The Schooner in Winter Quarters, 1927-28, is a gift of Donald and Miriam MacMillan to the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, Bowdoin College. The Arctic is the topic of this year’s Camden Conference, which is partnering with the Scarborough Public Library to provide a series of online lectures. Courtesy photo


The Scarborough Public Library partners each year with the Camden Conference to bring a series of original programs to the community in anticipation of the annual conference held in February. Virtual talks related to the 2021 Camden Conference theme, The Geopolitics of the Arctic: A Region in Peril, feature three esteemed speakers. Thanks to the Camden Conference, all Scarborough Public Library virtual talks are free and open to the public. Visit to register.

On Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 6:30 p.m., the virtual program Enduring Connections: Maine, the Arctic, and the Edge of the North Atlantic will be an illustrated lecture by Susan Kaplan, professor of Anthropology and director of Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center at Bowdoin College. The northern North Atlantic is one of the most challenging environments in which to make a living; yet people have thrived here for thousands of years. At least 4,000 years ago, Indigenous groups living on the edge of the North Atlantic moved resources between what is now New England and northern Labrador, Canada and beyond. Historically, explorers like Robert E. Peary and Donald B. MacMillan established relationships with Arctic communities, and the legacies of those connections continue to this day. This illustrated lecture will explore some of the environmental and cultural links between Maine and various regions of the Arctic.

An Arctic anthropologist and archaeologist, Kaplan studies prehistoric and historic Inuit cultures, the history of Arctic exploration, and material culture. She is particularly interested in Inuit responses to environmental change and contact with Western cultures. She has conducted fieldwork in northern Labrador (Nunatsiavut), Canada, for over 35 years, and archaeological, archival, and museological projects have taken her to Alaska, northeastern Ellesmere Island, and Newfoundland as well.

On Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m., the virtual program China & the Arctic features Matt Ward, a retired Foreign Service officer and Scarborough resident, who will discuss China’s specific interests in the Arctic beginning with China’s ratification of the Svalbard Treaty in 1925, up to its current scientific research, trade, and shipping routes. Questions from members of the audience will influence the discussion. Ward’s 30-year diplomatic career focused on East Asia and trade and development issues. Ward served in China (including Taiwan), Cambodia, Haiti, Iran, Luxembourg, Myanmar, Sudan, Thailand, and Vietnam. He pioneered the refugee processing system for “boat people” arriving on the shores of Indonesia and Singapore.

Ward’s expertise earned him a position in both the Bush and Clinton administrations, where he served as director for European Economies in Transition. This office oversaw trade relations with the new nation-states that manifested after the dissolution of the former Soviet Union. In addition, Ward has served on numerous councils, boards, committees, and associations.

The first program, Arctic Observations of Climate Change: Photographs of the Northwest Passage and Greenland, by renowned photographer, Peter Ralston, co-founder of the Island Institute and owner of Ralston Gallery was held Tuesday, Jan. 12. A recording is available on the Library’s Camden Conference page and Facebook page.

In the interest of health and safety, the entire 2021 Camden Conference will be professionally produced and livestreamed to those who have subscribed from the familiar Camden Opera House stage in a high-quality format. Visit the Camden Conference ( for details and Conference pricing.

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