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Woman donates 500 Northern books

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 21, 2011

IKALUKTUTIAK/CAMBRIDGE BAY - Jane George said goodbye to her favourite books on the North and rediscovered some old titles when she donated 500 books to the Kitikmeot Heritage Society in Cambridge Bay.

"Anyone who wants to know more about what's been written about the North can find it in this collection," she said. "I wanted them to be in the North where people in the North could see them. I thought some of these books may be interesting to people who come and do research in the North."

George accumulated the secondhand books mainly from 1990 to 2000 as she was trying to learn more about the North as, at the time, the Internet did not contain the information it does today. The collection, with titles from the 1920s to the 1980s, includes many out-of-print books. She added she probably did not spend more than $10 on a single title.

The donated material includes a collection of missionary histories and stories in French and English, tales of early European explorers, novels, children's books as well as reference books on climate change and Arctic animals.

Having read them all already, George said she decided to donate the 15 boxes of books, which weighed a total of 136 kilograms (300 pounds).

She added she chose to donate the books in Cambridge Bay as the community has the room for the books and was awarded the High Arctic Research Station.

"One of the greatest limitations for an academic researcher in the North is the lack of available literature to supplement practical studies," stated KHS researcher Brendan Griebel. "Jane George's donation has contributed a huge body of knowledge on Arctic culture, history, geography and environment to help researchers and community members alike to gain a broader, more informed perspective of the North."

George said her favourite book in the collection is Spring on an Arctic Island written in the early 1950s. It relates a spring the author, Katharine Scherman, spent in Pond Inlet, where she wrote a lot about Hudson Bay Company manager Peter Murdoch, who coincidentally was one of the first people George met in the North. Murdoch even signed the book.

"There's a few books like that that are really close to me because the people signed them to me personally and I know the people," she said. "I know a lot of people who have been written about in these books. Some of the books have actual pictures and information I contributed to the authors."

Many of the books will be placed in circulation while others will be stored in the archives.

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