic Education’s Classroom Energy Diet Challenge wrapped up its fifth year with the highest participation to date. Classrooms across Canada went without power for a combined 2,000 hours, saved 15,162 kilowatt hours of electricity and 166,009 litres of water, and stopped 373 kilograms of trash from entering landfills during the three-month competition. To see some of the great work students did, visit

In June, the CEDC was recognized with an Emerald Award for Public Education and Outreach, a prestigious honour presented by the Alberta Emerald Foundation, which since the early 1990s has fostered and showcased environmental excellence and stewardship in the province. RCGS Fellow and Governor Dr. Lynn Moorman was on hand to receive the award. For the Alberta Emerald Foundation’s video about the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge, which includes an interview with RCGS CEO John Geiger about the program, click here.

Can Geo Talks 2016: Inuit Oral Tradition and Franklin with Captain Dave Woodman

John Geiger with panelists from Can Geo Talks event (Photo: Colin Rowe/ Canadian Geographic)

On April 12th, the RCGS hosted a public lecture attended by more than 300 people at the Canadian Museum of History. This year’s event featured a revitalized format, and was rebranded as Can Geo Talks. For more information about this very successful event read the Canadian Geographic website for more details.

Society Notes


Paul Ruest with the Honorable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada
(Photo: Matt Zambonin/Canadian Geographic)

Our remarkable, long-serving Board leader, Paul Ruest, has elected not to continue for a second term as President. You are invited to submit nominations for both the positions of President and Governors to be elected at the 2016 Annual General Meeting of the College of Fellows in November. The deadline for nominations is midnight, August 31, 2016.

Nominations can be made online at the Nominations for Election of Officers and Governors webpage or by regular mail to: The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, 1155 Lola Street, Suite 200, Ottawa, ON, K1K 4C1, to the attention of Sandra Smith.

Update on Fellows Committee

The Fellows Committee met on June 22nd to deliberate and consider new candidates for the College of Fellows.  The Society has received a strong number of recommendations to date, with potential Fellows coming from 7 Canadian provinces and one Territory, as well as three international submissions.

A second round of nominations will be considered by the Fellows Committee in early Fall.
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.

The Fellows Committee is chaired by Governor Joe Frey (Toronto, ON). Members include Fellows Jean Marie Beaulieu (Chelsea, QC), Brad Faught (Toronto, ON), Jim Murray (Montreal, QC) and Paul VanZant (Amaranth, ON).

Your Society in the News

Jill Heinerth is doing a fabulous job promoting the Bell Island Expedition, our 2016 Expedition of the Year. There have been numerous CBC stories and the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet did a two-part series on the expedition, just to name a few of the mainstream media hits. Features have started to appear in the world’s most popular diving magazines such as Diver Magazine and Alert Diver, read globally.

Our inaugural recipient of the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration is now our first Explorer in Residence (EiR). The media is intrigued by the world’s top female cave diver and the places Jill has ventured to. This extreme diver’s expeditions and her new EiR position were the inspiration behind this interview on CTV’s The Social. Coming soon: The Discovery Channel is doing a feature for the Daily Planet about our inaugural Explorer-in-Residence and the Bell Island’s wrecks.

Jill Heinerth with the hosts of CTV’s The Social
The celebration of the Air Cadet built biplanes was a media success (Photo: Carlo Ricci/ Canadian Geographic)

At a packed event, the Canadian Museum of Flight (CMF) unveiled one of two First World War biplanes being built by Air Cadets since last summer. The biplanes will be part of a three-part series called A Nation Soars — Commemorating Canada’s Great War Flyers. The series is a RCGS and Sound Venture co-production. Stories by CTV and the Canadian Press are just two examples of the great coverage this event earned.

Canadian Geographic Education’s Classroom Energy Diet Challenge (CEDC) also scored numerous media stories in April highlighting students efforts to make our world greener and lessen the impact of climate change. Here’s one Ontario student’s account in their community newspaper about why his class loves this environmental program. This story outlines how good it feels when your class wins a CEDC prize. The CEDC’s win also earned media coverage for our Emerald Award for Public Education and Outreach.

In May, the news about Alex Trebek becoming RCGS Honorary President also made national news. Here is Evan Soloman’s interview with Trebek that aired across Canada. This poignant story appeared on CBC Radio.

Alex Trebek’s support of the Canadian Geogeographic Challenge is gaining national media attention. This student geography competition attracted media attention from coast to coast to coast. The Challenge had close to 20 media stories about local teens competing and, in the case of three, becoming winners. The story by Global TV Calgary is one of the best examples of the coverage.

Canadians are still curious about the Franklin find. April began with Captain Dave Woodman attracting numerous radio interviews about our Can Geo Talks 2016: Inuit Oral Tradition and Franklin, our first multi-speaker style event.

Strategic Partnerships

Canada’s 150th anniversary is an ideal time to showcase Canadian geography. The physical and human landscapes that form the contours of our country will be celebrated in myriad ways throughout 2017. The Society will join in the celebration and through its strategic partnerships will participate in a variety of commemorative projects that will prove both innovative and enduring.

