We’re big in China!

Passengers aboard our trip Into the Northwest Passage this past summer enjoyed the company of an 8-person crew filming a TV show, ‘You Can Be A Star in Canada‘. Stars Charlie and Lydia were as talented as they were charming: Charlie, a professional photographer, did a slide show of his amazing photographs, and Lydia, a singer, contributed a song to the Variety Show on the last evening.

Four episodes of You Can Be A Star in Canada aired in China this past October. Even if you don’t speak Chinese, it’s worth viewing these episodes here: lots of the fun is self-explanatory, and the landscapes need no words.

Episode 1 features footage of the spectacular glaciers, icebergs and ice formations off the coast of Greenland. Glaciologist Greg Coyes is a central character in this one.

Episode 2 features culturalist Lynda Brown and archeologist Lisa Rankin, along with film maker and Arctic expert John Houston. All appear at Qilaqitsok, Greenland, where the famous Greenland mummies were found. Additional scenes show naturalist Ree Brennin, and there are some shots of the back deck BBQ and Hawaiian party hijinks aboard the Sea Adventurer.

Episode #3 is shot mostly in Pond Inlet, including Arctic Games, shopping, and a cultural presentation. Lamech Kadloo, the Inuit culturalist who joined our trip in pond, features prominently. There are also scenes from the Northwest Passage, including Bellot Strait, Dundas Harbour, a Thule house. Both David Newland’s on-board ukulele workshop and Ree’s fish printing workshop also make it in.

Episode #4 features Linda & Lamech drum dancing and throat singing, and there are also plenty of scenes with expedition leader Chris Dolder. There’s some discussion of the explorers and various locations they visited: Dundas Harbour, Fort Ross, Port Leopold, and Beechey Island, among others. And of course no AC program would be complete without Zodiacking, and the polar dip!

Happy Birthday, Margaret Atwood

AtwoodShe’s Canada’s foremost writer and one of the most decorated authors of our time. She’s won far too many awards to list. She’s an inventor, a founder, a visionary, an advocate, and a keen commentator on the foibles of our time. She embraces technology while maintaining an old-fashioned sense of dignity and decorum. And today is her birthday!

Margaret Atwood has travelled with Adventure Canada on no fewer than seven trips. This coming July, Margaret and her partner Graeme Gibson join us for their eighth voyage, on board our sailing to Newfoundland and Wild Labrador.

As Honorary Co-Chairs of BirdLife International’s Rare Bird Club, they’ll be scanning the horizon for the spectacular viewings of wild seabirds that are one of the highlights of the Labrador coast in the early summer.

Meanwhile, we wish Margaret many happy returns, endless flights of fancy, and a glass of fine wine as she celebrates another trip around the sun.

Picturesque Newfoundland

One passenger aboard our recent Newfoundland Circumnavigation had an amazing story to tell. Keen photographer John Chambers had earned his passage with a picture.

That’s right: John was the winner of the 2012 edition of Photolife‘s annual photo contest, “The World We Live In” in the Amateur category. You may have seen his extraordinary Arctic wolf portrait on the cover of the contest issue of the magazine – it’s sublime.

John was an enthusiastic traveller, leaping at every opportunity to grab great shots. He was kind enough to share some of his favourites with us here.

St. John's is a beautiful and fascinating city, one of North America's oldest.

St. John’s is a beautiful and fascinating city, one of North America’s oldest.

Rock formations south of St. John's near Bay Bulls are spectacular.

Rock formations south of St. John’s near Bay Bulls are spectacular.

Fogo Island was once considered one of the four corners of the Earth.

Fogo Island was once considered one of the four corners of the Earth.

The restored fish station at Battle Harbour is a national treasure.

The restored fish station at Battle Harbour is a national treasure.

Reconstructed Viking sod house, circa 1000 A.D.

Reconstructed Viking sod house, c. 1000 A.D. at L’Anse Aux Meadows.

Castle Island off the Labrador coast is famed for its columnar basalt.

Castle Island off the Labrador coast is famed for its columnar basalt.

Saddle Island, at Red Bay, once housed a Basque whaling station.

Saddle Island, at Red Bay, once housed a Basque whaling station.

Spruce stacked to dry in traditional fashion.

Spruce stacked to dry in traditional fashion in Red Bay, Labrador.

Gros Morne National Park is considered 'The Galapagos of Geology'

Gros Morne National Park is considered ‘The Galapagos of Geology’

The tiny outport of Francois is only accessible by boat.

The tiny outport of Francois is only accessible by boat.

The Sea Adventurer proudly flies the AC flag.

The Sea Adventurer proudly flies the AC flag.

Tiny St. Pierre preserves the culture and heritage of France.

Tiny St. Pierre preserves the culture and heritage of France.

The easternmost point in Canada.

The easternmost point in Canada, Cape Spear.

St. John's features one of the world's great ocean harbours.

St. John’s features one of the world’s great ocean harbours.

Enter this year’s edition of The World We Live In, sponsored by Adventure Canada, and you too could win one of many spectacular prizes.

Adventure Canada supports the Century Project

John Carrick was Matthew and Bill Swan's Grand Uncle, killed at age 23, April 9, 1917, most likely at Vimy Ridge.

