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Back River Expedition

Back Down the River

Photo: George Drought
Maps don’t always tell the truth. That’s what George Drought learned as he canoed Nunavut’s isolated Back River last summer. After navigating the challenging Malley Rapids, he discovered that they were wrongly placed on not one but two different maps.

“People travelling on rivers in remote areas should be extremely careful with topographic maps,” the Ontario filmmaker now cautions. To navigate the rapids safely, he had to rely on the original journal of Sir George Back, who first explored the river in 1834.

Drought, who is also a professional river guide, and his wife Barbara Burton led a six-week expedition down the Back River, encountering muskox, caribou and countless bird species along the way. With the assistance of a Society grant, he’s producing a film on his 800-kilometre journey and the history of the Barrens and intends to distribute it in Northwest Territories and Nunavut schools. And, with broadcast and film-festival plans, Drought also hopes his documentary will shed light on the river’s ecotourism potential.

— Espen Larsen

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