Ian Wright travels as far north as he's ever likely
to get - to Arctic Canada, the Land Of The Midnight
He begins his trip in Montreal, the
heart of the Quebec and the world's
largest French speaking city after Paris. After sampling
gourmet delights in town he heads out to a 'sugar shack'
where, when the sap rises in March, Canada's renowned
maple syrup is made. He learns all about the process
of tapping the sap from the trees and boiling it down,
and at the end of the day tastes the fruit of his labours.
From Montreal Ian takes a trip to the Madeline
Islands. The region used to be a hunting ground
for the seal pups which are born on the ice fields each
March but these days the only trade the pups are mixed
up in is tourism. Ian is accompanied by an expert on
seals and it's an incredible experience.
Ian is warned about the wintry weather in Yellowknife,
nevertheless he's intent on journeying to the Northwest
territories, known as the Great White North.
The capital, on the Great Slave Lake, was built just
50 years ago by pioneers looking for gold. He's there
at the time of the Caribou Carnival, an annual festival originally held to welcome the spring.
It's a whacky event where anything goes, from computer-bashing
to ugly dog & truck competitions. In the evening
Ian joins a Japanese group heading out of town to see
the spectacular aurora borealis, the northern lights.
This unbelievable sight which occurs when the earth's
magnetic field generates electric energy by inter-reacting
with solar winds.
Even further north is Baffin Island
in the territory of Nunavut. It's the
only territory in history that has been peacefully handed
over to its native people. In Iqaluit, the capital of
the province, he hears the ancient Inuit tradition of
throat singing and shares tales of abating frostbite
in temperatures that can reach as low as -89°F.
It's a four day dogsled trek from Iqaluit
to Kimmirut across a plateau called
Meta Incognita, 'the dreaded unknown'.
Luckily for Ian he's accompanied by Denise Martin, the
first Canadian woman to reach the North Pole
on foot. She teaches him the basic skill of driving
dogs but its no easy ride! They reach Kimmirut in one
piece and in time for the annual seal-cutting contest.
Here seal hunting is still a necessity for the 350 strong
community because, as Ian is forced to accept, it's
part of their staple diet.
On the last leg of Ian's journey he has to accompany
the dogs on a flight back to Iqualit. From there he
heads to Broughton Island, or Qikitarjuaq in Inuit.
He takes a trip with Palooshi Kanaloosi and
his grandson Jason, hoping to see a polar bear, but
today the ice is too rough and the group catches a glimpse
of bears in the distance.
Crazy though it may seem, Ian is invigorated by the
harsh climate of Arctic Canada, enthralled by the vast
open spaces and freshness in the air. Nevertheless he's
glad of the shelter of a nice warm igloo at the end
of the day.