Return to the Wild - Evolving perspectives on Canadian wildlife

About this exhibit

For 80 years, Canadian Geographic has been telling non-fiction stories about the wildlife of Canada, reporting on the language of orcas, the health of northern caribou herds, the astonishing cross-continent migration of monarch butterflies, the comeback of whooping cranes from near extinction, the spawning practices of Pacific salmon and the threats to grizzly bears from habitat loss.

This virtual exhibition illustrates the abiding interest of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society in the health of Canada’s vast wildlife populations, and it also illuminates the evolution of Canadians’ perspective on conservation. Through selected feature stories this exhibit documents our changing attitudes toward wildlife in our midst, how we have managed and mismanaged species, ranging from bison to beluga whales, and the often ingenious efforts of scientists and naturalists alike to peer into the behavioural systems of everything from bluebirds to polar bears.

The collection of Canadian Geographic magazine articles in the exhibit includes everything from in-depth feature stories to smaller news pieces. Visitors to the virtual exhibit can click on a link to get copies of articles from the earlier days of the magazine, such as “Buffalo days on Red River” by John Peter Turner, February 1934, and “The eastern panther is not extinct” by W. Austin Squires, October 1950, as well as more recent articles, such as “Caribou in decline” by Laurie Sarkadi, December 2007, and “Cold warriors” by Lisa Gregoire, October 2008.

Interactive maps exist for all the ecozones of Canada as well as for the ranges of each species. These allow visitors to the exhibit to easily differentiate the various ecozones, as well as the animals found within each one.

The Learning Object component of the exhibit features 24 species of Canadian wildlife such as the Pacific salmon, the grizzly bear and the mountain pine beetle. Photographs give clear visuals of the organisms and descriptions of their biology, habitat, behaviour and range round out a comprehensive overview of each one.

Lesson plans are based on the species in the exhibit and are developed by the Canadian Council for Geographic Education. The plans conform to provincial and territorial curricula as well as the Canadian National Standards for Geography. Each of the 12 lesson plans focuses on a species within each of Canada’s six ecozones: Arctic, northwestern forest, boreal forest, eastern forest, prairie and desert.