Each of these 2017 partnership projects has the potential to help Canadians better know and understand Canada: many feature Canadian Geographic’s expertise in cartography; all have an educational dimension in support of the Society’s mission. Taken together they have the potential to touch countless Canadians as they observe the 150th anniversary in communities and classrooms throughout the country.

Here are some of the Society’s partnership projects for 2017.

• The ambitious initiative, A Nation Soars, comprises a trilogy of documentaries that focuses a geographic lens on Canada and Canadians during the First World War by examining the contribution and role of Canada in terms of technological innovation in aerial photography and cartography. Among the Society’s partners in this initiative are Sound Venture Productions, The Vimy Foundation, Canadian War Museum, EF Educational Tours, Canadian Heritage and Veterans Affairs Canada. Activities include two giant floor maps (Western Europe and Vimy Ridge) and associated educator resources for schools, feature articles in Canadian Geographic, documentaries narrated by Dan Aykroyd and Bernard Voyer to be broadcast on CPAC, and participation in the educational programming that will take place in Vimy, France in April 2017 to mark the centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Air cadet Richard Knopp with the replica biplane he helped to build at the Canadian Museum of Flight. (Photo: Carlo Ricci/Canadian Geographic)

• Canada’s most-visited museum is planning a spectacular new exhibition for 2017. The Canadian Museum of History is reimagining the Canada Hall and the Society is part of the process. The RCGS in collaboration with the Museum’s researchers, curators and designers are creating the cartographic materials that will be displayed in the exhibition. Also in 2017 the Museum’s auditorium will be the venue for the 2017 national championship of the Canadian Geographic Challenge, as part of the partnership between the Museum and the Society.

• The Canadian Museum of Nature has adopted an Arctic theme for its 2017 celebration. In support of this theme, the Museum and the Society will circulate “Arctic Alive: Explore the Natural History of Canada’s Arctic” giant floor maps to Canadian schools throughout the 2017 school months.

• The northern theme also characterizes the Society’s partnership with Polar Knowledge Canada. In 2017, Canadian Geographic will publish a feature article on the opening of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS). This continues the Society’s unwavering coverage of the Arctic that began with the first issue of magazine in May 1930.

• The Society is awaiting confirmation from the Canada 150 Secretariat of support for a proposed Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada to be published in 2017. In the course of developing the proposal the Society developed new partnerships with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Métis National Council and Indspire. Most recently the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has provided an enthusiastic letter of support for the project. If the federal government funds the project, the Society will formalize agreements with these organizations that will see collaboration in areas of research, collections, expertise, networking and promotion.

Hambach Lignite Mine, Germany, December 2015 (Photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto)

• In June the Society concluded a Memorandum of Understanding with the Anthropocene Project. Led by Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier, the Anthropocene Project is a multi-platform initiative that gathers evidence worldwide of a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, in recognition of lasting human changes to the Earth’s system. Scheduled to be launched in 2018, the Anthropocene Project will include a feature documentary film, a museum show, photographic exhibit, book and interactive website.

Travel Partnerships

Explore the remote corners of Labrador like never before (Photo: Mike Beedell/ Adventure Canada)

Adventure Canada’s Greenland and Wild Labrador 2016 Expedition
13 DAYS | JUNE 29 - JULY 11, 2016

Sail the Ocean Endeavour and witness some of the most dramatic, untouched coastlines in the world. The cruise’s course is designed to showcase the incredible geographic diversity of Newfoundland’s rugged northeast coastline with stops at Notre Dame Bay and the ancient Viking settlement site of L’Anse aux Meadows. The ship crosses the Labrador Sea and heads north along the remote, wild coastlines of Labrador. The expedition then crosses the Davis Strait to Greenland to visit its fiords, coastal glaciers and see Arctic wildlife. This tour makes frequent Zodiac stops so that you can get up close and personal with some of the most breathtaking spots. See more at Adventure Canada’s Labrador and Greenland Expedition webpage.

These polar bears are what you can expect to see on this expedition. (Photo: Nathan Small/ One Ocean Expeditions)

One Ocean Expeditions’ Polar Expeditions Series: Arctic 2016
Northwest Passage Wildlife Encounter
8 NIGHTS/9 DAYS | AUGUST 12 - 20, 2016
Join RCGS Ambassador André Préfontaine on this adventure above the Arctic Circle with world renowned experts in history, culture, ornithology, marine biology and polar photography. Zodiac excursions in groups of 8-10 let you see polar bears, seals, muskox, and whales in their natural environment. This expedition includes an enhanced photography program with two professional photographers that will help you document the highlights of this fabulous trip. Visit Canadian Geographic Photo Club for more details about this exciting cruise. Your participation will benefit the RCGS’s work to make Canada better known.

A blue footed booby breeds and rears its young on the Galápagos Islands. (Photo courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions)

Lindblad Expeditions’ Galápagos and Peru's Land of the Inca
15 DAYS | OCTOBER 14 - 29, 2016

Explore the Galápagos volcanic islands and see the rare and usual species unique to this archipelago. Then it’s off for a tour of Peru culminating with a journey to the ancient Incan citadel of Machu Picchu set high in the Andes Mountains. Bring your camera because a photo instructor will be on hand to help you document this incredible adventure. Learn more about this cruise at Lindblad Expeditions Galápagos and Peru webpage.