John Carrick was Matthew and Bill Swan’s great uncle, killed at age 23, April 9, 1917, most likely at Vimy Ridge.

In 2004 Adventure Canada’s founding Directors, Bill and Matthew Swan toured Normandy during the 60th commemorative of the D-Day Landings. It was a personal family journey and a powerful event that led to a return to France the next year with a group of Adventure Canada travellers.

The experience left Bill with a desire to extend the opportunity to include Canadian youth. Ten years later, the century mark of the start of the First World war presents such an opportunity. Bill conceived and proposed the Century Project and Adventure Canada quickly jumped onboard as a primary supporter.

The Century Project is the design of a group of teachers, citizens and passionate community leaders from the Columbia Valley, British Columbia, who have joined together to structure a program that honours the transformative period of World War I. The vision is to use the magnitude of the cultural shift of the early 1900’s to help today’s youth examine their values and appreciate the issues they may face in their lifetime. The project also aims to inspire our community to look at the profound questions of today.

The Century Project currently entails a yearlong commemorative action plan in collaboration with community groups and David Thompson Secondary School. Grade 12 students will be immersed in historical and literary curricula that emphasize personal narrative, community involvement, project-based activities and applied learning opportunities.

Proposed events include hosting a notable speaker series; participating in Remembrance Day observances; touring local and regional museums; working with military resources to offer an interpretive simulation of the experience of soldiers; creating an anthology of local stories, biographies and responses to the war; and travelling to Europe in 2014 to visit war monuments, battlefields and meet with European youth.

Adventure Canada invites your support as we in turn support the aims of the Century Project as it seeks to affect the interests, skills, values and aspirations of Canadians—and more importantly the young citizens of the future.

Hinterland Hee Hee

In the vast reaches of the high Arctic, muted hues are often the order of the day, leaving the photographic eye to rove in search of dramatic colours. Luckily, our passengers and staff, geared up for their hikes and excursions, provide all the colours of the rainbow!

Videographer Pat McGowan of InMotion Production Group found a created this loving tribute to the glory of gear, with a gentle nod to that beloved Canadian institution, the Hinterland Who’s Who clip. Pat has captured in action a critter many adventure travellers will find familiar… Enjoy!

Reflecting on Scotland Slowly

Passenger Janet Blachford contributed the following original recitation to our Scotland Slowly cruise Variety Show. She’s kindly allowed us to repost here. Together with Dennis Minty‘s photographs the piece captures the spirit of the trip quite eloquently.


We started in Glasgow, and the first night was filled with roars and squeaks, the music of the young. Males howled, maidens whistled back, both singing of beer and kisses in the cool night air. Youth proclaimed itself right outside the window, and ours was long gone, but we were starting a trip to go back many youth-times, so they seemed a wonderful omen for the next week and a half.

The next morning, rather slow and sleepless, I decided not to fuss about the chronologies of youth and age, and instead to hear the passing present in the different kinds of memory around us: tall tales, wishful thinking, edited or exaggerated accounts of events, reconstructions due to winning or losing; what was true, if anything, what wasn’t, or might not be true, which was practically everything.

It’s easy to think this way when encouraged by the landscape of the Western Highlands and its Islands, especially on a boat sliding through slippery water. The mountains have risen and fallen over millennia, so what you see one minute is truth enough, though things are different behind and ahead, or sideways over the hill.

 Barra, Western Isles, Scotland
It’s a late spring this year, and we
saw the inner country on a day’s bus ride from Glasgow to Oban. The far trees were still unfurling into a lovely pale green, deep yellow patches of gorse splashed over the green hills, and close by the roadside, carpets of bluebells wove between trees, many
of them white blooming hawthorns. Rhododendrons were in flower in all the gardens of all the small towns, red into pink into orange.

We hear about Glencoe, Culloden, the Clearances from our guide, all part
of the brutal history of survival here, and also the trail of Protestantism and education from Luther through Calvin to John Knox; not overlooking Jacobites, Orangemen, bloody-minded Kings, Queens, Bonnie Princes, Chieftains, Earls, Lords, and the like. Then we were allowed to relax a little, and flashes of dry, ironic humour started and ended the dire tellings. No one jokes about Glencoe, Culloden, or the Clearances, though.

Still, through it all, we now have a framework to juggle with the mountains and waves, waterways and harbours, towns and hills and islands ahead of us.

Once aboard the Sea Adventurer, we’re rocked day and night by some kind hand on some kind of cradle, and we can start to imagine what life was like two, or four, or six hundred years ago; even two, or four, or six thousand.

The hills are now bare of trees, and long horizontal lines provide a lovely architecture, as in the Canadian North. There are few crops other than fast growing grass well mowed by sheep, and slow growing peat, still cut and burnt for heat in crofters’ houses.

We can understand the attractions of leaving, unforced, and also the extreme attachment to these islands, perhaps then a return, and a regretful leaving again.

The farther north we go, the more the layers of the past appear around us. Perhaps because we’re not shut off by walls of civilization, we can see more clearly how bare mountains and fields have affected those who live here. Natural elements cause life and death; weather, seasons, precious livestock and health are close concerns to the few who choose to stick it out in the most northerly islands.


