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Retracing Albert Peter Low’s journeys

Seeking a Low Profile
NEAR THE END of a five-week canoe expedition to retrace some of Albert Peter Low’s journeys, James Stone can barely contain his admiration for the geologist who mapped large tracts of Labrador and northern Quebec from 1884 to 1895. "He was one tough dude!" exclaims Stone over the crackle of his satellite phone from his campsite on a southern tributary of the Rupert River near James Bay. Indeed, Low covered some 12,800 kilometres on foot and by canoe in the harsh terrain of the Labrador Peninsula. His surveys of the sparsely populated region laid the foundation for the Quebec-Labrador border.

Low also led the first official government expedition to entrench Canadian sovereignty over much of the eastern Arctic in 1903-04 and became the deputy minister of mines in 1907. Despite his many accomplishments, Low remains an obscure figure in the annals of Canada’s exploration history. Last summer, in an attempt to get a better sense of Low’s personality and drive, Stone and expedition partner Max Finkelstein undertook his treks of 1885, 1892, 1893 and 1895, through the marshes and bone-chilling mist between Lac Naococane, near the Quebec-Labrador border, and Oatmeal Falls, about 100 kilometres inland from James Bay. Their voyage was supported by a $5,000 expedition grant from The Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Though Stone says he and Finkelstein didn’t find "notes on trees or A. P. Low’s name carved into rock," their trip — including some 75 back-breaking portages — has given them insight into Low’s character and working conditions. It will be an invaluable source of inspiration as they sit down to write a biography and produce
a video about the unsung geologist.

— Monique Roy-Sole

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