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Fellows Journal

July/August 2018

A celebration of the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada

Ry Moran, director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, addresses the crowd at the June 21 celebration of the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada. (Photo: Ben Powless/Can Geo)
Educator Charlene Bearhead, left, points out features of the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada Giant Floor Map to former Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly and RCGS CEO John Geiger. (Photo: Ben Powless/Can Geo)

Thanks to the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada, Inuit, Métis and First Nations people have a new opportunity to see themselves on the map of Canada, and Canadians have the chance to learn how Indigenous Peoples gave shape and meaning to this land for thousands of years before European contact.

More than 200 people gathered at 50 Sussex in Ottawa on National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21) to celebrate the completion of this groundbreaking educational resource, produced by the RCGS with the support of Heritage Canada and in partnership with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Indspire. “We’ve come a long way,” said Commissioner of Nunavut and now RCGS Vice-Patron Nelly Kusugak. “We have so many opportunities as Indigenous Peoples today that I did not have.”

That optimism was echoed by the other project partners, including Natan Obed, president of ITK, and Oliver Boulette on behalf of the Métis National Council, who spoke surrounded by a panoramic view of the Ottawa River on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin people.

John Geiger, CEO of the RCGS, thanked the project’s contributors, saying that their efforts created a resource that is an example to the world. “This atlas will help ensure that Indigenous voices in every part of this country and throughout the world are heard and understood,” he said.

Ry Moran, director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, concluded the evening by encouraging those gathered to think about how they will continue to support Indigenous Peoples and reinvest in cultural preservation: “Let’s celebrate the Canada we’re going to build. We haven’t gotten there yet, but we are trying, and we are going to make this country better.”

Read more about the event here. Order the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada four-volume set here.

Nellie Kusugak becomes Vice-Patron of the RCGS

Nellie Kusugak at the 2018 RCGS launch of The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada (Photo: Ben Powless/Can Geo)

Commissioner of Nunavut Nellie Taptaqut Kusugak has taken on the role of Vice-Patron of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, joining explorer and philanthropist Sir Christopher Ondaatje as one of two to currently hold the historic honorary title.

Prior to her work as territorial commissioner, Kusugak, who is from Rankin Inlet, was a public school and college educator, training new teachers through the Nunavut Teachers Education Program, and has long been dedicated to preserving and strengthening her Inuit culture, tradition and language.

The Trans Canada Trail and the RCGS join forces on the Great Trail Treasure Hunt

RCGS Explorer-in-Residence George Kourounis shows off one of the treasure boxes — which he helped hide in the Toronto area — in the Great Trail Treasure Hunt. (Photo: Trans Canada Trail)

One-hundred treasure boxes are being hidden along The Great Trail between August 26 and October 31 to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the trail’s full connection across Canada.
During the Great Trail Treasure Hunt — a partnership between the Trans Canada Trail and the RCGS — clues to the whereabouts of these caches are being released on the treasure hunt website to help seekers along. The first person to find each box will receive a $100 gift card from Mountain Equipment Co-op and a one-year subscription to Canadian Geographic. There are also weekly draw prizes — including $250 MEC gift cards, Nikon cameras, SPOT GPS devices, KEEN gift cards — for anyone finding a box during the search, as well as a grand prize draw for a One Ocean Expeditions trip for two to Labrador and the Torngat Mountains, which will be announced at the RCGS’s College of Fellow Annual Dinner on November 1 in Ottawa.

“Helping Canadians learn more about Canada and its geography is the mandate of the RCGS,” notes RCGS CEO John Geiger. “The Great Trail Treasure Hunt enticed Canadians to explore the trail, both land and water, across Canada, as a fun, healthy way to learn more about our country.”

Young Canadian geographers win five medals at International Geography Olympiad

Team Canada made a strong showing in their first-ever International Geography Olympiad, picking up four individual medals and a silver medal in the group poster competition. The team, left to right: Janet Ruest (team leader), Ben Woodward, Zhongtian Wang, Malhaar Moharir, Jack Cheng, Mike Farley (team leader). (Photo: Sara Black/Can Geo)

Four Canadian high school students proved they’re among the best and brightest young geographers in the world this past weekend, claiming five medals at the 15th International Geography Olympiad in Quebec City. More than 160 students from 43 countries competed in this year’s Olympiad, held at the Université Laval. The event marked both the first time Canada has hosted the competition and the first time Canadian students competed. Canada was also one of just a few teams to have each of its members take home a medal.

Calgary’s Jack Cheng claimed a silver medal, while Malhaar Moharir of Toronto and Ben Woodward and Zhongtian Wang, both of London, Ont., were awarded bronze. The team also won silver in the poster competition for their project on the geographical significance of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.

Students were marked individually on a variety of tests and ranked accordingly; about half of all competitors qualified for a medal. Canada finished 13th overall, with Romania, Singapore and the United States claiming the top three spots.

Building on the success of this Olympiad and its own long-running Canadian Geographic Challenge, Canadian Geographic Education hopes to prepare a team for next year’s competition, to be held in Hong Kong.