By some lucky chance, the sun shines out of a blue sky over calm water day after day. The locals say they’ve never seen the like before; they shake their heads and wave their hands to express the usual silently, so that the weather gods don’t overhear and dump down rain and mist and cold wind. People are coming out to the islands from the mainland to see what it’s like for themselves. We all have suntans, unheard of in Scotland. Someone asks for sunscreen in a little grocery store and is told, “We have none of that here, there’s no call for it, you see.”

The sunny days come and go and we visit Jura and Islay, Skye and Rum, Iona, Barra, St. Kilda, Stornaway on Lewis, Papa Stour, Foula, Mousa and Fair Isle in the Shetlands, and Kirkwall in the Orkneys, before heading to Aberdeen. We know these places without having seen them — déjà
vu moments happen all the time. 
I recognize the pink granite of the Augustinian Nunnery on Iona as
seen in Quebec, and names jump
out at us constantly: Argyll, McLeod, McNeil, and the blue and white flag of Scotland is one any Quebecer knows well in variation with the fleur de lys; a reminder of the Old Alliance between Scotland and France.

Callanish Stones, Isle of Lewis, Scotland

The pagan circle of the Celtic cross moves us back to the Callanish stones on Lewis, the northern Stonehenge that comes to life at the Solstice. 
John Rae’s memorial at St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall represents, for us, all the explorer Scots who developed Canada through the Hudson’s Bay Company. Rae grew up here, and came home again after a lifetime of mapping our northern wilderness; he is especially famed for establishing a way to get through the Northwest Passage alive. Canada seems close enough to touch.

In the evening, recaps of the daily adventures mix up centuries and millennia with tales of birds: gannets, puffins, fulmars, and sightings of families of seals lying around on shore. “Beach bananas,” some one says. There’s a whiskey label contest: “From the sweet dregs of the Albertan tar sands, brewed to oily perfection in holding ponds, comes this elixir to match your fondest desires….”

We’re told that the dress code for
the Captain’s Dinner is “Spiffy-Light.” We have penny whistle classes, and a Scottish dress up dinner — plaid wrapping paper makes a good kilt,
a roll of toilet paper is an excellent sporran. It’s not just the Islanders who know how to play; by now, aboard the Sea Adventurer, we’re an island as well.

The real islanders work hard during the day, they’re not on a cruise. The kids go to school even if only six kids are available, as is the case at Moussa, in the Shetlands. Still, out of a population of thirty-five or so, six is pretty good. We go ashore quite often for pub nights, or islanders are invited aboard for dinner and music, and the kids are shy in front of more people than they’ve ever seen before, or thrilled as they explore the wonders of the boat. They sing in Gallic, in English, in local accents; we join the choruses.

Papa Stour, Shetland, Scotland

One day at Papa Stour, again in the Shetlands, we ride the trusty Zodiacs into black volcanic sea caves, around thick rock needles called stacks, under long rock arches into chambers containing still pools. In a dark place far inside a cave, a guide sings a Gregorian chant, “Salve Regina.”

He has a deep bass-baritone voice, and the echoes swirl around us. It
is lovely sitting there in dark air on dark water. Then, out in the sunshine again, another Zodiac bounces with excitement, and we go over to see what they’re up to.

Murray, a weathered New Zealand sheep farmer sits in the stern with a small black Highland lamb in his arms. It’s amazing, but true. The little sheep got itself stranded at water’s edge on
a small beach below steep cliffs, and there was nothing to eat on that beach.

Murray, an expert, had leapt out of the Zodiac in his high boots, grabbed the lamb and brought him back. We hear him say, “Relax now, honey, or you’re lamb chops. It’s your choice.” He pulls away the lamb’s half-shed winter coat as their Zodiac speeds off to find a
nice grassy spot for their baby. Three men, all New Zealanders, then carry their little one ashore and up to a green ledge on a low cliff, and he bleats as they leave him.

Their fellow Zodiac members, meanwhile, sing “Murray had a little lamb,” and we all watch as the lamb leaps along the cliff edge in plain view.

A dark cave, “Salve Regina,” a lamb and a children’s song, water, grass, sunshine, and dozens of birds wheeling in the sky — for a moment we saw how such a way of life could last and last, and also how such a moment could allow us to be part of the clamour surrounding a centre of peace.

Atlantic Puffins, Fair Isle, Scotland

Petition: offer Bagpiper’s Rebate to ukulele players

What gives?!

What gives?!

Adventure Canada brochures generously advertise a bagpiper’s rebate on cruises to the Arctic, East Coast and select wilderness destinations;


Adventure Canada’s Into the Northwest Passage cruise, August 6-20th 2013, will feature ukulele instruction and general hijinks;


Adventure Canada employs noted ukulele player and advocate David Newland, in part for the purposes of said instruction and hijinks;

And whereas:
Ukulele players, like bagpipers, are often the target of ridicule and disrespect;

We, the undersigned ask that Adventure Canada expand on its efforts to recognize the joy, goodwill, and humour symoblized by the ukulele and its ongoing revival,


extend the Bagpiper’s Rebate to ukulele players.

In this way, ukulele players may share the joy of our instrument with our fellow voyagers on trips to Adventure Canada’s incredible destinations.

