To recognize outstanding achievement, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society annually presents a number of medals and awards to deserving individuals.
The Society welcomes nominations from the public for the Massey Medal, the Gold Medal and the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration, as well as for the Alex Trebek Medal for Geographic Literacy and the Innovation in Geography Teaching Award. Nominations are reviewed by the Awards Committee (the Ondaatje Medal nominations are reviewed by the Expedition Committee, while the latter two awards are managed by Canadian Geographic Education).
The Massey Medal was established to honour those who have contributed to the exploration, development or description of Canada’s geography.
2020 Massey Medal recipient: Dr. John Smol
Dr. John Smol has shifted how we think about the Canadian landscape — and how we monitor and assess its ecology.
The Gold Medal was created to provide an opportunity for the Society to recognize a particular achievement by one or more individuals in the general field of geography; or a significant national or international event.
2019 Recipient: Richard Boudreault
Richard Boudreault is an internationally recognized leader in Arctic science and research. Since 2015, Mr. Boudreault has served as Chair of the Board of Polar Knowledge Canada, the agency responsible for the Canadian High Arctic Research Station.
2019 Recipient: Adrienne Clarkson
Adrienne Clarkson, journalist, author, honorary chief, and co-founder of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, has played an inestimable role in fashioning an understanding of Canadian identity.
2019 Recipient: Dr. Jane Goodall
Researcher, writer and role model, Dr. Goodall has already amassed an impressive legacy of environmental stewardship that is global in its impact and influence. The Gold Medal recognizes Dr. Goodall for her transformative role in raising environmental awareness and activism in Canada and throughout the world.
Lawrence J. Burpee Medal
Awarded to recognize an outstanding contribution or other achievement that greatly enhances the ability of the Society to fulfill its mission of making Canada better known on a national or international level, and/or contributes to the general advancement of geography.
2020 Recipient: Jan Morris
Jan Morris is a distinguished journalist, essayist and historian. Throughout her long career, her work has been ground-breaking, from her history-making reportage on the conquest of Mount Everest to the personal journey described in her 1974 autobiography Conundrum.
2020 Recipient: Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams is known around the world for his music, photography and environmental stewardship.
The Camsell Medal recognizes outstanding volunteer service to The Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Only RCGS Fellows may nominate individuals for the Camsell Medal.
2020 Recipient: Keith Exelby
Not many have contributed to the Society in the same way as Keith Exelby. After becoming a fellow in 2005, he has taken on many demanding roles: Treasurer since 2007; chairing the Finance Committee; chairing the CGE Management Board; and chairing the Audit Committee.
2020 Recipients: Joan and Doug Heyland
The RCGS would not be able to fulfill its mandate without its volunteers. Joan and Doug Heyland are exemplary volunteers who have given many years of tireless work on various Society committees.
Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration
Established in 2013, the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration recognizes singular achievements and the pursuit of excellence by an outstanding Canadian explorer or a non-Canadian for exploratory achievements within Canada.
2020 Recipient: David Jones
Few have such intimate knowledge of Canada’s mountains as David Jones. A mountaineer, explorer, climber, photographer, writer, mentor and advocate, Jones has followed a passion for mountains not just for his own knowledge, but to share his insights with Canadians and the world.
Joseph-Elzéar Bernier Medal
The Joseph-Elzéar Bernier Medal, established in 2014, recognizes an exemplary deed or activity that has enhanced or aided the Society in fulfilling its mandate at the international, national, provincial or headquarters level.
2020 Recipient: Col. Brian Hodgson
Brian Hodgson is someone who opens doors. Hodgson has served as Sergeant-at-Arms and Director of Visitor Services at the Legislative Assembly of Alberta through eight general elections and 11 by-elections.
2020 Recipient: Dr. Ken Hedges
Honorary Colonel and Fellow Dr. Ken Hedges was awarded this medal earlier in 2020. Hedges served as medic on the British Trans-Arctic Expedition in 1969 — the first undisputed expedition to reach the Geographic North Pole on foot.
Martin Bergmann Medal
The Martin Bergmann Medal, established in 2012, recognizes achievement for “excellence in Arctic leadership.”
2020 Recipient: Jason Edmunds
Jason Edmunds is a remarkable leader, a gifted logistician and an expert Arctic guide. An Inuk from Nunatsiavut, Edmunds leads Adventure Canada expeditions in the Arctic with thoughtfulness, sensitivity, graciousness and calm.
Louie Kamookak Medal
The Louie Kamookak Medal: A distinction named for the Inuit historian and educator, awarded by the Society to any person or organization which has been brought to the attention of the Executive Committee, Awards Committee, or to the CEO, as having made Canada’s geography better known to Canadians and to the world. It is also awarded for a noteworthy deed that has served to advance the discipline of geography.
2020 Recipient: The Honourable Nellie Taptaqut Kusugak
Nellie Kusugak is a Canadian educator who served as Commissioner of Nunavut from 2015 to 2020, having served as Deputy Commissioner of Nunavut for five years beforehand.
2020 Recipient: The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell
The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell is the 29th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, an Officer of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the Order of Ontario, holds 11 honorary doctorates and is the recipient of numerous fellowships, including that of the Society.
2020 Recipient: Wa’xaid (Elder Cecil Paul)
This honor was given to Elder Cecil Paul for his contributions in making the geography of this great North American landscape better known to Canadians and the world.
Alex Trebek Medal for Geographic Literacy
Many people work beyond the expectation of their professions toward heightening geographic literacy. This award is to recognize and honour their contributions.
2020 Recipient: Lisa (Diz) Glithero
Diz Glithero is a leading educator who inspires everyone she meets. She is an adjunct professor and research associate at the University of Ottawa, the National Coordinator for the Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition and a course consultant for the Office of First Nations and Inuit Education at McGill University.
Innovation in Geography Teaching Award
The Innovation in Geography Teaching Award will be given to a Canadian educator currently working in a K-12 setting who is fostering geographic engagement and increasing the geographic literacy of their students.
2020 recipient: Peter Cameron
Peter Cameron has been a teacher for more than 25 years, inspiring students to make a difference to the world with his contagious enthusiasm and desire to bring adventure and exploration to the classroom.
Awards committee members
Helen Kerfoot (Chair), Glenn Blackwood, Dianne Draper, Alison Gill, Phil Howarth, John Iacozza, Chris McCreery, Wayne Pollard
Education committee members
Paul VanZant (Chair), Catherine Boisvert, Michel Emery, Ewan Geddes, Andrew Kitchen, Lise Martin-Keilty, Kelley McClinchey, Don McLaughlin, Lynn Moorman, Janet Ruest, Anne Smith, John Thompson
Expedition committee members
John Pollack (Chair), Zac Robinson, Jean-Marie Beaulieu, Lisel Currie, Jill Heinerth, Priidu Juurand, TA Loeffler