8/20/2013 5:22:21 PM

Loss of Churchill Pioneer: Photographer Robert Taylor

We're deeply saddened to report the loss of wildlife photographer Robert "Bob" Taylor at the age of 73 after a battle with cancer. A longtime resident of Manitoba, Canada, and a founding member of Polar Bears International's Advisory Council, Bob was world-renowned for his images of the natural world, particularly polar bears, great gray owls, and prairie bison. He was also known for his joyful, wacky sense of humor, as evidenced by the photo-shopped image below.

As one of the first photographers to document the annual gathering of polar bears near Churchill, Manitoba, Bob played a large role in helping to start the tourism industry there—and he remained involved as a guide for Frontiers North Adventures for years, returning every fall during the polar bear migration. He also volunteered his time with PBI, speaking to groups of Climate Alliance participants prior to their journey to the north and inspiring them with his images. Last year, he joined a PBI tour group as a special guest.

"Bob touched the hearts and minds of thousands of people with his infectious and persistent admiration and respect for all things wild, "said Bob Williams, a PBI board member and longtime friend of the photographer. "In fact, his passion for polar bears and their conservation is how I learned about PBI and became involved."

Over the years Bob wrote and published several books featuring his photographs, including The Manitoba Landscape- A Visual Symphony; The Edge of the Arctic: Churchill and the Hudson Bay Lowlands; The Great Gray Owl: On Silent Wings; and Manitoba: Seasons of Beauty.

Bob's photography earned him a fellowship in the Professional Photographers Association of Manitoba. He was also named a Master of Photographic Arts from the Professional Photographers of Canada and was accepted into the prestigious Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, one of the few photographers so honored.

In addition, Bob was awarded the Queen's Silver and Diamond Jubilee medals, and the Premier of Manitoba recently inducted him into the Order of the Buffalo Hunt in recognition of his accomplishments and service to Manitoba.

"What a large life he lived! I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to spend time with him over the last few years when he was in Churchill," said PBI's executive director, Krista Wright. "I will always remember his perpetual grin and quirky sense of humor."

We will miss this larger than life figure who played such a key role in putting Churchill on the map and inspiring a love of nature in thousands around the world.

"We're sad to say goodbye to our long-time friend and fellow nature lover," said John Gunter, general manager of Frontiers North. "In addition to trips to Churchill, he led tours for us to Wager Bay to photograph polar bears in their summer habitat, to Cambridge Bay to photograph muskox, and to Igloolik to photograph walrus and bowhead whales. His jokes and wacky sense of humor are legendary to this day in many parts of the world. His legacy will live on in his beautiful images, but he will be missed dearly."

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