The RCGS looks back at the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918

Teachers tend to children sick with Spanish Flu at Collège La Salle in Thetford Mines, Que. (Photo: Centre d'archives de la région de Thetford — Fonds galerie de nos ancêtres de l'or blanc [donateur: Juliette Dallaire])

In the winter of 1917/18, people around the world began to fall ill with a deadly infection the likes of which had not been seen since the Black Death of the 14th century. It spread like wildfire through overcrowded military camps and hospitals; returning troops and civilian travellers carried it to the far corners of the Earth — even the Arctic. Unlike other influenza strains, which predominantly kill the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, most of the victims of the so-called “Spanish Flu” were previously healthy young adults. 

By the end of 1919, the virus had claimed at least 50 million lives — more than the First World War. Entire communities were wiped out, and the deaths compounded the grief of a world already reeling from four years of armed conflict. Until recently, the true toll of the Spanish Flu and its legacy have been overshadowed by the war. That’s why, on the 100th anniversary of the peak of the pandemic, the RCGS is looking back at the flu that changed the world and asking why it was so devastating — and whether such an event could happen again. 

Launching this fall, Unmasking Influenza is a multimedia educational project funded in part by the Government of Canada and produced by the RCGS in partnership with Sound Venture Productions, the Cable Public Affairs Channel (CPAC), the Museum of Health Care, Ingenium and Sanofi Pasteur. The project will include a feature-length documentary and shorter explainer videos, a giant floor map, an educational website, a feature article in the September/October issue of Canadian Geographic and a public exhibit to be launched at the 2018 Canadian Immunization Conference in Ottawa. Through these resources, Unmasking Influenza will examine the social and political impact of Spanish Flu on Canada, and shed light on how experts are preparing for the next pandemic. 

Watch the teaser trailer for Unmasking Influenza.

Meet the newest RCGS Explorer-in-Residence: MylÈne Paquette

Photo: Patrick Mével

When Mylène Paquette decided to confront her fear of water, she didn’t just take a swimming lesson — she set out on a 5,000-kilometre solo trek across the North Atlantic Ocean in a rowboat. The Montrealer completed the journey from Halifax to Lorient, France, in 129 days in 2013, becoming the first North American to make the crossing. Paquette continues to push boundaries in the water, participating in ice canoe races and working with organizations to protect the St. Lawrence River. She was named an Explorer-in-Residence of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society at the end of May.

On setting her cross-Atlantic record
The weather made it so difficult. My land team and I discussed giving up every week. For the first 50 days, I was mostly trapped on my bed, helmet and harness on, waiting for better conditions to row. After 50 days, I had only made it to just south of Newfoundland.
The easiest part was the rowing. The hard part was not giving up. When mid-September arrived, I was still right in the middle of the ocean during hurricane season. One of the biggest lessons I learned on my journey is that even in a big storm, keeping a positive attitude will make your life much easier.

On becoming an Explorer- in-Residence
Last year, I was honoured to meet Jill Heinerth, the RCGS’s first Explorer-in-Residence, so when I was asked to be part of the program I was really excited. I have plans to explore more of Canada, including an expedition through the Northwest Passage (although I can’t discuss details yet), and I’m excited about the new public platform this gives me: I train for ice canoe races on the St. Lawrence River year-round, and it’s important for me to spread the word about protecting it.

On ice canoeing’s history and challenges
Ice canoeing is hundreds of years old. Samuel de Champlain wrote about how Indigenous people crossed the frozen St. Lawrence River by canoe. The first ice canoe race was in 1896 from Quebec City to Lévis, a competition that became an annual event in 1965. There are now six other races across Quebec. My team is named Vive Montréal 375.
Racing is very difficult. You have to jump out of the canoe onto big pieces of ice, run alongside the canoe as you push it, then jump back in and row in the open water. It’s much more dangerous than rowing across the Atlantic.

On protecting the St. Lawrence
The St. Lawrence River is an environmentally critical waterway treasured around the world. It’s home to 27,000 species, and nearly half of Quebec’s population gets its drinking water from the watershed. There are plans to expand the Port of Quebec City but many are worried that we don’t have a strategy to protect the river if something such as an oil spill happens. We must make people aware of the health of this river.  

Call for education award nominations

The Society has two education-related awards that it gives out annually: the Geographic Literacy Award, which is presented in recognition of a specific program or project that has greatly enhanced geographic literacy among young Canadians, and the Innovation in Geography Teaching Award, given to a Canadian educator working in the K-12 field who has made exemplary contributions to geographic engagement in the classroom. Nominations for both awards are due by midnight (Eastern Time) September 30.

A search for RCGS artifacts

Photo: RCGS

The RCGS is asking its Fellows for donations of artifacts to be showcased in the new Sir Christopher Ondaatje Reading Room at 50 Sussex Drive. This effort to enrich the Society’s collections, to be permanently housed in Canada’s Centre for Geography and Exploration, depends on your help locating a few very special artifacts related to the RCGS Fellowship, exploration or Indigenous history. Please note that the room is not large, with space for only a small, select number of portraits, rare books and artifacts. For more information about this effort to celebrate notable past Fellows and others and to help consolidate the Society’s collections, please email Sandra Smith:


Dean Hadley (1920-2018)

Dean Hadley (centre) was the youngest crew member aboard the RCMPV St. Roch when the schooner sailed through the Northwest Passage in the early 1940s. (Photo: VMM, Leonard McCann Archives, Parks Canada St. Roch Photograph Collection.)

