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Northern People, Northern Knowledge - 
The Story Of The Canadian Arctic Expedition 1913 - 1918
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The scientists of the Canadian Arctic Expedition returned from their Arctic explorations with thousands of specimens of animals, plants, fossils and rocks, and thousands of artifacts from the Copper Inuit and other Native cultures of the Arctic. The men of the Expedition, primarily the official photographer, George Wilkins, also shot thousands of photographs and several thousand feet of movie film, covering all aspects of the expedition and its objectives. Most of this material is held in national collections in museums and archives in Ottawa. Drawing on these various museum collections and databases, this section samples some highlights of the extensive collections resulting from the Expedition.

CMC CD95-944-029

Five CAE men and CAE freight (mostly specimens for the museum) awaiting loading on a lighter alongside the coastal steamer S.S. Northwestern, destined for Seattle; at Nome, Alaska. August 29, 1916. RMA 39341. Source: Canadian Museum of Civilization

CMC CD99-178-021

Six CAE men and CAE freight on a lighter awaiting loading onto S.S. Northwestern, at Nome, Alaska. August 29, 1916. RMA 39342. Source: Canadian Museum of Civilization

Due to the Expedition being divided into two parties with different objectives, and travelling in different areas, many of the specimens were collected by amateurs or untrained men. The Inuit and Inupiat hunters made many contributions to the museum collections. For example, young Patsy Klengenberg helped Dr. Anderson in both acquiring and preparing specimens of birds and mammals. George Wilkins and Captain Peter Bernard collected biological specimens in the absence of official scientists on the Northern Party. Stefansson, himself an ethnologist, left most of the collecting to others and John Hadley was left with the responsibility of trying to sort out hundreds of unlabelled artifacts that Stefansson, Gonzales, and others acquired on Banks and Victoria Islands.

  • Video:
    Men hunting seal on the ice, with dogs
  • Video:
    Finding and probing a seal hole
  • Video:
    Woman using and sharpening an ulu
  • Video:
    Inuit seamstress
  • Video:
    Inuit man fixing arrows and then shooting them from a bow

CMC CD95-945-007

Patsy Klengenberg holding Pacific eider duck and King eider duck, Bernard Harbour, Nunavut. July 3, 1915. RMA 39359. Source: Canadian Museum of Civilization