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Canadian Geographical Journal

(published in May 1930)

By F. G. Banting

EVERY SUMMER, the Canadian Government sends an expedition by ship to the islands in the Eastern part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The purpose of the expedition is to replenish supplies at the various Government posts in the Arctic, to transport officers of the various Departments of the Government back and forth and, generally, to further the administration of that vast area.

Through the coutesy of the Minister of the Interior, Mr. A. Y. Jackson, the well-known artist, and I were privileged to accompany the expedition of 1927, which was under the command of Mr. G. P. MacKenzie.

From a painting by A. Y. Jackson

The two men traveled on the steamship ‘Beothic,’ leaving North Sydney on July 16th, with Banting detailing their journey. Here are some of the paintings and drawings the two men produced, with some excerpts from the article.

The Climate — ‘The Arctic Summer is not as cold as one might expect. On our trip the thermometer registered between 60 degrees and 70 degrees at Bache. In protected sports, the flowering mosses of various colours and the buzzing mosquitoes reminded us of a summer day at home’

From a drawing by F. G. Banting

Post of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, with ‘R.C.M.P.’ designed in boulders on the hillside.

The Dangers — ‘As we crossed Craig Harbour back to Greenland we were more and more impressed with the dangers of Arctic navigation. There was no charted course. No soundings had been made. Bearings could not be taken from the sun because of the dense fog … Such difficulties were not new to Captain Falke, and by means of his instinct and sense of direction he landed us safely at Etah.’

From a painting by F. G. Banting

The Inuit, still referred to as Eskimos — ‘At the present time the Arctic is undergoing a rapid change. Civilization is advancing upon it. For generations the Eskimos stalked the caribou to kill them with bow and arrow, and found it difficult to obtain sufficient for food and clothing. But, with the high-powered rifles killing was so easy that they shot more than they could use, and as a result the number of caribou has been tremendously decreased. An arctic-wide educational campaign has now taught the Eskimos to conserve this valuable food supply … The people of Canada need have no misgivings as to the manner in which the situation is being handled by Government authorities.’

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