This article is over 5 years old and may contain outdated information.

People & Culture

New Land Expedition: The beards of great explorers

  • Jun 02, 2013
  • 561 words
  • 3 minutes
Expand Image

Photo: The team competed for the title of “Best Expedition Beard.” The results, from left to right: Kyle O’Donoghue, John Huston, Toby Thorleifsson and Hugh Dale-Harris. (Photo courtesy the New Land 2013 expedtion)

The New Land 2013 expedition is following the route of Norwegian explorer Otto Sverdrup across Ellesmere Island, Nunavut. This blog was written by John Huston.

In honor of the last few days of our wonderful trip here, we decided it’s time to share with you our wonderful — and not so wonderful — expedition beards, or lack thereof in some cases.

Our beard growth parallels the NHL playoffs, the time when players don’t shave their beards in hopes of winning the Stanley Cup. So we have with us our hats of our favorite NHL teams.

Expand Image
Sixty days into the expedition, the explorers could still only dream of a beard as distinctive as Otto Sverdrup’s.

Lets start with Toby. He is a Vancouver Canucks fan (sorry about that, Toby), and he has a nice fat beard. He normally wears a beard, so you can see the confidence he has with the somewhat thicker version. The fun fact about Toby is he uses more toothpaste than anyone else on the expedition by far. He’s never had a cavity though.

Next up is Hugh, who is from Ottawa, Ontario, and he is, of course, an Ottawa Senators fan. He normally has a beard as well, so he’s right at home with his current facial hair experience. His beard is a little bit longer than Toby’s. The fun fact about Hugh is that that dude can really put away the food. He can eat a ton.

After Hugh, we have Kyle. Kyle is new to a lot of things, including growing beards. He has a little, measly mustache above his upper lip. You can see in the photo above that he’s not that happy about that fact and a little embarrassed with his facial hair. He’s wearing a Florida Panthers hat. Before this expedition, he didn’t even know that hockey was a sport, but he does now. We told him that the Florida Panthers are the southernmost hockey team in the NHL, and that corresponds well with his South African roots.

As for myself (John), I’m a Blackhawks fan. I have a nice bleached-blond goatee-looking thing on my face that Toby is proud of. I don’t know what it looks like, because I don’t look in the mirror up here.

Expand Image
The Inuit sled dog, Napu, in the undisputed, beard champion.

On a related note, Otto Sverdrup was the king of the anvil-looking beard, and you can see that in the photo. We wanted to see who could grow a beard that most closely resembled Otto Sverdrup’s beard. Without a doubt, the winner of that contest is our dog Napu. Way to go, Napu.

So we’re about to cross Eureka Sound, headed towards Eureka Weather Station. We’re going to spend the next several days doing a lot of filming and wrapping up our project, spending a little time walking on the land and enjoying our final time out in this beautiful country before we had south. Thanks for reading, everybody.

This blog was originally published on Read more blog posts from New Land 2013.


Are you passionate about Canadian geography?

You can support Canadian Geographic in 3 ways:

Related Content

People & Culture

Kahkiihtwaam ee-pee-kiiweehtataahk: Bringing it back home again

The story of how a critically endangered Indigenous language can be saved

  • 6310 words
  • 26 minutes

People & Culture

With old traditions and new tech, young Inuit chart their changing landscape

For generations, hunting, and the deep connection to the land it creates, has been a mainstay of Inuit culture. As the coastline changes rapidly—reshaping the marine landscape and jeopardizing the hunt—Inuit youth are charting ways to preserve the hunt, and their identity. 

  • 5346 words
  • 22 minutes


The untold story of the Hudson’s Bay Company

A look back at the early years of the 350-year-old institution that once claimed a vast portion of the globe

  • 4473 words
  • 18 minutes

People & Culture

Amet*: Understanding the Beothuk

*It means “awake” in Beothuk, the language and people who once called present-day Newfoundland home for about 2,000 years. One young woman, believed to be the last living Beothuk, left a collection of maps and art that help us understand her people’s story.

  • 3378 words
  • 14 minutes