Welcome aboard Christine’s Canadian adventure tour! Our tour begins in the capital city of the Yukon Territory: Whitehorse. Once leaving Whitehorse on our tour, we will be visiting the four extremities of Canada, the area of highest elevation, paddling the longest river, fishing in the largest lake, discovering the largest island and ending up flying over the geographical center of Canada. Once in these areas, we will be educated of the physical regions, of the people and of the history of our destinations. Hold on to your seats, we are about to take off on an exploration of the most beautiful country in the world!
Our first destination: Mt. Logan in the Yukon Territory. We will be departing by bus from Whitehorse taking the Alaska Highway to Kluane Lake. From there we will meet our helicopter that will take us to the Quinto Sella Glacier at an elevation of 10,000ft. We will be standing next to Mt. Logan the Westernmost point in Canada as well as its highest mountain with an elevation of approximately 5,959m or 19,551ft.
Mt. Logan is geographically located in the Territorial North of Canada or more specifically in the Cordillera, where you will find the most spectacular and varied topography in the country. Mt. Logan exactly located at 140ï¿½23’W, 60ï¿½34’N is part of the St-Elias Mountain Range situated on the Alaskan-Yukon border.
Due to geological movement within the earth, the mountain is actually growing and getting higher. The base of Mt. Logan covers more than any other massif, making it one of the largest mountains in the world. It has many cliff faces over 10,000ft which rise to an immense ten-mile summit crest of high peaks and saddles. Glaciers break off from the summit spilling into nearby valleys partially caused by the fact that Mt. Logan happens to be located in one of the most tectonically active areas in Canada.
The St-Elias Mountain Range is in a very remote area of Canada with its most convenient centers being Haines Junction or Whitehorse. These areas are almost completely inhabited by Inuit’s with an area population of only a few thousand.
As we walk up to the “gate” of the King Trench Route we will learn a little about the areas history. King Trench Route leads to the summit of Mt. Logan and was first successfully climbed by this passage in 1925 by A.H. MacCarthy and company. The mountain was named after the geological surveyor of Canada Sir William Edmond Logan. The geological structure of the mountain was formed 40 to 80 million years ago when the North American tectonic plate collided with the Pacific Plate. The slow compression of the sedimentary rock formed the Cordillera. Today, members of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society collect rocks from the mountain to determine the uplift rate and the age of the mountain.
As we walk back to our awaiting helicopter to take us back to Kluane Lake, if we haven’t yet, we will surely experience a mild Logan Storm which occurs several times throughout the day. You will surely enjoy this spectacular view of Canada’s Western mountain Range, just make sure to watch out for the cougars and the bears!
Back by bus to Whitehorse we will find ourselves at the Edgewater Hotel in Whitehorse for the night. There you will find fine dinning and dancing too, but don’t stay up too late, tomorrow we are off to our second destination.
Our second destination: The Mackenzie River. Rise and shine, we are off to Yellowknife. Once arrived at the airport in Whitehorse, we will climb aboard Air Nunavut and travel a quick three hours to Yellowknife. Arrived in Yellowknife, we find ourselves on the westernmost part of the city, just on the shores of Great Slave Lake where we will be greeted by the M.S. Norweta, a 103 foot refurbished paddle boat!
Our five day journey begins on Great Slave Lake and ending in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, with a few stops on the way. All aboard, we are about to follow in the footsteps of Alexander Mackenzie on the great Mackenzie River, viewing northern scenery like he did on his first exploration in 1789…
Not only being the longest river in Canada, the Legendary Mackenzie River is the main artery of the Canadian north. The Mackenzie Basin covers an area more than three times larger than France. In the past hundred years, the Basin’s average temperature has increased by 1.7ï¿½C, resulting in many territorial disasters including: forest fires, dropping water levels, landslides and coastal erosion, which have all affected the area.
Covering a distance of about 1800km, the Mackenzie River, the longest River in Canada, starts at Great Slave Lake and discharges 306 cubic kilometers of water per year into the Arctic Ocean. The Mackenzie River is the second largest river system in North America with its entire river system extending to 4250km and draining 1.8 million sq. km of water from three major lakes (Great Slave, Great Bear and Athabasca) and many rivers (Peace, Athabasca, Liard, Hay, Peel, South Nahanni and Slave rivers). The river also spans over four physiographic regions of Canada: Western Cordillera, Interior Plain, Precambrian Shield and Arctic Coastal Plain.
