Travel and Tourism in Canada: Is It Sustainable Tourism?

Travel and Tourism in Canada: Is It Sustainable?

I wrote in my last post about how we are not really looking after this pristine and delicately balanced area, how global warming is creating problems and man, forever greedy, has their eyes on what they can take from the region, with no thought to the impact that will have. The problems that nature has to contend with are increasing and so too is travel to these areas. I have a question: Is travel and tourism in Canada harming our environment? Apparently Canada is recognised as being at the forefront of sustainable or eco tourism, but after a brief foray onto the Internet, I found nothing about sustainability tourism in the NW territories or Passage area. What is sustainable travel and tourism in Canada? It is about being able to visit an area as a tourist and make a positive impact on that area, its society, culture and economy. Do any of the eco (sustainable) tours meet that expectation? Do they make a difference? If they do, how? I am really interested in your opinions on this as I am unclear. What makes a tour eco or sustainable? Are these tours regulated as to their carbon footprint? Are they actually making a difference to the area in a positive way? Let me know your thoughts via the comments. To more mundane matters, I need to take a loan today as I have to replace my car — it’s a long story involving ice and a truck. I am okay, but my car is totalled and I cannot do without it. A friend has suggested Ferratum; has anyone used them? Feedback appreciated!

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Nature in the World under Constant Threat

Nature in the world

The Northwest Passage may well be a notorious route linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans via the Canadian Arctic, but there is a major threat: global warming. In fact, nature in the world is under tremendous threat from so-called progress. The passage is not the icy, treacherous area it once was and, today, there are hot tubs and restaurants for tourists. Quite a ghastly thought, I think. It’s as though nowhere is untouched by man anymore. One wonders how long we’ll have these beautiful landscapes. Nature in the world has to endure man’s constant damage. Now there is talk about drilling into potential oil reserves below the surface of the Arctic Ocean floor. It just seems as though man’s greed knows no end. Even Greenpeace has looked upon this move as potentially catastrophic. The drilling poses a risk to the Arctic and a huge upset for the climate, not to mention the effect it will have on marine life, especially the whales. It just seems as though our planet is disintegrating before us.

Animals & Mammals of the NW Passage (1)

It is one of those nights, you know when you can not really be bothered do anything. Cold and wet outside, warm and cosy in. I am in the mood for warm and cosy, been doing some researching of the various animals of the NW passage and thought it might be an idea to share them threw a couple of posts, so here goes well for as long as I intend to stay in this room, wifi reception better here but the room is not as warm and cosy as the main room with its log fire, so no promises this post will be long.:)

Lovely picture of a Polar bear Mother and her Cub

Polar Bear –Ursus maritimus. the first animal anyone would come up with when asked what you found find in the Arctic. These an unpredictable, solitary animals that are only found in the Arctic ( which by the way means Bear, Antarctic means opposite of Arctic). They hunt seals and certainly not as cuddly as the media makes them out to be but make no mistake Polar Bears are under threat. The warming of the seas and loss of sea ice will drastically reduce their habitat and hunting potential. There is a fantastic site on polar Bears with all the information you could want, it corrects the myths that have grown up around these creatures and actively shows how you can get involved personally or as a community to help save their environment.

A Muskox -magnificent Bison of the NW Passage
Muskox

Muskox – Ovibos moschatus. These animals have inhabited the Arctic tundra for thousands of years. Well adapted to the freezing temperatures. They wander grazing as they go, in winter using their hooves to get to the roots mosses and lichen buried beneath the snow. In summer their diet is supplemented by arctic flowers and grasses. Travelling in herds they use their numbers to circle and protect against most predators. Except humans of course – we very nearly decimated these magnificent animals before legislation was made to protect them. Now protected they have reservations to roam safely in the Arctic, Norway and Siberia

The Beauty That is the NorthWest Territories (pics & videos)

Happy New Year to my few followers ( I really need more)  I wish you all the best for the coming year. i had some time over the holiday period to indulge myself with a few hours on the internet and in that time I found some wonderful pictures and videos of the North west passage and the NWT; I thought it might be nice to use a post to share them – a reminder of why this fabulous area should remain unspoiled.

aurora borealis -The Northern lights an image of unprecedented beauty
Aurora borealis From the journey of the MV Grey Goose

I found a wonderful blog by  Captain Douglas Pohl about his journeys through the North west passage and he has allowed people to crew onboard, wow that would be a dream come true.

A picture of Frozen tea being thrown in the Arctic circle

This picture of a thermos of tea being thrown was taken by Ontario based photographer Michael Davies.It was taken in Canada’s Pangnirtung about 20km from the Arctic circle.

