Not everybody gets to pursue the career he or she dreamed of as a teenager, but Genevieve Lemoine, curator and registrar at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, has followed her dream to the ends of the earth. 

Lemoine said she has known that she wanted to be an archaeologist from the age of 17.   

“I was very lucky that the Ontario government had a program for hiring high school and university students to do all kinds of different things, and one of them was archaeology,” she said.“So, I got a job doing archaeology in Ontario as a high school student for the summer. That confirmed that yes, that is what I wanted to do.” 

Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, Lemoine attended University of Toronto, Scarborough College for her undergraduate degrees and received her Ph.D at the University of Calgary.  It was not until she entered graduate school that she realized that she wanted to specialize in Arctic archaeology. 

In 1986, Lemoine took her first trip to the Arctic.

 “We had all the key experiences—we saw a polar bear at a safe distance, we had snow storms, we had our tents blown down,” she said. “It’s the kind of place that—when you go there—it’s hard to leave.”

Since then, Lemoine has been to the Arctic several times, doing field work for approximately 10 years. Afterward, Lemoine saw the job at Bowdoin as a perfect fit.

As curator and registrar of the Arctic Museum, Lemoine’s responsibilities include managing and overseeing the care of the collections and developing exhibits.  Her diverse roles give her the ability to switch from typing up information to performing hands-on tasks with the collections, which keep her days exciting. She said she is especially enthusiastic about the museum’s continued growth.

“Because we are an actively collecting museum there’s always new things coming in; you never know when somebody’s going to call you up and say, ‘Would you like…’ or ‘My family has...’” said Lemoine.

The museum has received a large amount of art produced by the Inuit people, trace their origins back to the Arctic. Most recently, the museum received a call from a Freeport woman whose great-aunt was sent two postcards from Ross Marvin, the only member of Peary’s 1908 expedition to die during the long journey to the Arctic.

The most memorable call occurred in 2010, when the grandson of a man on MacMillan’s expedition wanted to donate various historical artifacts, pieces of equipment, scientific specimens, journals and photographs.

 “He said, ‘Would you be interested in having some things that he had left over?’ He started just listing all of these things and I filled up two pages,” said Lemoine, who  quickly accepted the donation. 

Outside of her work at the museum, Lemoine enjoys rowing. She started a couple of years ago and is now hooked on the beautiful sites she sees and the animals she observes while on the water. 

Lemoine said she has enjoyed all the places she has called home. When asked whether she liked living in Canada or Maine better, she joked, “Well, what I tell my friends is that Maine is almost like Canada.”