1 The McGill-Carnegie-Arctic Research Program had been established several years previously to help counter the shortage of scholars involved in Arctic research. My initial immigration to Canada was made possible by the award of one of the scholarships of that program.
2 Today the Glaciology Section is part of the GSC. The original design for the glaciology program included an east–west transect across the Rocky Mountains and the Coast Ranges for long-term glacier mass balance studies and a glacier inventory for the entire country in addition to the work on Baffin Island.
1 | Baffin Island: The Place and the Research
1 Inuktorfik Lake (“the place where they ate human flesh”) was named after a tragic occasion when an entire Inuit hunting party was marooned by early snowmelt, all but one succumbing to starvation and traditional cannibalism. The name was printed on the topo map (scale 1:250 000) that we used in the 1960s. It is still there, as of 2013.
2 Recently Dr. Patricia Sutherland has uncovered archaeological evidence that indicates long-term residence by Vikings within Hudson Strait and possibly along the northeastern coast of Baffin Island (Sutherland, 2009).
3 Determination to prevent the disappearance of this name from Canadian cartography prompted a recommendation for the 1:500 000 map sheet name “Cockburn Land” and naming of the extensive system of glacial moraines as the Cockburn Moraines. Sir George Cockburn (pronounced “Coh-burn”) was the first chairman of the Arctic Committee and Lord of the Admiralty, 1834–1835 and 1841–1846. W. E. Parry says he named the northern portion of “Baffin’s Land after Lord Cockburn whose warm interest in everything relating to northern discovery can only be surpassed by the public zeal with which he always promoted it” (Parry, 1824, p. 330).
4 There undoubtedly were numerous Inuit place names, and likely multiple names for the same feature, possibly due to the lack of contact between different groups, although these were unknown to us at the time. More recently, many of the old Eurocentric names have been replaced with Inuit names. Perhaps the most prominent is the highly appropriate substitution of Iqaluit for Frobisher Bay.
5 Several of these place names, and others not listed here, should also be attributed to the Scottish whalers.
6 W. Vaughan Lewis was reader in geography, University of Cambridge, and one of the leading glacial geomorphologists of the period. He provided much advice and assistance for our undergraduate student expeditions to Iceland (1952–1954). He was on his way to visit me at the Geographical Branch in the early summer of 1961 when the car in which he was a passenger, en route to O’Hare Airport in Chicago, was struck by a gasoline tanker, causing his tragic death.
7 Cape Christian was a U.S. Coast Guard station operated from Boston. It used the LORAN (long range navigation) system and supported aviation and sea operations out of Thule, Greenland. Not a DEW Line station, it was strictly off limits.
8 Unfortunately, the paper he intended to submit for publication in the Geographical Bulletin was never completed, due to the pressure of other responsibilities.
9 The Geographical Branch Baffin Island project confirmed this hypothesis. Subsequently, deep drilling on the Penny and Devon Island ice caps arrived at similar conclusions, based on dating bottom layers of both.
10 Dr. W. van Steenburgh was director general of scientific services (later, deputy minister). As such, he was the ultimate authority. His scientific training as a biologist was especially important from my point of view as he had no direct scientific affiliation with any of the five branches of the department.
2 | Reconnaissance 1961: Learning about Airborne Support
1 Hugh had been a member of the 1953 AINA expedition to the Penny Ice Cap and had completed his doctorate at McGill University (1954) on the geomorphology and glacial history of Pangnirtung Pass.
2 Captain R. M. Southern, after a long career with the Royal Navy during which he specialized in hydrographic survey, was recruited by the Arctic Institute of North America as principal investigator to manage a contract with the Canadian Hydrographic Service. This was to produce The Arctic Pilot and Sailing Directions. Capt. Southern was a taskmaster of the first order, but a very fine character, and I was proud to work under his strict discipline.
3 The lab’s name (McGill Sub-Arctic Research Station) and functions changed in 1971.
4 This level of precision was not available until the following year, when our Surveys and Mapping Branch had begun work on 1:50,000 scale topographic maps.
5 I justified this name proposal to the Canadian Permanent Committee on Geographical Names in the following manner. All the time we spent in the upper watershed of the Isortoq and Rimrock rivers, we had to contend with wretched drinking water—most surfaces had a layer of fine silt. Rimrock Lake itself was clouded with silt, the result of being in the basin of a series of former ice-dammed lakes. Once across the local divide, we had beautiful clear water—hence the “Freshney River.” So I was able to conform to the formal rules of nomenclature that required “local” justification. It was not entirely incidental, however, that the beautiful trout stream where I used to fish as a teenager and which flowed into Grimsby’s River Head in North Lincolnshire was called the Freshney.