Thank you!

Adventure Canada: please extend Bagpiper's Rebate to ukulele players!

To the Powers That Be...


Please share with your friends:


Into the Northwest Passage—with ukuleles

David_Newland_Uke_crop_profileMeet David Newland: Adventure Canada’s ukulele-playing Creative Director.

David first came to our attention as co-founder of the Corktown Ukulele Jam. He’s helped fuel the ukulele revival by performing, hosting workshops, commandeering streetcars and generating loads of good press for the uke.

David’s music and writing have taken him across Canada by train, along the shore of Lake Superior by freighter canoe, and to festivals and venues from the Atlantic to the Pacific. But never to the Arctic—until now.

We’re delighted to announce that David will be boarding his first-ever Adventure Canada trip, Into the Northwest Passage, August 6 to 20, 2013.

And that’s not all.

David’s already been turning his fellow Adventure Canada staff members on to the power and beauty of the ukulele, with office concerts and instructional strum-alongs. He even convinced the Powers That Be to fork out for a set of ukuleles to take North with him.

That’s right: Adventure Canada is bringing ukuleles to the Northwest Passage! Among his other duties, David Newland will be instructing and entertaining our passengers while onboard, sailing from Greenland through the islands of the Canadian Arctic archipelago.

What's missing from this picture? Hint: goes with Hawaiian shirt and lei.

What’s missing from this picture? Hint: goes with Hawaiian shirt and lei.

Just picture it: birds swooping, whales breaching, ice gleaming, midnight sun shining. Ukuleles strumming. Sublime.

Among the many memorable moments of exploration and endeavour in the North, this one will surely hold a place all its own.

Care to join us? Category 4 and 5 berths now available! Call 1-800-363-7566 x252 to speak directly to David about the trip.

Incidentally, David is campaigning to have our industry-leading bagpiper’s rebate extended to ukulele players. Click to sign the petition!

What gives?!

What gives?!

Happy Nunavut Day!

Photo: Jerry Kobalenko

Photo: Jerry Kobalenko

Twenty years ago today, Parliament passed the Nunavut Act, setting the stage for the creation of Nunavut Territory, which formally came into being April 1, 1999.

Today we congratulate the people of Nunavut as we celebrate this landmark agreement between the Inuit of Nunavut and the Government of Canada.

Having worked in what is now Nunavut since before it became a territory, we value our relationships with the people and the communities of the North.

At Adventure Canada, we’re proud to provide our passengers opportunities to learn about the language, the wildlife, and the landscape of the region.

We’re grateful to work with the Nunavummiut: to learn from their traditions, appreciate their contemporary culture, and to share their hopes for the future.

Please join us in wishing continued success to Canada’s newest territory!

Celebrate Nunavut’s milestone with a voyage Into the Northwest Passage, from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland to Kugluktuk, Nunavut. August 6-20, 2013.

Great Bear Rainforest: a primer

Amid all the talk about the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and its potential effects on the BC interior and coast, the term ‘Great Bear Rainforest’ is frequently mentioned.

Yet many Canadians may still have only a vague idea where, and what, the Great Bear Rainforest is. So here’s a bit of a primer.

The term Great Bear Rainforest is new, which may be why the region is hard for many people to pinpoint. It was coined by environmental groups in the late 1990s, who wanted an emotive moniker for the region, then seriously threatened by logging concerns.

In 2009, after fifteen years of lobbying, protests, advocacy and public consultation, a consensus was reached to protect the Great Bear Rainforest region that included the government of B.C., First Nations, coastal communities, environmental groups, and logging concerns. The World Wildlife Fund declared the agreement ‘A Gift to the Earth.’

The Great Bear Rainforest region stretches 400 km along the west coast of British Columbia, from the Discovery Island, to the southern reaches of Alaska. This is the largest tract of extant temperate rainforest in the world, comprising 64,000 km2 of land, most of which is either protected, or subject to strict land-use regulations.

The Great Bear Rainforest includes the traditional territories of 27 First Nations. Within this area are found iconic tree species including thousand-year-old redcedar, sacred to many First Nations people, and towering Sitka spruce. The average age of trees in the forest is 350 years. The region’s wildlife includes cougars, grizzlies, mountain goats, Sitka deer, wolves and the unique kermode or ‘spirit’ bear—a black bear subspecies of which one in ten individuals has a white coat. The watercourses of the Great Bear rainforest provide spawning habitat for a fifth of coastal Pacific Salmon.

Environmental groups, First Nations and other stakeholders are rightly concerned that having been substantially (though not totally) protected from logging, the Great Bear Rainforest might be at serious risk from a pipeline. An even greater risk might be posed by projected tanker traffic within the coastal waters and inlets of the Great Bear Rainforest region, as this National Geographic map shows.

Here’s hoping the spirit of the ground-breaking agreements that have protected the Great Bear Rainforest to date will guide future efforts, for the good of all concerned.

Visit the Great Bear Rainforest with Adventure Canada, September 20-29.

Canada Day considered

RelaxingAs Canada Day approaches, many people have plans to spend the holiday in traditional ways: camping, going to the beach or the park, vacationing with family or friends, or just taking it easy around home. Or even relaxing in the Arctic sun, like our passengers here.

