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40 men, women from arts, letters, sciences named as Fellows of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society

OTTAWA (Nov. 1, 2011) – The Royal Canadian Geographical Society announced today 40 distinguished individuals were inducted into the College of Fellows.

The College of Fellows is the voting body of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society. This body also receives and approves reports by the President, Treasurer and Auditors at the Society’s Annual General Meeting. The Fellows also elect the Officers, Governors and Fellows of the Society at the AGM.

The 40 nominees were formally inducted into the College at the 2011 AGM on Thursday, November 3rd in Ottawa. See biographies in backgrounder below.

Among the 40 new Fellows are playwright and author Dan Needles, James Marsh, the original editor-in-chief of The Canadian Encyclopedia, renowned psychologist Frederic Jackman and public affairs consultant Jaime Watt.

Also included are Rudyard Griffiths, a founding member of the Historica-Dominion Institute, author and historian Shelagh Grant, Victoria publisher Don Gorman, Edmonton journalist Todd Babiak, Quebec businessman Gaétan Boivin and Mike Beedell, the Chelsea, Que.-based photographer and explorer.

From the U.S., nominees included Gregory Copley of Alexandria, Va., an acclaimed scholar in geopolitical studies, and Paul D. Miller (a.k.a. DJ Spooky), the New York musician and multimedia artist.

The College has also named retired NASA astronaut Jerry Linenger as an Honorary Fellow.

"All the nominees are extraordinary men and women who believe in the Society and are dedicated to informing Canadians and the world about this country," said John Geiger, President of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Only Fellows of the Society are able to bring nominations forward to the College. There are 413 active Fellows, including 71 Honourary Fellows.

For further information, contact:
Gord McIntosh
Media Coordinator

Grant Abbot, Whitehorse, YK. Now retired from his decades of service as Director of the Yukon Geological Survey, he began his career with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development as a project geologist responsible for regional mapping and metallogenic studies. Under his leadership the Geological Survey significantly expanded its outreach and public information role.

Jean Andrey, Waterloo, ON. Professor in the Department of Geography at Waterloo University and Director of the Waterloo-Laurier Graduate Program in Geography. She developed the “Becoming a Geographer” fundamentals course for first-year students, and in 2008 founded the Canadian Association of Geographers’ (CAG) Certificate Program in Teaching and Learning. In 2012 she will begin a two-year term as president of the CAG.

Kenneth Armstrong, Peterborough, ON. As the head of History and Social Sciences at two Peterborough secondary schools he worked tirelessly to infuse in his students an appreciation of the natural and human historical events that have shaped Canada. He is the Past-Chair of the Peterborough Historical Society, and in 2003 received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. 

Todd Babiak, Edmonton, AB.An Edmonton Journal columnist and bestselling novelist, his book The Garneau Block was long-listed for the Giller Prize. He is the co-founder of Story Engine, a company that helps organizations and individuals build brands, visions and strategies through story. He has served on the boards of PEN Canada and the Canadian Literature Centre.

Owen Beattie, Edmonton, AB.An Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alberta, Dr. Beattie received international acclaim for Frozen in Time, his investigation of the disastrous Franklin Expedition to the Arctic. He has been involved in hundreds of forensic investigations, including crucial work in Rwanda following the 1994 genocide. He has participated in a number of humanitarian missions in Somalia, Cyprus and Georgia.

Mike Beedell, Chelsea, QC. A veteran photographer, explorer and guide, he has been involved in several important Canadian conservation initiatives, such as the creation of Gwaii Haanas National Park. He has taken part in a number of historical expeditions, including the first sail-powered journey across the Northwest Passage and a 1,000-kilometre kayak circumnavigation of Bylot Island.

Diana Beresford-Kroeger, Merrickville, ON. A research scientist and boreal forest conservationist, she advocates for the importance of forests to global ecosystems and human well-being. She is involved in fundraising initiatives for a number of charitable and humanitarian-aid organizations, such as Médicins Sans Frontières, and in 2010 was elected a Wings Fellow by Wings World Quest.

Gaétan Boivin, Trois-Rivières, QC. President and Chief Executive Officer of the Trois-Rivières Port Authority. He is on the Canadian Committee for Germanischer Lloyd Ship Classification, and is a Board Member for the Trois-Rivières Regional Hospital Foundation.

Don Boyes, Toronto, ON. A Senior Lecturer and GIS expert in the Geography Department of the University of Toronto, Dr. Boyes also served on the Board of Directors for LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests). In 2008 he received the Arts and Science Outstanding Achievement Award for Teaching from the University, and is a four-time recipient of the Dean’s Excellence Award.

Meredith Brown, Ottawa, ON. Official Riverkeeper for the Ottawa River since 2004, she works relentlessly to advance awareness of the human right to clean local water and the responsibility to protect such sources. She has extensive experience designing and implementing watershed restoration projects, applying a scientific method to her preservation and advocacy efforts.