6 We had pondered over a suitable name for this strategically located lake that would prove vital for future operations. It was dammed up against the ice cap. The several higher abandoned shorelines ringing the lake indicated recent loss of level, and a series of glacial drainage channels down the side of and beneath the Lewis Glacier pointed to the path of the escaping water. We were stumped for a really good name until Pauline made a play on its uncertain future—while also provoking a degree of gallows humour—and proposed “Flitaway.” In 1963, the lake gave us a scare with an abrupt fall in level, but it was still in existence in 2013, although considerably smaller.
7 Landing a floatplane required a much shorter distance than takeoff, as the pressure of the water on the pontoons while landing rapidly checked the forward motion, serving as a brake.
8 It was at this camp that we had to arrange for Peter to transfer to Vic’s operation because of continued aircraft problems and shortage of food—hence “Separation Lake.”
9 Now, a half-century later when climate warming is a major newsmaker, there is a precise basis for determining the absolute amount of ice-margin retreat.
10 We surveyed from the highest indications of contemporary tide level to the highest signs of wave action on the glacial moraine (i.e., the “marine limit”).
11 John decided that the tempting Arctic hares should be regarded as a source of food; we were not quite at the starvation point, but close enough. He took out the rifle and proceeded as the “great white hunter.” Lying full length and carefully sighting, he squeezed the trigger. His target simply hopped a few feet away and again remained still. Another shot, and the same result, though John swore that he could not have missed. On his third try, the hare collapsed. On retrieving it, however, John found that that he had scored three direct hits on the poor thing: each shot had passed right through the hare.
12 Our field rations were very spartan, designed for cooking on one-pint primus stoves: pemmican, relieved on Sundays by corned beef and (infrequent) cans of fruit in syrup, porridge oats, lots of chocolate, canned sardines, dried fruit, canned Maple Leaf butter, sugar, dried soups, ships biscuits, tea, Nescafé, cans of condensed milk, powdered milk (Klim), and one bottle of Hennessey cognac. The much superior freeze-dried food was just coming onto the market; it was in the face of threat to revolt by the student assistants in later years that I converted to freeze-dried food.
13 Before our departure, Station Chief Lou took me aside: “Advice for next year, old chap! Please inform by radio whoever is station chief when you plan a flight to any of the DEW Line stations. Then we can record your presence. This damned radar isn’t good enough to spot you. … And don’t tell the Russians!”
3 | Building the Team and Developing Credibility
1 In part, this demonstation of progress in applied economic geography was considered essential to our claim that a strong Geographical Branch could undertake research of immediate practical or economic value to Canada. For example, an early undertaking was a study of the dates of freeze-up and ice breakup of the St. Lawrence Seaway; as a result, the seaway authority was able to extend the shipping season by several days, a decision worth many millions of dollars.
2 The situation was further exacerbated by the attitudes of several of the senior members of head office. To provide one disturbing example, I was asked by the director of personnel how I could expect exceptions regarding specializations when, in his recollection, competence in geography simply entailed memorizing the names of capital cities, major rivers, and items of trade between different countries!
3 The Abisko Symposium, led by Professor Gunnar Hoppe, involved a week of field excursions based on Abisko, in Arctic Sweden. It was part of the 1960 International Geographical Congress, with Stockholm as the primary meeting place. The symposium, which attracted most of the world’s leading glacial geomorphologists, involved field demonstration of the great advances in Scandinavian research—much of which overturned the standard thinking of the time. The outstanding weather and exceptional conviviality of the symposium led to many lifelong international friendships and collaborations.
4 Professor Hoppe had invited me to dinner prior to my lecture. Inevitably, we discussed the nunatak hypothesis and agreed to disagree. In his summing up after my lecture, he stated that, as he was certain the entire audience would oppose my comments about the nunatak hypothesis, no questions on that topic would be allowed. He was more concerned about my description of large, open, ice-dammed lakes in northeastern Labrador-Ungava, especially since earlier work in Scandinavia had presented similar conclusions but those had been recently overturned. There followed a vigorous question-and-answer session; I persuaded most in the audience that my Labrador-Ungava evidence needed careful consideration, at least. In 2002, I was delighted to receive a copy of a Stockholm doctoral dissertation from its author, Krister N. Jansson, together with greetings from the renowned Professor Hoppe. The frontispiece was devoted to a long quotation from the paper that had been the basis for my lecture in Stockholm in 1961: “The damming by ice of lakes several thousands of square miles in extent and up to 1,000 feet deep, would have required a massive ice barrier to shut off their natural drainage outlet—Ungava Bay. Allied with the conclusions drawn from the Torngat Mountains, this results in the postulation of a major cupola of the inland ice over the present site of Ungava Bay until relatively late in glacial time. This concept is somewhat alien to current hypothetical thought (Ives, 1960[b]).”
