Announcing the winners of the 2020 Canadian Wildlife Photography of the Year Competition

From plants to ants, Canadian Geographic’s 2020 Canadian Wildlife Photography of the Year Competition showcases the best of the year's wildlife photography

  • Published Jun 15, 2021
  • Updated Apr 19, 2022
  • 945 words
  • 4 minutes
In an atmospheric tour de force, a colony of northern gannets seems to glow in the foreground with the Milky Way providing a “smoky” backdrop. The colony at St. Mary’s, N.L., numbers some 24,000 birds. This photo was the honourable mention in the Birds category of the 2020 competition. (Photo: Michael Winsor)
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The Milky Way provides a dramatic backdrop to a sea of sleeping northern gannets. Harbour seals drift along on a massive fragment of ice, seemingly without a care in the world. A snapping turtle seems to challenge the photographer, looking straight into the lens, its gaze unblinking. The winning images of Canadian Geographic’s annual Canadian Wildlife Photography of the Year Competition showcase visual storytelling at its best, with the photographic community using the power of the perfect image to highlight the incredible biological diversity of this country. The following 18 images are the best of the best of this year’s competition. The panel of judges comprised: Photographer-in-Residence Daisy Gilardini, freelance photographers Zach Baranowski and Christian Fleury, and Canadian Geographic director, brand and creative, Javier Frutos. 


Winner: Shane Kalyn

Two stone sheep lock horns just outside Muncho Lake Provincial Park, B.C. One of the ewes had a lamb with her. When the other female got a bit too close, the two sparred briefly.

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Runner up: Gisele Landriault

A female grizzly bear and cub swim in the Chilko River in B.C. This river, and nearby Chilko Lake, provide one of the world’s best habitats for grizzlies, which gather at the river in great numbers each fall to take advantage of the feast provided by the annual salmon run. 

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Honourable mention: Rachel Bear

A pair of grizzly cubs rolls around in a field near Lake Louise Ski Resort, Alta. Their mother, though not shown, was nearby, nibbling dandelions and ignoring her rambunctious offspring. 

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Up Close

Winner: Philip Childs

After helping this snapping turtle across the road as it made its way to a marsh near Wasaga Beach, Ont., the photographer got down low to look straight into its eyes. The sunlight highlights the texture and patterns of the turtle’s skin and vibrant eyes with their characteristic starburst pattern. 

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Runner up: Geoffrey Shuen

An Arctic skipper butterfly rests on a blade of grass near Pitt Lake, B.C., on a cool May morning. When viewed from the side, it has a distinctive pattern of spots. Females lay their eggs on blades of reedgrass from May to July. 

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Honourable mention: Brenda Doherty

A ladybug crawls along a branch of goldenrod near Ariss, Ont. Look closely for the aphids, small, nutrient-sucking insects that can slowly kill plants. Ladybugs eat aphids, protecting gardens and crops. 

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Urban Wildlife

Winner: Dave Allcorn

A young polar bear sniffs around empty gas drums in Churchill, Man. The town is nicknamed the Polar Bear Capital of the World, with bears gathering in the area from July through November, when Hudson Bay begins to freeze and they take to the sea ice to hunt seals.

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Runner up: Nicole Watson

A curious pine marten pops its head through a tire in Kingston, Ont. Found throughout Canada, pine martens are known to be solitary creatures except during mating season. They are omnivorous, with voles dominating their diet through most of their range.

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Honourable mention: Abdulla Moussa

Children watch as two young elk go head to head on a fall day in Canmore, Alta. On that day, a local elk herd took over a schoolyard for the morning, forcing some students to detour as they arrived at school. Here, wildlife and humans coexist, providing a learning opportunity for local children. 

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Plants and Trees

Winner: Peter Baumgarten

Prairie smoke is a wildflower that grows in abundance over the fields on Manitoulin Island, Ont. Its seed pods puff up nicely, creating silky plumes that glow pink at sunset.

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Runner up: Peter Derrington

A lone white pine on a rocky outcrop known as Sunset Rock makes for a stand-out black-and-white portrait in Killbear Provincial Park, Ont. The park, on Georgian Bay, is known for its combination of sandy beaches, rock ridges and pines of the Canadian Shield. 

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Honourable mention: Jason Pettit

A small stand of eastern red cedar looks to huddle together in a field enveloped in ice fog at Sophiasburgh in Prince Edward County, Ont. Though referred to as a cedar, it is actually a juniper and is often found in pastures and abandoned fields.

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Animals in Action

Winner: Jean-Christophe Lemay

Harbour seals drift along on a fragment of ice in the estuary of the St. Lawrence. Ice is an important resource for all types of seals as a place to rest. Though harbour seals give birth on land, harp seals use the ice for birthing.

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Runner up: Martin Tampier

It’s definitely a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for this unlucky toad being slowly swallowed by a garter snake. The snake immobilizes its prey with its quick reflexes and sharp teeth, then swallows it whole.

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Honourable mention: Phillipe De-Bruyne

On a rainy fall day in the Gaspé region of Quebec, a moose reaches high to grab a mouthful of berries from the otherwise bare branches of an American mountain-ash. The berries are also popular with numerous species of birds, as well as rodents.

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Winner: Windy Corduroy

A northern harrier and a short-eared owl lock talons in a heated battle to win a meal. The two raptors, photographed on B.C.’s Lower Mainland, often share hunting territories, competing for — and sometimes fighting over — prey. In this case, the photographer noted that they ended up dropping their prize. 

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Runner up: Ryan Tidman

Thousands of common murre fly above Triangle Island, an important nesting area off the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island. Some of the other species found here include Cassin‘s auklet, tufted puffins and pelagic cormorants.

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November/December 2021

This story is from the November/December 2021 Issue

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