As we travel along the Mackenzie River we will learn about the people of the region. In the southern parts of the river in northern British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, live the Cree. The Cree are an Algonkian forest living people who have made it through time living mostly on moose, deer and other animals of the boreal forest.
Living off nothing but migrating caribou, along the valley of the Mackenzie River, live the Dene. The Athapaskan-speaking Dene are a diverse group of people including the Slavey, Sahtu and Gwich’in who are closely related to the Navaho of the southwestern United States.
In the delta of the Mackenzie River and along the Artic coast we will find three groups of indigenous people living in the area of the Mackenzie River: the Inuvialuit. These people who have lived off fishing and hunting of seals and whales have migrated from Siberia centuries ago and now populate a vast region of the high Artic. We will see the Inuvialuit once arrived in Inuvik.
On the third day of our trip we will travel east off the Mackenzie into Great Bear Lake, our third destination of the tour. We will travel on Great Bear River into the lake, across 100 miles of the lake to Cameron Bay where we will fish in the largest wholly lake in Canada at Branson’s Lodge.
The Great Bear Lake is the eighth largest freshwater lake in the world and the largest found entirely in Canada. Its vast area is located in the Fort Smith and Inuvik regions of the Northwest Territories. The lake is 12,300 sq. miles with a length of 190 miles, a width of 110 miles and an average depth of about 300 feet. This lake which is ice bound for eight months of the year has a maximum depth of 1,464 feet which is just off the shoreline of Port Radium. As we sit on the rocks fishing for Walleye, Northern Pike, Arctic Char, Lake Trout and Arctic Grayling at Branson Lodge, we will be able to see over 100 feet deep into the water, due to the temperature never reaching higher than -52ï¿½C. As the hosts of Branson Lodge tell us a little bit about the region, we will learn that the lake can sometimes reach -70ï¿½C in the winter: Brrrrrrrrrr!
Back on the M.S. Norweta we will wave good-bye to the owners and guides of Branson’s Lodge and make our way back up the Mackenzie River to Inuvik, Northwest Territories. On our fifth day of our adventure on the Mackenzie River, we will be shuttle from the boat to the community of Inuvik. With a population of only 3,451, we will lodge for the night at the Eskimo Inn in Inuvik.
Town of Inuvik
Our fourth destination: Quttinirpaaq (Ellesmere Island) National Park of Canada in the Nunavut Territory. Once arrived at the airport in Inuvik we will take a chartered plane to the second most northerly community in Canada, Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island. Now is you thought Mt. Logan’s region was cold…from Resolute Bay a second charter plane, this time a Twin Otter Aircraft will take us to Lake Hazen within the park. Upon arrival, we will check-in and proceed on a guided tour of the Parks landscape.
On our first stop, we will see glaciers and ice fields up to 900m or 3000ft thick which are found in the mountains of the Grant Land in the northern parts of the park. These glaciers and ice fields are the last remains of the last continental glaciation that covered most of North America some ten thousand years ago. Where the mountains of Grant Land meet the ocean, we will explore the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf. The largest of its kind, covers hundreds of square kilometers of shoreline. On our next stop we will see the peak of the nunatak on Mount Barbeau, the highest mountain in eastern North America with an elevation of 2,616m or 8633ft. On our walk from the ice fields to the base of Mount Barbeau, we will pass the ocean coastline which has been engraved by glacial valleys and fiords. As we travel south east of the mountain (back to our starting point), we will explore the regions of the largest lake north of the Artic Circle, Lake Hazen, with a surface area of 542km2.
Quittinirpaaq is a polar desert, with an annual precipitation of only 6cm, one of the driest areas in the northern hemisphere. This combined with its cold climate, makes the area virtually inhabited by humans. The nearest inhabited areas are Alert, Eureka and Resolute Bay, Nunavut, which are located east and south of the park. The total area population is a mere few hundred Inuit. The main habitants of the area are the Arctic wolves, musk ox, the Peary caribou and the Arctic hares.
