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Muskox Patrol, The

Country Available: Canada, USA
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The Muskox Patrol is the film chronicle of the darkest, coldest, most remote beat in the history of policing. From 1922 until 1933, a handful of officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were dispatched to three tiny posts in the High Arctic archipelago. Their mission: to demonstrate Canadian sovereignty and fend off claims and unauthorized incursions by Norwegians, Americans and Greenlanders.

This episode in history opens in 1900, when explorer Otto Sverdrup claims most of the High Arctic for the King of Norway. It ends 30 years later when the Canadian government pays Sverdrup $67,000 to drop his claim. Sadly, the old explorer dies while the cheque is in the mail.

But it’s the young, cold cops who occupy center stage in our film. We use the memoirs, personal letters and reports written by three Mounties to convey the danger, adventure and deep sense of isolation they faced. Re-enactments of sledding expeditions and polar bear attacks will transport us to the frozen wilderness. We add interviews with their descendants and descriptions of explorers who met them.

And then there’s the musk ox, that hairy, taciturn beast which evoked so much passion among bureaucrats in Ottawa that it became the emblem of Canada’s sovereignty campaign. As we shall see, the Mounties risked their lives and ate their sled dogs before permitting a musk ox hunt.

Canada in the 1920s played a nervous, looking-over-the-shoulder game to protect its territory. And as soon as the “foreign threat” had subsided, nothing more was said until 20 years later, when the North became a Cold War Frontier, and Mounties and Inuit were once again deployed to show the flag.

View a printer friendly version of this page...Copyright Date: 2004 Length: 56 minutes Library Audience:
  • Canadian History
  • Cold War History
  • Available in French
  • School Audience:
  • Grades 9 - 12
  • Post-Secondary Education
  • Subjects:
  • Canadian History
  • French Language Available
  • Formats Available:
  • VHS Tape
  • DVD