Jacques Chauvette, Trois-Rivières, QC. Hydro Québec’s Regional Director for Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec areas. He works in training development and oversees the nuclear power plant in Bécancour. He has been an integral fundraiser for Hydro Québec’s United Way/Centraide campaign since 1997.

Gregory Copley, Alexandria, Virginia. An acclaimed scholar and theorist in geopolitical strategic studies, he has advised many international governments on border dispute resolution, and in 1999 founded the Global Information System (GIS), a strategic intelligence database employed by governments worldwide. His latest work, Energy Security 2.0: How Energy is Central to the Changing Global Balance in the New Age of Geography (2011), further illustrates the strategic role of geography.

Alison George, Toronto, ON. Vice-President of Argyle Communications, she is the former Director of Communications and Events for NBA Canada. She has earned more than 20 awards from Canadian and international PR and communications societies.

Don Gorman, Victoria, BC. Publisher of British Columbia-based Rocky Mountain Books. Under his guidance RMB has become a highly successful and dynamic publisher, focusing on works of Canadian non-fiction and photography. He is committed to developing and working with Canadian and international authors, and to cultivating a strong sense of what it means to be Canadian.

Shelagh Grant, Peterborough, ON. An accomplished historian and celebrated author, she has conducted much of her research in the North, from the Yukon and Baffin Island to Greenland and the Svalbard Islands. She is the first historian and woman to win the Government of Canada’s Northern Science Award. She has actively demonstrated a passion for Inuit culture and education.

Rudyard Griffiths, Toronto, ON. Director of the semi-annual Munk Debates and co-director of the Salon Speaker Series. He is a founding member of the Historica-Dominion Institute, Canada’s largest history and civics NGO. He is co-host of the Business News Network’s SqueezePlay, and author of Who We Are: A Citizen’s Manifesto, which was a Globe and Mail Best Book in 2009.

Mryka Hall-Beyer, Calgary, AB. Dr. Hall-Beyer is an Assistant Professor and the undergraduate advisor for the University of Calgary’s Department of Geography. She focuses on drawing young people, especially young women, to the discipline. She has served the Canadian Council for Geographic Education for several years, acting as a judge in the Great Canadian Geography Challenge.

John Hovland, Toronto, ON. Divisional Finance Head for Corporate Real Estate and Procurement and Strategic Sourcing for the Bank of Montreal. He acts on the board of directors for Nexus social entrepreneurship consulting firm at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

Frederic (Eric) Jackman, Toronto, ON. A renowned psychologist and past Chancellor of the University of Windsor, Dr. Jackman is involved with multiple community, cultural and educational organizations. He is Chairman of the Jackson Foundation and President of the Psychology Foundation of Canada. Among his many honours are the Order of Ontario and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.

Jane Kerr-Wilson, Burlington, ON. A Halton District high school geography teacher, she has written and been consulted on a number of student and teacher geography resources, and was lead writer for the Canadian and World Studies Curriculum Review. She is the Ontario Regional Representative for the Canadian Council for Geographic Education.

Emlyn Koster, Chatham, New Jersey. Dr. Koster gained international recognition as Director-General of the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto and as the current President and CEO of the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey. His extensive list of publications and awards reflects his ability to demonstrate the connection between human and natural history and to maximize the external impact of his museums.

André Lapierre, Ottawa, ON. A Professor of Linguistics and the former Vice-Dean and Secretary of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ottawa. One of his interests is the evolution of French-origin place and family names. He is the French Academic Community representative for the Geographical Names Board of Canada, and belongs to the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names.

David Livingstone, Yellowknife, NT. The former Director of Renewable Resources and Environment for the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in the Northwest Territories. He was the lead federal architect behind the Protected Areas Strategy, a community-based plan to establish a network of protected zones across the Northwest Territories, and he also created the environmental monitoring agency responsible for overseeing Canada’s first diamond mine. For these and for many other important conservation initiatives he has been awarded the 2011 Massey Medal by the RCGS.

James Marsh, Edmonton, AB. The original editor-in-chief of The Canadian Encyclopedia, he continues in this role for the online versions of the concordance and for The Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. He is Director of Content for the Historica-Dominion Institute, and has authored several books on Canadian History. He was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1988.

Cheryl McKenna-Neuman, Peterborough, ON. A Professor of Geography at Trent University since 1989, Dr. McKenna-Neuman has also served as President of the Canadian Geomorphology Research Group. She is a world-renowned expert on wind erosion, and has installed monitoring stations on Baffin Island and in the deserts of Nevada. She is known for her mentorship of young women in science.

Paul D. Miller, New York, New York. A Professor of Music Mediated Art at the European Graduate School in Zurich, Switzerland. He travelled to several of the main Antarctic ice fields to gather material for his symphonic multimedia performance piece Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica. In 2011 he published The Book of Ice, an avant-garde print presentation about the present and future of the Antarctic.

