Frank Wolf Launches 1,800km Arctic Canoe Journey

Canadian filmmaker Frank Wolf has just set out on his latest adventure, a 50-day, 1,800km canoe expedition through the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Wolf and partner Ryan Bougie set out on June 30 from the territorial capital of Yellowknife. They are following Great Slave Lake to its eastern terminus, then will strike off cross-country through the fabled Barrens of northwestern Canada. Their expedition finishes at the Inuit village of Gjoa Haven, on King William Island in Nunavut.

Wolf is no stranger to long-distance canoe journeys. His resume includes prior marathons of 1,350km, 2,000km, 8,000km, 1,050km and many others spanning a 20-year adventure career. He has also used bicycles, canoes, kayaks, packrafts, skis, and even a rowboat on his self-propelled adventures.

Their route traverses a wild land rich in caribou, wolves, grizzlies — and mosquitoes — but absent in people. Image: Frank Wolf

The centrepiece of the expedition is the Back River, an exceptional stretch of arctic whitewater featuring 83 sets of rapids and several long, grinding portages. As a filmmaker and naturalist, Wolf is particularly excited about the chance to meet some of Nunavut’s megafauna in their natural habitat, including arctic wolves, muskox, caribou, grizzly and — on the last leg to King William Island — polar bears.

No problem slaking thirst on a wilderness canoe expedition: just dip your cup in. Photo: Frank Wolf

Wolf and Bougie plan to put in 10 hours of paddling per day in their Quebec-made Esquif canoe in order to finish the expedition within their 50 day target. The duration of the journey sits in the middle range of Wolf’s previous trips. The pair will carry slightly more weight than usual for 50 days, as even with a spray deck and good paddling skills, they anticipate several windbound days during the big lake and ocean crossings.