baird4_JPG_t285A couple of weeks ago I attended the Wilderness Canoe Symposium in Toronto with my buddy Andy. It's a fantastic event made up of well known (and some not-so-well-known) canoeists who present on amazing far northern adventures. The only problem is that Andy and I have noticed the last couple of years that we seem to be the youngest in attendance, and we grew ever concerned over the future of canoeing because of that.

Well, we no longer have to worry. The audience at the last show had a group of young adults in attendance (which were thankfully a multi-cultural mix as well). They were there to check out two presenters — Jim and Ted Baird. These brothers had an amazing presentation on the Kuujjua River trip and had the audience awe-struck with the stories, humor, and photos. Good job guys!

Here's a break down of their journey. It's amazing.

High Arctic & High Adventure

The Kuujjua River and Beaufort Sea Canoe Expedition in a nut shell

Our experiences on this five week journey 586 km above the Arctic Circle included hearing amazing survival stories from Inuit in the communities we visited. My brother Ted and I also came across a 5000 year old campsite where we found stone arrowheads. Wildlife encounters were the norm on this river; we were followed by a pack of Arctic wolves. Caribou and Muskoxen were sighted regularly. Ted and I strapped a pair of antlers and bleached musk-ox skulls to the top of our spray deck as part of our daily routine. We brought these treasures home with us. We also were lucky enough to find a Polar Bear skull that returned home as well. At times during the expedition my thoughts drifted to feats of the first explorers like Henry Hudson who sailed into Hudson Bay (named for him) thinking he had found the fabled Northwest Passage only to reach a dead end when the ice trapped his ship in James Bay. The final days saw our adventure heightened to very dangerous levels as we paddled past towering cliffs lining the shore of Minto Inlet on the Beaufort Sea. I was scared for my life as we were being pounded by a storm that was creating ten foot swells. We paddled franticly with no place to take-out alongside the massive cliffs. We lived through this to find a rock cairn that was built by an 1850's exploration party in search of the ill fated Franklin Expedition. If we had knocked down this cairn (not that we would have of course) we would have found a one-hundred and sixty year old message inside. The cairn remains standing in the Arctic winds holding its secret for the next travelers to contemplate.

  • Jim Baird