Remembering the youngest member of the crew that first navigated the Northwest Passage west to east

Eugene (Dean) Hadley of Weyburn, Sask., was 20 years old when he applied to be a radio operator with the RCMP in 1940. Hadley had always been mechanically-minded and he enjoyed tinkering with radios; it would be a perfect fit.

For the next two years, he swapped Prairie skies for ice floes and served as the radio operator and clerk aboard the legendary RCMP Arctic vessel St. Roch. Hadley was the youngest man in the St. Roch’s eight-man crew, who made history as the first expedition to navigate the Northwest Passage from west to east under the guidance of Captain Henry Larsen, nearly 40 years after Norwegian Roald Amundsen first made the journey in the opposite direction. 

During the two years that he spent aboard St. Roch, between 1940 and 1942, Hadley did all the paperwork that came through the mobile police station and controlled the northern airwaves. He would pass winter hours of boredom while the ship drifted in Arctic pack ice by watching the crew’s engineers repair the schooner’s diesel engine.

Hadley’s mechanical mindset would influence his life after Arctic exploration as well. Upon his return to southern Canada, he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force until the end of the Second World War before going on to study engineering at the University of Toronto. After graduation, Hadley rejoined the RCMP for another spell in communications before moving into aerospace engineering.

He worked for NASA through the 1960s, contributing his engineering expertise to the legendary 1969 Apollo 11 lunar mission that put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. He also assisted in the development of deep-space monitoring facilities in California and Australia.

Hadley was recognized by King George VI in 1943 with the Polar Medal for his role in the historic St. Roch expedition, and was inducted into the Northwest Passage Hall of Fame at the Vancouver Maritime Museum in 2017.


Morley Keith Thomas (1918-2018)

After the untimely death of her husband Morley A. Thomas in 1918, Alice Thomas took baby Morley Keith Thomas from Westminster Township, Ont., to Talbotville to live with her parents and siblings. Morley grew up on the Auckland family farm, attending local schools and eventually earning scholarships that took him to the University of Western Ontario, from which he graduated in 1941 with an Honours BA in mathematics and physics. He was a starting member of the Western Mustangs football team, Yates Cup winners in 1939. At Western he met Clara McCandless, and the two were married in 1942 in Winnipeg while he was serving as a civilian meteorological officer with the RCAF, forecasting the weather and teaching meteorology to student pilots in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

After the war, Morley chose to remain in meteorology and, with a 1949 MA in physics (meteorology) from the University of Toronto, worked in the climatology sector of the national meteorological service, where he took on an increasing number of administrative responsibilities over the years. When he retired in 1983, he was the director general of the Canadian Climate Centre in Environment Canada’s Atmospheric Environment Service.

For more than 20 years he also taught climatology to new meteorologists. He published scores of papers, bibliographies, an atlas dealing with climate and climatology, and co-authored a textbook — Climate Canada. In the 1950s, he had the opportunity to become active in international climatology and subsequently was a Canadian representative at such meetings for several decades. He served as president of both the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (1968-1970) and the Commission for Climatology in the World Meteorological Organization (1978-1982). In 1980, he was awarded the Patterson Medal for “distinguished service to meteorology,” and in 1985, the RCGS’s Massey Medal for “significant contributions to the knowledge and advancement of Canadian climatology.”

In retirement he enjoyed the facilities at Environment Canada’s Downsview Library in return for voluntarily researching the history of Canadian meteorology, a topic about which he published four books.


Alice E Wilson (1881–1964)

Alice E. Wilson, by artist Chris Cran. (Painting: Chris Cran/RCGS)

When Alice E. Wilson* was working as a museum assistant for the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) in the 1910s and early ’20s, only men were given cars to help them carry out fieldwork. She was told that women did not belong in the field or behind the wheel, and was offered a bicycle. So she bought herself a Ford Model T and surveyed the lowlands of the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers alone — an area of 26,000 square kilometres — by foot, bicycle and car. Wilson’s road to becoming not only the foremost expert on the geology and paleontology of this huge region, but also Canada’s first female geologist, was a long one.

Wilson gained a reputation as an intrepid adventurer (she once travelled solo down the Mackenzie River) and an outstanding scientist even as she struggled to make her way in a profession that did not welcome ambitious women. It took 10 years of applications for leave to obtain her PhD before her request was approved, but by 1929, at the age of 49, she had earned her doctorate at the University of Chicago — in less than half the usual time. It was another decade before the GSC promoted her to associate geologist, and only after she was made a full geologist in 1944 would her counterparts refer to her as “Dr. Wilson.” She reached mandatory retirement age less than two years later, but maintained her office at the GSC.

In the meantime, others had been recognizing her groundbreaking work on the Ottawa and St. Lawrence valleys, which continued throughout her life. Wilson was one of the first two women elected as Fellows of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (in 1930), was invested in the Order of the British Empire (in 1935), and was the first woman elected to the fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada (in 1938). After retiring, she continued publishing academic works as well as a notable children’s book titled The Earth Beneath Our Feet, worked as a geological consultant, lectured at Carleton University and mentored a generation of young geologists.

*Alice E Wilson was one of 10 explorers celebrated by RCGS Fellow and renowned contemporary artist Chris Cran in his exhibit Explore, on display at 50 Sussex until September 15. For more about Cran, his art and the lives of these RCGS greats, read the exhibit brochure.

