Top 10 Expeditions of 2018 #10: By Canoe through Northern Quebec and Labrador

Over the last 12 months, ExplorersWeb has documented incredible adventures in climbing, cycling, running, walking, skiing and anything involving force of will and dedication to a dream in the outdoors. As this year comes to a close, we present our countdown of the Top 10 Expeditions of 2018.


The AKOR expedition’s 1,500km canoe journey through what the local Inuit call Nunavik and Nunatsiavut was notable for its speed, efficiency and lack of drama, in a place where a lot can go wrong.

The AKOR gang consisted of Pier-Luc Morissette, Sarah-Jeanne Giroux, Philippe Poulin, Guillaume Moreau, Nicolas Roulx and Charles Fortin. (Akor is a French word describing a steep, rocky shore with sudden drops.)

After two years of training and preparation, they set out in early June from the mostly abandoned mining town of Schefferville, Quebec. Their roundabout route, a mixture of rivers and coastal paddling, eventually took them to the Nain, the northernmost settlement on the Labrador coast.

The group made good early progress down the De Pas and George Rivers to Kangiqsualujjuaq, on Ungava Bay. They managed to avoid portages due to high water levels on a number of sections.

Giroux and Moreau on the De Pas River. Photo: Expedition AKOR

After Kangiqsualujjuaq, they completed a tough 130km upstream haul on the Koroc River to the Torngat Mountains, where they climbed 1,652m Mont d’Iberville, the highest point in Quebec and Labrador. (It’s known as Mount Caubvick on the Labrador side.) Two members of the expedition, Sarah-Jeanne Giroux and Philippe Poulin, then returned home.

Hauling across frozen Lake Attikamagen, a 160km hike near the start of their journey. Photo: AKOR Expedition

The remaining members continued south for 500km down the Labrador coast, often sandwiched between the cliffs of the Torngats on one side and the open North Atlantic on the other. Polar bears are abundant in this area, but the Torngat god smiled on the paddlers and they did not have a single encounter. After enduring a tough final 70km upwind paddle, they reached Nain on July 12.

One member of the group, Guillaume Moreau, a trained forestry expert, collected more than 50 wood samples from the partly forested subarctic rivers along the way. The samples have been delivered to Quebec City’s Laval University, where scientists will analyze the wood to help better understand how climate change is affecting the region.

The team collected 50 wood samples for climate-change studies. Photo: Expedition AKOR

A second canoe expedition through a different part of Labrador and northern Quebec merits an Honorable Mention. Although Justin Barbour failed to complete his extraordinarily difficult route, he covered 1,000km alone (well, with just his dog, Saku). He would likely have made it, had he not started late in order to be best man at a friend’s wedding. In the end, winter caught up with him.

Previous ExWeb articles on the AKOR expedition:

Exploring Labrador’s Northern Wilderness

AKOR Expedition complete 1500km to Nain