Bloggers

David Gray
David Gray is an independent researcher, writer and filmmaker, specializing in Arctic animals, ecology and history. The author of three books, he has created two Virtual Museum of Canada exhibitions and served as curator of several major museum exhibitions. He is a research associate at both the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Gray has been scientific advisor for five television films on Arctic wildlife and has completed three historical documentaries, one on Arctic exploration, Arctic Shadows, and two on early Canadian immigration. He is currently working on four other films, two with Arctic themes and two on early Sikh immigration to Canada.


Karine Lelièvre
Karine Lelièvre holds a Master's degree in Museology and has been a senior interpretive planner at the Canadian Museum of Civilization since 2005. She works closely with content specialists on the development of exhibitions that will delight the Museum's audiences. For each new project, she seeks innovative means of offering memorable and enriching experiences. Expedition: Arctic is her sixth exhibition project.



Featured Explorers

Aarnout Castel
Aarnout Castel was born in Holland and graduated from a naval school there. He had been working on whaling ships, and Stefansson knew him personally, since they met at Herschel Island in 1906. When he was hired for the Canadian Arctic Expedition, Castel was a sailor on the whaler Belvedere. He was placed in charge of one of the expedition’s ships, the Alaska, during the trip to Bernard Harbour in the summer of 1914, and travelled with Dr. Anderson and Diamond Jenness up the Coppermine River in 1915.

After the expedition, Castel became a trader along the Siberian coast, using his own schooner, Belinda. He and Dr. R. M. Anderson corresponded until 1924.


Vilhjalmur Stefansson
Born in Manitoba in 1879, Vilhjalmur Stefansson spent four years (1908–1912) in the western Arctic with Rudolph M. Anderson. That expedition was sponsored by an American museum. When Stefansson planned a new one to continue his anthropological work and search for unknown lands in the Beaufort Sea, Canadian prime minister Sir Robert Borden arranged to fund the expedition as a Canadian enterprise.

Stefansson became leader of the Canadian Arctic Expedition and, with his Northern Party companions, found new islands in Canada’s north. His leadership was controversial, and many blamed him for the deaths that occurred. He did not return to the Arctic after 1918 but continued to write about his “friendly Arctic.”


Rudolph M. Anderson
Dr. Rudolph Martin Anderson, a zoologist, spent seven winters and ten summers north of the Arctic Circle. Appointed leader of the Southern Party of the Canadian Arctic Expedition, he was involved in all aspects of the expedition, from ordering supplies to navigating. He contributed 800 photos to the expedition's records and was named editor of its reports.

Anderson returned to the Arctic in 1927 as a naturalist on the annual Eastern Arctic Patrol. As chief of the Biology Division of Canada's National Museum, he travelled throughout the country, collecting specimens and information that formed an important foundation for publications and legislation on Canada's wildlife.


Otto Nahmens
Otto Nahmens, an American seaman, served as third officer on voyages from San Francisco to the Orient. He followed the sea to Nome, where he worked as a miner. In July 1913, Stefansson hired him at Nome as captain of the expedition schooner Alaska.

After accompanying the expedition scientists on some of their trips, Nahmens left the Canadian Arctic Expedition in June 1914. He returned to his previous life as an officer on an American trans-Pacific freighter.


Diamond Jenness
New Zealand-born and Oxford-educated, Diamond Jenness became Canada's foremost anthropologist. His career was founded on his work with the Canadian Arctic Expedition. His task on the CAE was to study the little-known Copper Inuit of the Coronation Gulf region of the Canadian Arctic.

Jenness's experiences and the knowledge he gained were documented in several volumes of the expedition reports, as well as in two books for general readers that are still popular, The People of the Twilight and Dawn in Arctic Alaska. His studies of Canada's Aboriginal peoples resulted in a major work, The Indians of Canada.


George H. Wilkins
Hired as expedition photographer, Australian George Hubert Wilkins became an essential member of the scientific and exploration teams. He documented expedition activities and personnel while travelling with both the Northern and Southern parties.

After returning from the Arctic, Wilkins was commissioned to make a photographic record of First World War operations in northern France. He later served with the Shackleton Antarctic Expedition and a British expedition in Australia. He also made a pioneering polar flight from Alaska to Spitzbergen, for which he was knighted by King George V.


Daniel Blue
Daniel Blue, a native of Scotland, learned the machinist's trade (steam engineering) in Glasgow. He went to Alaska in 1906, and worked as a prospector and miner there until his gold mine was flooded and he lost everything.

Blue was hired as engineer for the schooner Alaska in March 1914, but he participated in other expedition activities as well. With his own dog team, he accompanied Dr. Rudolph Anderson into the mountains of northern Alaska and on the long trip up the Coppermine River. He served with the expedition until his death from pneumonia in May 1915, in the Baillie Islands.


John Hadley
Englishman John Hadley served in both the Chinese and Chilean navies, and he had 25 years' experience in the North when he was hired by Stefansson. . Hadley was the only member of the Karluk crew who remained with the Canadian Arctic Expedition after surviving the loss of the ship.

Hadley was part of several support parties in Stefansson's quest for new land. He took more photos than any other member of the Northern Party and was also responsible for looking after the specimens and artifacts collected by the party's members. Hadley died in San Francisco in 1918, during the flu epidemic.


August Masik
Estonian sailor August Masik moved to Nome, Alaska, in 1914. He went to Banks Island in 1917 to trap Arctic foxes. Accompanied by Otto Binder, he crossed the pass now known as Masik Pass to the Canadian Arctic Expedition camp near Cape Kellett. There he was hired to help prepare the Mary Sachs for her voyage out of the Arctic.

Stefansson appointed Masik first mate of the Challenge for a short time, then second officer on the Polar Bear for almost a year. Masik also participated in the expedition's last ice trip north of Alaska, under Storkersen in 1918. He lived most of the rest of his life on the coast of Alaska.