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Dr. John England (earth and atmospheric sciences) was named as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, for 2012.

In the following slides, he offers some memories of his research and travels.

This is me (left) and Chris MacKahey, on eastern Baffin Island (1965). I’m holding up fresh caribou given to us by a group of Inuk hunters who passed by our camp. Chris holds our fine cooking!

Here we are on on a mass balance transect across the Barnes Ice Cap, central Baffin Island during my early days as a summer field assistant on Baffin Island. The Barnes Ice Cap is the last remnant of the former Laurentide Ice Sheet that still covered most of mainland Canada up to12,000 years ago. The photo was taken at midnight, early May (1966), and the cliffs of the ice cap’s northeast margin can be seen (left centre) above the flat expanse of ice-covered Conn Lake, impounded between the higher terrain (right background) and the ice cap.

My 21st birthday on the Barnes Ice Cap, central Baffin Island (1967). I was a field assistant helping to survey the ice cap’s annual mass balance measurements. Left to right: Olav Loken (party chief), Pat McLaren with me (JE) on his shoulders, Doug Hodgson (in supporting role!) and John Clough (squatting).

Typical fly camp along outer Inugsuin Fiord, eastern Baffin Island, July, 1965. I was a field assistant investigating the glacial and sea level history while surveying the coast by small boat. The serenity of the Arctic suffused and sparked my interest when I was then eighteen.

Me surveying raised marine shorelines at the head of Archer Fiord, northeast Ellesmere Island, during the first year of my PhD research, early June, 1971.

One of the two notes I found during my PhD research on northeast Ellesmere Island. This note was left by the British expedition led by Sir George Nares, and bears the signature of Captain Stephenson of HMS Discovery (March 10, 1876) that was then anchored in Discovery Harbour, just offshore from the future sight of Ft. Conger. I found the note on Mt. Campbell, Bellot Island (nearby).

Me in 1978, along the shores of the Arctic Ocean. I’m holding up a wooden plank from a food cache left by Robert Peary, on one of his efforts to reach the north pole from northern Ellesmere Island during the early 1900’s. The plank was from an Eagle Brand box (sweetened condensed milk) and appropriately reads, “store in a cool, dry place”!

Scenic outlet glaciers converging onto the floor of a valley inland of Glacier Fiord, southeast Axel Heiberg Island. I took the photograph from a Twin Otter in 1981 en route to Ellesmere Island. I’ve studied the past activity (Ice Age to present) of such glaciers across the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, and surveyed and dated countless raised marine shorelines that record uplift of the earth’s crust following ice retreat during the past 10,000 years. This uplift of the land continues in many parts of northern Canada today and its documentation provides essential input for modelling on-going sea level change throughout the world.

A small, rock-framed fox trap replete with a fox skull that I opened in 1971 on northern Ellesmere Island. This site likely dates from the Thule Culture ca. 1000 years ago whose remains are quite common around throughout the eastern Canadian Arctic.

View northward across the Hazen Plateau to the ice-covered Grant Land Mts of northeast Ellesmere Island (~80 km distance, 2500 meters above sea level). View is from the head of Chandler Fiord (foreground) northward up the still-frozen Ruggles River that flows from Lake Hazen at the base of the mountains. In 1972, I proposed what is now Quttinirpaaq National Park and conducted its first Natural Resource Inventory (1981) with Catherine La Farge, Steve Zoltai, Jan Bednarski, Josef Svoboda, Lyn Kershaw, Don Lemmen and Tom Stewart. This included the boundaries of what is now Canada’s northernmost and second-largest park.

This is the second note I found, left by the late 19th century explorers on northeast Ellesmere Island. This note is particularly relevant as it details the initial discoveries of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, led by Adolphus Greely, leader of the United States’ contribution to the First Polar Year (1881-82), referred to in the opening line. The note was several pages in length, signed by second-in-command, Lieutenant Lockwood who deposited it in a cairn at Record Point, Archer Fiord, ~70 km west of their base at Ft. Conger, Discovery Harbour. JE found the cairn while sledding over the sea ice in June, 1972. The note resides at the National Archives, Ottawa.

View southward along the mountainous east coast of Judge Daly Promontory, northeast Ellesmere Island, Nunavut. This is the coastline that Greely and his party followed southward in the fall of 1883, en route to their tragic overwintering at Cape Sabine, ca. 300 km away.

Bob the wolf, boot thief.

Affectionately known as “Bob the wolf”, I took this photograph as I was laying on the ground (hence outof-focus foot in the foreground). “Bob” had stolen a graduate student’s boot - requiring a replacement pair to be flown all the way to our camp on Axel Heiberg Island from Yellowknife (a few thousand kilometres away), obviously at great effort and expense. Days after the arrival of the replacement boots in this remote camp, Bob craftily brought the previously pilfered boot back, undamaged! One of our many humorous stories.

The award of an NSERC Northern Research Chair to JE (2002-2012) substantially expanded and diversified my research program in the western Canadian Arctic. The support allowed me to diversify my research to include partnerships with the students from Aurora College, Inuvik. Here, I’m (middle) sharing my 2005 camp on northern Banks Island with two remarkable Inuvialuit students (Vernon Amos, left, and Eli Nasogaluak, right), enrolled in the Environmental and Natural Resources Technology Program. Both of these individuals remain close friends and are leaders in environmental decisionmaking throughout the Mackenzie-Beaufort region.

The world-renown Canadian Twin Otter equipped with “big wheels” enabling it to land camps in rugged, isolated sites throughout the Arctic where air strips are absent. This is a ‘Twin” provided to us by the Polar Continental Shelf Program (NRCan, Ottawa) based out of Resolute Bay, Cornwallis Island. Inclement weather and difficult terrain have rendered many harrowing stories of this iconic aircraft’s amazing exploits at the hands of remarkable pilots. The best in the world!

This is a picture of me, standing on the cliff at the southern margin of the Hazen Plateau, now within Quttinirpaaq National Park, northern Ellesmere island. View is to the southwest across the sea ice of Lady Franklin Bay to Judge Daly Promontory on the horizon. Cliff is about 1000 m high.

Spectacular piedmont glacier descending to the valley floor inland of Li Fiord, western Axel Heiburg Island. Photographed in July, 2000, while on a helicopter survey of the Quaternary glacial and sea level history of this area with Roy Coulthard, a graduate student in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

Me, with President Yoland GrisĂŠ, at my induction into the Royal Society of Canada, Ottawa, 2012. I plan to remain engaged in northern research and to promote the importance of our northern heritage to the Canadian public.

Royal Society Fellow John England  

For almost fifty years, England has documented environmental changes across the Canadian Arctic Archipelago - from the last ice age to the m...

Royal Society Fellow John England  

For almost fifty years, England has documented environmental changes across the Canadian Arctic Archipelago - from the last ice age to the m...