Adelie penguins are just one of the eight species of penguins you’re likely to see. (Photo: Ira Meyer/ One Ocean Expeditions)

One Ocean Expeditions’ Ultimate Antarctica Weddell Sea and the Falkland Islands 2017
11 NIGHTS / 12 DAYS | FEBRUARY 21 - MARCH 4, 2017

Join the RCGS and explore Antarctica and the Falkland Islands during its summer season. It’s a great opportunity to see the birds and mammals unique to this area of the world, at the height of their breeding season. Learn more about this One Ocean Expeditions’ voyage at “Ultimate Antarctica: Weddell Sea and the Falkland Islands”.

Program Notes

Advancement Committee

The Advancement Committee continues to provide strategic advice on the Society’s overall fundraising strategy, as it helps guide the Society towards a fundraising model with a primary emphasis on major and designated gifts.

Last year, at the Society’s Annual General Meeting, RCGS President Dr. Paul Ruest announced his ambition for all Fellows to become donors to the Society, in a way and a manner they feel comfortable.  In order to help our Society reach this goal, all Fellows are encouraged to participate in the current Fellows campaign by making a gift to the RCGS.  By investing in the Society, either with a one-time gift, or through our monthly giving program, you can help your Society grow in scope and impact, while making Canada better known to Canadians, and to the world.

Alternatively, should you prefer, the RCGS can now accept donations of Aeroplan points, through the Aeroplan Charitable Pooling Program. This program allows Fellows and supporters of the RCGS to donate their Aeroplan points, to help support Society programs and initiatives. If you’d like to give a gift of Aeroplan points, you can do so here.

To learn more about what donation options are available to you, or for more information about how to join our exclusive Compass Rose Club 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 (Ottawa, ON). Members include Fellows Glenn Blackwood (St. John's, NL), Amy Boddington (Toronto, ON), Wendy Cecil (Toronto, ON), Allen Clarke (Toronto, ON), Tony Hendrie (Toronto, ON), Jim Hole (Edmonton, AB), Paul Klein (Toronto, ON), and Bob Page (Calgary, AB).

Awards Committee

2016 Massey Medalist Steve Blasco

The Awards Committee met in January to recommend the 2016 recipient of the Massey Medal. The Committee was pleased to select Dr. Steve Blasco as this year’s recipient. Visit our Massey Medal webpage to learn more about why Dr. Blasco is a deserving recipient for this prestigious medal.

The Awards Committee met again in March to discuss candidates for the Gold Medal, and are pleased to recommend The Geological Survey of Canada for the Gold Medal, in recognition of its accomplishments over the past 175 years.

Fellows are strongly encouraged to assist with soliciting new nominations of deserving candidates for Society Medals. Here are the deadlines for the remaining 2016 Society medals and award nominations.

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 (Ottawa, ON). Members include Fellows Richard Berthelsen (Toronto, ON), Glenn Blackwood (St. John's, NL), Dianne Draper (Calgary, AB), Alison Gill (Burnaby, BC), Phil Howarth (Dundas, ON), Chris McCreery (Halifax, NS), and Wayne Pollard (Montréal, QC).

Canadian Geographic Education

Canadian Geographic Education has wrapped up another year of exciting programming for K-12 students. Membership has officially passed 17,000 educators. Here is a brief recap of the end of the school year!

The Classroom Energy Diet Challenge wrapped up this year with the highest participation to date. In total, participants saved 373 kilograms of trash from entering landfills, 166,009 litres of water and 15,162 kwh of electricity during the three-month competition. More than 2,000 hours were spent using no power in classrooms across the country. To see the great work students did visit

Students get ready for a canoe trip on Jasper’s Lake Edith (Photo: Jessica Finn/Canadian Geographic)

The grade 8 class from Duke of Connaught Public School in Toronto, Ontario went on Canada’s Coolest School Trip from June 6-10th. These urban kids were able to connect with their wild side while rafting, hiking and exploring in Jasper National Park. Read more about their epic adventure in the Fall issue of Canadian Geographic Travel and watch their winning video at

Many other resources and programs continue to be developed for Canadian educators including new giant floor maps, Can Geo in the Classroom activities, tiled maps, and much more!

The Canadian Geographic Education Executive Committee is chaired by Fellow Connie Wyatt Anderson (The Pas, MB). Members include Fellows John Trites (Berwick, NS) representing the Atlantic region, Chantal Dery (Laval, QC) representing Québec, Kim Wallace (Burlington, ON) representing Ontario, Rob Langston (Brandon, MB representing Manitoba, Andrew Kitchen (Saskatoon, SK) representing Saskatchewan, Don McLaughlin (Calgary, AB) representing Alberta, Jozsef Budai (Burnaby, BC) representing British Columbia, Catherine Pak (Cambridge Bay, NU) representing the Territories and Lynn Moorman (Calgary, AB) representing Post-secondary education.

Expeditions Committee

Updates on 2016 Expeditions:

Cas Dobbin explores PLM 27, one of the Bell Island wrecks the expedition team is working on. (Photo: Jill Heinerth)

Expedition of the Year: Bell Island Newfoundland.