Fellows in the news

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

AMBROSE, Shelley

Image: The Walrus

The Walrus Talks is a national series of events about Canada and its place in the world. Each event features a group of seven scholars, writers, performers, scientists, artists and business leaders who have seven minutes each to tackle an aspect of our chosen topic. The speakers reflect a range of experiences and viewpoints, but have one thing in common: the desire for real conversation about issues that affect the future of Canada.

Upcoming Walrus Talks events include “Success” (“Exploring how success is defined, how individual and collective growth can strengthen communities,” in Toronto, Sept. 20), “Cannabis” (“The new realities of cannabis in a post-legalization Canada — business, health, society, trends and more,” in Ottawa, Oct. 16) and “Disruption” (“The rapidly changing landscapes of technology, learning, research, identity, and more,” in Calgary, Oct. 22).

For tickets and information about all upcoming Walrus Talks, please visit Fellows of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society can use the promotional code “RCGS” to get 50 per cent off the general admission ticket price.

BIRD, David

Photo: Tyler Massicotte/Can Geo Photo Club

“Team Canada jay,” led by David Bird, received some very exciting news recently. The North American Classification Committee has accepted the proposal authored by Dan Strickland, Carla Cicero, Ryan Norris, Theresa Burg, David Bird, Michel Gosselin and Ken Otter submitted on Dec. 29, 2017, to restore “Canada jay” as the official English name of Perisoreus canadensis. The vote was almost unanimous — nine of 10 members in favour.

The formal announcement was published in the 59th supplement to the Check-list of North American Birds in the July issue of The Auk, and the news spread like wildfire in the Canadian ornithological and birding community. This is a major development, because it will help our cause to establish the Canada jay as the National Bird of Canada. This is the Year of the Bird, and perhaps the federal government will look upon this development favourably to make the announcement we all want to hear — hopefully on the occasion of the International Ornithological Congress being held in Vancouver this August. Team Canada Jay owes a tremendous amount of gratitude to Dan Strickland, the brainchild of the proposal who doggedly pursued this quest to get the bird’s old name back.

BONDAR, Roberta, Alan Latourelle, Tim MacDonald, and Beverley McLachlin

The insignia of the Order of Canada, Member (on left) and Companion. (Photo: Office of the Secretary to the Governor General)

Four RCGS Fellows were appointed to or raised within the Order of Canada by Rideau Hall on June 29. Of these, Alan Latourelle, of Ottawa, and Tim MacDonald, of Stratford, Ont., were inducted as Members, while RCGS Honorary Vice-President Roberta Bondar and the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin were named Companions, the highest honour within the Order.


Photo: Jett Britnell

Jett Britnell was invited in early May to author an adventure travel column for Luxe Beat Magazine. His first article was “Third Age Expeditions: An Explorer’s Life Laid Bare,” and his second piece, “A Fish Called Emma: Bahamas Tiger Shark Diving,” was just published. Read these and more in his column, Third Age Expeditions.

BURDEN, George

Photo: George Burden

George Burden of Seabegs was recently selected by Chief Peter Noel Lamont to represent Clan Lamont on the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs in Edinburgh. The council, which comprises the chiefs or appointed representatives of the Scottish Highland Clans, is the authoritative body for the Scottish clan system. Burden had previously served as the Clan Lamont’s Canadian lieutenant, and continues to hold this position.


Photo: Dundurn Press

In late May, Full Curl by B.C.-based Fellow Dave Butler won the 2018 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel last night at the Arthur Ellis Awards Gala in Toronto. This annual award by Crime Writers of Canada recognizes the best in mystery, crime, and suspense writing in fiction and non-fiction by Canadian writers.

Published in September 2017, Full Curl is the first book in the Jenny Willson Mystery Series that features park warden Jenny Willson, who is known for saying what others can’t or won’t. Full Curl is also currently nominated for the 2018 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize in the mystery category. No Place for Wolverines, Butler’s next novel in the Jenny Willson mystery series, will be published by Dundurn Press in October 2018.

BYNG, David

Youth in the Ocean Bridge project remove plastic debris from the intertidal zone of a beach on Haida Gwaii. (Photo: Dave Byng/Ocean Bridge)

In May, David Byng travelled to Haida Gwaii with 40 youth from across Canada as part of Ocean Wise’s team supporting the Ocean Bridge conservation project, which he photographed and documented. Byng, who retired as British Columbia’s deputy minister of education last summer, and who lived on Haida Gwaii for five years, says it was a special pleasure to return with Canadian youth, who were able to see the archipelago’s magic with fresh eyes while delivering their own marine conservation and ocean literacy projects to the islands.

Later in the summer, he led another scientific expedition to Fiji that focused on supporting Indigenous Fijian families and the Fijian government as they consider the creation of a national park. This space would protect some of the world’s most diverse and unique ecosystems and encourage local economic activity in a place struggling with the impacts of climate change (as are many South Pacific islands). While in Fiji, Byng documented the expedition for Operation Wallacea, as well as the impacts of climate change in Fiji for the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.

DODDS, Klaus

Photo: Reaktion Books

Ice has played a prominent role in the history of the earth and its living communities for millennia. We have had fun with and on ice, battled over ice, imagined ice, struggled with ice and made money out of ice. It has transformed our relationship with food, and our engagement with ice has been captured in art, literature, popular film and television, as well as made manifest in sport and leisure. Our lakes, mountains and coastlines have been indelibly shaped by the advance and retreat of ice and snow. Beyond planet Earth, ice can be found in meteors, planets and moons, and scientists think that ice-rich asteroids played a pivotal role in bringing water to Earth. 

