Author’s Note

Polar Winds: A Century of Flying the North


Author’s Note


While researching and writing this book, I encountered several challenges. Right away, I had to make the difficult decision of where the region we call the “North” begins and ends. Following the example of several other historians, I used the political division of the 60th parallel as my lower limit, but I recognize this is quite arbitrary, as anyone who has spent time at the northern edges of the Canadian provinces can attest.

     I have also run headfirst into the challenges associated with naming the North and its peoples. Names are culturally and politically significant, and unless it is in quoted material, I tend to use the contemporary place name with the older name in brackets afterward. Also, while the separate territory of Nunavut now exists, it did not for the time span of this book, so when I refer to the Northwest Territories, it encompasses the whole region before it was split in 1999.

     Regarding the names of the various indigenous peoples of the North, I have tried to be as specific as possible. Too often non-indigenous authors have defaulted to “Indian” or “Native,” ignoring geographic, linguistic, and cultural diversity. Even with this in mind, I tend to use the blanket term “Inuit” unless I am writing specifically about the Inuvialuit in the Western Arctic. I do recognize, however, that there are regional differences and that in Nunavut alone there are seven dialects of Inuktitut. For the spellings of Inuktitut words outside of quoted material, I largely followed the North Baffin Island spellings found in Shelagh Grant’s Polar Imperative and Arctic Justice and Nancy Wachowich’s

     Even something as seemingly easy as aircraft have resisted common punctuation and spellings, and I know from working in the field that rivet counters can be particular about these things. I have employed the most common usages, and have generally deferred to spellings used by the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and aviation historian Larry Milberry. In the text, I have often omitted specific manufacturers, makes, or models, for readability, but these can be found in the index under the specific manufacturer names (i.e. de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver).

     The long time span of the book also posed problems in terms of numbers. Canada officially switched from the Imperial to the metric system during the twentieth century, and we still straddle the two. This is especially the case in aviation, it would seem, where many pilots still talk about gallons, miles per hour, and feet. I have followed the current metric convention throughout the text, except in quoted material, which I have left as is.

     Finally, when I mention money, especially in the earlier chapters of this book, I use the basic calculator on the website to calculate what the amounts would be roughly equivalent to today.