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John Rae, the man who first mapped out a navigable shipping route through the Arctic

Nan Spowart writing in The National »

While John Franklin was lauded and falsely credited with the discovery of the legendary Northwest Passage, Orcadian John Rae was actually the man who first mapped out a navigable shipping route through the Arctic.

However, his reputation was trashed because he was brave enough to reveal that some of Franklin’s men had been driven to cannibalism in a doomed attempt to survive.

As a result, Rae, the greatest Arctic explorer of the era, was denied the status and glory he deserved, with author Charles Dickens a chief instigator of his vilification.

Read more » 

The People’s Congress in Beijing formally announced it will construct the “Polar Silk Road” through the Arctic, despite not being an Arctic nation

Heiner Kubny writing for the Polar Journal »

China has been steadily increasing its presence in the Arctic since it defined the far north as a “new strategic frontier” in 2015 and began promoting a “Polar Silk Road” three years later. Moreover, in 2018, Beijing declared itself a “Near Arctic State,” a move that primarily served to underscore the interests of its Arctic claim.

The government in Beijing has its eye on lucrative minerals and other raw materials in addition to the Arctic transport link. There is particular interest in interests in the Canadian Arctic and in mining rights in Greenland. This is because the Arctic is rich in natural resources such as fish, precious metals and fossil fuels.

Read the whole article at Polar Journal »

Related » China pushing it’s vision for ‘Polar Silk Road’ across the Arctic

China is pushing it’s vision for ‘Polar Silk Road’ across the Arctic

Reuters is reporting that China has unveiled its ambitions to extend President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative to the Arctic by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming. The Chinese are calling it the Polar Silk Road.

“China hopes to work with all parties to build a ‘Polar Silk Road’ through developing the Arctic shipping routes,” the paper, issued by the State Council Information Office, said.

China, despite being a non-Arctic state, is increasingly active in the polar region and became an observer member of the Arctic Council in 2013.

Among its increasing interests in the region is its major stake in Russia’s Yamal liquefied natural gas project which is expected to supply China with four million tonnes of LNG a year, according to the state-run China Daily.

Shipping through the Northern Sea Route would shave almost 20 days off the regular time using the traditional route through the Suez Canal, the newspaper reported last month. COSCO Shipping has also previously sailed vessels through the Arctic’s northeast passage.

Read More »

Updated 2021.03.09

Related » The People’s Congress in Beijing formally announced it will construct the “Polar Silk Road” through the Arctic, despite not being an Arctic nation

Conference Board of Canada report states trails play an important role in enhancing local economies, the environment, and quality of life while safely connecting Canadians to nature

Key Findings »

» Canada’s wide network of trails can help revitalize local communities’ economies and support their overall well-being. They offer outdoor tourism, recreation, and transportation space that can be used while respecting new physical distancing requirements.

» Trails provide various economic benefits. Their construction and maintenance increases income and employment in the region where the trail is built and across the country through indirect and induced impacts. Trails attract tourists and local visitors, whose spending in turn leads to other economic impacts. Trails also support local businesses and increase property values around the trail.

» Trails as green infrastructure systems provide many of the benefits of grey infrastructure, such as transportation corridors and outdoor facilities, while having additional advantages of storm-water retention, flood control, carbon reduction, pollution reduction, and preservation of natural ecosystems.

» Trails offer a relatively safe activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence from within and outside Canada indicates trail usage is increasing because it is naturally physically distanced and seen by many as safe.

» By providing safe spaces for users to enjoy physical activity and recreation, trails help to improve not only physical but also mental health. The fact that nature and physical activity have been found to improve mental health has important implications for today’s high levels of pandemic-driven mental stress.

» Evidence also shows that increased physical activity among Canadians could lead to a reduction in many chronic conditions. In Canada, 44 per cent of adults over age 20 have at least one chronic disease. Trails, therefore, could play a significant role to play in improving the health of Canadians and reducing medical costs.

More »

Note » This Conference Board of Canada report was completed with support from Trans Canada Trail.

Lonely Planet’s 7 most scenic routes in the Americas

Snow tires are mandatory from November 1 to April 1.

Snow tires are mandatory from November 1 to April 1.

According to Allegra Zagami, writer for Lonely Planet, on a drive along the Pan American Highway in 2019 »

» 1. Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada

The Icefields Parkway, or Canada’s Highway 93, is one of the most scenic drives in the world with over 144 miles (232km) of adventure and overwhelming natural beauty between Banff and Jasper National Parks.

Resources » Parks Canada, Icefields Parkway Continue reading

The 14 mountains over 8,000 metres elevation

A morning shot of Fairy Meadows and Nanga Parbat. » Photography by Imrankhakwani

A morning shot of Fairy Meadows and Nanga Parbat. » Photography by Imrankhakwani

  1. Mount Everest
    » 8,848 metres (29,029 ft) above sea level
    » Located on the border between Nepal and the autonomous region of Tibet (OpenStreetMap / Google Maps)
    » First summitted by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953
  2. K2
    » Also known as Mount Godwin-Austen or Chhogori
    » 8,611 metres (28,251 ft) above sea level
    » Located on the border between China and Pakistan (OpenStreetMap / Google Maps)
    » First summitted gy Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni in 1954
  3. Kangchenjunga
    » Located on the border between Nepal and India, approximately 125 kilometres from Everest (OpenStreetMap / Google Maps)
    » At elevation of 8,586 metres (28,169 ft), it is the second highest mountain in the Himalayas
    » First summitted by Joe Brown and George Brand in 1955 Continue reading

Film » On The Verge in British Columbia

As the last stands of old-growth trees come under threat of logging, climbers in Powell River, British Columbia face an uncertain future of the place that has come to define their lives and legacies.

Presented by Arc’teryx, June 2020

Confronted with the decision to fight for these last ancient trees and potentially lose access or look away as the valley is stripped for timber, On The Verge is a snapshot of outdoors culture in British Columbia. The way we reconcile industries that give us access to the wilderness with the destruction they cause. The desire to protect our backyard but keep it for ourselves at the same time. The importance of these places to the people who have shaped them and been shaped by them in return.

11 young women canoeing for 6 weeks through a wilderness of streams, lakes, rivers, mud holes, and muskeg bogs of northern Quebec

Hannah Maia » The Guardian »

This is an epic adventure, 40 days in the northern reaches of Quebec, travelling with traditional tools including wood-canvas canoes and fire irons for cooking over an open fire. It is a trip filled with unknowns for me, but there is one thing of which I’m sure: the 11 young women I’m travelling with, nine of whom are teenagers, will not see each other at their best. They are bug-bitten, cold and boob-deep in muskeg bog and have to carry an incredibly heavy canoe on their heads.

At the heart of this story is a summer camp – but not the kind most people know. This one is called Keewaydin, the second-oldest operating summer camp in North America. Its vision hasn’t changed since it was established in 1893: “a program focused on wilderness canoe tripping, with minimum time spent in base camp”. In its first 105 years only boys got the chance to go tripping, but in the past two decades girls have joined the ranks. I’m interested in how something established more than a century ago to promote manliness and “roughing it in the woods” can be relevant for teenage girls today. I wonder what kind of teenage girl would want to forgo life’s luxuries to spend a summer in the wilderness – but also know that, as a teenager, I probably would have been one of them.

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