These are all great ways to spend the day—and like many other activities people engage in while celebrating our nation’s founding, they have something important in common.

No, we don’t mean fireworks, barbecues, coolers of drinks or a bursting picnic basket. Or boating, which is one our favourite pursuits on a typical July 1.


The common thing almost every ‘great Canadian Canada Day’ has in common, from coast to coast, regardless of income, culture, age or background, is the great outdoors.

That’s where we all go to relax and enjoy. Blessed as we are with an abundance of open space, and a day to celebrate that falls at the warmest time of the year, it’s only natural for Canadians to get outside on July 1st to enjoy the best of what Canada offers. Even if that’s the micro-forest of the Arctic tundra.


These incredible blessings are not without their burden. Everywhere there are signs we cannot afford to take the environment for granted. No region of the nation is unaffected.

These challenges affect us all, regardless of belief system or political affiliation. Every sane person wishes to see nature’s grandeur undiminished, and own collective future ensured. At Adventure Canada, our own livelihood depends on the beauty of Canada’s wild spaces, and we must continually strive to respect and sustain that greatest of gifts.

So amid the celebrations on Canada Day, perhaps you’ll find time for a moment of consideration. Consider the beauty; consider the vitality, consider the threats—and consider your place in it all. We will, too. PolarBear


From us to you, a very happy Canada Day, considered.

Why visit Sable Island?

A recent article in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald (Missassauga firm plans to offer tours to Sable Island) describing Adventure Canada’s planned Sable Island 2014 voyage seemed to spark opposite reactions among some readers.

One response was positive: our phones rang merrily, as eager travellers from Nova Scotia and across Canada rushed to book beds aboard our cruise trip to the iconic island.

After all, Sable Island (a 41-km-long sandspit in the North Atlantic) has been a dream destination for many people for many years.

The other response was tentative, at best, and at times downright negative. Some comments on the Chronicle-Herald article, and feedback via email at our own site, expressed concerns (in some cases, assertions) that our visits might do more harm than good.

It’s gratifying that people are concerned about Sable Island. We understand that concern. We’re a small, family-run business with just 12 full-time employees. We’ve been specializing in trips to remote, sensitive, and often pristine places for 25 years because that’s what we care most about. Our passengers choose Adventure Canada because of the emphasis we place on respect for our surroundings.

Dozens of communities and parks in the Celtic Isles, Newfoundland & Labrador, the West Coast, Galapagos Islands and the Arctic can attest to the benefits of our way of travelling, in small numbers, with a focus on education, culture and the environment.

Here are some of the reasons we feel it’s important visit Sable Island in similar fashion.

1. Taking travellers to wild places makes them stakeholders and stewards. We travel with researchers, ornithologists, archeologists, anthropologists and other experts who educate us and our passengers about the places we visit. This is a crucial aspect of our trips and one we take great pride in. Our passengers come away from our trips as passionate advocates for the communities, cultures, and environments we visit. We also collect a $250 Discovery Fee from every passenger to help support important cultural and ecological causes in the areas we visit.

2. Parks need visitors. With federal funding always at issue, every park needs to demonstrate its public purpose. Sable Island, Canada’s newest National Park, is no different; visitors (in proportion to the park’s capacity) are an important way for the park to meet its mandate of giving Canadians a connection to the natural world.

3. While remote, Sable Island is already fairly well-travelled. Various scientific and private concerns—including previous cruises—have visited the island over the years. There is an airstrip on Sable Island that has been continually used for access. Now that the island is a National Park, it is bound by stricter policies than the ones mandated previously by the Canada Shipping act.

4. Parks Canada visitor policies, and our practices, will ensure as low an impact as possible on Sable Island, its flora and fauna. Our ship will be moored offshore; our passengers will be tendered to the island by low-impact Zodiac boats. Passengers will be housed in the ship at night, and during their visits will abide by the no-trace rules already in place for visitors to the island. That provides strict limits on where they can wander, and of course, a no-interference policy regarding the island’s animals, including the famous horses. We’ve actually worked with Parks Canada in the past to help clean up Torngat Mountains National Park in Labrador, and we’re looking at similar opportunities for Sable Island, where plastic waste, for example, is a growing problem.

5. We’re working closely with Parks Canada to make this work. Our visits provide test case opportunities for Parks Canada to inform its management planning process—which the park is legally required to do. They must have a plan to ensure visitor experience, ecological integrity, outreach education, etc. developed in consultation with partners, stakeholders and the public. Having partnered with Parks Canada in the past, we have a relationship of trust that will help them meet their goals.

Remote and mysterious, Sable Island deserves all the attention and concern shown by the reaction to our planned excursion. But more than that, it deserves to be appreciated, protected, and advocated for as one of Canada’s very special places. That’s why Sable Island is a national park today, and that’s why we’re planning to visit.

Whether you choose to travel with Adventure Canada or not, we hope you’ll understand and appreciate the role we are looking to play in preserving Sable Island’s wonderful legacy.

Congratulations, Red Bay!

Photo: Alex Drainville / Flickr

Photo: Alex Drainville / Flickr

It’s a very important moment for one of our favourite regions in the world: Labrador has its first World Heritage Site.