5 Gunnar had invited me home to dinner to meet his wife, Britta, and their three children. Britta was delightful although more than a little dubious of the sudden news that she was about to emigrate to Canada. Gunnar extolled the virtues of their future prospects: there was such a lot of ice on Baffin Island—much more than Norway and Sweden combined! After dinner, and somewhat whimsically, Britta invited me to see her refrigerator. This surprised me. But when she opened the freezing unit, I could not restrain a laugh. “Look!” she said, “All the space is taken by Gunnar’s ice samples. You will have to watch him very carefully or else he will try to bring half the Barnes Ice Cap down to Ottawa.” Little did I know then how prescient she was (see chapter 4).
6 The actual origins and vicissitudes of glaciological research within the Canadian federal government are too complicated to relate within the context of this book and go well beyond its objectives; nevertheless, an outline is warranted. Prior to my appointment with the Geographical Branch, there had been a considerable glaciological research effort, some of which was ongoing. As this was related to the emerging Cold War, it focussed on the High Arctic and the Arctic Ocean—ice islands, the Ellesmere ice shelf, and Operation Hazen—and was primarily located within the Defence Research Board, under the leadership of Geoffrey Hattersley-Smith and Moira Dunbar. In 1960, with Fred Roots as director, the Polar Continental Shelf Project (PCSP) being established within the Department of Mines and Technical Surveys was also aimed at the High Arctic, but as a combined logistical and research operation. Several new research positions had been created, although they were placed administratively within different branches of the Department of Mines and Technical Surveys; two were allocated to the Geographical Branch. One was used to recruit Keith Arnold, who began glaciological research on Meighan Island. He became a member of the branch’s Glaciology Section upon its establishment. The other was used by Geographical Branch director Norman Nicholson to recruit a human geographer who never even went North. Regardless, the Glaciology Section was the first formally established unit for glaciology within the federal government. Later, in the 1970s, the research wing of the PCSP expanded and Roy Koerner began a long and illustrious career working on the Devon Island ice cap and, subsequently, in conjunction with several others, throughout Canada. The original Glaciology Section has survived a tangle of bureaucratic manipulations. It is currently, perhaps ironically, part of the GSC, where its existence is once more precarious in the wake of the federal government’s efforts to reduce expenditures.
7 Mary decided to support my insertion of the Scandinavian language requirement into the formal job description, given the need for a Scandinavian language related to the greatly advanced research that had been completed in Norway and Sweden, much of it published in the home languages. Also, the pre-eminent research journal was Geografiska Annaler, edited and produced in Stockholm. It was a surprise to me that this critical journal was not available in the otherwise impressive library of the GSC.
8 While I anxiously restrained the mountaineering instincts of many members of the summer field teams, Uwe Embacher (following a discrete lapse of time) did make the first ascent of the highest of the Inugsuin Pinnacles in 1977—solo! (see Fig. 31)
9 Two weeks before writing this passage, I attended a lecture by Professor Michael Church at Carleton University. He had just retired from a long and distinguished career on the faculty at UBC (his doctorate had been based on fieldwork in Baffin Island). My colleague Professor Chris Burn introduced Mike prior to the formal presentation and mentioned some of his many distinctions, including his recent appointment as senior editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research. But that was only the beginning. The following week, Mike arranged for me to be invited to the ceremony in Rideau Hall at which the Governor General presented him with the Massey Medal, one of the most distinguished awards conferred by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. During the reception that followed, I was delighted to be introduced to Mike’s charming mother, who kindly voiced the pleasure of meeting, after so many years, the fellow who had enticed her boy to Baffin Island.
10 While vertical air photography of Canada had begun in the early part of the twentieth century, given the immense area involved, progress was extremely slow. Towards the end of the Second World War, tri-camera (trimetragon) operations were introduced, using three interconnected cameras, the central one set to film vertically and those on either side taking oblique photographs. While this method sacrificed accuracy, progress was accelerated by six times. Flying height was set at ten thousand feet asl, and in rugged terrain such as Baffin Island, this restricted the mapping scale to 1:500,000 (eight miles to the inch). The RCAF was responsible for the photography while the Department of Mines and Technical Survey stored the negatives and produced the maps. The photographic operations involved 550 personnel and thirty-three aircraft in the field and several hundred ground personnel stationed at Rockcliffe. Three squadrons were involved, with 408 Squadron, flying eight long-range Lancaster X aircraft, undertaking the tri-camera operations. Baffin Island was photographed completely in 1948. A full account is available at http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic3-3-150.pdf.
11 The entire field area was eventually covered by topographic maps at a scale of 1:50 000, unprecedented for an uninhabited and remote Arctic region in that period, although the maps were not printed and not available for our actual fieldwork.
