The Journal of Canadian

Wilderness Canoeing

  WINTER 2004











In this issue

Front Page



Winter Packet


From the Editor





Shortly after the last issue of Che-Mun came out, the Canadian Canoe Museum closed its doors in Peterborough.

This shocking situation continues and the famed repository of so much of Canada’s paddling history is struggling to get its financial house in order and re-open again. The CCM who received millions in grant and sponsor money at the start, have done a superb job in creating a great looking destination but something isn’t working properly.

This is the latest word in January from the Board - “Much has been done in restructuring the Museum since it closed last October, and in developing a plan for financial viability. The next several weeks will see intense work toward implementing the plan. The reopening of the Museum will depend upon the success of this work. There will be public announcements at significant stages along the road. Watch the Canoe Museum website at for further information as it is available. And thank you for your support.”

We came across a lovely little Web site on a cross country trip by a pair of young Scots, Abigail and Duncan Thomson from Edinburgh who, with little canoeing experience, have made their way half way across the continent and are overwintering before starting up again next year.

The name of their site – – should be familiar, it was the phrase used by countryman Alexander Mackenzie upon reaching the ocean near Bella Coola in 1789.

They wrote in an e-mail to Che-Mun, “Before we came to Canada we had office jobs in Edinburgh, UK. Duncan (age 31) was a mathematical programmer for a small company making navigation software for marine vessels, and Abi (age 30) having just finished a degree worked in a bank. Both of us are now unemployed. We're supporting ourselves by renting out our apartment in Edinburgh through a letting agency. We don't know what we'll do if/when we reach the Pacific, but for the time being, we're happily spending winter in a small rented apartment in La Ronge: Abi and Duncan Thomson, P.O. Box 263, La Ronge SK, S0J 1L0.

“This year's plans are to leave from La Ronge as soon as Lac La Ronge's ice recedes (mid May to early June is the locals' prediction), rejoin the Churchill and over the Methye Portage. Then to Fort Chip, Peace River and the Fraser.” We sent them a bunch of back issues to give them some canoe-based winter reading.

Nunavut's new film, television and media development fund is providing seven Nunavut production companies with a total of $500,000 to kick start their film or video projects. Ann Hanson’s Nuna Media is to receive $41,000, money Hanson said will make it easier to find more financing for her ambitious $7.5-million IMAX project called “Inuit - the People.” Based on Inuit legend, the 45-minute film will explore the traditional Inuit view of animals and the environment.

Drumsong Communications, a joint-venture between filmmaker John Houston and Rankin Inlet’s Natsiq Productions, receives $100,000 for its project, “Kiviu’s Journey.”

The money will allow Drumsong to move ahead immediately with research on the legendary Inuit epic hero who is called, in various dialects, Kiviu, Kiviuk, Qiviuq, Qooqa or Qayaq.

Houston plans to start gathering stories of Kiviu from elders across the North – many of whom are very advanced in years. 

The largest film development award, for an amount of $200,000, goes to Igloolik Isuma Productions for its upcoming multi-million-dollar production, “The Journals of Knud Rasmussen,” and an Igloolik man, Ava.

Rasmussen, the noted polar explorer and anthropologist, was born in Ilulissat and grew up in Greenland, where he learned kayaking and dogteaming. In 1910 Rasmussen and fellow explorer Peter Freuchen established a trading post in northern Greenland.

From 1921 to 1924, Rasmussen embarked on his Fifth Thule Expedition, travelling from Greenland throughout the eastern Arctic to collect and record Inuit songs and legends. The full-length docu-drama on Rasmussen is due to attract interest thanks to the success of the company’s Atanarjuat.

They come from Germany, Japan and the USA to catch lunkers, bask in the glow of the aurora, dip a toe in the Arctic Ocean or run the rapids at Fort Smith. In 2002, the NWT drew 32,833 intrepid tourists.

Some came by plane, most drove a camper or car. They spent almost $40 million. Business travellers spent another $25 million. Together, they supported 822 full-time equivalent jobs.

Primed by Raven Tours' Bill Tait, the Japanese aurora viewing business rebounded from the slump of the previous year. About 14,000 Japanese visited Yellowknife and the NWT during the 2002-2003 season. The season before, the number of Japanese tourists to Yellowknife plummeted to about 9,000 because of fears related to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

According to Fort Simpson's Ted Grant, the Nahanni can usually count on 1,300 people annually but last season the numbers dwindled to 750. About 35 per cent of Grant's customers are from outside of Canada and 15 per cent are from Europe. NWT Arctic Tourism is working with airlines which fly from Frankfurt to Whitehorse to sell tourists on a side trip to Fort Simpson or Yellowknife.

Dog sled mashers in Churchill, Manitoba and Arviat, Nunavut are organizing a long-distance dog-sled race they hope will complement the North's great sled races. The race will follow an historic fur-trade run between the two communities along the western coast of Hudson Bay.

Dave Daley, who runs an outfitting company in Churchill, calls the race "The Hudson's Bay Quest." He says he wants to see it run from Churchill to Arviat one year, and reversed the next. Organizers are hoping the first race will be held in March and will join the ranks of other great northern races, such as the Iditarod in Alaska, or the Yukon Quest\

"We're going to have it as a real freighter race where you have to carry all your gear with you, like you had to in the fur trade." Daley says the contestants will probably follow the bombardier trail between the two communities, a distance of more than 200 km.

At least a dozen teams have already signed up.

 Winter 2004         Outfit 115 

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