The arrival of the warmer weather usually signifies that it's time to slow down, relax and recharge, but at The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, summer is a time for exploration, celebration and coming up with new ways to make Canada better known to Canadians and the world.
While best known for its iconic magazine, Canadian Geographic, the Society also supports expeditions across the country, provides grants and scholarships for geography research, and promotes geographic literacy through a variety of free teacher resources.
Here are 10 things the RCGS has been up to since the beginning of June:
1. The Canadian Geographic Challenge
The weekend of June 4 and 5 was a memorable one for the 20 finalists from across Canada of the Canadian Geographic Challenge. In addition to competing for geographic supremacy, the students were treated to a tour of Ottawa landmarks. Though all the finalists demonstrated a tremendous knowledge of geography (and nerves of steel when it came down to the live final in front of a packed theatre at the Canadian War Museum), Grade 10 student Jack Cheng of Calgary, Alta. took home the top prize of $5,000 ... and was personally congratulated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau!
2. Canada's Coolest School Trip
This year, Canada's Coolest School Trip saw a Grade 7/8 class from Duke of Connaught Junior Senior School in Toronto spend an exciting week in Jasper National Park. Highlights included checking out the view from Brewster Travel's Glacier Skywalk, exploring Maligne Canyon, and taking part in a traditional aboriginal smudging ceremony at the Palisades Stewardship Education Centre. Watch for Canadian Geographic's fall Travel issue, on newsstands in September, for a full story and more photos from the trip.
On June 8, the RCGS named diver Jill Heinerth its first-ever Explorer-in-Residence. The program is designed to foster greater awareness among Canadians of the expeditions and field research being carried out by the nation’s top explorers, scientists and conservationists. The following day, Jill appeared on CTV's The Social, where she divulged some of the secrets of her groundbreaking work.
4. Classroom Energy Diet Challenge wins award
Fresh on the heels of its successful fifth year, the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge was recognized with an award from the Alberta Emerald Foundation for excellence in public education and outreach. Dr. Lynn Moorman, a Fellow and Governor of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, accepted the award on behalf of Canadian Geographic Education at the awards gala in Calgary June 8.
5. Research grants
6. Greening businesses in South America
The latest instalment of Charting Change, an initiative of Canadian Geographic and the International Development Research Centre, highlights how small businesses in South America can make big contributions to the sustainability of the food and textile industries. Check out the Charting Change website for more stories about innovative projects in the developing world.
7. Replica First World War biplanes unveiled
For the past several months, volunteers at the Canadian Museum of Flight in Langley, B.C., have been building two single-seater biplanes in honour of the upcoming centenary of the battle of Vimy Ridge. The fully-functional replicas were unveiled during an event at the museum June 17. The build is part of Wings of Courage, the second instalment of A Nation Soars, a trilogy of films and accompanying educational materials commemorating Canada’s Great War flyers.
8. Canadian Geographic salutes women explorers
The July/August 2016 issue of Canadian Geographic magazine celebrates Canadian women breaking new ground, including astronauts Roberta Bondar and Julie Payette, fossil hunter Wendy Sloboda and mountaineers Baiba Morrow, Jen Olson, and Sharon Wood. Pick up your copy on newsstands now through September 12.
9. 2016 expeditions
Two more of this year's RCGS-supported expeditions are now underway. Know The North will see seven young paddlers travel more than 1,300 kilometres on a quest to deepen their knowledge of Canada's geography, while the Bugaboo Spire Centennial Climb will recreate the historic first ascent of the 3,204-meter peak in B.C.'s Purcell Mountains.
10. Commemorative coins
Excitement is mounting for Canada's sesquicentennial year, and thanks to members of Canadian Geographic's Photo Club, even our currency will celebrate Canada's grandeur. The Royal Canadian Mint has produced a collectible coin series featuring iconic Canadian scenes. The Mint will release one coin each month from now until July 2017. The image featured on each coin will also appear in the "Big Picture" department of Canadian Geographic magazine.