Quebec adventurers Simon-Pierre Goneau and Samuel Lalande-Markon are the first to travel from the southernmost point to the northernmost point of Quebec. The expedition, which began on February 1, 2023, required 15 days of biking and 53 days of skiing, for a total of 91 days including stops in communities. In total, the duo traveled nearly 2960 km on isolated roads, through taiga, coastal ice and tundra.
A challenging winter cycling route
Simon-Pierre having completed the cycling portion of the expedition in the winter of 2020, Samuel set out alone on February 1, 2023, in the middle of a cold wave. Located in a wooded area along the Chateauguay River, the 720 border marker indicates the southernmost point of Quebec. The cyclist needed 15 days to complete the 1583 km route to the Cree community of Chisasibi, in James Bay, using the Billy-Diamond road (formerly the James Bay road). The main difficulty of this segment was the sometimes difficult cohabitation with motorized vehicles, in addition to the winter conditions and the isolation.
Skiing the vastness of Nunavik
Starting February 19, Simon-Pierre and Samuel began a long ski trip from the Longue-Pointe in Chisasibi. Carrying in their 150-pound sleds the necessary equipment to ensure their autonomy in this region of sub-arctic and arctic conditions, the duo made six segments of 6 to 11 days between the different Cree and Inuit communities of Hudson Bay, for a total of 1377 km in 53 days. In addition to the physical and psychological challenge, they faced numerous difficulties such as winter temperatures of around -40 Celsius, high winds affecting visibility and navigation, deep snow passages, fractured ice and the presence of polar bears. Equipped with a firearm and a detonator for the night, the team only came across traces of the predator. To meet their energy needs throughout the expedition, Simon-Pierre and Samuel opted for a diet of about 6000 calories per day.
Most of the skiing part of the expedition took place in the Inuit territory of Nunavik, which alone represents approximately one third of the surface of Quebec. Taking advantage of stops in the communities, the team participated in various activities, including meetings with young people in schools.
On April 28, 2023, the team reached Cape Anaulirvik (Wolstenholme) in the Digges Strait, about 30 km from the Inuit community of Ivujivik. This is the northernmost point of Quebec and Nunavik.
A first to be placed in context
Although Quebec is rich in history and stories of exploration, no one had likely connected the two ends of the territory until now. It should be remembered, however, that the current boundaries, including the upper portion of Quebec, date back to 1912 and are the result of colonialist structures. The Aboriginal and Inuit nations have travelled this territory for thousands of years in conditions much more difficult than those represented by a contemporary expedition. This premiere has therefore first and foremost a symbolic value.
An adventure told in a documentary film
On four occasions, a film crew composed of Marie France L’Ecuyer, director, Marc-André Bilodeau, director of photography, and Thibaut Quichon, sound designer, joined the members of the expedition in order to produce a documentary film. The team was able to count on the support of Nunavik Parks for motorized transportation in Tursujuq Park. Self-produced with funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, the documentary should be released in the winter of 2024.
The expedition receives the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s Expedition of the Year award
The Transboreal Expedition has been awarded the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s Expedition of the Year 2023 grant for its challenge and its potential to bring Quebec and Canada to the attention of the general public.
A project of this scale could not be realized without the support of many partners, most of which are based in Quebec. The team would like to thank the following partners: Boréale Beer, Panorama Cycles, Telloc, Happy Yak, Air Inuit, Nunavik Parks, Gym Sablon, Blivet, Arkel, 7mesh, Wintergreen Northern Wear, Asnes, Intuition Liners and Julbo.
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