4 | Baffin 1962: Ice Mining on the Barnes Ice Cap
1 Hans (Housi) Weber was the only available glaciologist with gravimetric and seismological training. He had been a member of the 1953 AINA expedition to the Penny Ice Cap and was also a personal friend who had been keen to join us. Our wives, Meg and Pauline, swapped babysitting duties during our absence. Later, Housi made the first gravity measurements at the North Pole, and his son Richard undertook record-making over-ice expeditions to the Pole and across the entire Arctic Basin.
2 George recounted many years later that the surprise visit by Murray Watts was related to the prospector’s discovery of the Mary River iron deposits of northern Baffin. Murray’s Cessna pilot, Ron Sheardown, had amazed George and Mike by making their initial landing on a very shallow stretch of the upper Ravn River (then called Pilik River) where George and Mike were camping. Murray sheepishly confessed later that he had “liberated” one of George’s air photographs that they had found in his vacated base camp at the east end of Pilik Lake (now officially, Angaljurjualuk Lake). The air photograph was used to plot what he called “interesting showings” on Nuluujaak Mountain. To obtain the photograph, he must have opened unlabelled and tightly strapped fibre cases. Murray never said a word about iron ore, although it became widely known subsequently that he had discovered one of the world’s highest-grade deposits of magnetite. However, after what seems to have been an interminable delay (because of inaccessibility of the High Arctic and current easier ice conditions due to climate warming; see the Baffinland Iron Mines website for fascinating details), the first shipment of ore was finally transported in 2008 via Milne Inlet to a Thyssen blast furness in Germany. It attracted keen attention because of its unusually high grade, although the economic downturn that marked 2008 resulted in a major hiatus.
3 In practice, while in the hands of several different organizations, the research is still ongoing.
4 Gunnar’s attempt to move a large chunk of the Barnes Ice Cap to Ottawa for detailed microscopic examination and radiocarbon dating turned out to be a very mixed “success.” The positive aspect was that examination of the crystal structure present in the ice core of the moraine proved emphatically that the original source was not glacier ice. The very small crystals—in contrast to the much larger glacier ice crystals—proved, as in Swedish Lapland, that the original source was snow that had accumulated along the margin of the ice cap and been buried by the buildup of the end moraine and subsequently compressed. The early radiocarbon dates were illogically “old” when compared with other field investigations away from the ice cap. After much investigation, it had to be assumed that the anonymously “old” dates must have resulted from minute shreds of plastic scraped by loose pieces of ice from the container bottles while the samples were being backpacked from the “mining” site to the waiting Beaver aircraft. This plastic material (actually, “dead” carbon), if radiocarbon dated alone, would have yielded an infinite age. The mix of even minute particles of the plastic—with a very small amount of naturally occurring carbonaceous material—within the ice that had been collected would yield an abnormally “old” age.
5 Gunnar also managed a second “ice cream feat.” The geography department at Stockholm University had developed a tradition of serving ice cream with lunch on Fridays. This became a playful contest—of who could manage to provide ice cream originating the greatest distance from the department, e.g., from the Stockholm suburbs, Uppsala, Göteborg, Oslo—and the competition was intense. Gunnar managed to win the contest by delivery of ice cream from Baffin Island, courtesy of the chief cook at Fox-2 and the indulgence of flight attendants of three commercial airlines who succumbed to Gunnar’s persuasiveness. However, that caused total collapse of the contest! Who could possibly compete with Gunnar?
5 | Expanding Baffin Research and Wider Reconnaissance, 1963
1 The core of Roland Beschel’s doctoral dissertation was the study of the effects of air pollution on lichens in several Austrian cities. His research included measurement of the diameters of several species of rock lichens on tombstones in churchyards high in the Tyrolean Alps. The tombstones, of course, had the dates when they were erected carved into them, so he was able to plot the diameter of lichen species against their age, based on the dates when the stones had been erected, giving a timescale of nearly a thousand years. The result was a lichen growth curve, the longest section of which was a straight line. He next measured the diameters of the same species of lichens that were growing on boulders along the surface of moraine ridges fronting nearby glaciers. Through comparison with his tombstone plots, he obtained a good approximation of the actual dates of local glacier fluctuations. The brilliance of his method—which he called lichenometry—rested on the premise that it would be the single largest lichen thallus on some geomorphic or anthropologic feature that would give the best indication of age. He later applied this technique in western Greenland and on Axel Heiberg Island. His method of maximum “diameters” has stood the test of thousands of applications. While this is an extremely simplified account, it may serve as a general description of his method. It was a very important innovation for the time, as the near absence of carbonaceous material in the Arctic (inland from the coasts, where seashells and driftwood on raised beaches provided carbonaceous material) severely limited the means of dating. Roland’s premature death at the age of forty-two was not only a great loss for all of us pursuing Arctic natural science but also the tragic departure of a most engaging personality. Over the last twenty years or so, much more intensive work has been completed on the theory of lichenometry and, as so often happens in such cases, there are several complications, although the basic tenets of Beschel’s original work stand.