Red Bay Basque Whaling Station, located in Red Bay, Labrador, represents an important episode in Canadian history. For several decades in the 16th century, Basques from Spain and France used Red Bay during annual whaling hunts. Though today’s town site was built on top of the original site (obscuring some of the archeology), important artifacts have been identified, including parts of wharves, and the remains of vessels in the harbour.

Since 1978, one of Canada’s most comprehensive marine archeological endeavours has pieced together artifacts, and drawn a revealing picture of whaling life during the 1600s. A recovered chalupa, or small whaling craft, meticulously conserved, is among the items of interest at the Red Bay National Heritage Site Visitor Centre.

With the UNESCO announcement in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Saturday morning, Red Bay became the third site in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador to make the prestigious list. Gros Morne National Park and L’Anse Aux Meadows National Historic Site have previously been named to UNESCO’s list, along with 16 other sites across Canada.

For Red Bay, a town of only 200 inhabitants, joining the global list is a matter of pride, prestige—and hopefully, some attention from travellers. We can certainly recommend a visit: Red Bay is an important destination for our Newfoundland and Labrador tours.

We’re glad the UNESCO decision highlights the importance of this fascinating, little-known part of the country, with its direct links to a little-known story from our collective past. Congratulations, Red Bay!

Visit Red Bay on our Newfoundland Circumnavigation 2013 and Newfoundland & Wild Labrador 2014 adventures.

Atwood and Gibson: for the love of birds


Tonight, Friday June 21, members of the Adventure Canada team will have the privilege of joining celebrated authors Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson at BirdLife International‘s
90th Anniversary Gala Celebration Dinner in Ottawa.

Ms. Atwood and Mr. Gibson are co-chairs of the event, and appropriately so. Their shared passion for our feathered friends is manifest in their tireless work in aid of awareness and conservation of avian species.

Adventure Canada is proud to sponsor the gala with an auction donation of two berths aboard our Newfoundland and Wild Labrador sailing next spring. And we are absolutely delighted to announce that Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson will join the lucky winners, and the rest of our guests, aboard that same sailing.

As special guests of Adventure Canada, the two authors will undoubtedly regale their fellow cruise passengers with stories collected during their careers amid Canada’s literati. As dedicated birders, they’ll also enjoy the opportunity to observe numerous seabird species, at a peak time of year for viewing.

Perhaps most importantly, these two beloved Canadian literary figures will have the chance to share their passion and concern for the plight of birds worldwide with their fellow passengers. We are proud to join them in their efforts—for the love of birds!

A Sight Better: Portraits of the artists


Photographer and Arctic veteran Martin Lipman, who has worked for years with our partners at the Canadian Museum of Nature, has been photographing winners of the Governor General’s Award for visual arts since 2005.

A Sight Better: Governor General’s Award Winners in Visual and Media Arts, 2005-2013 collects those portraits for public display. The show opens June 14th at the School of Photographic Arts Redwall Gallery in Ottawa. A complimentary exhibition opens June 17th at Exposure Gallery.


Martin Lipman will also present an artist talk at Exposure Gallery on Thursday June 20th at 6:30 pm. Martin will discuss his experiences travelling around Canada and photographing some of this country’s most influential artists.

(We hope Martin will tell the story of being present for the discovery of the Arctic camel on Ellesmere Island.)

Congratulations Martin!

Photographer Martin Lipman will be representing the Canadian Museum of Nature on Heart of the Arctic,June 24 – July 6, 2013

A visit to Foula, Shetland


Janette Cowie, Head Teacher at Foula Primary School in Shetland, sent this lovely note and photo following a visit from passengers and staff of Adventure Canada’s Scotland Slowly cruise.

On behalf of Foula Primary School, Shetland, Scotland, I would like to
thank you for organising the shore visit from the Sea Adventurer to Foula
yesterday.  We had an open day in the community hall, and the children
sold cards, tea towels and booklets to the passengers.  We also had
donations for tea/coffee and homebaking.  Thanks to your very generous
passengers, our school fund is now £325 better off.  It was a fantastic
day.  We are the second most remote school in the UK, so it was great to
have so many people here.
Thank you again for having Foula as one of the Sea Adventurer’s stops.
Kind Regards
Janette Cowie
Head Teacher
Foula Primary School, Shetland, UK

We often hear from passengers who rave about the time they’ve spent in our remote community destinations. But it’s a pleasure to hear that same special story from the opposite perspective. Thanks Janette.

Great Bear Rainforest beckons


The West Coast of Canada is among the most picturesque places in the world. Winding fiords carry Pacific Ocean waters from the Queen Charlotte Strait into the heart of British Columbia’s Coast Mountain range. Towering cedar, spruce and fir forests line the shores.


Humpback and orcas, Dall’s porpoise and Pacific white-sided dolphin roam these waters. Brandt’s cormorants nest on rocky shores, harlequin ducks bob in the sheltered coves, and Steller’s sea lions lounge on rocks.


And in the woods, grizzlies, black bears, and wolves prowl. This is the Great Bear Rainforest, the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest.


Royal Canadian Geographic Society photographer Mike Beedell will be leading a visit to the Great Bear Rainforest, this September aboard the 68 ft sailing vessel, Island Odyssey. His guests will enjoy the trip of a lifetime to one of Canada’s most magical places.


