Collection C0065 - "Breaking Ice with Finesse" interview tape collection (Arctic Institute of North America AINA)

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"Breaking Ice with Finesse" interview tape collection (Arctic Institute of North America AINA)


  • 1996-1997 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1.37 m of textual and audio records including
212 audio cassette tapes

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Name of creator


Administrative history

In 1996, University of Calgary students Karin Clark, Cory Hetherington, Chris O'Neil, and Jana Zavitz, spent weeks conducting over 100 interviews to research the effects of oil and gas exploration in the Canadian Arctic. Findings from these interviews formed the basis for their book Breaking Ice with Finesse: Oil & Gas Exploration in the Canadian Arctic, published in 1997. The authors promise the reader “a renewed sense of Canada’s spirit of technological innovation, frontier and homeland practical expertise, and ‘can do’ enthusiasm.”

Among those interviewed were government officials, corporate managers, and industry employees. The study focused primarily on the five major corporations: Dome Petroleum Limited, Gulf Canada Resources Limited, Panarctic Oils Ltd., Arctic Transportation Company Ltd. (ATL), and Imperial Oil Resources Limited and its subsidiaries, Esso Resources Canada Ltd. and Esso Petroleum Canada. Subsidiaries of Dome—Canadian Marine Drilling Ltd. (Canmar)—and Gulf—Beaudril [1993] Limited (Beaudril)—were also represented. Technology, employment, and training programs were discussed.

Business owners and citizens from the communities of Tuktoyaktuk, Fort McPherson, Aklavik and Inuvik were interviewed. Local residents recalled how traditional culture and Northern lifestyle were impacted by oil and gas development. Interview topics encompassed the social, environmental and economic impacts of prospecting in the Beaufort Sea and the Canadian offshore oil and gas industry.

The collection is one part of The Arctic Technology Preservation Project which was established to preserve the wealth of knowledge and technological information developed and tested during the intense period of exploration between 1970 and 1985. This background information is considered important to future researchers. The oral history part of the project was initiated with the aim to preserve the memories of individuals involved in Arctic energy exploration, to provide broader context surrounding the industry’s vast collection of documented information. Key pioneers of the Beaufort Sea energy exploration era shared their anecdotes and personal recollections of their experiences in these tape-recorded interviews in 1996. These interviews became the AINA “Breaking Ice with Finesse” Interview Tape Collection, which includes printed notes pertaining to the interviews.

For further information see: Clark, Karin. Breaking Ice with Finesse: Oil & Gas Exploration in the Canadian Arctic. Arctic Institute of North America, 1997.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Just over one hundred Interviews were conducted on the history of oil companies during the early 1970s to the early 1980s to determine their effect on communities and the environment in the Arctic. Subjects include Canadian petroleum and natural gas exploration and the offshore oil and gas industry and its effects on the Beaufort Sea Region. This collection includes original cassettes and duplicate copies of the interviews.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Original order retained - alphabetical order by last name. The transcripts and summaries are located in alphabetical order in Box 11.

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Conditions governing access

No restrictions on access

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      Notes area


      Methodology is included on pages 5-7 of "Breaking Ice". Partial transcripts are available for most interviews that contain verbatim responses or highlights of responses by the interviewee. Interview questions are not included in the transcripts. Partial or summary transcripts are also available for some interviewees that do not have accompanying audio.


      The interviewers assigned subject areas to the comments made by interviewees (these are sometimes abbreviated on the transcripts as SE for Socio-economic, or E for Environment). Common subject areas are: Technical, Socio, Socio-Economic, Environment, Corporate Culture and History.


      Biographical information for interviewees is taken from pages 8-14 of Breaking Ice.


      The audio-cassettes for Tim Hawkings appear to be blank.

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