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September/October 2001 issue

THE INSIDE STORY

Northern passage
For John Dunn, the backcountry of British Columbia is as welcoming as his backyard. "I try to find as wild a place as possible," the photographer and adventurer says of his expeditions.
In early October, Dunn’s fifth lecture series for the Society, "Journey North," will take audiences on a 2,500-kilometre trek from Tofino, on Vancouver Island, to Fort Nelson in northeastern B.C. (featured in CG Jul/Aug 1998).

Dunn’s demanding excursion began with a solo kayaking journey north, along the west coast of Vancouver Island. For the second stage, he teamed up with seven colleagues to navigate the Inside Passage in a 10-metre canoe, and in the final and most difficult leg of the voyage, Dunn and companion Bob Saunders spent 54 days hiking and paddling across the Canadian Cordillera, each losing 14 kilograms in the process.

All part of the adventure, says Dunn. "I feel safe and at ease out there. I just want to share the adventure and the beauty of the land."

Dunn will visit Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton and Calgary on a tour sponsored by the RCGS and Queen’s University Alumni Association.

— Stefan Norman

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Armchar travel
Upwards of 16 million people hit Canada’s national parks each summer. So it’s likely that at least some of you are just now filing away the snapshots of your park vacation. If you want to re-live the experience or explore new possibilities for next year, Sacred Spaces may be what you need.

The two-hour documentary brings the splendid expanses of all 39 national parks to the comfort of your living room. From coast to coast to coast, the film takes viewers through the rugged tablelands of Gros Morne, Nfld., to the daring folk who battle with avalanches at Glacier National Park, B.C.

Catch Sacred Spaces on the Discovery Channel in December (broadcast details in our Nov/Dec issue), or look for the video in our fall/winter catalogue, enclosed with this issue.

Whales on location
Canadian Geographic Presents took to the ice near Baffin Island in July to catch bowhead whales — some of the world’s longest-living creatures - on film.
In the 1990s, ancient spearheads discovered in the carcasses of whales killed near Alaska sparked scientists’ curiosity about the age of the giant sea mammals. Subsequent research suggests that bowheads may live to be more than 200 years old, rivalling the record-holding giant tortoises and clams.

"The proximity was the best thing about this shoot," says director Ian Kerr. "I’ve filmed whales before but I’ve never been this close." The crew even managed to get sprayed by breaching whales. Footage from Baffin Island will supplement other filming near Barrow, Alaska, for Immortals of the Arctic: The Bowhead Whale, which airs on the Discovery Channel in January.

— Stefan Norman

Silver lining
Canada’s team won silver at the fifth International Geographic Olympiad, which was sponsored by the National Geographic Society and held in Vancouver in August.
Team members (from left) Walter Chan, 14, of Toronto; Matthieu Beauchemin, 16, of Beauport, Que.; Jean-François Ouellette, 15, of Edmundston, N.B.; and Pierre-Olivier D’Amours, 13, of St-Jacques, N.B., finished just behind the United States, while Hungary’s first-ever entry in the Olympiad earned bronze.

Studies in stone
Norman Hallendy smiles wryly and shrugs when asked about the symbolism of an inuksuk he assembled in his garden, high on a ridge near Carp, Ont. "It simply means ’I am thankful,’" he says. He points to another and explains how Inuit would have left offerings by it, hoping for good fortune. Nestled at its base is a toonie, placed there in jest by a visitor.
The numerous inuksuit in Hallendy’s backyard speak to his decades-old love affair with the Arctic and his fascination with the stone figures Inuit have used for millennia as navigational tools, objects of veneration and markers for good hunting and fishing grounds.
For his role in uncovering and interpreting the mysteries of inuksuit, Hallendy has been awarded The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s 2001 Gold Medal, which recognizes significant achievement in the field of geography.

The 69-year-old retired public servant first encountered the rock structures in 1958, while travelling to Baffin Island for the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources.
He has been returning to the Arctic to interview elders for 40 years and has become the leading authority on inuksuit outside the Inuit community. His research and photographs are featured in a Canadian Museum of Civilization exhibit that opened in 1994 and has since toured Canada, Europe and South America. His work has also been compiled into a book, Inuksuit: Silent Messengers of the Arctic (see review, CG Mar/Apr 2001).

Hallendy often returns to the Arctic, which, he says, continues to fill him with the wonder of a child.

For more on Hallendy’s work, see "Places of power," CG Mar/Apr 1997.

— Monique Roy-Sole

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