2 The light-toned areas have come to be referred to as “lichen-free” areas. This became a convenient form of expression that later (post-1967) caused a degree of confusion. The light-toned areas were not actually lichen-free; they were light in tone because of small-diameter lichens and very limited total lichen cover.
3 This involvement with Pat Webber led to a remarkable series of events that culminated in his succeeding me as director of the University of Colorado Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research in 1979.
4 The first sample of Barnes Ice Cap end moraine ice had proved to contain insufficient carbonaceous material to permit effective C14 dating, so a much larger sample was collected during the 1963 field season.
5 The term “black frost” is used by British fishing fleets in Arctic waters. It describes a condition that occurs during winter when trawlers are fishing in high winds and low temperatures. The heavy spray freezes on the windward superstructure and, in severe conditions, causes the vessel to capsize.
6 | Initiatives and Growth in Baffin Operations, 1963–1964
1 In practice, I became deputy chair, in deference to Mr. J.-P. Drolet, who had recently joined the department as assistant deputy minister.
2 The Geographical Branch provided, from its central budget, Canada’s annual contribution to the IGU. This also entailed responsibility for the national committee, composed primarily of university geographers; facilitation of committee meetings; and a lead role in determining allocation of funds to help Canadian geographers attend the International Geographical Congress held every four years.
3 At the time this manuscript was undergoing final corrections, this most promising encouragement accidentally came to be discussed with an old departmental colleague, who assured me that the Pleistocene geologists of the GSC were most certainly not enthusiastic about Dr. Harrison’s proposal. Therefore, I have to assume that Dr. Harrison and Dr. van Steenburgh had been confident that they could have finessed the transition. We live and learn!
4 For instance, as chair of the United Nations University Advisory Committee on Research he strongly influenced my appointment in 1978 as coordinator of its “mountain project,” allowing me the very real pleasure of working under his general supervision in one of the greatest adventures of my career. See Sustainable Mountain Development: Getting the Facts Right (Ives, 2013).
5 Dr. Cuchlaine King was my undergraduate tutor at the University of Nottingham. She became a key member of the two university student expeditions to southeast Iceland of which I was leader. We published four joint papers in the Journal of Glaciology and she became a close friend. It was Cuchlaine and her Cambridge women undergrad assistants, as well as my wife, Pauline, who together convinced me that the criticism of women in harsh field conditions was prejudicial nonsense.
6 Gerasimov actually generated a turmoil at the Congress by publicly condemning Britain for “deliberately” withholding visas from the East German delegation; he followed up by resigning from his president-elect position, thereby ensuring that the next Congress was held in New Delhi instead of Moscow. He did host the 1976 Congress in Moscow and invited me as a special guest. Also, following a visit to our home in Boulder, Colorado, Gerasimov pressed me to move with my entire family to Moscow and enjoy a much higher standard of living, courtesy of the Soviet regime. Many years later, I was invited to Moscow to read a eulogy in memory of his life’s work.
7 Experience on the DEW Line saw impeccable behaviour by the “deprived” male staff. The women’s physical stamina fell within the median of that of the men, although few could out-walk Cuchlaine. In my estimation the mixed party, as in Iceland, ensured enhanced conviviality and contributed to the seriousness of the students’ approach to their work. The DEW Line senior staff fell over themselves to be helpful, and I found that the women, in this context, were worth their weight in gold. Ed Smith and Wendy Jocelyn, and Mike Church and June Ryder, were Baffin party members who subsequently married.
8 In effect, McGill University and AINA were the primary institutions involved, although the fact that Joan was on the payroll of the Geographical Branch ensured its inevitable involvement.
9 Royalty were exceptions; the closest of these to our Baffin Island field sites was Prince Charles Island. And there was one further, very unusual exception. On the occasion when our friend and colleague Professor J. Ross Mackay was awarded the Massey Medal, there was a reception at Rideau Hall hosted by the Governor General and Mrs. Vanier. (I had been invited because of my recent appointment as assistant director of the Geographical Branch, where Ross was spending his sabbatical.) Over kindly chit-chat with my wife, Pauline, Mrs. Vanier said that surely I would now be able to name a mountain or an island in the Arctic for her. Pauline explained the strict rules of nomenclature. Mrs. Vanier won our hearts by pointing out that there was a small island in the High Arctic named for her—and as Pauline Vanier, she could share it with Pauline Ives.
