Last week the Museum hosted its 2018 Wipper Lecture featuring Geoff Green. To a packed house, Geoff – Founder and Expedition Leader of Canada C3, Order of Canada recipient, a member of Canadian Geographic’s 100 Greatest Canadian Explorers, and founder of Students On Ice – shared stories from the Canada C3 expedition, which recently travelled this country’s three coastlines in recognition of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

Geoff also discussed how one of our collection’s very own birch bark canoes came along for the adventure. Event attendees were also treated to a collection of beautiful photos and videos taken during the trip (videos can be found here) and performed in a sing-a-long to a song called “River of Nations”. The song, inspired by the expedition, was written and recorded with verses in French, English, Mohawk  and Spanish on Leg 2 of the expedition, and quickly became the anthem for the entire project. Find the full song and video here.

The Well-Travelled Little Birchbark Canoe

The evening began with a quick survey of the birch bark canoe, now returned from its long journey on the Canada C3 expedition, by Jeremy Ward (Museum Curator) and James Raffan (Museum’s Director of External Relations, and C3 participant). The birchbark canoe was made by a class of high school children from Eabametoong First Nation in Northwestern Ontario, supported by their teacher, Darren Lentz in the early 2000s. The Museum was happy to loan the canoe as ambassador to the expedition and to be and a reminder that Canada is a nation of rivers.

The canoe has come a very long way – travelling 25,000km at sea over a 150-day period (plus a few thousand more kilometres when it returned by train back to Ontario!). Slung from the ceiling of the helicopter hangar aboard the Polar Prince, the birch bark canoe travelled from Toronto to Victoria through the Northwest Passage and eventually back to the Museum, to become the most well-travelled canoe in the Museum’s collection!

Canada C3 Expedition

The Canada C3 expedition, led by Geoff, was a 150-day journey from Toronto to Victoria through the Northwest Passage on a re-purposed Coast Guard icebreaker called the Polar Prince.

The Canada C3 expedition, a signature project for Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation, was a journey coast to coast to coast. Travelling from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage, Canada C3 celebrated our environment, shared stories of coastal communities and connected Canadians. (Source: https://canadac3.ca/en/expedition/)

As Geoff outlined during his lecture, Canada C3 focused and explored four key themes of Canada 150: diversity and inclusion, reconciliation, youth engagement, and the environment. We truly cannot put into words all the work that went into this project, and the amazing stories that came out of the expedition – so please visit their website and YouTube channel to see just how amazing the Canada C3 expedition really was!

Canada C3 Website: https://canadac3.ca/en/homepage/
YouTube channel (including recaps of each leg of the trip): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-vcwVAcezH55m7pV01mKTg