Photostory #509: A New Role for Canada's Arctic

Crombie McNeill
National Film Board of Canada
Release Date
August 1, 1970
CMCP fonds
Credit Line
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archive
Main Text
In progress Photostory 1/11 : With the footprints of Royalty, vice-Royalty and the Prime Minister still showing fresh across the arctic northlands of Canada, a new pattern is being marked out for the region's future. _x000B__x000B_Until recently, the north was often thought of as nothing but a bleak fortress guarding mineral treasures. These were gained by sudden and violent assaults to pierce the natural defences, followed by a quick retreat south with the wealth. Gaping wounds in the environment were left to scar and heal as best they might. _x000B__x000B_Now, perhaps just in time, as the frontier of commercial exploration reaches the outermost islands, a new outlook is being fostered. Development, as the guideline, is in, exploitation out. Strong-speaking government leaders leave little doubt that the accent now is on conserving this immense territory as a priceless piece of earthly environment rather than a disposable asset to be broken up for short-term profits. _x000B__x000B_And already public and private research is hard at work to understand more of the arctic's delicate mechanics. The footprints, not so much of the small resident human population which is a natural part of the regional ecology, but those of man's mechanized vehicles and ponderous machinery, are being studied to help alleviate their detrimental effects. The physical consequences of large pipelines carrying heated oil are being considered, as are the repeated repercussions of explosive devices used in seismic exploration. International biological research programs are concerned with not only the well-being of the arctic's native population and wildlife but with the vegetation and its limited capacity to withstand depredation - for the arctic is geographically a near-desert with but a fraction of the precipitation and growing season that the rest of Canada enjoys. _x000B__x000B_Such factors mean that the marks of thoughtless commercial enterprises today could well become a gaunt monument to a heritage lost for many generations to come. _x000B__x000B_Canada, rich in natural resources set amid boundless scenic beauty, has set itself a task to tax the wisdom of Solomon himself - develop its industrial wealth while conserving the nation's natural dignity.