Joseph Dewey Soper (May 5 1893, Guelph, Ontario — November 2 1982, Edmonton, Alberta) was a
widely-traveled Canadian Arctic
explorer, zoologist, ornithologist, and prolific
Soper was raised near Rockwood,
where he developed an interest in wildlife and natural
history. His mother wanted Soper to be a minister; his father
wanted Soper to work on the farm. Soper spurned organized religion, and was
influenced by Henry David
Pond and the works of Ernest Thompson Seton.
attended Alberta College and the University of Alberta where he studied zoology.
Soper was first
published at age 20.
- 1923 Arctic expedition
In 1920, W. E. Saunders invited Soper to a naturalist's
meeting at Point
Erie where Soper met Dr. R.
M. Anderson who went
on to invite Soper to work as a naturalist on the Federal
Government's East Arctic Expedition. Soper was commissioned
to document the arctic flora and fauna of
Island, northern Greenland, and areas of Labrador.
- 1924-26 Arctic expedition
In 1924, the National Museum
retained Soper for an expedition to Baffin Island.
headquartered at a Royal Canadian Mounted Police base that was also a Hudson's Bay Company post.
this trip, Soper explored Nettilling Lake, Koukdjuak
Gulf to Foxe
Bay on Hudson
Dorset covering more than by dog
sled, boat, and canoe.
biggest accomplishment, with the help of local Inuit, was the successful six-year, 30,000-mile
(50,000 km) search on Baffin Island for the Blue Goose
(C. c. caerulescens) nesting grounds on Bluegoose Plain
near Bowman Bay in the Foxe Basin in the spring of 1929.
- 1928-31 Arctic expedition
find was featured in Ripley's Believe It or
, earning Soper the nickname "Blue Goose
- Government service
Soper joined the government service in 1934, becoming the first
Federal Chief Migratory Bird Officer for the Prairie Provinces
in the Canadian Wildlife Service
he became the Chief Federal Wildlife Officer for Alberta, Northwest
Territories and Yukon.
By the end of his career, Soper conducted three Arctic expeditions
and published over 130 research papers and articles. His personal
records, notebooks, mammal and bird collections, and research
materials were bequeath to the University of Alberta.
visited his sister in Wetaskiwin, Alberta in 1927 where he met and married the first graduate
nurse in the Eastern Arctic, Carolyn ("Carrie") Freeman.
Soper took his wife on his travels, and sometimes his young son,
Roland. Though Soper was a zoologist, ornithologist, and explorer,
he also collected Inuit
art, including ivory
figures and enjoyed hunting. When he died in 1982, he was survived
by his wife, daughter, son, daughter-in-law, and five
- 1960, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, University of
- 1978, Commissioner's Award, Northwest Territories
- Douglas H. Pimlott Conservation Award, presented by the
Canadian Nature Federation
- —. Waterfowl and Other Ornithological Investigations in Yukon
Territory, Canada, 1950. Wildlife management bulletin, no.
7. Ottawa: Issued under the authority of the Minister of
Northern Affairs and National Resources, 1954.
- —. The Birds of Riding
Mountain National Park, Manitoba, Canada. Ottawa: Dept. of
Resources and Development, National Parks Branch, Canadian Wildlife
- —. The Birds of Prince
Albert National Park, Saskatchewan. Ottawa: Canadian
Wildlife Service, 1952.
- —. The Birds of Elk Island
National Park, Alberta, Canada. Ottawa: Canadian
Wildlife Service, 1951.
- —. Waterfowl and Related Investigations in
the Peace-Athabasca Delta Region of Alberta, 1949. Ottawa:
Canadian Wildlife Service, 1951.
- —. The Blue Goose An Account of Its Breeding Ground,
Migration, Eggs, Nests and General Habits. Ottawa:
F.A. Acland, 1930.
- —. The Mammals of Waterton
Lakes National Park, Alberta. Ottawa: Environment Canada, Wildlife Service,
- —. The Mammals of Jasper
National Park, Alberta. Ottawa: Department
of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, 1970.
- —. The Mammals of Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba,
Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Wildlife Service, 1953.
- —. The Mammals of Elk Island National Park, Alberta,
Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Wildlife Service, 1951.
- —. The Mammals of Prince Albert National Park,
Saskatchewan, Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Wildlife Service,
- —, and Alice E. Wilson. A Faunal Investigation of Southern
Baffin Island. Ottawa: F.A. Acland, printer to the King,
- Physical geography
- —. Papers on the Canadian Eastern Arctic in Relation to the
R.C.M.P., Eskimos, Wildlife, Exploratory Surveying and Other
Matters of General Interest. Edmonton, Alta: The author],
- —. Wood Buffalo Park Notes on the Physical Geography of the Park and Its
Vicinity. Ottawa: The Dept, 1939.
- —. The Lake Harbour Region, Baffin Island. New York:
- Local Distributiono f Eastern Canadian Arctic
Birds, Soper, 1940
- Biography, University of Alberta- includes list
of Field Books, Notebooks, Catalogues, Manuscripts, Reports,
Photographs, Sketches, Correspondence