Antarctic Centenary Celebration, December 14, 2011

Hello, thank you for visiting and special thanks to early Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning supporters. The day Amundsen reached the pole 100 years ago we had a party in Toronto to honour polar explorers, toast the land and launch this site and the book project. Our stomachs, eyes, hearts, ears and bank account were fêted and feasted. Thank you Pat, Wendy, Sandy and Gilbert & team too.

Please help us go the distance. We’re on our way.  Come back soon to visit our blog.

 

 

Wendy’s notes for the event: The recipes in the Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning and the food and drink we are sharing tonight reflect both the rawness and the luxury of  the VIEW Foundation’s expedition.

Where the sea ice breaks up along the Antarctic Peninsula and nearby islands, occasionally a building can be seen on the horizon – a refuge for travellers in need of shelter. Tonight I want you to imagine you’ve come across this refuge with a storm at your heals. It’s a small wooden structure so it will be a bit of a squeeze for your entire party to fit in.  Someone has arrived in advance and found fuel to light the whisperlight stoves; it is already warm inside and fresh provisions are simmering. You might need to pitch in to help feed the crew, but the bread is soft, the rations seem limitless and the store of spirits has been opened. Enjoy!

I also share some of Pat Shaw’s notes:

Welcome everyone to the Stephen Bulger Gallery and to the launch of the final stages of gestation of the Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning (ABCC).  Thank you for joining us as we celebrate this book while paying tribute to the centenary of Roald Amundsen reaching the South Pole.

My name is Patrick Shaw and I am one of the partners in producing this unique new foodbook – a food and cultural history book that weaves the stories, recipes and photos of a 1996 Russian/Canadian environmental project with stories and imagery of earlier explorers.

I have been a passionate advocate for Antarctica since leading the first Canadian expedition there in 1993. Since then I have witnessed significant changes in this pristine wilderness, changes that are relevant to us all.

Antarctica is a special place – because of its isolation, because of its unique ecosystem, because of its awe inspiring natural beauty and the equally awe inspiring and overwhelming sense of fragility. In Antarctic, unlike almost anywhere else on Earth, one can witness an entire ecosystem unfold right in front of them. 

While this ecosystem is simple, it is also immensely powerful – constantly demonstrating the incredible power and potential violence of our natural world.

But just as inspiring is the human factor – Antarctica is governed by a unique international treaty, the goal of which is to protect the continent as a globally managed area devoted exclusively to peace and science. It is amazing that countries as disparate as Russia and the US came together at the height of the cold war and, along with 11 other countries created this treaty. There is something about surviving in such a remote and challenging environment that brings out the best in people and encourages the best kind of human cooperation.

About this book: The most important thing you need to know about this book is the incredible achievement that Carol Devine and Wendy Trusler realised in developing and executing their expedition.  They are true modern day pioneers who led a volunteer eco-tourism program into Antarctica when environmental protections there were limited.

Their work has since inspired governments to act in cleaning up their research bases and improving their environmental practices both in Antarctica and elsewhere. 

 

 

If we compared our remaining book-making journey to a voyage to the South Pole say in 1926 I’d say we have departed Lyttleton or Cape Town on a ship with provisions, dogs, tents, skis, fear, determination and excitement. We’ve already landed on the continent and started sledging. We are keen to complete the journey and have experience and excellent backers. We need a few more (backers) so please pre-purchase a book or give a boost if you haven’t yet.

Four out of five of our team have been to the Antarctic and well Gilbert, he loves and knows good food so he’s got other credentials on top of being a fabulous designer.  All of us involved with this book have been ‘there’ before in the skill-set sense of making an object and completing something concrete including books, art projects and mounting and leading complex projects. We aim to create an exquisite, informative, multi-layered, fun, practical and great book and to transcend the lessons learned locally too.  Our journey will not always be easy and requires endurance but nothing compares to the voyages of historic explorers or people in difficult situations today.  At this moment we look to others for wisdom and inspiration:

“For scientific leadership, give me Scott, for swift and efficient travel, Amundsen. But when you are in a hopeless situation, when you are seeing no way out, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton.”  Sir Raymond Priestley,  Member of the Nimrod expedition 1907-1909

Not so long ago Antarctic explorers opened up the world a bit more by reaching a forbidding place no other humans had. They did it with unimaginable determination and courage. I don’t know how much was personal ambition, slight insanity or national pursuit but their achievement is indelible.  We continue to learn from Antarctic research and international treaty governance and we eternally depend on the Antarctic ecosystem.  Human beings accomplish awesome feats yet are also capable of exploiting and harm in the drive to ‘possess’. What strikes me about early Antarctic exploration is it differs from other exploration or colonial ambition as there were no indigenous peoples to dominate or make peace with. You wrestled with yourself and the elements and survival counted on team effort even if an original goal was to plant a nation’s flag.  Yes there were (and are today) territorial pursuits and disputes but it was nature itself that revealed the story of this place and our interconnections.  The decimation of whales that started in the late 19th century and ended in the earlier part of the 20th century is a tragic chapter in Antarctica’s short history.  This continent is repeatedly the canary in the mine.

We are lucky to have been there thus want to share a bit of what we’ve seen, experienced, tasted and continue to learn from others along the way. Bottoms up.

Carol

ps thank you Polar Prisca for blogging about our forthcoming book and event.

 

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