The first phase of the expedition was completed in February 2016. Jill Heinerth and her team are currently preparing for the next phase, scheduled for June 2016.

For more information about this expedition:
Expedition website
RCGS Expeditions page

Additional funding was awarded to the following Expeditions:

The sun setting on the Bugaboo Spire and North Howser Tower. (Photo: Lyle Grisedale/Can Geo Photo Club)

Bugaboo Spire Centennial Climb
Bugaboo Spire is currently preparing for their July departure. They have created a trailer for the documentary they will be producing that can be viewed on the Canadian Geographic website.

For more information about this expedition:
RCGS Expeditions page

Route Blanche Expedition Team with Kegaska School students

Route Blanche 2016
Route Blanche has now completed their expedition. After battling extreme weather, unseasonable rain, and a dental emergency, the team successfully reached their destination in March 2016. Along the way, they were able to visit isolated communities and give presentations in schools on the importance of exploration and geography.

For more information about this expedition:
Expedition website
RCGS Expeditions page

Maskwa Nanook
The Maskwa Nanook Expedition will be departing in July 2016 for their 1600 km wilderness canoe journey beginning in the Cree community of Lac La Ronge, SK and finishing in the Inuit community of Arviat, NU on the western Shore of Hudson Bay.

For more information about this expedition:
Expedition website
RCGS Expeditions page

Know the North
Know the North is a four women and four men team departing on a 50-day paddling expedition from northern Saskatchewan to Hudson Bay in July 2016, covering nearly 1400 km across four provinces and territories.

For more information about this expedition:
Expedition website
RCGS Expeditions page

Humahuk Expedition
For well over 30 years, famed Inuit historian Louie Kamookak has been fascinated by the mystery of Sir John Franklin and his ill-fated expedition. In the summer of 2016 Louie will return to King William Island to try and find the artifacts and grave his great-grandmother told him about and maybe discover another clue to what happened to Franklin and his crew, one of Canada’s greatest mysteries.

For more information about this expedition:
Expedition website
RCGS Expeditions page

Women’s Logan Traverse
An experienced two-woman team will attempt to become the first female team to climb Mount Logan in alpine style via the aesthetic technical route: The East Ridge, in July 2016.

For more information about this expedition:
Expedition website
RCGS Expeditions page

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

Research Grants Committee

The RCGS was pleased to award funding to the following individuals in 2016:

Taking permafrost measurements in Labrador

James Bourque Northern Doctoral: Robert Way ($5000)
Field and modelling investigations of permafrost conditions in the Labrador region of northeastern Canada

This doctoral research project is focused on the distribution and characteristics of permafrost in Labrador. It’s important work because more data is sorely needed to understand how climate change is impacting permafrost in Northeastern Canada. This cutting-edge research project will produce maps of regional permafrost distribution for past, present and future climate scenarios by using a combination of field-based and modeling techniques applicable to northern Canada.

James Maxwell Human Geography: Caitlynn Beckett ($5000)
Rethinking Remediation: Mine Closure and Community Engagement in Northern Canada

Researcher Caitlynn Beckett meeting with Natalie Plato, the Manager of the Giant Mine Remediation Project

A substantial body of research has analyzed the social, economic and environmental effects of mines in northern Canada during their operational phases. However, after closure these mines do not simply disappear and can bring about persistent environmental problems. This research project will focus on mine remediation processes in the Canadian sub-Arctic and to investigate how local communities become involved in the remediation processes. Traditionally, remediation plans tend to focus on the physical and economic aspects of containing pollution. This research will contribute to a broader understanding of the social dimensions of toxic contamination and mine remediation, and the development of best practices for community engagement during mine closure.

Graduate Research:

Erin Hanson ($5000)
Coast Salish Natural Resource Management post-Tsilhqot’in: A case study with the Tsleil-Waututh Nation

An oil tanker sits in Burrard Inlet across from Whey-ah-Wichen, an ancestral Tsleil-Waututh village site in North Vancouver, B.C. (Photo: Erin Hanson)

This research project will examine the impacts and implications of Canada’s consultation and accommodation process with First Nations. It will examine how a First Nation such as Tsleil-Waututh responds to resource development in light of the ground-breaking 2014 Supreme Court Tsilhqot’in ruling. As a result of this ruling federal and provincial governments are required to consult with, and in some circumstances acquire consent from, First Nations prior to beginning development projects within their territories. The Tsilhqot’in case marks a significant turning point in Aboriginal-state relations. The project will examine how this decision impacts, on a day-to-day basis, this Coast Salish First Nation’s ability to manage natural resources within their territory.

Emma Davis ($5000)
Vegetation dynamics of alpine treelines in protected areas of the Canadian Cordillera

Alpine treeline study site at Goodsir Pass, Kootenay National Park (Photo: Madison Downe)

Changes in species distributions associated with climate change have already begun and are expected to continue having significant consequences for ecosystem function and composition. Striking examples of species rearrangements are found in many high elevation forests where the position of the alpine treeline has increased in elevation in response to contemporary climate change. This research project will assess the roles that biotic (i.e. competition, seed production and viability, seed predation) and abiotic (i.e. microclimate, soil characteristics) factors have in influencing the responses of treeline environments to climate change in the Canadian Cordillera.