10 George Falconer was my indispensable assistant in this process. And we were not completely devoid of a sense of mischief in selecting the almost sacred symbol of Samuel de Champlain, appointed Royal Geographer to Canada by King Henry of Navarre in 1603. In part, we were reacting to being told by our senior and sometimes overbearing neighbours at 601 Booth Street (GSC)—that their truly ancient lineage extended back to before Confederation (only just).
11 Very long and obscure names were not unusual during the nineteenth century, as the Royal Navy attempted to find the Northwest Passage (e.g., place names such as “Collingworth, His Farthest”). The “Sons of the Clergy,” however, was a sarcastic jibe aimed at the Scottish Episcopal Church clergy, who were known, apparently, for their very large families. The current name is shorter: Sons of the Clergy Islands, Nunavut.
7 | Glaciology in the Rockies Added to Baffin Studies, 1965
1 This gave us two party members with identical names, so I will refer to our pilot as David and to his geographer namesake as Dave.
2 In those relatively early days of radiocarbon dating (C14), 40,000 to 50,000 years BP (before present, meaning, before 1950) was at the limit of the method; therefore, barring any contamination from very “old” carbon, such as coal in an extreme case, or minute pieces of plastic in the case of Gunnar’s ice-cored moraines, it was normal to take the result as implying “older than 50,000” years before 1950.
3 Many of the photographs were used in two filmstrips, commissioned by the National Film Board (NFB), that were designed for teaching physical geography in high schools: Glaciers and Glacial Landforms. The NFB supplied photographic film and undertook carefully controlled laboratory processing.
4 In fact, George and I made a special day trip to Toronto to visit Murray Watts and staff of the newly formed Baffinland Iron Mines Company. We were seeking collaboration in the north of Baffin Island. The trip also allowed us to visit a large photographic store on Yonge Street and inspect a Hasselblad system, there being none available in Ottawa at that time.
5 While it had appeared to me at the time that we were above a nearly complete cloud cover, David (personal communication, November 7, 2010) subsequently explained that he always had some ground contact (visual flight rules [VFR]) and never would have operated without. In fact, in Baffin he often had to use the opposite strategy: to hug the ground at only a couple of hundred metres while staying beneath a cloud cover or fog bank. “I think particularly of the low-level approach into Inugsuin down the steep ravine valley from the west that we had to use many times to ‘get home to dinner,’” he recalled. “I would practice flying those low-level routes on my own on bright sunny days, aware that at some time in the near future, I’d have to know every nook and cranny to do it under darker clouds in (relative) safety. Of course, also, at such low altitudes, autorotation would have been highly tricky!”
6 The National Advisory Committee membership included: Dr. L. Beauregard, chair, Inst. de Géographie, Université de Montréal; Dr. J. W. Birch, chair, geography dept., University of Toronto; Dr. E. Christiansen, Saskatchewan Research Council; Dr. J. G. Fyles, Pleistocene Section, GSC; Dr. F. Grenier, chair, Inst. de Géographie, Université Laval; Dr. J. D. Ives, director, Geographical Branch, ex officio; Dr. G. Jacobsen, Tower Construction Company, Montreal; Dr. T. Lloyd, chair, geography dept., McGill University (Montreal); Dr. J. R. Mackay, geography dept., University of British Columbia; Mr. P. Marchant, British Newfoundland Corporation; Mr. M. K. Thomas, Meteorological Branch, Dept. of Transport; Dr. K. W. Walter, geographic advisor, Imperial Oil; Dr. T. Weir, chair, geography dept., University of Manitoba; Dr. W. C. Wonders, chair, geography dept., University of Alberta (Edmonton). Secretary ex-officio: Mrs. Alexandra Cowie, chief administrative officer, Geographical Branch.
7 Alex was also a great asset during branch budget negotiations with head office finance personnel—competent staff of the old school who were totally unaccustomed to arguing with a woman.
8 | Summit Experiences and East Coast Research, 1966
1 In David’s words, “One had to try to ‘see’ and ‘feel’ the updrafts and downdrafts and have total respect for the power of nature that ‘lifts you up’ or would dash you to pieces against the rocks if you became over-confident. This is no country for show-offs!” (D. Harrison, personal communication, 7 November 2010).
2 David later said of the ice axe, “I am glad I never had to use it—I wouldn’t have had a clue. I suspect you only had one set anyway, knowing that I would probably elect to stay on top with the helicopter [rather] than to keep you company on the climb down” (Ibid.).
3 I recently found this photo on the web, used without permission and with no caption. Since I had not had the original transparency scanned, it is a mystery how it escaped my copyright coverage. However, I am happy to accept its improper use as an acknowledgement of my ancient (1966) photographic judgement.
4 A further comment from David: “I can visualize the adrenalin-fuelled excitement and tension in the cabin as I write this. Two mature explorer-adventurers weighing adventure and safety with the pilot having the last word (but I was so aching to land there!).” (7 November 2010).
