THE LAST ROAD NORTH
By Adam Silver
I departed Canada an idealistic seventeen-year-old determined to “see the world”. I picked a used camera and begun taking pictures. Learning like everything else in my life, by the seat of my pants.
Taking copious notes through the lens of my camera, I was dazzled by the majestic underworld of the South Pacific, the historic wonder of Dubrovnik, and the sultry Louisiana bayous. After moving State side and now calling America home as a new citizen, I later developed a career as a location scout in Hollywood. An industry which offered to pay me an income to continue to do what I love most — to explore unusual destinations and to take pictures.
As a scout I am always under a deadline. I must shoot photos of each location quickly and return to Los Angeles to present the possibilities to the client.
But on every one my trips I encounter the most fascinating, offbeat characters — people with a background so distinct from my own, each with a story to tell, an experience to share. When would I ever have the time to capture that on film?
I realized that after all of my extensive traveling, the most wondrous and exotic destination in the world had completely escaped my notice. Born and raised in Canada, it had never occurred to me to explore my own backyard,
the Arctic in the Northern region of the second largest country on the planet.
To most of us, our conception of the Great White North resembles what our kitchen freezer might look like after we’ve pulled out the last of the frozen hot-dogs. In fact, it is a land where the sun shines twenty-three hours a day during the short summer months, where the silence of the vast landscape is literally deafening, and where herds of caribou, moose and bears roam freely for miles and miles.
There is barely a shred of evidence that human beings could inhabit such a harsh, tundric environment. But entire communities of people do live here. Still deeply embedded in their native
culture, they survive off the land of their ancestors, far from the noise and frenzy of pagers and cell phones, fluorescent lighting and traffic reports. Fascinated and bewildered by these folk, I have determined that the time is nigh to make a house call to my neighbors of the Great White North, nearly 2000 miles north of the Canada/USA border.
The trip begun in Vancouver. Camping along the way, I drove north through British Columbia, crossing the border into the Yukon, on into White Horse, up to Dawson then along the Dempster Highway to Inuvik. Taking a boat to Tuktoyaktuk on the edge of the Baufort Sea in the Arctic, I then drove the northern most route across Canada, catching a flight from Calgary up into Iqualiut which is in the newly formed territory of Nunavut.
The entire journey was documented as a photographic essay, focusing specifically on the Landscape and the people of the Arctic in Tuktoyaktuk, Inuvik, Nunavut and the new territories. It is a visual portrait of their lives and environment, intended to give others of the world an experience of the obscure and ancient cultures that dwell where few foreigners dare to visit.
The photographs will create a body of work which will tour galleries in North America, Europe and potentially worldwide. The work will also be produced as a photographic essay in the form of a fine art photography book.