Charles Camsell


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(1876–1958. Camsell went from the remote reaches of northern Canada to the halls of power in Ottawa. Born at Fort Liard in the Nahanni country of the North-West Territories, Camsell, the son of a Hudson's Bay Company trader, worked as a deck hand on barges on the Mackenzie River before pursuing graduate work in geology at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1900, he joined the Geological Survey of Canada as a summer field assistant in the Great Bear Lake area. Fourteen years later, his position had been enlarged to ‘geologist in charge of exploration’. Camsell was named deputy minister of mines in 1920, a position he held for almost 30 years. He was also one of the first appointees to the Northwest Territories council in 1921, eventually becoming commissioner from 1935 until his retirement in 1948. Despite his northern roots, Camsell resisted calls from the territories for self-government and saw nothing wrong with administration of the region from Ottawa. He also tried to keep the expenses of running the region to a minimum, while promoting northern development. He published his autobiography, Son of the North, in 1954.

From The Oxford Companion to Canadian History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: History of the Americas.