In Ice: Nature and Culture, Klaus Dodds provides a wide-ranging exploration of the cultural, natural and geopolitical history of ice, revealing how throughout history human communities have made sense of ice. For those who are intrigued about our relationship with ice, this book will provide an informative and thought-provoking guide.


Researchers probe the edge of Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf from the SA Agulhas II, which in February 2019 will carry scientists on the Weddell Sea Expedition. (Photo: Weddell Sea Expedition)

Julian Dowdeswell, glaciologist and director of the Scott Polar Research Institute and professor of physical geography at the University of Cambridge, England, was in May awarded a Fellowship in the Learned Society of Wales, a national academy of science and letters similar to the Royal Society of Canada, in recognition of his academic achievements.

Dowdeswell, who has studied Arctic regions from Svalbard and Russia’s Franz Josef Land to Iceland and Ellesmere Island, will in February 2019 head south to Antarctica to lead the international Weddell Sea Expedition. There, researchers will study the Larsen C Ice Shelf, which in July 2017 calved one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, and will also attempt to determine the exact location on the seafloor of Endurance, British explorer Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship.

DYE, Beth

Beth Dye (right) with Lynn Moorman (centre) and Chantal Déry, events coordinator for iGEO and another RCGS Fellow. (Photo: Beth Dye)

Congratulations to RCGS board member Lynn Moorman and former board member Beth Dye for successfully co-chairing the International Geography Olympiad 2018 in Quebec City in August. As Fellows of the RCGS, Moorman and Dye are dedicated to making Canada better known to all. iGeo 2018 hosted 43 teams from countries around the world for seven days, and Moorman and Dye worked tirelessly (along with Matthew Hatvany from Université Laval, the host institution) to ensure that all aspects of this geography competition for 16 to 19 year olds transpired without a hitch.

Canada fielded a team for the first time with great success: all team members earned a medal, with Team Canada placing second in the poster session competition. The 2018 iGeo theme, “Appreciating Landscape,” enabled organizers to create a dynamic geographical program. Students competed individually in a three hour written exam, a fieldwork exercise in Baie St. Paul followed by a fieldwork exam, and a multimedia test examining spatial aspects of geography. Moorman and Dye would like to thank the RCGS for its support of this initiative and in particular, Ellen Curtis, Sara Black and Andrea Buchholz, who were instrumental in supporting iGEO and Team Canada. Next year’s iGEO will be held in Hong Kong, July 30- Aug 5, and Canada will hopefully send a team.

Photo: The Ocean Geographic Society

EATON, Susan R.

In July, the Ocean Geographic Society named Susan R. Eaton one of the most influential women in conservation who have inspired and influenced thousands to take greater care of our ocean planet. Ocean Geographic’s “Ocean’s Best” issue features Susan alongside 17 other women, all selected based on the effectiveness of their conservation spirit, the strength of their influence and their ability to empower and inspire the masses.

Bravo to these recipients who inspire us with their strength, passion and unwavering commitment to affect change: Joanna Lawrenson Ruxton, Liz Taylor, Sylvia A. Earle, Ria Tan, Jillian Morris Brake, Valerie Taylor, Sharon Kwok, Esther An, Emily Penn, Lesley Rochat, Sacha Dench, Cristina Goettsch Mittermeier, Angelique Batuna Charlton, Tracey Read, Heidi Taylor, Annie Crawley, Ali Hood, Natalie Isaacs and Susan R. Eaton.

FARLEY, Mike and Janet Ruest

Photo: iGeo

Teachers Janet Ruest and Mike Farley kept busy this summer helping prepare Team Canada for the International Geography Olympiad (iGeo) that took place in Quebec City from July 31-Aug. 6. Each year, the iGeo attracts the top 16- to 19-year-old geography students from about 50 countries around the world. 

Team Canada’s members — Ben Woodward and Zhongtian Wang from London, Jack Cheng from Calgary, and Malhaar Moharir from Toronto — did not disappoint, claiming two silver and two bronze individual medals, as well as a team silver in the iGeo poster competition, for which they created a piece on the geographical significance of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Even though the iGeo has been running since 1996, this was both the first year that Canada hosted the event and fielded a team.


Left to right: Johanne Jean, president of le réseau des Universités du Québec, Jean Fournier and Daniel MacMahon, rector of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. (Photo: Jean Fournier)

Le 9 juin, l’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) a décerné un doctorat honorifique à l’ancien gouverneur de la SGRC, Jean Fournier. Le doctorat honorifique de l’UQTR est octroyé à une personne reconnue hors du cadre universitaire, mais ayant témoigné des valeurs éducatives de l’établissement et qui a fait avancer la contribution scientifique, sociale, humanitaire, culturelle et artistique de ses valeurs.

Fournier, actuellement président provincial du Conseil de liaison des Forces canadiennes, a commencé sa carrière comme avocat, mais a fini par prendre la direction de l’entreprise familiale et il a amené le Groupe Fournier à devenir une des plus importantes companies privées d’arboriculture au Canada. Il a présidé de nombreux conseils durant sa carrière, notamment Conservation de la nature Canada et plusieurs dans la région de Trois-Rivières, entre autres la Chambre de commerce et d’industries de Trois-Rivières, l’Administration portuaire de Trois-Rivières, l’Aéroport de Trois-Rivières, l’organisation des Fêtes du 375 e anniversaire de fondation de la Ville de Trois-Rivières et le conseil de l’UQTR lui-même.