5 The problem of interpreting the small summit blocks that are probably glacial erratics is rendered the more complex for the botanist who is intent on “proving” that vascular plants survived throughout the ice ages on mountaintops that were not submerged by the continental ice sheets. Many of the higher mountaintops in Baffin Island are topped by thin ice carapaces, so thin that they are almost certainly frozen to the underlying surface and, if melted away, would likely leave no trace of their former presence. Even if no presumed glacial erratics are found, nor other indications of glacial erosion, the ice carapaces, so common under today’s climate, surely existed throughout the ice ages. In other words, my findings in Baffin Island in the 1960s, along with comparable earlier observations from the Torngat Mountains (Ives, 1958, 1960b), gave some indication of the probable highest former ice sheet surface (i.e., close to and/or slightly above the high summits). Survival of vascular plants, or any life form, would be unlikely unless seeds can remain viable for many thousands of years. The probability of such plant viability—at least for hundreds, if not thousands, of years—was an issue already raised by Falconer (1966) regarding Baffin Island, and by others looking elsewhere (but see chapter 11).
6 On reading an early draft of this book, David Harrison made the following comment: “Very good reaction, Jack—I was proud of you—a hole in the roof (which would probably have exploded the whole bubble) would not have done either of our careers much good. In fact, this entire story would have been decidedly posthumous” (7 November 2010). I took this to be another relic of David’s Brit sense of humour.
7 I proposed the name “Shadow Mountain” with the explanation that I had had difficulty obtaining a photograph of its impressive north face, as it always was in shadow when I was in a position to photograph. I also had an ulterior motive that would have broken the federal rules of nomenclature: the skipper of the Grimsby fishing trawler who had introduced me to the Arctic at the age of fifteen (Arctic Norway and Svalbard) had the nickname “Shad,” or “Shadow,” from being so skinny as a trawler mate prior to the Second World War. The Grimsby Telegraph wrote a good headline for the article I submitted in tribute to the man who had indelibly influenced the course of my career: words to the effect of “Baffin Island Mountain Named ‘Shadow Mountain’ in Honour of Skipper Arthur Phillipson, a Rock of a Man.”
9 | Last Year of Baffin Island Activities by the Geographical Branch, 1966–1967
1 Publication of a desk-size atlas was Gerry Fremlin’s idea and very much in keeping with my sense of urgency in making the Geographical Branch significant to Canada at large. The previous National Atlas of Canada had involved a large binder from which individual maps could be inserted and removed. This facilitated the replacement of outdated maps with new editions, or simply the addition of new maps; however, it was not easy to carry around. The new desk atlas was to be bound with a hard cover and of a size that students could carry to school and others could keep in their homes like any other atlas. In this way, we hoped that the new atlas—which covered the geography, natural resources, economy, and land use of Canada—would become the best possible tool for alerting the public both to the fascinating details of our immense country and to the existence of a branch of government that was doing something of great educational value. However, it was by no means considered a replacement for another edition of the main Atlas of Canada. Nevertheless, there are intractable problems associated with producing a national atlas for a country the size of Canada, and several changes occurred during the following decades. The current approach is digital: see http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/earth-sciences/geography/atlas-canada.
2 This was a time of growing, but often begrudging, attempts by the federal government to reach out to our French Canadian partners. I thought the formal acknowledgement of Samuel de Champlain as the founder of Canada made eminently good political sense as well as being a most appropriate recognition, yet my proposal that a postage stamp honouring Champlain be issued during the 1967 run-up to Canada’s centennial was ignored.
3 Members of the Canadian National Committee of the International Geographical Union had been urging me for several years to seek departmental support (which meant a considerable level of funding) so that a formal invitation could be extended during the next Congress (to be held in 1968 in New Delhi). This had put me in additional conflict with Jim Harrison and the GSC. Jim insisted that the timing conflicted with his own determination to seek departmental support for a similar invitation from Canada to the International Union of Geological Sciences. There would not be room in the departmental budget for two international meetings the same year.
4 The original quotation from Sheridan used “geometry,” not “geography,” although this poetic license had often been taken by geographers.
5 By the time of Mike’s evacuation, however, I was well into my new task of reformulating the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, to become known internationally as INSTAAR, in Boulder, Colorado.
6 John’s reconnaissance work on Broughton Island provided the foundation for the first Baffin Island expeditions organized by INSTAAR from Colorado.
7 Roger Barry joined me in Boulder, Colorado, the following year.
8 Pat Webber succeeded me in 1979 as director of INSTAAR.
9 The word ookpik means “snowy owl” in Inuktituk; it also refers to one of the beautiful Inuit handicrafts of the time—a small handmade snowy owl doll fashioned from sealskin.