The Research Committee is chaired by Fellow James Boxall (Halifax, NS). Committee members include Christine Duverger-Harrison (Ottawa, ON), Alison Gill (Burnaby, BC), Peter Lafleur (Peterborough, ON), Sarah de Leeuw (Prince George, BC), Pat Maher (Sydney, NS) and Robert Summerby-Murray (Halifax, NS).
Fellows in the news

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

Diana Beresford-Kroeger is an author, botanist, medical biochemist and one of the world’s leading experts on trees.

Diana Beresford-Kroeger is working on a new film 'CALL OF THE FOREST- The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees' with filmmaker Jeff McKay. There will be both a 52 minute and 85 minute version of the film. Here are two trailers to watch:

As a founding member of Science Borealis, Canada's science blog aggregator, Sarah Boon is part of a national science communication initiative starting in July 2016. In conjunction with Québec's Agence Science-Presse, they will be rolling out a project called 100 Voices for Canadian Science Communication (#100ForScience). They are soliciting quotes and associated illustrations about science communication from 100 Canadians with an interest in science, art, communication, and policy. These will be shared via their web and social media platforms to raise awareness about Canadian science communication. Agence Science-Presse is currently hosting their own French-language initiative: the #100LaScience project, focused mainly on science journalism.

Rorke Bryan’s new book Ships to Remember: 1400 Years of Historic Ships was published by The History Press, Stroud, Gloucestereshire, England, in April. The book, which recounts the stories of around thirty memorable vessels, is a joint effort illustrated by new original paintings by Austin Dwyer of the American Society of Marine Artists. Several Canadian vessels feature prominently, including the RCMP St.Roch, HMCS Sackville and Bluenose.

His Honour Brigadier-General J.J. Grant, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, centre left and Her Honour Mrs. Joan Grant, centre right. George Burden is on the right sporting the Clan Lamont tartan in honour of the annual Tartan Day celebration, held on April 6th. To the left is Ms. Stella van der Lugt. The Lieutenant Governor hosted invitees to a presentation of Scottish dance, song and music as well as a reception in the historic Government House of Nova Scotia.

Silver Donald Cameron

Silver Donald Cameron has completed the script for the environmental documentary GreenRights which he is also producing and narrating. He continues to host and produce long-form monthly interviews for his subscription web site.

Chris Cran’s major solo retrospective exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada, 'Chris Cran, Sicerely Yours', opened on May 19 and runs to September 5.

Philip Dearden and Bruce Mitchell’s fifth edition of their widely used textbook,
Environmental Change and Challenge is a fascinating introduction to the field of environmental studies. Both respected geographers, they explore a host of contemporary environmental issues such as drought, flooding, loss of biodiversity, ecosystem toxicity, and crop failure, while also offering a detailed overview of basic scientific concepts. Maintaining the same optimistic tone of previous editions, the text emphasizes that informed global citizens are the key to meeting these challenges and generating positive change. With increased coverage of demography, more international examples, and new material on human health and the environment throughout, this updated edition shows students how environmental concerns impact our daily lives both at home and abroad. In addition, the fourth edition of their book Parks and Protected Areas in Canada is also new in 2016 and has been used in parks and protected area courses in Canada since 1993.

James Delgado is currently working in the United States and serving as the Director of Maritime Heritage for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration in the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. In late March, NOAA and the United States Navy announced that a project co-directed by Dr. Delgado and NOAA's Robert Schwemmer had resolved a nearly century old mystery by discovering the wreck of the US Navy fleet tug USS Conestoga, which vanished after leaving San Francisco Bay in March 1921 with a crew of 56 men. The Navy's 1921 search for Conestoga was the largest ever mounted at sea until the disappearance of Amelia Earhart over the Pacific in 1937. Conestoga was found by the NOAA team in the waters of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, 40 km off the Golden Gate, as part of a comprehensive survey of the sanctuary's shipwrecks. Delgado and Schwemmer have been conducting the survey since 2013, and have made a series of other significant discoveries, including the passenger steamer SS City of Rio de Janeiro, and the steamers Ituna and Selja, as well as a survey of the atomic-bombed aircraft carrier USS Independence, which lies in 900 meters of water where it was scuttled in 1951 after participating in nuclear weapons tests.

Chantal Dery and Lynn Moorman presented their study of Canadian K-12 geography educators at the American Association of Geographers in April. Key findings included the need for significant support in the areas of geographic technology and fieldwork, a diverse understanding of what it means to be a geography teacher, and polarized views as to the role of geography in the curricula. This work will be presented at the Canadian Association of Geographers meeting in Halifax in June, and at the International Geographical Union's Commission on Education meeting in Singapore in August.

2015 Run for Nature in Toronto raised $7000 for WWF Canada.

Michael de Pencier is supporting an event involving a bunch of young kids running to save endangered animals. The Kid's Run for Nature is the idea of two 10 year olds (one of the co-founders is Michael’s granddaughter) who wanted kids to be active in saving endangered Canadian animals. A highly successful Run for Nature was held in Toronto's Danforth Withrow Park last year, which raised $7000 for WWF Canada. National sponsors (BMO, Printing House, Toyota, Jackman Foundation) cover the costs so the kid's money goes to the animals. Runs for Nature were held this June in Calgary, Richmond Hill, Port Hope and Toronto (three locations including U of T's Varsity Stadium) with over 1000 kids participating.