Sun Dogs in the NWT, an atmospheric phenomenom

A Lovely picture of sundogs (parhelia), an atmospheric phenomenon also known as mock or phantom suns. This where two bright spots of light can be seen either side of the sun, often appears alongside a 22° halo –  both displays caused by millions of ice crystals. Best viewed when the sun is on the horizon.

 

Due to climate change and ice melt Bowhead whales have been photographed in the NW passage.

Finally a video of pictures from a 1957 expedition in the NW passage – well worth viewing.

Can we keep the NW Passage Pristine?

 

The Pristine Beauty of the Arctic Seas in the NW Passage
The Abundant Arctic Wildlife – Let’s Keep it That Way.

I have been reading an ARCTIS report on the future scenario for the NW passage and Canadian Arctic by 2020. Really interesting reading looking at shipping viability, ecological systems and the impact the melting ice could have. Fears of increased traffic in this region either commercial or supply could upset the delicate balance between the Inuits and the eco structure .

The Inuits, also known as The People have created a balance with the tough environment they survive in and modern-day technology and the desire to make the NW Passage commercially viable could irreparably destroy that balance.

The indigenous people rely on the delicate balance to survive, the water and ice favours their lifestyle ensuring the communities can remain in contact. That fishing and hunting can happen, as the Inuits are hunters the area not really being friendly for farming. the food the Inuits hunt for food, and before modern clothing all their clothes, boots and homes came from the animals they hunted. Animals like

  • Caribou
  • Moose
  • Walrus
  • Seal
  • Whale
  • Fish
  • Mountain Sheep
  • Bears
  • Hares and Squirrels

Once caught meat is kept frozen by being buried in the tundra. further information on the culture can be found at this site, which gives an interesting insight into the ways of the Inuit before and now. While traditional and modern Inuits exist side by side do not think by any means that they are politically unaware of their regions potential to others. Since winning to stop Project Chariot  in 1958 the Inuits keep a close eye on what is happening in their region and are not afraid to speak their minds. There is constant need for them to keep an awareness on their region as greedy oil and commercial eyes continue to turn towards the NW passage and despite all promises to the contrary I for one do not believe any good would come of opening this area up any further.

What do you think? This is not a simple matter the whole way of indigenous life is under threat once again by the greed of man. This pristine wilderness is precious and once gone will not return, we all need to prevent its destruction.

 

North West Passage Territories – Early History

Controversy over the North West Passage

 

I thought it might be interesting to have a brief look at the history of the area; to maybe better understand the controversy over who owns the waters of the North West Passage.

  • Originally there were the First Nations, Inuits from Mackenzie, Copper, Caribou and Central nation and First Nations  Peoples lived in this area well before European explorers came.
  • In the 1570’s, Martin Frobisher, an English sea captain and privateer ( licensed Pirate) made three attempts to find the NorthWest passage: managing to find and name Frobisher Bay and land on Baffin Island. It here he found his ‘gold ore’ and later returned to collect more. This ore turned out to be Fool’s gold or iron pyrite and after the third expedition funding was not available, so he did not again return to the area.
  • Frobisher’s discovery though increased interest in the area and led to the exploration of the interior by explorers many of whom where british and belonged to The Company of Merchants of London, Discoverers of the North-West Passage , formed in 1612.
  • In 1612 the King of England, King Charles 11 gave a charter to what is now known as the Hudson Bay Company

I have found looking at the history of the area fascinating and so much it is difficult to narrow it down. I wandered off track for a while following some really interesting information on the Inuits and First Nations – far too much to write in one post. So maybe as this blog continues I can share some of what I am finding and trying to understand. I am planning to look from the 1700’s next post ( that’s if I do not get sidetracked again). Also I would be really interested in what are your thoughts on ownership of the NW Passage?

In my wanderings I found this song –  it was a favourite of my granddad. Enjoy Stan Rogers, North West Passage.

Ice breakers

I thought it would be interesting to find out more about ice breakers and their use in the NW passage. So as normal off I went to Google but what did I find? The holiday of a lifetime, 18 days on an arctic icebreaker expedition. Oh I drooled over this holiday for over an hour – avoiding the cost page! What a fabulous itinerary, breathtaking in fact and all for the small cost of ( yes I looked) $20.695 plus airfares of around $2.000. I could probably manage the $695 – at a push. I wonder if they need any workers on board. I would do anything…seriously anything. Unless I win the lottery this is not on the card for me for next september but top of my bucket list so who knows? By the way there are many cruises up and around the NW Passage, it is just this one really caught my attention.

The Americans and Russians are looking develop their icebreaking fleet as the waters of the NW Passage become more available but I thought over the next two posts we could look at what the Canadian coast guard  has, In total they have 15 icebreakers.

