White water

Review of: Canoe and Canvas: Life at the Encampments of the American Canoe Association, 1880-1920 Jessica Dunkin, University of Toronto Press, 2019 For me, canoeing first meant something more than wilderness when I saw a man do a handstand on the water. I was twelve, visiting the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario, with my family, […]

A Guide for Life

A rainbow of raincoats flashing between the spruce was a hint that something was amiss. It was a rainy late afternoon on the Yukon’s Canol Road and I was the tail guide on a 10-day cycle tour through the Yukon backcountry. By this point in the day, my clients should have all reached our camp, […]

How we got lost in the wilderness

‘No 9-1-1 Service Beyond this Point. Call Local Community Nursing Station if Help Needed.’ It was midnight on a June evening in 2012, the sun was up, and I was fresh off a transcontinental flight from my Nova Scotia home, just in time to report to my new job with a Yukon-based wilderness outfitting company […]

In memory: The Western Commander

It’s possible to mourn a boat. Once the gale has passed, the rains have stopped, and skipper and crew have been accounted for, it is possible to mourn for the sunken ship. This is especially true for those old, wooden ships that have been plying the waters so long no one really remembers them when […]

Eat well, live well

Steam swirls off tuktu stew and around Anna Lambe as she pulls a tray of golden-brown biscuits from the oven in Iqaluit’s Inuksuk High School. It’s 11:55 a.m. on a Wednesday. Lunch is served at noon—and there’s a queue snaking out of the cafeteria. This is just another regular Wednesday for Lambe. The Grade 12 […]


I’m back in Vancouver after a visit home to Nova Scotia. For the first time in years, the holidays were seasonal: hoar frost crunched underfoot; wood-smoke wafted horizontally in air too cold for it to rise. Winter, true winter, had arrived in Antigonish County, and that, in a way different from the past, was something […]

Paddling North

 Dust clung to my lips, transforming the chocolate I put in my mouth into a gritty paste. I toyed the sweet between my tongue and molars. It was slightly salty, an aftertaste left by calcium carbonate poured onto the Dempster Highway to prevent the dirt road from becoming a permanent pool of muck. “Bush-salted caramel,” […]