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Paddling to lifetime adventure

Canoe trek from Alberta to Inuvik

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Hay River (Aug 05/02) - Mike Temple is on the canoeing trip of his life.

And he is doing it solo. That is if you don't count his dog, Jake. Temple left Fort McMurray on June 15 to paddle solo to Inuvik.

NNSL Photo

Mike Temple and his dog, Jake, are in the middle of a solo canoeing adventure from Fort McMurray to Inuvik. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

"Ah, it's adventure," he said to explain the reasons for the odyssey. "It's the biggest adventure of my life, probably."

During a stop in Hay River late last month, Temple, 47, explained he had planned to make the journey four years ago, but was diagnosed with diabetes. Now, he says the trip is part of overcoming the illness. "It's not going to keep me down."

Temple, who was born in Hamilton, Ont., lives in Costa Rica and works in the oil industry in Africa. After the canoe journey, he will be starting a new job in Equatorial Guinea.

"Provided I make it, of course," he quipped.

However, the only danger he encountered on the Athabasca and Slave rivers was an attack by a flock of seagulls, which he said dive-bombed his canoe.

Jake, a 10-year-old German shepherd, also provides security, Temple said. "He stays up all night and guards the campsite from bears."

In the day, Jake curls up in the canoe and sleeps.

Temple hopes to arrive in Inuvik on the long weekend of September.

Eventually, he hopes to write a book about the trip.

Temple is the latest in a long procession of canoeists who have come to NWT rivers for adventure.

Fort Smith's Don Jaque, the president of the NWT Kayak Association, has met many of those adventurers over the years as they pass by on the Slave River.

Jaque says the reasons for undertaking such a trip is totally an individual thing. However, he says the canoeists or kayakers are almost always unique people.

"The word 'character' comes to mind," he says, noting he has even seen some people try a trip by raft.

Jaque, who himself once paddled from Fort Simpson to Inuvik, says there is no way to track how many people make the long-distance journeys each year, although he estimates there are never more than a dozen.

This past winter, four or five canoeists or kayakers contacted him for information on making such trips.