Dr. Clay Marco shares his Arctic travels in new book

by | Apr 24, 2024

Carleton County doctor publishes stories and photos from his work in Nunavut

For nine years, Dr. Clay Marco of Florenceville-Bristol has battled subzero temperatures and lived in isolated communities for weeks at a time while on temporary short-term “locum” contracts in Nunavut.

His longing for the land of polar ice and snow grows stronger with each journey above the tree line. As a family physician, he enjoys the adventure, the sheer majesty of the Arctic landscape, the arts, culture, and resiliency of the. He has come to know and love the remote land.

“It gets in your blood,” Dr. Marco said. “It’s a barren and rugged life up there. It’s been the best experience of my life. It has opened my eyes and made me a better person and a better Canadian.”

Dr. Marco, 60, has compiled his experiences in the Arctic region in a new 130-page hardcover book, Reflections of the North. It resembles a coffee table book, artfully designed and full of visual content, featuring beautiful photographs of the places and people he meets during his travels. The written content is derived from personal notes about his expeditions and the Inuit way of life.

“The Arctic is vast and majestic, rugged and punishing,” Dr. Marco says in the book’s introduction. “It can make a person feel vulnerable and isolated. It will challenge you and lay bare any anxieties or insecurities you may have.”

A family doctor for 29 years, Dr. Marco made his first excursion to Nunavut in 2014. Since then, he’s made 18 visits, working two weeks to a month at a time providing medical services at the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit and at community clinics serving smaller settlements. 

The Nunavut government provides Dr. Marco with living accommodations and a competitive salary during his stay. He considers each trip a “working vacation” despite the job location being less than 1,000 kilometres from the North Pole. 

“It does get chilly. You have to dress for it. Minus 59 degrees is the coldest I’ve had it. At that temperature, all parts of the body are covered including your face.”

Wrapped in warm clothing, Dr. Marco trekked across the Arctic tundra, travelled by snowmobile and dogsled, watched the northern lights, and visited an igloo. He has made new friends, adapted to a harsh environment, and expanded his career by working in a part of the country unseen by most. 

Dr. Marco penned his new book to raise awareness about the Arctic region and the plight of the Inuit people while capturing the beauty of the land in which they live. These days, he is contemplating what more he can do for his favourite workplace at the top of the world.

“This is a pivotal year for me. I may want to spend more time there. I’ll always be here, but I do enjoy my trips up north. I want to continue with them as long as I can.”

Dr. Marco’s commitment to his patients in Florenceville-Bristol and his dreams of the far north continue to bolster him as he goes about his work. He understands he is needed by many, and family medicine has become his life. 

He has more trips to Nunavut planned for this year. His new book, Reflections of the North, is his passion project and is available online at www.solentro.com/publish/md-clay-marco-/reflections-of-the-north/?fbclid


Dr. Clay Marco shares his Arctic adventures in a new book. Read an extended version of this story in the latest edition of ageless New Brunswick magazine, on newsstands now. (Clay Marco photo)

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