Subscribe and save!
magazine / dec13

December 2013 issue

Your Society

News from The Royal Canadian Geographical Society



Photo: Matt Zambonin/CRA Events

Canadians now have a novel way of exploring the boreal forest — with a new Canadian Geographic Education giant floor map, which kicked off its crosscountry tour on Oct. 2 at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.

The 11-by-8-metre Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement map was created in partnership with the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement Secretariat. As part of the secretariat’s On the Move campaign, the map will spend the next year touring Canadian schools and communities.

“Few issues in Canada are as vast and as vital as the boreal forest,” said John Geiger, chief executive officer of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, at the event’s cocktail reception, which followed an earlier session where local students (above) explored the map. “The map encourages students to take a walk in the woods and consider questions from conservation to biofuels. In the process, they’ll strengthen their critical thinking skills and become more spatially and geographically literate.”

Aran O’Carroll, the secretariat’s executive director, said the map provides the opportunity to reach out “not just to decision-makers but to youth, and ensure they understand and appreciate the boreal forest and the challenges found there.”

For information about the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement map’s next stop (and about other giant floor maps), visit



Energy was the hot topic at Shell Canada’s recent Canadian Innovation Summit in Vancouver, where one of Canadian Geographic Education’s flagship programs shared the spotlight.

The Classroom Energy Diet Challenge, a national competition that Canadian Geographic Education runs in partnership with Shell Canada, promotes energy awareness and conservation in schools. It was one of many exhibitors at the Oct. 7 summit, which saw industry experts, scientists and educators gather to discuss energy innovations and opportunities in Canada. Speakers included former astronaut Chris Hadfield and Christy Clark, the premier of British Columbia.



The Royal Canadian Geographical Society is encouraging women and First Nations explorers to participate in its expeditions program through a series of new grants.

The grants allocate up to $5,000 for expeditions with female or First Nations leadership and participation. The new grants include an Expedition of the Year grant of up to $15,000 for a project with significant implications for Canadian geography, as well as seed grants of up to $3,000.

For more information on the expeditions program, visit



The drafters of the St. John’s Declaration (Photo: Gerry Boland/CP)

Just three months after gathering in support of geographic education in Canada, a community of educators has received affirmation for its vision and action plan, as delineated in the St. John’s Declaration. The declaration, the product of last summer’s meeting in Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital, has already been endorsed by the Canadian Association of Geographers, Canadian Geographic Education, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the Ontario Association of Geographic and Environmental Education. The declaration is listed below:

We affirm that spatially literate citizens are essential to the future of Canada, and in particular:

  • the development of a coherent and relevant geographic education is essential to understand and address the issues faced by a rapidly changing world;
  • 
  • geographic education is built upon the fundamental elements of location, interaction, community, people, place, space and environment;
  • there is an urgent need to improve, update and advance geographic education in the context of economic, social and environmental issues facing Canadians, and Canada in a global arena;
  • 
  • studying the world, its people, communities and cultures with an emphasis on relations of and across space and place are crucial;
  • 
  • spatial thinking increasingly informs scholarship in the natural sciences, social sciences, health sciences and humanities; it is also closely associated with science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and
  • 
  • Canada will remain a leader in science and technological innovation with the development of geography in areas related to geospatial technologies and Earth observation.
We have therefore agreed that we will:
  • inspire Canadians to value geography and spatial thinking;
  • promote geography as a discipline that integrates the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities;
  • provide leadership in geographic education across Canada;
  • enhance support for geographic educators; and
  • support geographic education research.




Explorers and artists were among those recognized for their contributions to geography at The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s annual College of Fellows Dinner on Nov. 13 at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Que. The 2013 award winners are listed below.

Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration

Jill Heinerth, for her 20-year career as an award-winning underwater cave explorer and filmmaker.

Gold Medal (achievements in geography)

Robert Bateman, for helping make The Royal Canadian Geographical Society a leading educational force in Canada.

The Mapping Information Branch of Natural Resources Canada, for recently completing topographic mapping of Canada at 1:50,000 scale.

Michael Palin, the renowned adventurer and comedian, for his contributions to geographical literacy.

Camsell Medal (outstanding volunteer service to the RCGS)

Sir Christopher Ondaatje, the explorer and philanthropist, for unwavering dedication to the Society.

Massey Medal (outstanding career achievement in Canadian geography)

David Ley, of the University of British Columbia’s geography department.

Martin Bergmann Medal (excellence in Arctic leadership and science)

David Hik, former executive director of the Canadian International Polar Year Secretariat.

Geographic Literacy Award

Anne Smith Mansfield, geography instructor in the faculty of education at Queen’s University.

Innovation in Geography Teaching Award

Andrew Young, of G.P. Vanier Secondary School in Courtenay, B.C.

3M Environmental Innovation Award

Jeff Golfman, president of Prairie Pulp & Paper Inc., for innovations in the industry and charitable work with Green Kids Inc.