Visit Great Bear Rainforest with Mike Beedell, September 20-29.

Baffin Island: a hot spot for art

When you think of the arts, what’s the first place that leaps to mind?

Places like Paris, New York, and Berlin are seen as the centre of the art world—but when it comes to creating art, remote Baffin Island, Nunavut, holds its own.

The communities of Pangnirtung, Kinngait (Cape Dorset), and the territorial capital Iqaluit with its many galleries are havens for gifted artists. Their world-renowned tapestries, limited edition prints, and soapstone carvings have put South Baffin on the map for many collectors and aficionados around the globe.

Combining contemporary technique and approach with traditional influence and values, the artists of South Baffin play an important role as ambassadors for the Arctic, its extraordinary landscapes and wildlife, and the very dynamic culture of the Inuit people.

Art and culture expert Carol Heppenstall has been guiding tours to Baffin Island for two decades. Here’s how she describes the experience:

Twenty one years ago I was asked to plan an arts tour to one of Canada’s most prolific locations – Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. The Inuit had been making “art” as we southerners define it for over 45 years in communities such as Iqaluit, Pangnirtung and Cape Dorset (now Kinngait). Here was an opportunity to visit these artists in their own communities and watch the creative process first hand. Those beautiful soapstone carvings, wool tapestries and limited edition prints all had their inspirational source in the land of the midnight sun. I am privileged to return to this, my first endeavor with the “Art is Adventure” programs. While a younger generation of artists has replaced those first elders I knew, the process of personal expression continues.

South Baffin draws art collectors, adventure travellers, bird watchers, animal lovers and Canadians passionate about our northern heritage. Summer is an ideal time to visit, as the days will be long, the sun high and bright, flowers blooming, birds on the wing and flowers on the move.

New York? Old hat. When it comes to art, South Baffin is a hot spot.

Join Caroll Heppenstall in South Baffin this summer, July 18, 2013 – July 25, 2013.

Galapagos reflections


Scottish-Argentine-Canadian songstress Alejandra Ribera joined our trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands as an entertainer for the first time this spring. Joining at the last minute, Alejandra rose to the occasion like a veteran!

Here are Alejandra’s reflections on an incredible experience, and a selection of her stunning photos.

I couldn’t have painted it. As I sift through the photos taken during our trip to the Galapagos I can’t help but shake my head and wonder – how it is possible we could have experienced such rare beauty .. and in such a condensed time frame?


You would think we would have had to camp out for months on end to witness a dance between courting blue-footed boobies, the bobbing heads of playful sea lion pups who nudged our feet at the edge of the Zodiac, a serene owl, a meditative iguana stretched out under a cactus tree sprouting from charcoal-black lava rock.


It seemed to defy logic that any life could thrive so gracefully in a place that at first appeared barren. Talking about this trip to friends since I’ve come home has made me feel a bit like a religious witness. I’m trying to describe something that is indescribable.

sea lion

I am deeply grateful that I was lucky enough to live this trip with an group of fellow travellers who were equally awestruck and humbled at the magnitude of the beauty. This group was so welcoming and enthusiastic. Playing for them was an absolute delight. I remember at one point thinking “We’ve walked through a lava cave together. Well I’ve never done that with an audience before! A couple of us even snorkelled past the same hammer-head shark this afternoon!”

It was the most unique performance experience I’ve ever had … not excluding trying to stand up-right whilst singing on a boat rocking back and forth! The Galapagos have changed me. The guides led us with us with care. They shared their passion and expertise ensuring that our experience would not just be one of wonder but discernment, greater understanding and true appreciation for the environment we inhabited those 9 days.


Thank you for this trip of a lifetime. I look forward to one day sharing the songs this experience inspired.

Labrador’s Torngats: did you know?


Torngat Mountains National Park in Labrador is a favourite destination for our staff. But to the world at large, the park is still a bit of a mystery. Small wonder: the Torngats are pretty far from the hustle and bustle of most people’s ordinary lives.

But for those who have visited, the Torngats rank among the world’s great places to visit. Why? Well, here’s a quick primer on this incredible Canadian wilderness destination:

1. It’s BIG. Torngat Mountains National Park comprises 9,600 km2 of area, basically forming the whole northern tip of Labarador.

2. A natural high: The Torngat range includes the tallest peaks in eastern Canada. Mount Caubvick (also known as Mont D’Iberville) tops out at 1,652 metres.

3. No car camping. This is not a weekend getaway, but a true wilderness. There are no roads to the park, and no roads or campsites in the park, either. You camp the way people have done for thousands of years: by choosing a likely-looking spot and pitching a tent.

4. You can see for miles. The park lies above the treeline, so the terrain you’ll see among the spectacular mountains is tundra. Which means the views are always spectacular!

5. You stay high and dry. Although the North Atlantic Ocean forms the eastern perimeter of the park, there is very little precipitation in the Torngats; desert-like conditions prevail.

6. It’s old! The precambrian rock that forms the Torngat mountains is part of the Canadian Shield, and is thought to have been formed several billion years ago.

