Ships of Wood and Men of Iron: A Norwegian-Canadian Saga of Exploration in the High Arctic

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9780889771680: Ships of Wood and Men of Iron: A Norwegian-Canadian Saga of Exploration in the High Arctic

Over 100 years ago, in June 1898, Captain Otto Sverdrup and 15 crewmen put out to sea aboard the schooner "Fram" from the Norwegian city today known as Oslo. When they returned to Norway four years later, they came back with a record of geographic and scientific discovery, the richness of which is unparalleled in the annals of Arctic exploration. The first section of this book is the story of those four heroic years spent in the High Arctic and their impact on Canada’s subsequent efforts to ensure Canadian sovereignty in the area of the Norwegian discoveries.

The second section of the book deals with the Canadian Arctic expeditions between 1903 and 1948, led by men such as Albert Low, Joseph E. Bernier, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, and Henry Larsen.

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About the Author:

Gerard Kenney—his friends call him Gerry—was born in St. Rémi d’Amherst not far from Mont Tremblant, Quebec in 1931. Though a Canadian, he spent the first 16 years of his life in New York City, except for the months of July and August which he enjoyed in the small French-Canadian village of his birth. In 1948, he returned to his native Canada and has lived there ever since.

Gerry’s work as a telecommunications engineer has taken him to many countries of the world as well as to the northern reaches of his native land. Working for Bell Canada in the 1960s and 1970s, Gerry was responsible for the engineering aspects of the telephone system based on short-wave radio that served the eastern half of the Northwest Territories, Labrador and Nouveau Quebec.

In the late 1960s while he was travelling on Ellesmere Island, an RCMP officer in Grise Fiord showed him the horizontal member of a wooden burial cross which had been found nearby. It was in memory of a Norwegian sailor, Ove Braskerud, who had left his bones in the frigid waters of nearby Harbour Fiord in 1899. Braskerud had been a member of the 1898–1902 Sverdrup expedition aboard the Norwegian ship Fram which discovered and explored the Arctic islands lying north of the Canadian mainland. That chance encounter with Braskerud’s cross eventually led to this book.

This is Gerry’s second book about the Arctic. His first, published in 1994, is entitled "Arctic Smoke & Mirrors."

Gerry is now retired which gives him more time to pursue his interest in writing about, and exploring, things northern. In 1999, he and a friend canoed a part of the path of the fatal 1903 Hubbard and Wallace expedition in Labrador.

Gerry lives in Ottawa and has two daughters, Amanda in Montreal and Jessica, accompanied by young Cara, in Ottawa.

Review:

... a must read. Kenney persuasively nominates a shortlist of new national heroes for a country badly in need of them. -- Randy Boswell, CanWest News Service

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Kenney, Gerard
Published by Canadian Plains Research Cente (2004)
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Gerard Kenney
Published by Canadian Plains Research Center (2004)
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