Great Bear Lake is one of the most prominent geographic features of northern Canada. Shaped like the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle, with five arms radiating from a central body, it has a total area of 31,150 square kilometres - approximately the same as that of the Netherlands. It is the eighth largest, and by far the most northern, of the world's major lakes, and probably the least productive. [This article provides a synopsis of the prehistory, ethnography of the region, and modern history, i.e. early exploration of the area in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The article concludes with the hope that Great Bear Lake continues to escape] ... the fate of many of the world's large lakes; [that] its waters [remain] unpolluted and the fish stocks, ... in much the same condition as when Franklin arrived 150 years ago. [The author notes that there are] ... changes in the offing: oil exploration is in progress in the basin, and oil and gas pipelines are projected for the Mackenzie Valley less than 50 miles (80 km) away. To meet the demand for electric power, the possibility is being examined of turning Great Bear Lake into a tremendous reservoir to provide the power for a generating station on the Great Bear River. It is fervently to be hoped that the lake, its river and the surrounding land, holding as they do a great place in the history of the Canadian North, will not be adversely affected if such a development occurs. Maintenance, in particular, of the high degree of clearness and purity of the waters of the lake depends upon the most careful treatment of the surrounding land surfaces.
Ruins of structures in Arctic Quebec and Labrador were investigated, all apparently less than 1,500 years old and abandoned by their Eskimo inhabitants more than 150 years ago. Similar-sized rectangular foundations at two sites near former sea level probably belong to the Thule culture. That their occupants were in contact with Europeans at one time is suggested by the shapes of the foundations and the presence of carved and nailed artifacts. From radiocarbon dating of fossilized animal bones, it is concluded that some of the structures were occupied during a mild period 600-700 years ago. Climate and vegetation of that period were reconstructed from pollen analysis and fossil remains.
The Federal government of the United States has, over a number of years, entered into provisional commitments with various owners and agencies in respect to areas of land in Alaska, which, in aggregate, exceed the land area of the State by 22%. It is now under pressure from sundry agencies and interest groups to bring additional areas into existing systems of conservation without due study of the problems involved. There will be a consequent lessening in the chances of the State and its Native peoples achieving economic self-sufficiency within a programme of planned land use and protection of the environment. There is need for a single manager of Federal lands, unaffiliated with any existing agencies.
Information from archival and census data shows that Alaskan natives, mainly Athapascans, started to move into Fairbanks over fifty years ago. During the Second World War, jobs available on construction projects attracted both Eskimos and Athapascans in family units. It appears from recent data that those now moving into the city are unmarried and younger than earlier migrants, that women outnumber men, and marriages between native and non-native Alaskans are becoming more common. Forty-four per cent of a sample of 1,029 persons lived in inter-racial households in 1972.
Terrain over a wide area of the Mackenzie River valley was evaluated on the basis of vegetation-landform patterns, identifiable in air photographs as landscape units, which could be grouped into regions with climatic connotations. From a ground inspection of selected sites, it was shown that each landscape unit comprised a complex of elements characterized by permafrost relationships. An evaluation of the terrain over a much wider area was extrapolated from the air photographs. Vegetation or landform alone did not permit of a satisfactory delineation of regions with climatic connotations, since they were both so diffusely distributed.
