Explore Canada’s great white north

When Matthew Swan founded Adventure Canada 30 years ago, he could hardly have known the impact his venture would have. Now, after three decades of operation in the world’s wildest places, Adventure Canada has truly earned the designation of “the expedition cruise experts”.

From pioneering itineraries through the Northwest Passage by ship, to small-scale circumnavigations of Newfoundland, from archaeology and wildlife viewing to cultural exchanges, Adventure Canada does it all. Central to the tour provider’s ethos is to help Canadians explore their country; their relationship with the land they call home, with other Canadians, and with Canada’s place in the world. This year, as Canada celebrates its sesquicentennial, this work is more valuable than ever.

From pioneering itineraries through the Northwest Passage by ship, to small-scale circumnavigations of Newfoundland, from archaeology and wildlife viewing to cultural exchanges, Adventure Canada does it all. Central to the tour provider’s ethos is to help Canadians explore their country; their relationship with the land they call home, with other Canadians, and with Canada’s place in the world. This year, as Canada celebrates its sesquicentennial, this work is more valuable than ever.

Of course, at the core of each expedition are the landings themselves. These are rough-and-tumble affairs—a common refrain aboard the Ocean Endeavour is that “every landing is a wet landing”. Working with the ship’s captain, Adventure Canada’s Expedition Leader plans and executes a daily series of stops that take passengers to shore via Zodiac landing craft. Once ashore, passengers are true explorers; on one day, this may mean investigating grave sites and ancient sod houses with a team of archaeologists; on another, they may be cruising ice fjords for marine wildlife sightings, or taking part in extended hikes.

At the heart of Adventure Canada’s model is community involvement. The company hires extensively from the Inuit communities to which they travel, and endeavours to facilitate cultural exchange between passengers and the locals throughout Nunavut, Greenland, and beyond. Visits to centres of Inuit art are always trip highlights, and giving back to these communities is of vital importance to the company.

Through the Discovery Fund, Adventure Canada diverts a percentage of each tour sold to strengthening social, cultural, and environmental initiatives in the regions through which they travel to ensure that their model of tourism is a sustainable one. They encourage their partners to do the same.

Celebrating Canada’s 150th

In 2017, Adventure Canada is embracing Canada’s 150th birthday with a number of exciting partnerships that underscore their place at the forefront of the Canadian narrative. Parks Canada joins their Out of the Northwest Passage expedition as an official partner on a voyage that will take travellers to the final resting place of the HMS Erebus, flagship of the lost Franklin Expedition. Along with this itinerary, and others like it throughout the season, AC and Parks Canada will be teaming up to visit a vast array of Canada’s most inaccessible and incredible national parks, including Qausuittuq, Auyuittuq, and the Torngat Mountains National Parks.

Adventure Canada is also joining forces with WWF-Canada for an Arctic Safari that embraces the spirit of conservation and exploration. Together with WWF-Canada specialists, and a number of guests—including author conservationists Pete Ewins and Paul Crawly, author Alanna Mitchell, explorer-photographers David Doubliet and Jennifer Hayes, and environmental lawyer Mick Levin—this trip features a chance to seek out incredible wildlife in its natural habitat.

Adventure Canada is also committed to raising the bar on expedition photography through its work with Nikon Canada. By making photography equipment available for rent aboard the ship, AC and Nikon are working together to make sure that imagery of these vital and remote places is shared judiciously and often. Through initiatives like the #MyAdventureCanada photo contest, AC is empowering people across Canada to share their stories of adventure.

Adventture Canada is the Polar Travel Provider for the Explorers Club. Together they have established the Young Explorers program in an effort to help establish the next generation of polar stewards. The program aims to encourage and facilitate the spirit of exploration through the pursuit of science, art, and conservation. Adventure Canada seeks to encourage personal growth for young people who will benefi t from direct experience, academic study, cultural exchange and connecting with the Adventure Canada community.

Fun and casual, rugged yet comfortable, Adventure Canada’s expeditions are true voyages of discovery, and leave one irrevocably changed. From the heart of the St. Lawrence River to the most far-flung reaches of the mythic Northwest Passage, their ground-breaking approach to expedition travel—by emphasizing the beating, human heart of it all—has received them numerous awards and accolades, including the Canadian Museum of Nature’s Nature Inspiration Award, multiple Cruise Vision Award, multiple Nunavut Tourism Business of the Year awards, and a nomination for the 2017 National Geographic World Legacy Awards. 

Their Mighty Saint Lawrence expedition was named one of National Geographic Traveler’s 50 Tours of a Lifetime, and both their flagship Northwest Passage voyages have been named Canadian Signature Experiences. Matthew Swan received the Travel Industry Association of Canada’s auspicious Lifetime Achievement Award this winter, for his decades of tireless work in the field. National Geographic has named them one of the best adventure travel companies on Earth—and it feels like they’re just getting started.

The true sense through which Adventure Canada transcends their status as “just” a tour operator, however, is hard to describe. There is something transformative and ineffable about experiencing the Arctic and other culturally and environmentally significant regions, and few who have visited can claim that they did not feel the pull to return. Today, as climate change threatens the changing face of our planet and a turbulent political climate becomes a barometer of problems faced by marginalized and indigenous groups, it is organizations like Adventure Canada who are doing the important work of turning global attention northward. It is their aspiration that each past traveller will become an ambassador for northern people and the issues they face; for the vastness and fragility of the landscape; for the centrality of these issues to national identity.

All of this is no mean feat, to be sure. It is why I am so proud to count myself among their ranks. 

For additional information contact www.adventurecanada.com