The Arctic Institute of North America: The Origin of the Institute


  • Raleigh Parkin



Sarqaq culture


On 8 December 1953, the Rt. Hon. Louis St. Laurent, Prime Minister of Canada, while moving the second reading of the bill to create the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources, said in the Canadian House of Commons: "Apparently we have administered these vast territories of the north in an almost continuing state of absence of mind." Some ten years earlier, a few Canadians, concerned over the wholly inadequate attention being paid by both Canadian government and people to the rising importance of the northern regions of the world and the significance for Canada of her own huge northern territories, were discussing among themselves what might be done to remedy this state of affairs. Could a group of Canadians, as private citizens, take action that would focus attention on the North? If so, what would be of the most worth? The group, many of them friends, living within easy reach of each other, increased from some three or so in 1942-43 to about half a dozen by early 1944. Their discussions, at that time solely concerned with a Canadian problem, led to a sequence of events that, by 1945, had culminated in the creation and finally the legal incorporation of the Arctic Institute of North America. The object of this article is to tell the story of how this came to pass. It is an attempt by a Canadian founder of the Institute to describe the atmosphere in which it was founded, and to provide some historical documentation. ...