7. Glaciers abound. There are more than forty active glaciers in the Torngats. Snowy peaks, crystal-clear streams and waterfalls are the inevitable, gorgeous result.

8. Grin and bear it: coastal Labrador is polar bear country. Fans of the mighty mammal stand a good chance of seeing them here along the coast. Not to mention caribou, peregrine falcons, whales, seals, and more Arctic char than you could ever eat, protected within park boundaries.

9. Aurora Borealis. The splendour of the northern lights, dancing across a crystal-clear northern night sky, is one of the Torngats’ many heavenly attractions.

10. It’s an ancient homeland. Torngat means ‘place of spirits’ and the land has been home to the Inuit and their ancestors for thousands of years. The Inuit of Nunavik and Nunatsiavut play a key role as partners in the management of Torngat Mountains National Park.

Visit Torngat Mountains National Park on these amazing trips:

Torngat Mountains Heli-Hiking, July 26, 2013 – Aug. 3, 2013
Torngat Safari Base Camp, Aug. 2, 2013 – Aug. 10, 2013
Greenland and Wild Labrador, Sept. 5, 2013 – Sept. 18, 2013
Newfoundland and Wild Labrador, June 19, 2014 – July 2, 2014

A glimpse of Melanesia

GlimpseOfMelanesiaFor travellers looking for the next exotic, remote, inspiring, or simply unusual destination, have we got a treat for you.

This fall, Adventure Canada is offering two trips to the South Pacific islands of Melanesia. Rich in culture and wildlife, warm and tantalizing, this faraway archipelago little-known to North Americans makes the perfect bucket-list destination.

Secrets of Melanesia and Melanesia Discoverer both offer spectacular scenery, unrivalled cultural engagement and snorkelling that’s second to none—among their many other attractions.

To introduce the trips, AC expedition leader Aaron Russ is coming to Toronto for a presentation of images and stories from Melanesia for interested travellers. Adding to the temptation, Aaron’s offering a flight credit of $1000 for the first 5 travellers to book one of the two trips with Adventure Canada. UPDATE: This presentation has been cancelled due to illness. Please drop us a line if you would like to be kept in touch about Melanesia.

25 Years of Adventure

Adventure Canada from inMotion on Vimeo.

At Adventure Canada, we’re celebrating an important milestone this season. We ran our first trip to the Arctic twenty-five years ago this summer, with founders Matthew Swan, Bill Swan and Dave Freeze.

Thus began a story of family and friends, determined to take adventure-seeking travellers to the great ‘blank spaces’ on the globe. (And have a little fun along the way.)


All these years—and hundreds of trips—later, Adventure Canada remains a small operation, headed up by the next generation Swan family. In this beautifully shot video from inMotion, Matthew, Cedar, Alana and Matthew James tell the story in their own words.

You’ll also see some of the awesome scenery of the Arctic, where we still love to travel, year after year.

Friday nights at the ROM


Once upon a time, museums were stuffy places, filled with musty relics labelled with tiny plaques indicating long-ago dates and far-away locations.

But no longer: our friends at the Royal Ontario Museum have seen to that. The ROM has gone from field trip desination, to Friday night party place with a series of events designed to keep the museum contemporary, exciting, and fun.

ROM Friday Night Live runs weekly through June 21 with a series of events, from photography, to jewelry; super-heroes to South Asian heritage: Aboriginal history to fashion, and much more. Music and dancing at the museum? Count us in!


Amazing Alianait

alianaitThe Alianait Arts Festival once again proves Iqaluit is anything but remote from the centre of the arts world, showcasing an incredible line-up of performers in this, its 9th year.

Among the artists featured are Greenland folk legends Rasmus Lyberth and Nive Nielsen & the Deer Children, Australian world indigenous performer Tjupurru, British Columbia’s hip-hop icon Kinnie Starr and the “quintessential Maritime musician”, Cape Breton’s JP Cormier.

The festival will also feature two encore performances from Circumpolar Landscape, a remarkable collaboration among Leela Gilday from the Northwest Territories, Sylvia Cloutier from Nunavut via Nunavik, Nive Nielson from Greenland and Diyet from Yukon. The quartet was featured at the Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse, has toured Greenland and opened the National Arts Centre’s Northern Scene Festival.

Adventure Canada travellers will be delighted with this year’s theme: Enchanted Owl in celebration of the late Kenojuak Ashevak, who will be dearly missed by her many admirers around the world, including those who enjoyed her company and her talent on our Arctic trips.

Visit Alianait Arts Festival with Adventure Canada, June 27, 2013 – July 4, 2013.

‘Seasons of the Torngats’ a success

image (1) image
More than a dozen past, and potential future passengers gathered for a fine dinner at Pangaea Restaurant in Toronto on Monday evening, and then enjoyed a virtual tour of Torngat Mountains National Park in Labrador.

Royal Canadian Geographical Society photographer Mike Beedell has travelled the Torngats region of Labrador for decades. His presentation, ‘Seasons of the Torngats’ wowed the crowd with breathtaking images of the landscape, people and wildlife of the region are the next best thing to being there.

For those who’d like to go all the way, Mike Beedell is leading two Adventure Canada trips to the Torngats in 2013: Heli-hiking, July 26-August 3 and Base Camp Safari, August 2-August 10.