Photo: Daisy Gilardini

RCGS Photographer-in-Residence Daisy Gilardini is honoured to announce that her image “Motherhood” won the Nature category of the IPA International Photography Awards “One-Shot: Harmony” competition.

Gilardini was also elected as the latest Greenpeace Antarctic Ambassador. Read what she has to say about protecting Antarctica and the role of photography in conservation in this interview by Pete Speller.

Photo: Jill Heinerth


Thanks to The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, RCGS Explorer-in-Residence Jill Heinerth has been continuing her travels across Canada to speak to school kids about geography and exploration. One teacher wrote, “The kids were captivated and the adults were blown away by her stories of amazing feats and world firsts.”

Heinerth has been busy on the media front with appearances and radio broadcasts on CBC and a kid’s program called “My Job Rocks.” She is currently filming in the Arctic for a Nature of Things documentary on climate change. Her expeditionary work this year takes her on a journey called “Underwater Canada” where she will try to reach each territory and province to dive into locations that tell the story of Canada’s water resources.


Charles Henderson in the field near Las Cruces, New Mexico (left); amphibian tracks and tail drags. (Photos: Charles Henderson)

In May 2018, Charles Henderson was voted a Fellow of the Geological Society of America based on scientific achievements over the course of his 29-year career. His research is international in scope and he collaborates with researchers around the world, but particularly in the United States and China. He has also spent many field seasons in the Canadian Arctic Islands and works on unconventional resource plays (e.g., the Montney Formation) in Western Canada. He has mentored 36 undergraduate students for their senior theses, 36 graduate students (25 MSc, 11 PhD), and six post-doctoral fellows at the University of Calgary.

His research continues on Late Paleozoic to Triassic conodonts, with projects ranging from the biologic affinity of this early vertebrate group to the relative dating or biostratigraphy of events recorded in the rock record. Recent fieldwork in New Mexico uncovered Lower Permian marine limestones punctuating otherwise terrestrial red bed deposits, helpful in refining and completing the Geologic Time Scale through dating of conodont fossils. It also uncovered amphibian and sail-back reptile tracks of uncertain exact age; the evolution of various conodont species will provide the time clock to answer this question.

KNIGHT, Melanie

Photo: Canadian Press (published in the National Post)

Melanie Knight took up a 30-day challenge in March to spend 10 minutes every day collecting litter — while “plogging,” a Swedish-born phenomenon that combines the terms “jogging” and plocka upp (simply meaning “pick up”), and the environmental and social benefits of taking trash off the streets while exercising. Knight, a marine biologist, founder of the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium, south of St. John’s, N.L., and a dedicated runner, documented her activity on Instagram with the #10minutetidy hashtag.

LASSELIN, Nathalie

Photo: Nathalie Lasselin

Nathalie Lasselin’s ongoing Urban Water Odyssey expedition is not only about discovering and documenting the Saint Lawrence River, a body of water that divers don’t explore, but knowing more about its state. One part of the mission is to cover more than 350 kilometres while taking samples of sediment and water to analyze the presence of emerging contaminants (more than 50 different contaminants are studied by scientific researchers collaborating with Lasselin). In between those dives, she leads her team to various locations to clean the river bed in Montreal, removing more than 300 kilograms of debris from the water at each stop. This is a great opportunity for her team to share with locals information about these efforts to protect the water (80 per cent of drinking water in Montreal comes from the St. Lawrence River, and 100 per cent goes back after treatment). 

To conclude the 2018 mission in September, Lasselin will undertake something never before attempted — travelling more than 70 kilometres in a single dive from one end of Montreal Island to the other, passing though rapids and more. Click here to follow the story, or visit the official Facebook page.


On June 6, Gilles LeVasseur, a professor at the University of Ottawa, was awarded the 2018 Associated Medical Services Incorporated/John Hodgson award of excellence in charity and not-for-profit law.

LOCKE, Harvey

Photo: Harvey Locke

Harvey Locke received an honorary doctorate from the University of Calgary’s faculty of science on June 7. Co-founder of the Yellowstone to Yukon conservation initiative and of the Nature Needs Half movement, a writer and photographer, Locke has played a leadership role in many successful conservation campaigns, including stopping commercial logging in Wood Buffalo National Park, the six-fold expansion of Nahanni National Park Reserve, the creation of Spray Lakes Provincial Park, Bow Valley and Bob Creek Wildland Provincial Parks, the full protection of Willmore Wilderness Park from industrial activity, and continues to work on the campaign to protect the Flathead Valley in British Columbia. He has also been very involved in protecting key parcels of private land for wildlife movement in both Canada and the U.S., promoting highway crossing structures for wildlife, and bringing wild plains bison back to Banff National Park. Locke has been named one of Canada’s leaders for the 21st century by Time Magazine and recognized with a number of awards for his work.