Lynn Moorman, Calgary, AB.A founder and past board member of the Alberta Geomatics Group, she is particularly interested in the relationship between geographic technologies and how people think in a geographic sense. She is an Assistant Professor of Geography at Mount Royal University, and is the Faculties of Education Representative for the Canadian Council for Geographic Education.

Frederick (Fritz) Mueller, Whitehorse, YK. An award-winning photographer and former researcher and wildlife biologist in Canada’s North, he uses his images of landscapes, wildlife, people, and environmental themes to tell the public about the values—and value—inherent in Canada’s wild Yukon. His new book, Yukon: A Wilder Place, was published in fall 2011.

Dan Needles, Ottawa, ON. Playwright and author of the beloved Wingfield Farm comedies and spokesperson for the quiet rural life, his works have been performed on stage thousands of times since 1985, and were broadcast on CBC as the Wingfield series. In 2003 he won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. His most recent book, Wingfield’s World, will be published in fall 2011.

Phil Nuytten, North Vancouver, BC. Founder of the undersea and diving technology companies Nuytco and Can-Dive, Dr. Nuytten is a distinguished pioneer and revolutionary in the diving industry. His technology has enabled divers to make safer, longer-length expeditions at full continental shelf depths. His submarine rescue system “Remora” is a standard in almost a dozen navies worldwide.

John Pollack, South Slocan, BC. A historical archaeologist and a prolific explorer, one of his areas of expertise is underwater and underground site mapping. He is a fellow of three exploration societies and has led a number of scientific mapping and exploration teams, including an initiative by which the Lake Labergewreckage of the A.J. Goddard was declared the first underwater heritage site in the Yukon. 

Bob Ramsey, Toronto, ON. A communications and marketing authority, he was president of Stephenson, Ramsay, O’Donnell Ltd., Canada’s first company dedicated to marketing the performing arts. He has designed communications programs for a number of major organizations, and chairs a number of cultural and social institutions, such as the Women’s College Hospital Foundation.

Lindsay Staples, Whitehorse, YK. An expert in natural resource management, socio-economic and environmental impact assessment and land-claim negotiation. He serves as the Yukon North Slope Wildlife Management Advisory Council Chair, and works as a private consultant.

Steve Thomas, Toronto, ON. Founder of Steve Thomas Limited, Canada’s first direct response fundraising agency for the not-for-profit sector. His company has worked with thousands of Canadian and international philanthropic and not-for-profit organizations. He is chairman of the Amnesty International Canada’s Human Rights House campaign.

Frank van Biesen, Mississauga, ON. Vice-President of Technology for Canada’s top tissue manufacturer Kruger Products, he guides his company towards sustainability on all fronts. He initiated the installation of Canada’s first commercial biomass gasification system at the Kruger tissue mill in New Westminster, B.C. The system cuts half of the mill’s greenhouse-gas emissions and supplies half of its energy needs. For his commitment to advancing green technology use in the industry the RCGS and 3M Canada awarded him the 2010 Canadian Award for Environmental Innovation. 

Jaime Watt, Toronto, ON. The Executive Chairman for the strategy and public affairs firm Navigator Ltd., he makes weekly appearances on CBC News’ “Point of Order on Power and Politics,” and is an influential advisor to business leaders and political parties across the country. He has served as a chair of Casey House, Canada’s first AIDS hospice, and on the board of St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation in Toronto.

Grace Welch, Ottawa, ON. Vice-Chair of the Ontario Geographic Names Board and former Chief of the Map Library at the University of Ottawa, she continues to work as a reference librarian and library consultant, and volunteers for the Champlain Region Family Councils Network Advocacy Committee.

Ray Zahab, Chelsea, QC. Founder of Impossible2Possible, an organization dedicated to inspiring youths to embrace exploration as a means of empowerment, environmental awareness and education. He has taken part in several running expeditions, including a 1,200-kilometre traverse of Chile’s Atacama Desert. He ran across the Sahara Desert for the National Geographic documentary Running the Sahara.

Andrew Zimakas, Toronto, ON. Vice-President of Marketing for ING Direct, he oversees the institution’s entire marketing team and strategy. He has managed and consulted for major brands for decades, and brings this wealth of experience to the Brand and Strategic Planning Council of the Canadian Marketing Association. He has worked with the non-profit organizations Junior Achievement and BoardMatch.


Jerry Linenger, Houston, Texas. A former NASA Astronaut and a retired U.S. Navy flight surgeon, he flew on three Space Shuttle missions and spent five-months aboard the Russian space station Mir. He has travelled approximately 50 million miles in space, and is the first American to have performed a spacewalk from a foreign space station. Among other honours, he has been decorated with a National Defense Service Medal and two NASA Space Flight Medals.

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