10 In 1975, when I applied for a Guggenheim Fellowship, Jim Harrison enthusiastically accepted the task of being my principal referee. The following year, as assistant director general of UNESCO, he proved to be a prime influence on my appointment as coordinator of the United Nations University mountain program. As he was chair of the UNU advisory committee, during official visits to headquarters in Tokyo he joked that, finally, he had made sure that I was working for him (see Ives, 2013).
11 | Assessment of the Scientific Results
1 Nunatak is an Inuit/Greenlandic word meaning “a mountain surrounded by ice.” The nunatak hypothesis originated in the late nineteenth century, when intensive botanical work in Scandinavia led to the realization that the peculiar distribution of a large group of arctic-alpine plant species appeared to require that they had survived the ice ages on ice-free areas in the coastal mountains. This concept became the source of extensive controversy that has not been resolved even more than a hundred years later. The hypothesis was hotly contested by most geologists and geographers in Norway and Sweden; the dispute was extended to North America and figured extensively in our Baffin Island research.
2 This is a rather complicated topic. For instance, during the glacial maxima the enormous masses of ice that occupied vast areas of the earth’s surface caused significant depressions in the earth’s underlying crust as well as lowering the sea level. As the ice sheets melted during the closing phases of each ice age, world sea level (or, eustatic sea level) rose. The different timing between eustatic sea level rise and differential isostatic rebound of the formerly depressed sections of the earth’s crust produced the complex relationships that became worldwide objects of scientific research, including the Baffin Island work discussed here. It should be pointed out that areas formerly mantled by thick ice-age ice are still slowly rising. The coastal areas of Hudson Bay, Foxe Basin, and the Gulf of Bothnia are prime examples. See also Savelle and Dyke (2014) for their use of dated former sea levels around Foxe Basin and other areas as a means of determining elements of Arctic archaeology.
3 The recognition of former high sea levels associated with the thinning and retreat of the last great ice sheets resulted from early observations on raised marine beaches in the Baltic Sea, especially around the Gulf of Bothnia. The maximum height of the former sea level stands was seen to increase from southern Sweden and Finland northwards. A distinction was quickly made between the multiple flights of intermittent beach terraces, strandlines (actual continuous former sea levels), and the upper marine limit (the highest point reached by salt water at any location, not necessarily contemporaneously). Precise instrumental survey of the strandlines demonstrated that the isostatic uplift of the land was greatest around the north end of the Gulf of Bothnia. In other words, the strandlines were tilted up in the direction of the former greatest thickness of the Fenno-Scandinavian Ice Sheet. The implications of these early discoveries were quickly transferred to North America. Identification of actual strandlines and their tilt, however, was delayed due to the lack of topographical maps, although tilted and raised lake shorelines of former freshwater lakes dammed against the southern margins of the Laurentide Ice Sheet were mapped as early as the 1930s and 1940s. Løken’s work (1960, 1962) in the Torngat Mountains marked the first occasion when strandlines and their tilt were identified in northern Canada. Ives (1958) began a similar survey, but of freshwater lake shorelines, in northeastern Labrador-Ungava—work that was continued by Matthew (1961), Harrison (1963), and Barnett and Peterson (1964), all as part of the McGill Sub-Arctic Research Lab program.
4 Wordie (1938) had reported distinct marine features up to about sixty metres above present sea level in the outer fiords of the Baffin Island northeast coast. Much higher terraces, seen from shipboard but not inspected directly, were noted to have probably been formed as lateral features by former glaciers.
5 As an indication of the level of uncertainty, the then current edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1957), in the section on Labrador (which I had been asked to update) contained the claim that the Torngat Mountains rose abruptly from the Atlantic to between 2,000 and 3,000 metres; their actual heights range from 1,400 to 1,600 metres (maximum 1,652 metres).
6 This section has been rather lengthy because I was personally intrigued by the long-continuing controversy and it had engaged my main research energies at the McGill Sub-Arctic Research Laboratory.
7 Personal information from George Falconer, who was directly involved as one of the key scholars to have worked under Tuzo Wilson’s leadership.
8 See chapter 3, note 6.
9 In May 2014, I received an email from Mike Demuth explaining that he was just about to leave home to undertake the annual mass balance determination for Peyto Glacier.
10 Gifford Miller and his coworkers collected similar samples of plants (mainly mosses) from beneath the receding margins of thin ice patches over a great expanse of Baffin Island: from north of the Rowley River, in the north, southeastward to the high plateaus between the fiords of Cumberland Peninsula that enter Davis Strait. The 120,000 BP dates from some of these collections have been used to postulate that Baffin Island summers have been warmer in recent years that at any time since the last (Sangamon) interglacial. Dyke (personal communication, June 23, 2014) believes that this inference—that is, that the highest summer temperatures of this 120,000-year period have occurred only during the last decades—has not been confirmed.