Photo: Larry McCann/Planning West

In late 2017, Larry McCann was made an honorary member of the Planning Institute of British Columbia and the Yukon “for his exceptional teaching and mentoring of countless students who went on to pursue graduate degrees in planning.” McCann, a professor emeritus of the University of Victoria’s geography department, authored and co-authored more than 70 papers and edited 10 books about Canadian geography during his time at UVic, and is most recently the author of Imagining Uplands: John Olmsted’s Masterpiece of Residential Design, about “the efforts of the American landscape architect John Charles Olmsted to create an ideal and enduring subdivision on the suburban frontier of Victoria, British Columbia.”


Photo: Lynn Moorman

In June, RCGS Governor Lynn Moorman was recognized for her outstanding achievements in the Canadian geospatial community when she was named Influencer of the Year for Canada’s Geospatial Industry by TECTERRA, the government-funded non-profit organization that supports the growth of the geomatics industry in Canada by helping start-ups and small and medium-sized companies develop and commercialize.

“It’s a privilege to work in the geospatial industry, which contributes 19,000 jobs and 2.3 billion to the Canadian economy, delivers incredible innovation and has a great impact on our daily lives,” said Moorman following the awards ceremony. “Last night I was honoured as Influencer of the Year for this industry: educating people to use and work with geospatial technologies and data has been my mission for nearly 30 years, and this recognition from industry is profound. Thank you, TECTERRA for your support, for celebrating our industry AND recognizing the importance of education.”

OSBORNE, Neil Ever

Photo: Neil Ever Osborne

Positioned at the convergence of documentary and art, the work of Neil Ever Osborne examines the complex, troubled, yet inextricable link between people and planet with the aim of protecting our only shared home. His exhibit HOME:, which ran in May at Toronto’s Berenson Fine Art gallery, celebrates wilderness and the underappreciated benefits it provides to all of us. It attempts to demystify the foreignness of such natural worlds, and of nature in general, and replace the very idea of “the environment” with a concept more accessible and relatable to each of us: a healthy home. These images — a caged orangutan, a road slashed through a forest, a venerable grizzly bear in its sanctuary — depict this concept of a shared yet threatened home with honesty and optimism.

In the modern world, terms such as “environment” and “conservation” have lost their meaning. Despite this, the discussion around these concepts must continue because so many of our social concerns are the direct result of an unhealthy planet. In HOME:, we witness a nonverbal language at work. Osborne’s images reverberate with echoes from the depths of wilderness — and the encroaching proximity of humanity’s ubiquitous presence — capturing through his unique vision these stories of home.


Okanagan’s Off The Grid Organic Winery, one of the vineyards featured in Patterson’s RoadStories article. (Photo: Carol Patterson)

Carol Patterson was honoured in May by the Travel Media Association of Canada with second place in Best Environmental/Responsible Tourism Feature for a story about the Great Bear Rainforest written for for BC Ferries’ onBoard magazine. Patterson also had stories published by on acoustical monitoring being undertaken by a Victoria whale watching company and sustainability initiatives of several Okanagan wineries.


Photo: treeOcode Niagara

Geospatial Niagara is happy to announce that the City of St. Catharines has officially become a member of treeOcode Niagara. With a municipal inventory of more than 46,000 trees, the city and its residents can see the impact that the urban forest has on the community in terms of eco-benefits. St. Catharines’ trees provide more than $2.7 million in eco-benefits annually, including the removal of more than 8.4 million kilograms of CO2. The goal is to create a program to take to the schools, and to encourage residents to contribute information about trees on their own properties. 

The GeoNiagara Radio show, which airs on CFBU 103.7 FM Brock Radio, wrapped up Season 2 with their June episode and look forward to coming back in September with Season 3. We want to encourage other Fellows to get engaged with the radio show to share their work and information about their projects. Those interested please contact Educators are encouraged to download episodes to use in the classroom.

Representatives of Geospatial Niagara recently made a presentation to the Niagara Region Planning and Economic Development Committee on their “Ohnia-kara Aspiring UNESCO Global Geopark project,” and were greeted with great interest, which generated a number of interviews with radio and print. The project continues to move forward.

REED, Maureen G.

Maureen Reed and James Robson, UNESCO Biocultural Diversity, Sustainability, Reconciliation and Renewal co-chairs. (Photo: Maureen Reed)

The University of Saskatchewan has been awarded a Chair in Biocultural Diversity, Sustainability, Reconciliation and Renewal by UNESCO. The chair will work in partnership with international organizations and communities across Canada, in Latin America and in South Africa to effectively combine Indigenous and Western knowledge to promote productive and biodiverse landscapes and territories.

The chair is held jointly by professor and RCGS Fellow Maureen Reed and assistant professor James Robson — both faculty members in the School of Environment and Sustainability recognized as distinguished scholars in the fields of environmental governance and sustainability and in fostering relationships with Indigenous peoples to advance sustainability. Since 2010, Reed has been a part of the national advisory committee Man and the Biosphere Reserve — Canada, providing guidance to UNESCO on managing its Biosphere Reserves program.


Photos: Wally Schaber

Fellow Wally Schaber has founded an informal not-for-profit group to help maintain the campsites and portages along Quebec’s protected wild Rivière Dumoine. Last year, they installed thunderboxes (outhouses) along the main river campsites; this year they are rebuilding the boardwalks along the La Grande Chute portage. If you’d like to follow along, visit the FORM Friends of Riviere Du Moine page on Facebook. If you’d like to donate time or money, contact Wally at


Mark Terry in Iceland. (Photo: Mark Terry)

In July, Mark Terry travelled to Iceland as the Scientist-in-Residence on Adventure Canada’s circumnavigation of the island. While there, he continued his PhD research in “geodoc” filmmaking, shooting climate research, impacts and interviews with researchers based in Iceland. The film fragments, or “mini-docs,” are geolocated on a digital map of the world according to the exact longitude and latitude of where the footage was shot. The project is an official partner program of the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat and Canada’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.

