• Cory Trépanier, second from left, accepted the Society’s Bernier medal surrounded by his wife Janet, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell, and Society CEO John Geiger.

Fifteen years ago, Cory Trépanier set off on the first of five expeditions to the Canadian Arctic. His mission? To explore and record the sublime beauty of the remote wilderness of the Far North. The filmmaker and painter would travel more than 60,000 kilometres between 2006 and 2018, using the landscapes he encountered as inspiration for more than 100 oil paintings and three documentary films.

On Oct. 23, Trépanier launched Into the Arctic: Painting Canada’s Changing North, a limited-edition coffee-table book that includes behind-the-scenes stories about each painting, as well as thoughts from fellow Arctic enthusiasts and experts who evoke the power and magic of the polar region through their words.

It is fitting that the occasion also marked a chance for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society to honour Trépanier for his contributions to the fields of art, geography and the environment. Trépanier was presented with the Capt. Joseph-Elzéar Bernier Medal in recognition of his body of work, which has been exhibited, broadcast and published to international acclaim, and has brought distant northern landscapes into sharp, immediate and unforgettable focus.

Society CEO John Geiger was joined by Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell as he presented the medal at the Trépanier Originals Gallery and Barn Studio, in Caledon, Ont.

Trépanier has many supporters, who acknowledge that art has the power to influence minds — and policy. Into the Arctic: Painting Canada’s Changing North includes contributions from Geiger, as well as from celebrated explorer and cultural anthropologist Wade Davis; legendary landscape artist Robert Bateman; writer Todd Wilkinson; senators Margaret Dawn and Patricia Bovey; and respected guide Billy Arnaquq.

Trépanier has said that through conveying “the sense of wonder and awe I have when I’m out there,” he hopes his work will inspire efforts to preserve and protect the fragile Arctic ecosystem and the way of life of the North’s inhabitants.