CG Education


Six new regional representatives of Canadian Geographic Education’s executive committee were announced on Oct. 16. The committee is now working on fulfilling the strategic plan developed in 2012. The new representatives are:


Greg Neil, Calgary

British Columbia

Jozsef Budai, Coquitlam


Kim Wallace, Burlington


John Trites, Berwick, N.S.

Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon

Geoff Buerger, Ulukhaktok, N.W.T. (reinstated for another three-year term)


Rob Langston, Brandon (reinstated for another three-year term)

The term of Chantal Déry, the Quebec representative, ends in June 2014. Saskatchewan currently has no representation. To learn more about the new representatives, visit



Canadian painter Robert Bateman captivated students at his namesake school in Ottawa on Nov. 12 with tales of his recent travels in Africa. During the event, Robert Bateman Public School students used Canadian Geographic Education’s giant floor map “Parks Canada: Places and Spaces for Everyone.” Bateman spoke at The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s annual College of Fellows Dinner the following evening, where he was presented with the Society’s Gold Medal.



Connie Wyatt Anderson, chair of Canadian Geographic Education and a teacher at Oscar Lathlin Collegiate in the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Man., is a finalist for the 2013 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching. Awards will be presented on Nov. 18 during the annual Canada’s History Forum at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

Featured Fellow


Alexandra Shackleton and Tim Jarvis at Ernest Shackleton’s gravesite on South Georgia Island. (Photo: Jo Stewart/Shackleton Epic)

A live donkey is better than a dead lion,” Ernest Shackleton, the renowned British explorer, once said. He was referring to his 1907 to 1909 Nimrod expedition, and the difficult decision to turn back with just 180 kilometres left to the South Pole.

“He could’ve been the first, but because of that decision, Roald Amundsen did it in 1911,” says Alexandra Shackleton, the explorer’s granddaughter. “But his priorities were his men. They were in bad physical condition, and might have died there.”

When Shackleton (whose father, Lord Edward Shackleton, was a Royal Canadian Geographical Society Fellow) enthuses about her grandfather’s achievements and leadership, her pride is palpable. Fittingly, she’s life-president of the James Caird Society, which preserves the memory of Ernest Shackleton and honours his feats.

Since taking the society’s helm in 1994, Shackleton has seen public enthusiasm for her grandfather’s exploits surge. She has named no fewer than three ships, including the Antarctic research vessel Ernest Shackleton, and frequently represents the James Caird Society at polar research- and exploration-related events. She has contributed forewards to books on Antarctic exploration and leadership, and consults on films.

In 2008, Shackleton sought out British-Australian adventurer Tim Jarvis, to recreate her grandfather’s 1916 mission to save his stranded men — the end of the 1914 to 1916 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. In February 2013, she met Jarvis and the “Shackleton Epic” crew on South Georgia Island, in the South Atlantic, after they sailed nearly 1,500 kilometres from Antarctica’s Elephant Island and scaled the mountains of South Georgia.

Even as the James Caird Society prepares for the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition’s 2014 centennial, Shackleton is still astonished by her grandfather’s legacy. “The more I learn about him, the more I wish I’d known him,” she says.

Learn more about Ernest Shackleton and the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition at For the Shackleton Epic expedition, go to


Prime Minister Stephen Harper, John Geiger, the chief executive officer of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and Ryan Harris, a Parks Canada underwater archeologist, discuss the search for the Franklin expedition ships aboard the Sir Wilfrid Laurier, near Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, during the prime minister’s eighth annual tour of the North last summer.


George Kourounis, host of the TV series Angry Planet, returned to the small screen Nov. 10 to 14, when the story of his Arctic voyage with One Ocean Expeditions and The Weather Network aired on an episode of the latter’s StormHunters. The trip began in Iqaluit and ended in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.


Les Stroud has travelled to harsh environments around the globe while filming his popular TV series Survivorman. His book, Beyond Survivorman, published on Nov. 19, offers a glimpse of these places, the people who live there and what they can teach us about survival.


Fraser Taylor was awarded the world’s highest honour in cartography in September, when he received the International Cartographic Association’s Carl Mannerfelt Gold Medal. The Carleton University professor was recognized for his work mapping the socio-economic and cultural aspects of places through cyber-cartography.


Search our sites: ,

Digital Edition available now!
Sign up for our newsletters

Can Geo POLL

How do you plan on spending your summer vacation?

Road trip

Comments (optional):

Meet our client partners
Can Geo Contests
Featured Destinations
Advertiser Directory

Canadian Geographic Magazine | Can Geo Education | Mapping & Cartography | Canadian Geographic Photo Club | Kids | Canadian Contests | Canadian Lesson Plans

Royal Canadian Geographical Society | Canadian Geographic Education | Canadian Geographic Challenge | Canadian Award for Environmental Innovation

Subscribe | Customer Care / Login | Renew | Give a Gift | Pay a Bill | Digital Edition | Back Issues | Calendars | Special Publications

Jobs | Internships | Submission Guidelines

© 2016 Canadian Geographic Enterprises