True North

In search of inspiration and adventure, Red Canoe founder Dax Wilkinson embarked on a 3000-kilometre journey from Toronto to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories by float plane. Last month, on a bright Monday morning, Dax met up with three friends – Mike Gougeon, Jim Simmons and Pete Dozzi – to begin the journey.

The epic trip, of course, included stops in several small communities and towns along the way. We’ll recount the highlights of the trip in a few installments on the blog. Here, part one of True North.

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A great day for flying: The Cessna 185 Amphib (above) sits ready in Lake Ramsey, in downtown Sudbury, a few minutes before take-off.

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So long, Sudbury. The view from above.

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About 600 kilometres later, the crew arrived to Geraldton, Ontario, a mining town northeast of Thunder Bay. As they refueled, Dax spotted this beautiful Walter Turbine Otter Conversion – a classic, reliable aircraft whose engine was originally built to withstand harsh Russian winters. Sounds just about right for Geraldton.

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Next stop: Red Lake, Ontario, not far from the Manitoba border. The town is known as “The Norseman Capital of the World” thanks to the many Noorduyn Norseman planes that helped develop the area years ago. (The town’s Norseman Floatplane Festival occurred just after Dax left, in fact, and they celebrated the 75th anniversary of the iconic aircraft.)

Pictured above, however, is a pair of DHC3F Single Otter float planes. The planes belong to Green Airways, a local bush plane airline founded in 1950 to provide supplies to remote northern communities – and truly remarkable fishing excursions.

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Some wise words hanging on a wall in Red Lake.

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Yet more profound words from Red Lake.

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The route from Red Lake to Flin Flon, Manitoba: Once you get to the end of Lake Winnipeg, hang a left.

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The harbour at Flin Flon: The docks have seen better days. The planes, however, are pristine.

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Ever wonder why it’s called Flin Flon? Now you know.

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Say what you will about your hometown. Odds are, Flin Flon’s got it beat, at least in the mascot department. Above, Flinty, as designed be legendary cartoonist Al Capp.

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Who knew? The white pelican – a bird that’s nearly impossible to find in most of Canada – is ubiquitous in Flin Flon.

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Is it Sudbury? Nope. It’s Flin Flon. Don’t be fooled by the smokestack.

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The fellows pack up and leave Flin Flon behind, flying over forests ravaged by fire. Next stop: Stony Rapids, Saskatchewan. Stay tuned for the next installment of True North!

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