Dr. Joe MacInnis understands it was a long time ago and people forget, or else new people get born and grow up without necessarily learning their history.
That, in a nutshell, is a tidy summary of the history of the Canadian Arctic sovereignty story.
Planting the flag and flexing some Canadian muscle in the far North has been a priority for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government.
Each year, a new expedition sets off, flags get planted, work gets done, photos get taken and a message, in theory, gets sent that the Arctic, no matter how cold, or seemingly empty, is Canadian turf.
Both on the land and under the Arctic sea ice.
That is where Dr. MacInnis was looking in 1983, when the Liberal government of the day, in partnership with National Geographic magazine and a crack team assembled by the Canadian physician/author/Arctic underwater explorer, planted a flag by filming the wreck of the Breadalbane — a wreck Dr. MacInnis and a team of Canadians on a Canadian Coast Guard vessel discovered three years earlier, after a three-year search.
The Breadalbane was a wooden vessel with three masts that was involved in the hunt for Captain John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition when it got trapped by the Arctic ice and sunk off Beechey Island in the Northwest Passage in 1853.
The images of the wreck captured in 1983 were stunning. They appeared on the cover of the National Geographic.A documentary got made. There was a buzz.
Then, the cameras and the explorer and our government moved on until this month.