The Royal Canadian Geographical Society
Making Canada better
known to Canadians
and to the world.

Publishers of Canadian Geographic Magazine Publishers of géographica



2011 Expedition of the Year: Cross Canada Canoe Odyssey

Ross Phillips, Kristoffer Archibald, Abby Lewis, Stephanie Robertson, Nathalie Brunet and Shane Ringham
Click to view slideshow

River journeys
A team of six paddlers, led by University of Saskatchewan hydrology student Ross Phillips, has received the $25,000 Expedition of the Year grant, awarded by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and financed by the RBC Blue Water Project. The Cross Canada Canoe Odyssey crew left Vancouver in April on a 165-day, 7,000-kilometre trek to Saint John, N.B., to raise public awareness of the importance of Canada’s freshwater resources.

The Society is also supporting two expeditions along remote rivers this summer. Biologist Benjamin Dy of Rimouski, Que., and expedition partner Simon Barbarit will photograph and film the Koroc River that flows from the Torngat Mountains to Ungava Bay.

Adam Shoalts of Fenwick, Ont., and Wesley Crowe of Ridgeville, Ont., will embark on the first-known exploration of a 165-kilometre nameless river in the Hudson Bay Lowlands of northern Ontario.

The deadline to apply for a Society Expeditions Series grant for next year is March 15, 2012. For more information, go to

- Jessica Harding

Visit the official website of the Cross Canada Canoe Odyssey

Summary: The Cross Canada Canoe Odyssey

It was October 4, 2011 and 8,000 km had passed since the start of Cross Canada Canoe Odyssey in Vancouver, British Columbia on April 17, 2011. 149 of those days were spent travelling: 7,100 km by water and 900 km of portage. Our goals had been achieved – human powered travel from Pacific to Atlantic in a single season and advocating for the importance of Canadian freshwater resources as the Royal Canadian Geographic Society’s 2011 Expedition of the Year. The rivers and lakes of Canada are absolutely important to Canada`s environment, heritage and cultural identity.

The Cross Canada Canoe Odyssey was born out of a passion for paddling and fuelled by a lust for adventure. We found both. We travelled through a variety of landscapes and faced many challenges but were greeted with kindness wherever we went. We started at the mouth of the Fraser River and after paddling 150 km upstream, we took to our bicycles and towed our gear and canoes 500 km over the mountain ranges separating Lake Okanagan, Lake Revelstoke, and Lake Kinabasket. The expedition crossed the continental divide through the Rocky Mountains via the historic Howse Pass. Traversing the pass took a grueling five days by foot and snowshoe with our 18.5 foot Clipper Whitewater II`s in tow. It was all worth it when we descended into the basin of the North Saskatchewan River which carried us 1,850 km east. Our surge downstream was broken by a plodding advance through the large lakes of Manitoba where we were beleaguered by persistent winds and waves. Once in the Canadian Shield we settled into a comfortable routine of paddling small sheltered lakes separated by countless portages. With a good measure of luck, we glided on mostly calm, clear waters past the cliffs of Lake Superior and islands of Lake Huron. With the approach of fall, we rode the tides of the St. Lawrence until we portaged into the St. John River basin and coasted to our finish on the Atlantic: in the maritime wind and rain, we paddled through the Reversing Falls and entered the harbor of St. John, New Brunswick. During the years of preparation and almost six months on the move, nothing could have prepared us for the joy of that moment. And in the end, we were comforted by the knowledge that we probably wouldn’t have done a thing differently. Our success would not have been possible without the support of family, friends (new and old), and our generous sponsors; we thank them tremendously. Join the Cross Canada Canoe Odyssey online via the website and Facebook as we work towards the creation of our documentary, digitized map, detailed meal list, and gear review.


Share this page

   Copyright © 2021 The Royal Canadian Geographical Society SITEMAP  |   CONTACT  |   PRIVACY POLICY  |   TERMS OF USE  |   FRANÇAIS