Retracing Albert Peter Low’s journeys
Seeking a Low Profile
NEAR THE END of a five-week canoe expedition to retrace some of Albert Peter
Low’s journeys, James Stone can barely contain his admiration for the geologist who mapped
large tracts of Labrador and northern Quebec from 1884 to 1895. "He was one tough dude!" exclaims
Stone over the crackle of his satellite phone from his campsite on a southern tributary of
the Rupert River near James Bay. Indeed, Low covered some 12,800 kilometres on foot and by
canoe in the harsh terrain of the Labrador Peninsula. His surveys of the sparsely populated
region laid the foundation for the Quebec-Labrador border.
Low also led the first official government expedition to entrench Canadian sovereignty over
much of the eastern Arctic in 1903-04 and became the deputy minister of mines in 1907. Despite
his many accomplishments, Low remains an obscure figure in the annals of Canada’s exploration
history. Last summer, in an attempt to get a better sense of Low’s personality and
drive, Stone and expedition partner Max Finkelstein undertook his treks of 1885, 1892, 1893
and 1895, through the marshes and bone-chilling mist between Lac Naococane, near the Quebec-Labrador
border, and Oatmeal Falls, about 100 kilometres inland from James Bay. Their voyage was supported by a $5,000 expedition grant
from The Royal Canadian Geographical Society.
Though Stone says he and Finkelstein didn’t find "notes on trees or A. P. Low’s
name carved into rock," their trip — including some 75 back-breaking portages — has
given them insight into Low’s character and working conditions. It will be an invaluable
source of inspiration as they sit down to write a biography and produce
a video about the unsung geologist.
— Monique Roy-Sole