Left photo: Michael Palin and Rita Gardner. Right photo: Alexandra Shackleton

RCGS CEO John Geiger attended the Centenary Service of Thanksgiving for the Courage and Endurance of Sir Ernest Shackleton CVO and his Men, held at Westminister Abbey on May 20. Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, patron of the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust, accompanied by Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, were among the dignitaries. The Lord Mayors of London and of Westminster also attended, as did Dr. Rita Gardner, managing director of the Royal Geographical Society, and Michael Palin, past president of the RGS and a RCGS Gold Medal recipient. The Honourable Alexandra Shackleton, an RCGS Fellow and Sir Ernest's granddaughter, read from Shackleton's Boat Journey by Frank Worsley, a member of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. A reception followed. For more information click here.

Last Call at Achray by Kathy Haycock

Fine artist Kathy Haycock of Eganville ON was busy travelling the American Southwest and the Yukon and Alaska in 2015 as well as doing lots of painting in the Algonquin and Laurentian regions. As a result, she has major shows of onsite sketches and studio canvases in Ottawa at the Cube Gallery (April 26 - May 29), at the Algonquin Park Visitors’ Centre (July 30 - August 31) and in Bancroft, ON (Sept. 7 - Oct. 1).

George Jacob, President & CEO, Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum gives a tour of the galleries to the Premier of Alberta, The Honorable Rachel Notley. Photo: Rob Ganzeveld

George Jacob, President & CEO of the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, received the Outstanding Achievement in Science Exhibits category (over $1 million) at a ceremony hosted by the Canadian Museums Association at Pier 21: National Immigration Museum on April 13, 2016. The Jury was unanimous in selecting the museum from across Canada for its cutting edge exhibits and pioneering initiatives in science education. The museum opened to the public in September 2015 offering Canada’s first helicopter rides by any museum over the world’s Dinosaur bone-bed sites at Pipestone Creek located minutes from the museum west of Grande Prairie off Alaska Hwy #43. The museum has seen a record attendance of over 79,000 and won 6 awards for striking architecture, innovative use of lumber, structural engineering, design, civic reach and exhibits, in the last 6 months with Air Canada Magazine citing it as the No.2 destination among 14 new museums around the world.

In February 2016, Marina Jimenez, a writer with the Toronto Star, and photographer Melissa Renwick, also of the Toronto Star, travelled to the remote chars of Bangladesh to document a surgical mission headed by Dr. Toni Zhong, director of University Health Network’s breast reconstruction program in Toronto. Dr. Zhong, and a team of other surgeons, travelled with the charity Women for Women to repair devastating burn injuries suffered by women living in the chars, river islands where Bangladesh's most neglected people live. For more, see

Lorie Karnath is spending considerable time in remote parts of Myanmar where she is collecting oral histories that have been passed down for centuries among the numerous tribal peoples that make up the countries 135 ethnic groups. This work is part of an upcoming book. The expedition is carrying The Explorers Museum pennant (see below).

Lorie Karnath, with tribal woman and TEM pennant Kayah State.

Capt. Norm Baker, celestial navigator Thor Heyerdahl, Ra, RII and Tigris expeditions. Winner of the 2016 Explorers Museum’s Explorer Achievement Award.

The Explorers Museum is gearing up for their summit weekend which will take place at the end of June at Charleville Castle, TEM Global Expedition Base in Tullamore, Ireland. The summit will include a film festival focusing on "Redefining Exploration" as well as a symposium on "The Essence of Water" highlighting the importance of water relative to discovery, as habitat and for survival. A gala dinner honoring Captain Norm Baker took place on Saturday, June 25th. Capt. Baker will be receiving, The Explorers Museum's Explorer Achievement Award for his tremendous contribution in the realm of exploration, discovery, and preservation.

Claire Kennedy with her soldier tent-mate Anouk Beauvais on their expedition to Vinson Massif in Antarctica.

Claire Kennedy returned in January 2016 from Antarctica on an expedition to Vinson Massif — the highest peak in Antarctica at 16,050 feet and one of the world’s Seven Summits. Claire was part of True Patriot Love (TPL) Foundation's signature expedition in 2016, where eight ill and injured soldiers and 17 Canadian business leaders took part. The journey exceeded its fundraising goal of $1 million for TPL. Claire personally raised over $109,000, more than twice her original goal. Claire is a polar enthusiast, having travelled to Greenland and Svalbard in previous years.

Melanie Knight and Ruby Banwait created the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium near St. John’s, Newfoundland. It is Canada's second catch-and-release aquarium. The catch-and-release aquarium model, based on the Ucluelet Aquarium, reduces impacts on natural environments while still providing an intimate experience with local marine life. Since starting the aquarium in Newfoundland, the Ucluelet Aquarium and the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium have started helping other coastal communities across Canada mirror this model — including Halifax, Charlottetown, Gibsons, Port Alberni, with the potential for others around the world.