Back at the Park headquarters we will be spectators to a film documenting the areas history. We will learn that the Ellesmere Island National Reserve was established on September 16, 1988 when the government set aside 37,775 sq.km of northern Ellesmere Island for the creation of the National Park. The park has the most peaceful views and sites of Canada’s northerly land which protects a representative part of the Eastern High Arctic Glacier Natural Region. The signing of an agreement between the Inuit of the Nunavut settlement Area and the Queen in right of Canada, now allows Parks Canada to co-manage the Park with the Inuit settlement and work together in exploring and discovering new areas of the National Park. To learn more, you will have to join us on our explorations because we are off to our fifth destination…
Back on our Twin Otter plane we make it back to Resolute Bay where we will camp for the night at South Camp Inn, “…on oasis in the Arctic…”.
Our fifth destination: Auyuittuq National Park of Canada, Baffin Island, Nunavut. Once arrived back to our Chartered plane in Resolute Bay we will make our way to Iqaluit, Nunavut, the capital of the Nunavut Territory found on the largest island in Canada: Baffin Island. Once arrived in Iqaluit we will spend the day in rest visiting the local community before making our way to Auyuittuq National Park. In Iqaluit we will visit the Anglican Church, Iqaluit’s Fine Art Studio, Astro Hill Complex and Theater and the Kamotiq Restaurant Inn. We will end our journey at the Discovery Lodge Hotel.
Baffin Island is an arctic wilderness located in the northeastern parts of Canada facing Greenland over the Davis Strait. Baffin Island’s physical base consists of Artic Lands and the Canadian Shield. The Cumberland Peninsula coastline is covered with spectacular glacial and ice-capped mountains with great rock walls suitable for climbing. The Baffin Island is administered by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association. This association administers 13 communities on Baffin Island, home to approximately 12,900 Inuit residents.
Off to Auyuittuq National Park of Canada…from the Iqaluit airport we will fly Air Nunavut to the community of Qikitarjuaq where we will hop on our snowmobiles, guided by professional outfitters to the Visitors Center of Auyuittuq National Park of Canada.
The National Park of Auyuittuq was established on April 9th,1976, when the government designated 19,700 sq. km of Baffin Island to the National Parks Department. This parks main objective is to protect the Northern Davis Strait Natural Region and portions of the Baffin Island Shelf Marine region. The area was first explored by John Davis who named the area in 1585. His research and discoveries showed reports of whales in Baffin Bay which in turn, attracted many Scottish whalers to settle in the area of Broughton Island on the northern side of the park.
The Inuit, more specifically the Thule culture who are the direct ancestor of the present day Inuit that inhabit the area, manage to survive off of mammals living in the area. They use the ringed seal, the harp seal, bearded seal, walrus and beluga whale for its meat, skin and oil, and the caribou provides the Inuit with winter clothing and tent covers. There are not very many permanent non-native people living in the area. Although, since 1923, the land has been developed by scientific investigators for recreational tourism in the area.
Back upon our snowmobiles we head back to Iqaluit for another nights stay at the discovery lodge. Tomorrow will be another exiting day as we will be visiting some of the most beautiful scenery of the Atlantic coast of Canada.
Our sixth destination: Cape Spear National Historic Site of Canada. Once aboard our Conquest and Air Transat charter plane, we will be taken to St-John’s the capitol of Newfoundland, Canada’s largest Atlantic province. From the St-John’s airport, we will be shuttled by bus to the Cape Spear National Historic site of Canada, the easternmost point in Canada!
The highlight of our trip to the Atlantic coast will be visiting a historical lighthouse of St-John’s harbor. Even though the area had already been populated for centuries, it was only in 1832 that legislation allowed the construction of a second lighthouse to offer guidance along Newfoundland’s rocky coast. The first light house ever built in Newfoundland was placed in 1810 at the entrance to St-John’s Harbor at Fort Amherst. A few years later, a site at Cape Spear was chosen to be the home of the new lighthouse. The construction was of the lighthouse was completed in 1836 by Nicholas Croke and William Parker. In 1878, a fog horn was added to the lighthouse to aid mariners into St-John’s Harbor.
The lighthouse, apart from being subjected to renovations through out the years, has also gone through several different lighting systems. The original light used in the lighthouse was shipped to St-John’s harbor from Scotland where it had been in use since 1815. From there, the lighthouse advancing in technology adapted a glass dioptric system, first powered by oil, then acetylene and finally electricity in 1930. The dioptric system soon abandoned the lighthouse to find itself in a new home, a new lighthouse not to far away.
