A look back at life in Canada’s arctic – View from the Deck—Arctic Adventures

Recollections of the 10th Annual Voyage of the CGS C.D. Howe, 1959

View from the Deck Arctic Adventures will capture the imagination of those interested in or curious about anything “Arctic”—Canada’s True North— which represents 40% of our land mass and is of growing interest, internationally. What was life like in the Arctic in 1959?

View from the DeckView from the Deck is a personal account of the adventures of an 18-year-old on the CGS C.D. Howe—a hospital ship equipped to meet the medical needs of the Inuit (Eskimo) during an era defined by a high incidence of tuberculosis, the Cold War and a changing way of life— and those who sailed with her during the summer of 1959.

Do Canadians see the North as a part of Canada, or a far-away place of mystery: the “land of the midnight sun, or those secret tales that make your blood run cold…”? It is through books written by those who have visited, worked or explored in the North that unfold the enigma and spark curiosity of this nether region of Canada. And so, the mystery unfolds.

On June 25, 1959, eighteen-year-old Murray Ault reported for duty at the Port of Montreal to begin a three-month stint as a cabin boy on the CGS C.D. Howe. More than a half century later, Murray recalls those adventures in his first book, View from the Deck Arctic Adventures.

It was the Howe’s tenth annual voyage to Canada’s North, providing medical and dental services to inhabitants of the Eastern Arctic, but it proved to be a first in many ways for this Ottawa boy. Icebergs, the stark landscape, the vast expanse of snow and sky, the engaging and resilient peoples of the North—the young Murray Ault enthusiastically recorded impressions of all of these, and much more. It was the summer of a lifetime, sparking a love for the North that continues to this day.

Generously illustrated with archival photographs taken by the author, View from the Deck deftly captures a time of change—for both a young man and a people.

Murray Ault was born, raised, and educated in Ottawa, Ontario, where he taught history and economics for more than thirty years. He holds degrees from Carleton University and the University of Waterloo. After retiring from the Ottawa Board of Education in 1996, he developed and wrote a case study for publication on Statistics Canada’s education website, utilizing the data program, ESTAT: An Analysis of a Colonial Industry: Shipbuilding in Nova Scotia, 1861. He also assisted in the administration of the inaugural “Teachers Institute on Canadian Parliamentary Democracy”, a professional development program sponsored by the Speakers of the House of Commons and Senate and the Parliamentary Library.

View from the Deck—Arctic Adventures, Recollections of the 10th Annual Voyage of the CGS C.D. Howe, 1959 : (ISBN 978-1-77123-089-6, 180 pp., $20.00) is published by General Store Publishing House, Renfrew, ON. Copies are available for sale at Mill Street Books, Almonte, Ontario.