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Ever since I began canoeing, at age 16, my head has been filled with paddling routes. Dream trips and bucket lists with the names of classic Canadian rivers. Above all, I liked to think up long routes that connected multiple watersheds. The best canoe trips always cross a height of land.

All photos: Author

I developed a habit of looking at maps like people look at puzzles. The challenge is to get from point A to point B. To do this I have a few clues, such as well-known rivers and waterways — then it’s up to my imagination to do the rest of the work.

One day I was working on one of these puzzles. I was curious if one could canoe from the Alaskan coast, across Canada’s northern territories, to the Hudson Bay. I pieced together rivers, wrote emails, looked at maps. The major obstacle would no doubt be traveling up the Rocky Mountains in a canoe. I looked into some waterways and convinced myself it was possible. In a matter of hours I had traced a route that spanned ocean to ocean and crossed the Rockies. It was the grandest canoe route I’d ever devised.

But it was a dream of a dream. I had no idea when I would be able to do this trip, or if I would ever do it. It might not even possible. When I told my sometimes paddling buddy Winchell Delano of the route, his reply was that we had to do it. The thought of actually setting out on this immense dream seemed absurd. But Winchell pushed it into reality. We got to planning, recruited two more friends and fellow paddlers, sorted out logistics, and on May 8th, 2012, Winchell Delano, Steve Keaveny, Matt Harren, and I set off on our 2,600-mile, 130-day expedition.



About The Author

Peter Marshall

Since he went on his first canoe trip at age sixteen, Pete has paddled over 7500 miles through Canada. In 2005 he and his brother Andrew canoed 2700 miles over the course of 122 days from their home state of Minnesota to the Arctic Ocean. He is currently working on a film and book that recounts his and the other team member's experience on the 2012 expedition.

  • Patricia Jean Synenko

    Beautiful! What a wonderful job you guys did!

  • Patricia Jean Synenko

    Beautiful! What a wonderful job you guys did!

    • Jaclyn Mack

      Phew!!!! Hope they stayed WARM!!!


    Brilliant story – fantastic photos.

  • Cody Doucette

    Such a ridiculous mission! well done boys.

  • Kyle Schroeder

    Unreal man good for you!

  • Carlo Alcos

    Unbelievable. I haven’t even driven across Canada yet.

  • Péter Kovács


  • Péter Kovács


  • Kathy Amen

    I hope facebooking this doesn’t give any of my paddling friends insane ideas, but I want them to see the great pictures…

  • Canoe North Ltd –

    Great job, guys! Found a link to your blog in our guestbook from last summer when Steve and Pat Delano came to our shop in Hay River, NWT.

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