The North may be the defining feature of the Canadian experience. We approach the Arctic as a condition of what makes us Canadian and what shapes us as a nation. But for most of us the Arctic remains an unreachable myth. This is a unique opportunity to explore the geography, the history and the contemporary reality of the Canadian high Arctic on board our exclusive chartered polar exploration vessel in the company of the Canadian university alumni community.
The shipboard and ashore programs are specially designed to delve into the unique landscapes, seascapes and culture of the Canadian North as we forge a westward route from Resolute to Kugluktuk. Skilled expedition leaders will help us gain a better appreciation of the rich history, fascinating flora and fauna and cultural expressions of the Arctic. Special shipboard lectures and ashore programs will delve into the unique nature and culture of the North and examine our evolving relationship with this vital part of Canada.
- 15-day trip
- 84-passenger ship
- Start and finish in Edmonton, Alberta
- Includes pre- and post-expedition hotel accommodation and dinners
- Sailing past towering mountains and enormous glaciers and icebergs
- Viewing remarkable seabird colonies
- Spotting polar bears, narwhals, walrus and musk oxen
- Unique lecture series specific to Northern Canadian issues
We have had a very wide range of participants on our expedition voyages ranging from people in their twenties to others in their mid-eighties. All have had a normal level of fitness that permit them to get in and out of Zodiacs, with assistance from the expedition staff and sailors, and the ability to walk on pebble beaches and uneven ground. Shore landings usually last for up to three hours at a time, but Zodiacs will be available to transport back to the ship at any time. If you have any concerns about being able to participate in this trip, please contact us for further information. You should be aware that we will be in remote areas, far from conventional medical facilities.
SHIP: M/V Akademik Ioffe
LIMIT: 84 passengers
Our adventure begins in Edmonton on August 15th. And now we have our very first taste of how challenging life in Canada’s north truly is. As you may be aware, we have chartered flights with First Air for our group travelling from Edmonton to Resolute and returning from Kugluktuk to Edmonton. First Air has now changed our allocated departure time slot from the morning of August 16th to the evening of August 15th. This means we have revised our plans for the first two days of our program. We suggest you consider arriving in Edmonton on August 14th and overnighting in Edmonton.
Aug 15: Arrive in Edmonton, Alberta
Please ensure that you arrive in Edmonton by 12 noon. You will make your own arrangements by taxi or shuttle bus to reach the Fantasyland Hotel at the West Edmonton Mall (full address and details to follow with final documents). You’ll be able to leave your luggage in our Banquet Hall and take a stroll around the Mall before our official welcome reception at 4.00pm. We’ll serve a full meal and introduce you to many of our staff and resource people. At 6.00pm we’ll travel by chartered coach to the Edmonton airport and embark our flight, scheduled to leave at 8.00pm. The flight is approximately six hours, including a refuelling stop in Yellowknife.
Aug 16: Resolute Bay, Nunavut
We’ll be arriving in Resolute in the early hours of the morning. Fortunately there is almost continuous daylight in mid August and we’ll witness the famous midnight sun. Our staff will meet us at the airport with the rental gear and you’ll slip on your jacket, bib trousers and rubber boots at the airport. We’ll be transferred to the pier where we embark the Zodiacs for the transfer to our vessel. On board, staff will direct you to your cabins and you can settle in for the night. Snacks will be availble when we arrive and a full breakfast will be served later in morning. We’ll set off from Resolute later today.
Aug 17: Beechey Island and Prince Leopold Island
Beechey Island is an important starting point for our journey of exploration. It is here that Franklin’s ill-fated expedition spent its last ‘comfortable’ winter in 1845 before disappearing into the icy vastness, sparking an incredible series of search expeditions that finished the charting of Canada’s northern archipelago. Roald Amundsen stopped at Beechey Island during the first successful complete transit of the Northwest Passage almost sixty years later. Following our visit to Beechey Island, we sail south toward Prince Regent Inlet, stopping for a view of the bird cliffs at Prince Leopold Island. A migratory bird sanctuary, the island is home to several hundred thousand birds including thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and blacklegged kittiwakes.
Aug 18: Fort Ross and Bellot Strait
If ice conditions permit, we will sail south through Prince Regent Inlet and approach the eastern end of the Bellot Strait. Fort Ross, located at the southern end of Somerset Island is a former Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading outpost and ancient archaeological sites nearby tell a story of more than a thousand years of habitation at this site by the Inuit and their predecessors. Upon leaving Fort Ross, we will attempt the passage of the Bellot Strait, entering at slack water, if possible, in order to avoid a current that can be more than 7 knots during the peak flow. The mixing of waters in this strait provides an ample food source for marine mammals and we will keep our eyes peeled for harp seals, bearded seals and even polar bears as we sail through. Upon exiting Bellot Strait, we will turn south in Victoria Strait, taking a bearing for King William Island.
Aug 19: Victory Point, King William Island
Little is known of how the remainder of the Franklin Expedition spent its last months in the frozen Arctic. The vessels abandoned in the ice of Victoria Strait have left no trace. A lifeboat, bits and pieces of copper and iron, cutlery and buttons and a skeleton here and there all tell a story of a desperate race south in search of rescue; a rescue that never occurred. We will visit Victory Point and continue to reflect on the quest for exploration that opened up the Arctic, while sacrificing some of its bravest explorers.
