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People & Culture

Legendary Canadian explorer awarded historic medal

Fred Roots is the recipient of the 2016 Explorers Club Medal

  • Mar 14, 2016
  • 374 words
  • 2 minutes
Left: Fred Roots; right: the prestigious Explorers Club Medal. (Photos: Lee Narraway, Explorers Club)
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A legendary Canadian explorer, geologist and mentor has been awarded one of exploration’s highest honours.

Dr. Fred Roots, 94, received the Explorers Club Medal in New York City March 12th. He joins an illustrious list of recipients of the historic award, including Knud Rasmussen, Roald Amundsen, Sir Edmund Hillary, the crew of Apollo 11, and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Throughout his long career, Roots has been part of dozens of scientific expeditions in the Arctic, Antarctic, Himalayas and Rockies, most notably as senior geologist for the first international scientific study of the southern polar region, the Norwegian-British-Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1949-52. He also holds the record for longest unsupported dogsled journey (189 days) and helped author the Antarctic Treaty, which preserved the entire continent as a stateless territory dedicated to scientific research.

Roots is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and received the Society’s Massey Medal in 1979.

In 1999, Roots helped found Students On Ice (SOI), an organization dedicated to instilling a love of polar exploration in the next generation.

Geoff Green, executive director of SOI, wrote, “[Roots] is an inspiration. He is humble. He is an unsung hero. He represents what an explorer should be. He understands our planet like very few others do or ever will. Awarding the Explorers Medal to Dr. Roots is a fitting tribute to both an explorer’s life well lived, and to the Explorers Club itself.”

Colleagues and admirers of Roots took to Twitter to congratulate him on the honour, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

Roots is the seventh Canadian to receive the Explorers Club Medal since its creation in 1914.

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