Canada’s History review of Acts of Occupation

Nelle Oosterom has just reviewed Acts of Occupation for Canada’s History:

Acts of Occupation looks at a fascinating period between 1918 and 1925, when the age of heroic Arctic exploration was coming to an end and the cautious work of federal bureaucrats to establish Canada’s policy on Arctic sovereignty was just beginning. Personalities such as explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson — a ruthlessly ambitious adventurer with a talent for self-promotion — wrangled with stodgy civil servants like J.B. Harkin, Canada’s first parks commissioner, who regarded the Arctic as part of his domain and thus positioned himself as a player in foreign policy.

This is a joint review, along with Peter Pigott’s From Far and Wide: A Complete History of Canada’s Arctic Sovereignty. You can read the review on the magazine’s website.

A Journey to the End of the World: Tracing Polar Explorer Shackleton’s Footsteps a Century Later

Medusa Kelp in Hercules Bay, South Georgia

Medusa Kelp in Hercules Bay, South Georgia (Rachel Sussman)

Explorer Ernest Shackleton is one of the people who puts in an appearance in Acts of Occupation. At one point there was the prospect of his leading a Canadian government expedition to the high Arctic, but these plans fell through. Instead, Shackleton headed south again, and died in South Georgia. Rachel Sussman’s article describes her recent visit there, and you can read more about her Antarctic trip in her blog, The Oldest Living Things in the World.

Legendary geologist Raymond Thorsteinsson hailed as ‘last living Arctic explorer’

Raymond Thorsteinsson’s life could have come straight out of an adventure novel.

The renowned Calgary geologist, who passed away April 23 at the age of 91, first made a name for himself in the Canadian Arctic in the 1950s and 1960s.

Braving polar bears, ever-shifting ice floes and the fury of the elements, Thorsteinsson explored and mapped more than 500,000 square kilometres of frozen archipelago — and in between, he still managed to squeeze in an important daily ritual.

“He was a gentleman, and he always made time for tea,” says daughter-in-law Mary Thorsteinsson. “No matter where he was, he would heat up his Primus stove and make tea, and always have a little piece of chocolate.”

Read the rest of Amanda Stephenson’s article on the Calgary Herald’s website.

Read an obituary on the Globe and Mail’s website.

Northern and Arctic History at the Canadian Historical Association’s Annual Meeting – Update

The Canadian Historical Association will be holding its annual meeting at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University on 28-30 May 2012, and there’s now an official website for the meeting. The revised program (PDF, view here) has just been posted, and there have been some changes to the sessions dealing with Northern and Arctic history:


10:30-12:00/ 10 h 30-12 h 00    Waterloo MC 1085

15    Women, Biographical Narratives and Northern Landscapes in Twentieth- Century Canada / Les femmes, les récits biographiques et les paysages du Nord au vingtième siècle au Canada
15.1    Cyrstal Fraser, University of Alberta
Portrait of a Grandmother: Changing Notions of Aboriginality on the Gwich’in Flatlands
15.2    Joan Sangster, Trent University
Irene Baird’s ‘North and South’ in The Climate of Power
15.3    Myra Rutherdale, York University
Intimacy and Surveillance: Northern Canadian Nurses and Boundaries of Medicinal Matters

Facilitator / Animatrice: Nancy Janovicek, University of Calgary

1:30-3:00/ 13 h 30-15 h 00    Waterloo MC 2035

19    Interpreting the First Nations: Whose Past(s)? Whose Knowledge? Interpréter les Premières nations : quel(s) passé(s)? À qui a le savoir?
19.1    Angela Byrne, University of Toronto and the National University of Ireland, Maynooth
Interactions of Native and Newcomer Knowledge in Northern Regions, c. 1790-1830
19.2    Emma Battell Lowman, University of Warwick
Whose Wawa is it Anyway? Father JMR LeJeune and the Chinook Jargon at the turn of the century
19.3    Kaleigh Bradley, historical consultant
Taking John’s Photograph : The Afterlife of an Inuit Family Portrait
19.4    Katya MacDonald, University of Saskatchewan
Creating Community through Conflicted Histories : Negotiating Stó:lō Places

Facilitator / Animateur : John Walsh, Carleton University

3:15-4:45/ 15 h 15-16 h 45    Waterloo MC 4045

30    Memory, Commemoration and Northern Canadian Travel and Exploration in the Twentieth Century / Mémoire, commémoration et voyage et exploration dans le Grand Nord canadien au vingtième siècle
30.1    Christina Adcock, University of British Columbia
‘Alas for those who never sing!: Commemorative practices and lost histories of twentieth-century northern Canadian exploration
30.2    Janice Cavell, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
A Circumscribed Commemoration: Mrs. Rudolph Anderson and the Canadian Arctic Expedition Memorial Plaque
30.3    Misao Dean, University of Victoria
‘Anglo-Saxon Pleasure’: Late twentieth century recreational wilderness canoeing as a material practice of Empire

Facilitator / Animateur : John English, University of Waterloo

1:30-3:00 / 13 h 30-15 h 00    Waterloo MC 2054

67.    Bilateral Relations at the Crossroads : Reconsidering Canadian-American Relations, Continental Defence, and Sovereignty in the Early Cold War / Relations bilatérales aà la croiseée des chemins : reconsideérer les relations canado-ameéricaines, la deéfense continentale et la souveraineteé au deébut de la guerre froide
67.1    Matthew Trudgen, University of Calgary
Cooperating with the Americans: Lessons from the North American Air Defence System, 1950-1956
67.2    Richard Goette, Royal Military College/ Canadian Forces College
Command, Sovereignty, and the Creation of NORAD in 1957

Facilitator / Animateur : John English, University of Waterloo