Aug 20: Gjoa Haven, King William Island
With a population of around 1000 people, Gjoa Haven is home to the Netsilik Inuit people, who settled here as they transferred from a nomadic lifestyle to one centered on communities. The waters south of Gjoa Haven, called Rasmussen Basin, have traditionally been good whaling and sealing grounds, and the town has a very sheltered harbour, called the “finest little harbour in the world” by Roald Amundsen. Amundsen spent 22 months iced-in here between 1903 and 1905. In fact it was the winter survival and sledding skills taught to him by the Netsilik Inuit during his 22 months on King William Island that helped him become the first person to reach the South Pole just a few years later.
Aug 21: Queen Maud Gulf and Dease Strait
Following our transit of Simpson Strait, we will sail into Queen Maud Gulf and across to the South coast of Victoria Island. Depending on ice conditions, we drop anchor in a small cove on the south east coast of Victoria Island and hike in search of musk ox, Arctic fox and caribou. In small groups with our experienced Expedition Leaders, we’ll approach and observe the Arctic wildlife.
Aug 22: Johanssen Bay, Coronation Gulf
An anvil-shaped bay on the south coast of Victoria Island, Johanssen Bay is a wonderful place for a variety of hiking and water-based activities. Kayak up a small river at the east end of the bay, hike onto the ridge on north shore or go on a Zodiac cruise along shore of the bay. Our fast paced hike will head for an abandoned dew line site (Distance Early Warning radar base) and learn a bit about the Cold war exploration of the Arctic. Johanssen Bay is also a great place to spot musk ox and we will spend some time looking for them before continuing west.
Aug 23: Ulukhaktok (Holman), Victoria Island
We will visit this community on the west coast of Victoria Island, home to less than 400 members of the Inuvialuit people. Known for its print studio, the art of this region is found in art galleries and museums around the world. We may tour the print shop and meet some of the local artists and performers as we visit this town.
Aug 24: Ikahuak (Sachs Harbour), Banks Island
Banks Island is home to Aulavik National Park and we will visit the interpretation centre to learn more about the area’s unique ecology.. The Inuvialuit of Sachs Harbour filmed a documentary on climate change called, Sila Alangotok – Inuit Observations of Climate Change in 2001. We will talk with some of the elders who partook in this discussion and documentary.
Aug 25: Smoking Hills, Cape Bathurst
Cape Bathurst is home to a unique geologic marvel. This oil shale (strata of hydrocarbons) has been burning underground for centuries and was first noted and written about by John Franklin during his 1826 expedition down the Mackenzie River.
Aug 26: Amundsen Gulf, Beaufort Sea
All hands on deck today to look for wildlife and sites of interest onshore. As soon as we spot some wildlife, we will stop the ship, drop the Zodiacs and go explore. Contemplative wanderers and chargers alike will make the most of this day.
Aug 27: Bernard Harbour, Dolphin and Union Strait
The Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913-1918 was divided into two parties. The Southern Party, under the leadership of Dr. R.M. Anderson was based from 1913 until 1916 at Bernard Harbour and used this base to chart the coast of the Beaufort Sea, conduct ethnographic surveys of the people of the Coppermine region. Ethnographer and anthropologist Diamond Jennies was part of this expedition and we will learn about his work as we explore the former base camp of their party. In addition, those interested in hiking will head inland, looking for sign of the elusive barren ground grizzly bear, which has this region as part of its northern range.
Aug 28: Kugluktuk (Coppermine), Nunavut
We drop anchor off the beach in Kugluktuk and make our way ashore by Zodiac. Our charter flight to Edmonton will await us here and we return to the south this afternoon.
Aug 29: Depart Edmonton
Participants make independent arrangements for departure today.
COSTS PER PERSON:
Triple Cabin, shared facilities: C$7,395
Twin Cabin, shared facilities: C$8,995
Twin Cabin, private facilities: C$10,995
Shackelton Suite C$12,995
Owner’s Suite C$13,995
Note: round trip charter flights Edmonton-Resolute and Kugluktuk-Edmonton are additional: $1,650 per person (subject to change)
Deposit and Final Payment
A non-refundable deposit of C$2000 per person is required to reserve a space on this tour. A second non-refundable deposit is required by December 1, 2010. Final payment is due 90 days prior to departure. All payments are non-refundable.
Tour cost includes:
- Ship accommodations, as selected, in double occupancy
- 1 night hotel accommodation in Edmonton based on double occupancy (August 28)
- Dinner in Edmonton (August 14)
- Port dues and taxes
- On-board lectures and full program of activities
- All meals on board ship
- Activities as described in the itinerary
- Roundtrip group transfers (hotel/airport/ship)
Tour Cost does not include:
- Internal charter flights Edmonton-Resolute/Kugluktuk-Edmonton
- Airfare from your home to Edmonton
- Ship board expenses not noted above or in the itinerary
- Rental of all-weather gear on board
- Travel Insurance