Canadian musicians warm up Arctic military station

The Royal Canadian Air Force calls it the "most northerly concert in the world," when twice a year a Hercules cargo aircraft carries musicians to CFS Alert.

Patricia Conroy, Hayley McLean play CFS Alert

The Royal Canadian Air Force calls it the "most northerly concert in the world," when twice a year a Hercules cargo aircraft carries musicians to Alert.

The Canadian Forces station is at the tip of Ellesmere Island, north of the 82nd parallel.

Performers at December's concert included Patricia Conroy, Hayley McLean, Shaun Verreault, members of the band Atlantic Crossing and comedian Will Davis.

Since military personnel serve six-month deployments in the isolated station, the musicians had a captive and appreciative audience.

Master Seaman Shane Barker, who is also a mess manager, says the live music is a big morale boost for the 67 people stationed there and helps break up the long dark days of winter.

"Their last night here they set up in one of our bars and we went up and played instruments with them because there's a lot of people who play instruments and they let us play with the band which was a lot of fun," he said.

McLean, who recently topped Fender's list of "guitar goddesses," said the atmosphere was relaxed.

"Someone would shout out a song and we'd play it," she said.

"It was just very comfortable and loose and kind of how I learned how to play, sitting around a campfire with friends and family, and it was the same except there was no campfire because it was kind of cold out."

Barker says the next concert on top of the world will be later this summer. 


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.