John Lutz, a member of THEN/HiER, the History Education Network, received a 2016 Provost’s Engaged Scholar Award from the University of Victoria where he is Associate Professor of History. The award is in recognition of integrating research, service and community engagement.

Akaash Maharaj addresses Argentina’s Congress and Interior Ministry.

Akaash Maharaj was invited to address members of Argentina’s Congress and Interior Ministry in February 2016, about creating a new Freedom of Information law for the country. Argentinians had just elected a new President, representing a different political party from the majority in Congress, and there were concerns that the country might face a legislative deadlock over the issue; they have since moved forward with the new law. Akaash spoke as head of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC).

Christopher McCreery reports that the 2nd edition of his book The Canadian Honours System was released by Dundurn Press of Toronto. The book includes a section on all the Polar and Arctic Medals.

David Mitchell is now dividing his time between Ottawa and Calgary, where he has accepted the position of Chief External Relations Officer at Bow Valley College.

Lynn Moorman has been awarded the Petro Canada Young Innovator award by Suncor and Mount Royal University (MRU) for her work in Digital Earth. The award will support further work leveraging geographic data and the PYXIS WorldView platform to identify and address spatial analysis and visualization needs of the Science and Technology faculty at Mount Royal University. Experiencing the Cube, one of the largest visualization walls in the world, at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, is planned to understand best practices and to help build teaching resources for MRU's new visualization walls.

Brandon Pardy of Labrador reports that Caitlyn Baikie was in the news talking about Students on Ice expedition in the arctic for this coming season: From Iqaluit on CBC northbeat (14:00 minute mark)
CBC north talking about SOI grants available
And in the Labradorian newspaper.

Darren Platakis reports that Geospatial Niagara continues to make strides in promoting geo-literacy. Their Niagara Minecraft Project is moving forward, engaging with local educators at the District School Board of Niagara to develop program plans with the aim of having the Niagara Minecraft Maps available on a pilot basis to some schools in Niagara for September 2016.

In other project news, the TreeOcode Niagara project has continued to grow and has recently surpassed the $25,000 mark in Eco-benefits. This project is a crowd-sourcing approach to building and sustaining a community-managed, comprehensive urban tree inventory across Niagara. Geospatial Niagara's "Day of Geography" is happening on Monday, November 14, 2016 to kick off Geography Awareness Week. We encourage the participation of other Fellow's in blogging about their work day/careers for the benefit of students across Canada and around the world. For more information, visit the site or email

Milbry Polk was elected to the Board of Directors of The Explorers Club.

Churchill Wild’s Josh Robson taking a nap on Hudson Bay during the CAT Train to Seal River.

Mike and Jeanne Reimer and the team at Churchill Wild just completed their annual Cat Train to Seal River. This year they moved over 160,000 pounds of dimensional lumber and giant timbers for the new timber frame lounge at Seal River Heritage Lodge, along with windows, insulation and everything else needed to stand a lasting building in the middle of nowhere. Temperatures dropped to -50 degrees Celsius at times and the weather was extremely hard on man and equipment, especially the equipment. But the men stood hard and a large portion of the hauling was completed with snow machines hauling up to 1,500 pounds per load. While hauling the lumber over a 12-day period was quite a chore, the crew also managed to cut enough firewood for both Dymond Lake Ecolodge and Seal River Heritage Lodge in preparation for the upcoming polar bear watching season.

France Rivet with film director Guilhem Rondot and film producer Roch Brunette.

France Rivet and Johannes Lampe, Nain’s chief elder and newly elected president of Nunatsiavut, were interviewed by Anna Maria Tremonti host of CBC Radio’s The Current. The interview aired the morning of February 11, the day of the broadcasting of the documentary Trapped in a Human Zoo on CBC’s The Nature of Things with David Suzuki. The world premiere of the French version of the documentary was presented in Gatineau during the Salon du livre de l’Outaouais. It was later broadcast nationwide on TV5. The documentary was also screened at the Arctic Circle and at the Alliance Française in Ottawa. France has been invited to take part in a two-day workshop to be held in June at the University of Tromso, Norway. The workshop will focus on the life of Norwegian Johan Adrian Jacobsen as a recruiter for 19th-century ethnographic shows, and as a collector of ethnographic objects.

Using GIS to develop mapping questions for the 2018 International GeoOlympiad.

Janet Ruest, Lynn Moorman and Paul VanZant are hard at work creating a question database for a national geography competition that would enable the RCGS to send a national team to the International GeoOlympiad (iGeo) in 2018, when Canada plays host. The iGeo will be held in conjunction with the International Geographical Union in 2018 in Quebec, and will be one of the largest gatherings of academic geographers ever in Canada.

Neil Sterritt

Neil Sterritt has a new book out: Mapping My Way Home: A Gitxsan History which was launched on April 14 in Hazelton, BC. In the 1970s, Neil returned home to Hazelton when he was hired as lands claim director for the Gitksan-Carrier Tribal Council. He became one of the principal architects of the Delgamuukw vs BC land claims court case. He researched and coordinated the mapping of the Gitxsan territory. His book is available through Chapters online and through any bookstore.