It has been known for many years that the soils and waters of the North American Arctic contain a great variety of microbes, such as fungi, bacteria, actynomycetes, myxobacteria and algae. ... The present paper constitutes a report on the microflora in exposed areas of shorelines of ponds and tarns located near Hazen Camp (81 49, 71 18 W), northern Ellesmere Island. ... All of the samples with two exceptions, had pH values on the alkaline side. Their carbon-to-nitrogen ratios varied from 8 to 29, such values are not being outside the range for many soils. When the conductivity measurements were converted into salinity classes, 22 per cent of the pond samples (nos. 2, 23C, 32 and 41) were found to be slightly saline; 17 per cent (nos 20, 26 and 45) moderately saline; and the remainder (61 per cent) strongly saline. Wide variations in numbers of microorganisms were observed, as indicated in Table 1. Salt concentration, pH and carbon-to-nitrogen ratio had no effect on the numbers; and, except possibly in the case of Cytophaga, temperature of incubation appeared to have no effect on them either. Numbers of Cytophaga tended to decrease somewhat as the temperature decreased. Holding et al and Parinkina also found fluctuations in the microbial counts for tundra sites, and there was no evidence that temperature was responsible for them. In contrast the situation found in studies dealing with cool-temperature regions of Canada, the number of fungal genera in the samples from the Arctic now being discussed was low, only eleven being identified. A similar paucity of fungal genera was noted by the present author in his study of four permafrost soils from the Mackenzie Valley. In the same study, the dominant fungal genus was Chrysosporium, to which an average of 45 per cent of all isolates belonged; the next most populous was Penicillium, which accounted for 20 per cent, and then Mortierella with 16 per cent. Phialophora, Cladosporium and Phoma each accounted for 4 per cent ofthe total isolates, and sterile mycelia 3 per cent. The remaining four genera (Oidiodendron, Cephalosporium, Coniothyrium, Gliomastix) were isolated with a frequency of 2 per cent or less. These results are similar to those of Dowding and Widden who, after assembling data from 33 tundra sites, found the most widespread fungal genera to be the sterile forms Penicillium, Chrysosporium, Cladosporium and Mortierella. It was also observed in the course of the study that, as the incubation temperature decreased, Chrysosporium was recorded far more frequently. This genus was represented by a single species C. pannorum, which is often abundant in cold environments and appears to be an important colonizer of such habitats. Since there are many more environmental parameters affecting microbial activity and numbers than were examined in this investigation, it would be difficult to discuss the relationship of the results to the High Arctic ecosystem. Nevertheless, if one keeps in mind that a large proportion of tundra mycoflora are psychrophilic and most of the nutrients in dead plants are released by microbes to aid growth of future vegetation, it becomes obvious that the presence of viable microbes in these lake shorelines, situated approximately 600 miles south of the North Pole, is very important. They are undoubtedly not only active in supplying plant nutrients but are helping to transfer part of the decaying vegetation to produce "stable" hummus which take part in the formation of the underlying and surrounding weakly-developed soil profiles. They also play an additional role in providing food for larger organisms, for Whittaker found that in Arctic sites the population peak for mites, follows that for fungi.
It has often been maintained that the Copper Eskimos did not have contacts with white men between the early eighteen fifties and the first decade of the twentieth century. The earliest recent encounters are generally believed to have occurred in 1902, when David Hanbury conducted explorations on the mainland near Coronation Gulf, and in 1905-06 and 1907-08, when Christian Klengenberg and Captain William Mogg respectively wintered on the schooner Olga at Victoria Island. Stefansson described a whaler's harpoon found by the Eskimos in a dead whale that was stranded in Coronation Gulf, but he believed there had been no direct contacts on Victoria Island before Klengenberg's meeting. Evidence does exist, however, to indicate that American whalers encountered Copper Eskimos during the last decade of the nineteenth century. Captain Hartson Bodfish, who was master of several whaling and trading vessels in the western Canadian Arctic, reported having made contact with these Eskimos long before any explorers had reached the area. These encounters may have begun as early as 1891 because, in the spring of that year, Bodfish, after wintering at Herschel Island, wrote to his mother: "Just as soon as we can get out we are going, and are bound to that undiscovered country that lies to the eastward of us." In 1898, while wintering in Langton Bay near Cape Parry in the steam bark Beluga, he noted in the ship's log that one of his native hunters had left the ship in March to look for other Eskimos, and returned several weeks later with a group of them, and added: "They report seeing lots of seals and whales as they came along the coast in the neighborhood of Dolphin and Union Straits." Bodfish's ethnographic collection, in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, contains at least one Copper Eskimo artifact, an ulu. The ethnographic collection of Captain Horace P. Smith, at the Old Dartmouth Historical Society Whaling Museum, also suggests an early encounter because it contains a musk-ox horn ladle with a copper rivet in the handle; this piece is similar to other ladles collected from the Copper Eskimos, and Smith's only voyage in the Canadian Arctic took place between 1892 and 1894, when he twice wintered the steam bark Narwhal at Herschel Island. ...
The territory in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago known to have been occupied by the Dorset people has been extended as a result of the finding of a harpoon head on an old camp site consisting of a number of tent rings, and located about seven metres above sea level, near the east bank of a river connecting Buchanan Lake with Mokka Fjord on the east coast of Axel Heiberg Island. The find was made and reported by Robert F. Barstad of the Calgary office of the Compagnie Générale de Géophysique. The specimen, which is of ivory, belongs to a late period of the Dorset culture and exhibits a number of diagnostic attributes, viz: closed rectangular socket, bifurcated spur, double line-holes and a longitudinal lashing groove from the line-hole to the tip ....