I was most honoured to serve as the Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group from August 2014 to December 2021. 1 CPRG is the largest military unit in Canada, spanning Nunavut, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Atlin, B.C. — about 40 percent of Canada’s land mass in total — with over 1850 Canadian Rangers in 60 patrols and more than 1650 Junior Canadian Rangers (JCRs) in 41 communities. Our headquarters is in Yellowknife, NT – my home away from home!
I have been so fortunate to travel throughout Canada’s Territorial North, as well as remote coastal and northern areas of the provinces, with the Rangers over the past two decades. A Ranger once explained to me, “Whitney, to you this is an adventure; to us, this is everyday life.” His words still ring true today. In the conclusions to The Canadian Rangers: A Living History, I wrote:
Paul [Atagoota]’s words echoed those of Rangers whom I had met from coast to coast to coast. If there is a common thread that I have taken away from this diverse group of men and women, it is the intimate attachment of people to the environments in which they live. I saw it first-hand in smiling eyes as Rangers with the Gold River patrol on Nootka Island swapped stories during a seaside boil-up of shellfish, the Pacific washing up on the beach. I heard it murmured along the trail from Ross River to the frozen shores of Quiet Lake in southern Yukon, and in youth cheering on their fellow Junior Rangers as they played sports at Camp Loon in northern Ontario. I learned of tenacity and challenges over the endless drone of snowmobile engines when we paused for short breaks on frozen lakes in northern Manitoba. The strong voice of the elders was unmistakable on the shores of Hudson Bay at Witch Bay, where they explained the responsibilities of stewardship to younger Rangers in the Inukjuak patrol. The spirit of camaraderie in the face of adversity was readily apparent over pepperoni sticks warmed by snowmobile exhausts on the frozen Labrador Sea north of Hopedale, and in jovial exchanges over fried moose meat in a canvas tent with the Cape Freels patrol in Newfoundland. However central nature and geography are to the Canadian imagination and identities, they assume a new poignancy when you move beyond the southern population belt and into remote regions where Rangers serve as Canada’s eyes, ears, and voices.
Below are a few of the thousands of photos that I’ve taken on patrols and visits with my Ranger and JCR friends over the years.