Mapping My Way Home: A Gitxsan History by Neil Sterritt

Guy Swinnerton reports that on March 19th the International Co-ordinating Council of UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Program announced that the Beaver Hills had been designated as a Biosphere Reserves under the MAB Programme. There are now 18 Biosphere Reserves in Canada and the Beaver Hills becomes a member of the global network that involves 669 Biosphere Reserves in 120 countries. Guy Swinnerton served as the Chair of the Beaver Hills Initiative's Protected Areas Working Group that was assigned the lead responsibility for developing the nomination. It was a distinct honour for the Beaver Hills Initiative to receive this accolade and recognition for the work that the BHI has done in promoting conservation and fostering sustainable development in the Beaver Hills that lies immediately east of Edmonton in Alberta. The relevant website is

Mark Terry, a PhD candidate at York University in Toronto, was invited to present a paper on Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping at the upcoming Climate Change: Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics conference hosted by the University of Brighton (UK), April 28-29, 2016. Conference website: He discussed his ongoing work with the United Nations and presented his GIS map project he created for the COP21 climate summit in Paris. His work represents the latest in GIS technology, created in partnership with Google and the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Professor Ming-Ko Woo of McMaster University received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Waterloo in June 2016.

Artist/filmmaker/explorer Cory Trépanier has recently been awarded the Explorers Club Canadian Chapter’s 2015 Stefannson Medal, for his outstanding contributions to exploration and public education by documenting the Canadian wilderness through art and film. Last summer, Trépanier embarked on a 9-week painting and filming expedition, traversing over 24,000kms of Canada’s Arctic to complete the last chapter of his Into The Arctic project. For more, read the Caledon Enterprise Newspaper article about his award on the Into The Arctic media page.

Cory Trépanier painting the end of the Thomsen River where it flows into Castel Bay, then eventually into the Beaufort Sea. Aulavik National Park, Banks Island, in Canada's Arctic.

Hockey great Lanny MacDonald travelled with Project North.

As part of her Project North initiative, Michele Valberg reports that the Stanley Cup went on a tour from Yellowknife - Kugluktuk - Resolute - Arctic Bay - Pond Inlet - Iqlauit - Igloolik - Cambridge Bay back to Yellowknife from April 27 to May 1. Lanny MacDonald and Mark Napier were part of the group as alumni on the team of 32 people. Project North delivered $25,000 of brand new hockey gear to both Kugluktuk and Igloolik.

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

Canadian Geographic Notes

JUNE 2016

An exclusive special issue dedicated to climate change. The June 2016 issue of Canadian Geographic explores how hydro power may also be a key part of powering our fossil-fuel-free future; how government, scientists and northerners are collaborating on the new Canadian High Arctic Research Station to further our knowledge of climate change in the North; how young Canadians are committed to creating innovation and lasting change to address global climate issues; and how scientists are redefining part of the current geological period based on human influence and what that means for the future of our planet. Plus much more.


The July/August2016 issue of Canadian Geographic celebrates the announcement of Jill Heinerth as The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s first Explorer-in-Residence with a cover feature profile of the renowned diver, part of a package recognizing the nation’s greatest women explorers. Other features include conservation lessons we can learn from the death of an orca, Montreal as seen by bike couriers, and a look at the city of Gander, Newfoundland, and its relationship with its well-known international airport, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year. Plus much more.


Canadian Geographic Travel once again casts its eye beyond our borders to explore the destinations most favoured by Canadians. The issue’s feature stories explore the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, the unheralded vineyards of Arizona, and beach living in Antigua. Plus, items on other hot spots, including Miami, California, Hawaii, Bahamas and more.


April saw Canadian Geographic set a new record for website visits direct from social media with more than 60,000. A story on microplastics in water from March continues to be the most-shared item, while a humorous April Fool’s Day post about a new province named “Mantario” was the most-clicked story published in April. See charts below for our latest top-line social media numbers.

Note to Fellows: If you are involved in any projects that the Society can share on social media, please contact Alexandra Pope, Canadian Geographic’s Social Media Editor.

Meanwhile follow us on:

Canadian Geographic Twitter
RCGS Twitter
Canadian Geographic Facebook
RCGS Facebook

Society Calendar

July to December 2016 (Eastern time zone)

July 2016
no meetings scheduled
August 2016
no meetings scheduled
September 2016
no meetings scheduled
October 2016
11 10 am Audit Committee Meeting (Fiscal 16 Draft Audited Consolidated Statements)
18 10 am CGE Management Board (Q1 Results and Forecast)
25 10 am Finance Committee (Fiscal 16 Draft Audited Consolidated Statements & Q1 Results and Forecast)
25 noon Executive Committee
27 2 pm RCGS Board (Approval of Audited Consolidated Statements)
November 2016
16 9 am RCGS Board Meeting
16 10:30 am Fellows Reception
16 11-2 pm RCGS AGM
16 5 pm Medal Ceremony
16 6 pm Fellows Reception
16 7 pm Fellows Dinner
17 9 am RCGS Board Meeting
December 2016
no meetings scheduled
Louise Maffett
Editor of the Fellows Journal

Deb Chapman
Communications Manager

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