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Arctic Cargo 2016
Arctic Cargo: a History of Marine Transportation in Canada’s North (2016) Christopher Wright Digby NS. (571 pages paper bound) C$44.95 ISBN 978–0–9952525–0–9
Christopher Wright has created a reference compilation combining detailed chapters with shorter essays supported by extensive reference material spanning more than 400 years of transportation history in Canada’ Arctic. The Arctic is a neglected topic for Canada, in many ways. It is isolated geographically, culturally, and economically. Canadians are taught about the First Nations cultures that live there, but aside from that it is rather romanticized. Whether it’s the Franklin Expedition, and the many other efforts to find the North West Passage, The St Roch, or Farley Mowat’s stories, or Peter C Newman’s histories of the North, it is a land more of narrative than of reality.
With global warming, it is accepted that the North will become very important to Canada’s relationship with the world as it becomes much more accessible by sea. The reality is that for much of the North, shipping has been the most viable way for goods to get to communities. Author Christopher Wright is an engineer by training, but has spent many years involved with Northern shipping activities. He was first involved with shipping to the Arctic in 1973, and has many years of experience since. He brings that experience and detail–oriented approach to this book.
Arctic Cargo is a history of shipping and cargo transport in Canada’s North. It is not a narrative history, in the style of Pierre Berton or Peter C Newman. It examines all kinds of activities, from defence and deterrence, to resource extraction, to support of communities. In addition to being well written, it is full of data, tables and illustrations. The sheer volume of information is very impressive.
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Databases have been updated and are now holding 56,445 vessel histories (with 5,467 images) and 58,183 mariner biographies (with 3,659 images).