Two heavy icebreakers:

CCGS Terry Fox & CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent

Terry Fox 1 (5x7) in ice one of the CCGS heavy duty ice breakers
CCGS Terry Fox

Four medium Icebreakers:

CCGS Amundsen, CCGS Des Groseilliers, CCGS Henry Larsen & CCGS Pierre Radisson

CCGS Amundsen medium icebreaker used as science vessel in summer
CCGS Amundsen

I wonder what life aboard one of these ships is like? Has anyone worked on one? If you have please let me know what it is/was like? I have found a fascinating document on icebreaking ships and some of their design structure with historical reference. Really interesting read.

Ships of the North West Passage 1 – HMS Erebus

 

Unknown illustration of either HMS Erebus or Terror both used in the illfated Franklin Expedition to find the NW Passage
Unknown illustration of either HMS Erebus or Terror

I just had a fancy this month to focus on the ships of the NW passage, for this post I thought I would focus on the HMS Erebus, which was lost, well abandoned during the Franklin expedition of 1848 and found submerged in September 2014. This discovery is due to the co-operation of the Inuits, using their oral history, modern technology and the combined effects of the Canadian Government and public, private and non-profit organisations. The Victorian Strait Operation really does show that working together can achieve something that was thought impossible! You can follow the ongoing exploration via mission briefs and on Twitter and Facebook. I would give anything to be involved in this.

The HMS Erebus was a Hecla-class bomb vessel  designed by Sir Henry Peake and constructed in Wales Uk in 1826. The name which is derived from Greek meaning deep darkness and was considered the part of Hades, where the dead entered. Personally with hindsight I think it was a bit of a foreboding name but I can see it was a good  name for a war ship. Its armament consisted of 10 guns and two mortars. It served time sailing the Mediterranean before being commissioned for the ill-fated Franklin Expedition to find the NW Passage route.

To do justice to the scope of the Franklin Expedition and the men who lost their lives I recommend you buy either Frozen in Time The Fate of the Franklin Expedition by  Owen Beattie’ ‘John Geiger  or The Arctic Grail: The Quest for the North West Passage and the North Pole, 1818-1909 by Pierre Berton. Both of these books carry you to a different time and a different culture, the writing engulfs you in the passion and focus of these explorers and adventurers along with the difficulties they had to face daily.

HMS Erebus found in Canadian waters September 2014
HMS Erebus on its ill-fated voyage

Overview of effects of Climate Change on N.W. Passage

Concern over Global warning as it thins and melts the ice in the Noth West Passage
Melting Ice in the North West passage

As I mentioned in my last post more concern needs to taken over the climate change that is affecting the globe not just the NW Passage but as that is my focus I wanted to look at it some more.

Whilst there are monetary returns and great excitement I would think for businesses as the Arctic ice melts it is negatively affecting the animals and humans who live in this fragile environment. As the ice thins and becomes more dangerous people are moving inland, uprooting their lives and jobs, many of the traditional ways of life are being lost which is a great misfortune especially in a world that is just starting to wake up to the need for sustainable living and the traditional methods that are required for this. Our partners on this earth are effected to and as is sadly very normal more so than us. Moving inland is not a good option for them as their life; hunting and mating habits are all centered around the ice.  Soon the only place you will be able to see them is a zoo.

Another cause for concern is that with increased shipping will bring invasive species to the area in their bilge water. Ballast tanks on ships are filled with water from water from area and often dumped/changed in another. These problems this can cause can be seen by the zebra mussels in the great lakes, causing huge economic outlays to try to keep it under control, not something we want to see in the Arctic and a real possibility as the warming waters will attract more and more life that will change the fragile Eco structure.

North West Passage Politics

The Nort West passage route through the Ccanadian Artic Archipelago
The North West Passage Route

I alluded last post to the debate on who has ownership of the North west passage; a debate as intense as any of the mysteries of its discovery.  All routes have to go  through the Islands of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago  and because of this Canada claims the route as Canadian internal waters but the US claims they are International Waters and as such transverse them without notification. Who owns the Arctic ocean is hotly debated and I have found this wonderful article that you can peruse at your leisure that debates this particular issue along with this ICE case study from 2006 that I found fascinating.

I am Canadian so I know what I think – anyone out there reading this let me know your thoughts and concerns. One thing is certain in the past few years with the climate change, arctic ice is melting and that is allowing more access to the NW passage and I foresee this debate becoming a problem – I truly hope not but the politics are sensitive and involve a number of countries including Russia. Although this article states that the NW passage may not be the bonus everyone thinks it might be.  Looking at all this current conflict about the NW passage is intriguing and interesting and the question of what will happen is always there. Maybe next post it will be worth while looking at what the benefits would be if the NW passage is opened up. I must admit I for one cannot really see any but worry about the environmental damage that might ensue.