The Iceland videos will be screened at the COP24 conference in Katowice, Poland, this December, and Terry will also be using the footage to make a documentary television special called The Changing Face of Iceland. This represents the third installment in his trilogy of polar films on climate change, the other two being The Antarctica Challenge: A Global Warning (2009) and The Polar Explorer (2010).


Image: Cory Trépanier

In support of his international Into the Arctic exhibition tour, which has expanded from two to four years, Cory Trépanier headed back to the Arctic on July 15. For the first two weeks he hiked and painted for more than 100 kilometres in the dramatic landscapes of Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island, accompanied by his daughter Sydney. Trépanier was then joined by his wife Janet, collectors and other guests aboard a One Ocean Expeditions vessel for 11 days on an Arctic discovery voyage.

A major goal during the hike was to paint Mount Asgard. On his first journey to Baffin in 2007, this majestic mountain was highlighted on his map, but due to unexpected travel conditions he never reached it. Instead, he focused his energies on another incredible peak —which led to his 5x9-foot Mount Thor painting. Now he is returning to Auyuittuq National Park to at long last come face to face with Asgard, and to find a view for one more major work: a companion piece for his Thor painting. Trépanier shared the journey through social media and his Into the Arctic project website.

WARD, Meghan J.

Photo: Meghan J. Ward

RCGS fellow Meghan J. Ward (co-publisher/founder at Crowfoot Media) is proud to announce that they have recently launched Volume 3 of the Canadian Rockies Annual, an archival-quality mountain culture magazine that combines captivating storytelling with striking visuals and beautiful design. Each issue takes the reader on a journey through the Canadian Rockies’ cultural landscape, and delves into the dynamic forces that impact our lives in the mountains.

Inside volume 3

  • Brush up on the language of fighting wildfires with Niki Wilson
  • Rewind back a century to Banff during the First World War with Meghan J. Ward
  • Remember visionary alpinist, Marc-André Leclerc, with Bernadette McDonald
  • Join the debate on saving one species over another with Ryan Stuart
  • Follow dancers and drummers on the powwow trail with Colette Derworiz
  • Browse photos from Ryan Creary, Paul Zizka, Wayne Simpson and more!


Photo: Hap Wilson

During the 2018 field season, Hap Wilson will be carrying the RCGS Expeditions flag into northern Manitoba, where he will be field-researching several tributaries flowing into the North Seal River on a two-month mapping expedition made in partnership with Travel Manitoba and Gangler’s North Seal River Lodge. The world’s longest esker — the Robertson Esker — and several other eskers are part of the cultural research.

Wilson’s latest book, River of Fire, has been shortlisted for the Northern Lit Awards.


Image: Geoscience Canada

“Albert Peter Low in Labrador — A Tale of Iron and Irony,” Derek Wilton’s article about geologist, explorer and former Geological Survey of Canada director A.P. Low’s 1892-3 expedition through Labrador, was published in the most recent edition of Geoscience Canada. The 15-month expedition, undertaken by Low along with his senior assistant D.I.V. Eaton and four Indigenous assistants, covered more than 8,700 kilometres on the Labrador Peninsula, then perceived as one of the last great unexplored wilderness areas of North America. Besides vastly improving our knowledge of the peninsula’s natural history and producing the first geological maps of the region, the expedition had important economic results, including documentation of the vast iron ore deposits of western Labrador.

WINDH, Jacqueline

Jacqueline Windh giving her TEDx talk (left) and the dismantling of the Magellan blue whale carcass. (Photos: Jacqueline Windh)

Jacqueline Windh gave a TEDx talk in April, 2018, weaving her background as a PhD Earth scientist with her life experience as a squatter on a tiny island off the west coast of British Columbia. Her talk argues that how we are living today is not “normal” — putting a unique and personal slant on oft-repeated environmental messaging.

Jacqueline spent much of this spring sorting through photos from her recent expedition to Patagonia. Her article about a blue whale that washed up in Magellan Strait — the southernmost known stranding of this endangered species — was published in Hakai Magazine. Her current photographic projects relate to hummingbirds and the wild orchids of Vancouver Island.


In May, Connie Wyatt Anderson was honoured by the University of Manitoba with a Students’ Teacher Recognition for Significant Contributions to Excellence in Teaching. The award gives outstanding graduating students the opportunity to honour teachers who have made important contributions to their education. Recognizing that academic growth and development occurs over many years, the outstanding student recognizes two teachers: one from the years between Kindergarten and Grade 12, and one from the University of Manitoba. Each student speaks about the impact these teachers have made on their lives. Graduating student Alycia Lathlin-Monias nominated Wyatt Anderson, her former high school geography/history teacher.

As chair of the Geographical Names Board of Canada, Wyatt Anderson delivered the keynote address — speaking on Indigenous toponomy — on at the Ministers of Culture and Heritage meetings (for federal, provincial and territorial ministers) in Yellowknife on June 19.

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