Myth-ing the mark
It supposedly lay beyond the Pillars of Hercules, a fantastical realm boasting advanced technologies and populated by a hubristic people who believed themselves equal to the gods.
The lost continent of Atlantis was first mentioned by the Greek philosopher Plato in 360 BC. He described it as “larger than Libya and Asia together,” ruled by a “confederation of kings, of great and marvellous power.” Others who followed were quick to build upon the myth, turning the parable of Atlantis into a warning against the vanity of elevating humankind to the divine.
For me, the word Atlantis calls to mind pop culture, from comic books like Aquaman and Namor the Sub-Mariner that I read as a child to the TV show
The Man from Atlantis, which enthralled a younger me in the late 1970s. (A quick side note: The water-breathing star of the show was none other than Patrick Duffy, who later took a star turn playing Bobby in Dallas.)
So imagine my surprise when an author recently pitched me a story about the hunt for Atlantis in Canada’s Far North. In this issue, historian Janice Cavell explores the early twentieth-century race to find a hidden continent in the northern polar region.
Several explorers, including the American adventurer Robert Peary, believed an Arctic Atlantis was awaiting discovery amid the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean. This delusional belief resulted in tragedy for at least some of the searchers.
Elsewhere in this issue, we explore the Indigenous history of Toronto and recall the story of a Canadian woman who, for a time in the early 1900s, became a world-famous fashionista. I also wrote a pair of articles for this issue: one on the northern paintings of artist Hilton Hassell and another on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands by Canadian forces in the Second World War.
Travelling through the Netherlands, witnessing the immense gratitude the Dutch hold for the Canadians who liberated their country, was a powerful experience for me and a poignant reminder of the lasting legacy of the sacrifices of our troops.