Jonathan and Kirti Walpole's 950 km canoe journey across Northwest Territories and Nunavut in July and August of 2014


Wild fire is the last kind of problem we expected on a tundra canoe trip, but the Northwest Territories are having one of the worst forest fire seasons on record. Roads into Yellowknife have been closed, intermittently, over the past few days, making our ability to get there to meet our float plane pilot uncertain. Much worse, though, we just heard that our pilot, Dave Oleson, lost his entire home and guest cabin to a taiga fire that burned through his property in the Hoarfrost river area on Friday and Saturday. This tragic loss of their home and business property must be devastating for the Oleson family. Fortunately, as far as we know, nobody was hurt.

The last entry in Dave's blog, from July 1st, comments on the fire approaching his property. It is particularly poignant reading the following comment in his last blog entry "If over the coming weeks the fire reaches the outskirts of our little homestead we are confident that with the right help from the local fire crews we could protect our buildings, our fuel cache out on the rocky point, and our livestock of the canine and feline varieties." The newspaper article I found after the burn said that high winds prevented the fire crews from being able to reach the property, and the owners tried valiantly, but ultimately unsuccessfully, to prevent the fire from consuming their home. How tragic.

Dave Oleson's Blog

Quite understandably, we have not heard anything from Dave since then regarding the flight for our canoe trip. Given that the time to leave Portland is now upon us, we have decided to try to drive up to Yellowknife anyway, and to make contact with Dave, if we can, over the next few days. If we can still fly with Dave, we will. If not we will look into getting a charter flight, at short notice, with one of the other Yellowknife operators. Failing that, we will spend a couple of smokey days in Yellowknife with Chuck and Muriel Tolley, then make our way back home and attempt this trip another year.