The lighthouse is no longer in use today, but has been restored as a light keeper’s residence of the 1800’s. Among its history and story, the lighthouse was also used as a base by the army in World War II. These soldiers built a camp at the lighthouse to protect the St-John’s Harbor and the coast of the island from being invaded by German submarines. Built in 1834 and passing through the war, the Cape Spear lighthouse is the oldest surviving lighthouse in its area.
The region of Cape Spear, located in the Appalachian Uplands, has the remains of the ancient Appalachian Mountains, giving the region a rugged hilly ambiance. The region is almost half covered by boreal forest of black spruce and balsam fir. The coast lines consist of sea cliffs, 200-300m in height and the inland is covered with several lakes and rivers.
The Newfoundland region today is home to four groups of aboriginal people: the Inuit, the Innu, the Micmac and the Metis. This cultured area is composed of fisherman, hunters and trappers that migrated to the area from Europe and other parts of Canada some 700-800 years ago.
As we leave Cape Spear, we will make our way back into St-John’s, to the four star Delta St-John’s Hotel and Conference Center for the night.
Sixth destination: Point Pelee National Park of Canada. We will fly Air Canada from St-John’s Newfoundland to Windsor, Ontario. From Windsor we will make our way by Double-Decker bus to the southernmost point in Canada: Point Pelee National Park of Canada.
A jewel of nature, Point Pelee National Park is a thin triangle of land in Lake Erie at the southernmost point of Canada. Its location, latitude and surrounding waters make Point Pelee Island the ideal home for some of Canada’s most unique plants and wildlife. This beautiful area of the country is one of the most visited park in Canada and one of the most famous parks in North America. As consequence of the region’s geographic location and the effect of the Great Lakes on temperature, Point Pelee National Park has characteristics of the Carolinean forest, not found elsewhere in Canada. During our visit to the park we will encounter several rare species of plants and flowers as well as mammals and birds.
On May 29th, 1918, Point Pelee was established as a national park. The surrounding communities were non-effected by the creation of the park including the naval base of the area. The fisheries that were established in the region before the park, still worked within the park until the late 1960’s. When the park’s status was established, all hunting, trapping and fishing were then regulated under federal law. People, as we will, can visit the park and participate in games of hunting, trapping and fishing held every year by the Crown Forest Reserves. To protect the park from the damage from settlers, in 1790’s 1,554 hectares were set aside as naval reserves and defined the boundaries of the national park.
After spending the day exploring the plants, animals, wetlands and fisheries of Point Pelee National Park we will rest our feet back in Windsor at the Casino Windsor Hotel.
On our last day of the tour, we make our way back to Whitehorse by plane, but not before showing our tourists our final region of the tour: the geographical center of Canada…
From the airport in Windsor, Ontario, we will be making our way back to Whitehorse by a scenic tour of the Canadian Shield and the Hudson Bay Lowlands. Leaving Windsor, we will fly over the Great Lakes composed of the largest lakes in North America located on the Canadian-American border. Past the Great lakes we will view the vast regions of the Canadian Shield, the Hudson Bay Lowlands and be able to sea parts of the Hudson Bay.
The Canadian Shield is the largest physiographic region in Canada. This area formed over 3 billion years ago by solidified molten rock, is composed of rugged rolling uplands with drumlins, eskers and depositional landforms. In the Labrador, on Baffin Island and on the shorelines of the Hudson Bay is where you will find the highest and the lowest elevation of the regions, as well as the most scenic and rugged landforms of the Canadian Shield.
Passing northerly over the flat prairie lands of Manitoba we will be flying over the Territory of Nunavut where just south of Yathkyed Lake, at exactly 62ï¿½24’N, 96ï¿½28’W we will pass over the geographical center of Canada. Where the northernmost, westernmost, southernmost and easternmost parts of Canada meet is completely inhabited by man. The nearest centers to the geographical point are Arviat and Whale Cove on the coastline of the Hudson Bay.
Winding down and relaxing, we will now fly westerly over some of our previous destination before landing back in Whitehorse. As everybody grabs there luggage and makes there way back home we wave good-bye to the new friends we made on the tour and think back that we have just experienced, discovered, viewed the most beautiful and scenic parts of Canada and quite possibly the most beautiful in the world! Hope to see you soon…