This article is over 5 years old and may contain outdated information.

People & Culture

A polar legacy honoured

  • Jun 30, 2012
  • 298 words
  • 2 minutes
Expand Image

In the polar science community, Martin Bergmann (above) is a household name. As director of Canada’s Polar Continental Shelf Program (PCSP), he coordinated logistics for researchers working in the Canadian Arctic, managed a network of more than 1,600 landing sites for planes that criss-crossed the northern skies and doubled the size of the PCSP facility in Resolute Bay, Nunavut.

To many of those who attended the International Polar Year conference in Montréal in April, Bergmann, who was killed in a plane crash en route to Resolute Bay in August 2011, was the person who made their work possible. His contributions were honoured at the conference during a ceremony inaugurating the Martin Bergmann Medal, which recognizes extraordinary achievement in polar science and will be awarded annually. Sheila McRae accepted the medal on behalf of her late husband.

As director of the PCSP, Bergmann, 55, left a legacy that was embodied in the conference slogan, “From Knowledge to Action.” “I know of no one who was better at taking ideas, taking knowledge and making things happen than Marty,” said Peter Harrison, former vice-president of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and conference chairman, in an emotional speech to an audience of Bergmann’s family, friends and colleagues.

Harrison said he has witnessed first-hand how the PCSP facility provides everything from meals and accommodation to flights to and from Resolute Bay but noted that while the projects Bergmann coordinated throughout his career were important, his real legacy lies in the connections he forged. “You are a very special group of people,” he said. “You are 0.01 percent of the people who knew Marty. You are 0.01 percent of those whose lives he affected.”

To make a donation in Bergmann’s memory , visit


Are you passionate about Canadian geography?

You can support Canadian Geographic in 3 ways:

Related Content

People & Culture

The truth about polar bears

Depending on whom you ask, the North’s sentinel species is either on the edge of extinction or an environmental success story. An in-depth look at the complicated, contradictory and controversial science behind the sound bites

  • 4600 words
  • 19 minutes
Image of a polar bear, and the cover of


Walking away from the wild side

In a new book, Max Foran denounces Canada's failures in protecting its wildlife from human exploitation

  • 1968 words
  • 8 minutes


Celebrating Polar Bear Week with a collection of our favourite bear-themed stories

Honouring one of Canada’s most beloved bears with stories about how polar bears hunt, how they are adapting to life on land, how they may have evolved and more!

  • 1604 words
  • 7 minutes


Arctic storms: How scientists are improving forecasts of dangerous polar lows

Polar lows are particularly challenging to forecast due to their small size and short lifetime

  • 767 words
  • 4 minutes