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Back from Great Bear River Canoe Trip!

Canoeing on Great Bear River

We’re back! And what an experience it was!

So, first of all, where in the world were we? Our canoe trek with Canoe North Adventures started on Great Bear Lake, at the mouth of Great Bear River. You can see where Great Bear Lake is on the map below.

Location of Great Bear Lake in NWT


Float plane on DOT Lake

After unloading from a float plane, our canoe trek went down the Great Bear River towards where it meets the MacKenzie (from “A” to “B” on the map below) and then up to finish at Norman Wells (“C” on the map). In total, we canoed approximately 160 kms over a 5-day period and camping overnight along the way.


This trip, let alone the other elements of our vacation, could provide me with enough blog material to last a year!

So, I’d like to ask you: Do you have any questions about this trip? What interests you? I’m prepared to answer ANY questions you might have. Whether it’s where we went to the bathroom or how majestic the mountains were … I’d like to post only about the things that you might be curious about. And if there’s no interest, that’s cool too. I can return to other topics. 


  1. hmmm … I’m not happy with how these google maps embedded. I will try and do some screen captures and replace them when I get a chance!

  2. great picture in the canoe! I have a friend that spent the entire month of July canoeing and camping in Yellowknife – he said the trip was amazing! Glad you had fun.

    Questions – what kind of wild life did you see, and was it at a good distance or a little too close for comfort?

  3. Um, float plane!?! How was that experience? I love the fact that you have showcased an area of Canada I might never ever have heard about, thank you!

  4. Oh wow, I bet that was a great experience. I love camping, but am prone to mosquitoes biting me like crazy. How were the bugs while camping? Did you see any unique animal while canoeing?

    • Noted! A post solely on mosquitoes is in order! When I first announced that I would be taking this trip, that was the big comment that I kept getting (“oh, those bugs are going to be sooo bad up there!”). It almost scared me off, so I think I should address the topic in case it’s scaring other people off too.

  5. You know me, I want to hear about everything!! Want to know what you saw.. what you ate.. .. who you met.. what hurt…how often did you use the “bathroom”.. what was the bathroom? would you do it again? and so much more!

  6. I want to know if your bum fell asleep! I go canoeing on occasion with my family but only for a few hours at a time. Definitely nowhere near as far/long as you did :) Looks like a blast though!

    • Well, yes, the bum does get sore! But so do the knees as well because in these boats, where you go over rough water, they are fitted with knee pads. Your knees are on the bottom of the boat and your bum is sort of half on the seat. But this is alleviated by taking breaks every hour or so on the shore to get out and stretch the legs. We would take frequent breaks to stretch legs, go pee, re-fuel with a snack.

  7. Holly Cow that is pretty up north! Awesome! Was this an organized tour? How soar where you lol! Love it,thanks for sharing.

    • The answers are Yes and Yes! Canoe North Adventures organizes amazing trips … they had everything down to a fine art — all the gear, food, and guiding. And oh yeah, my shoulders were sore!!

  8. How cold was the water?

  9. I want to hear all about this adventure! What was the most inspiring/beautiful (highlight) and the most challenging (lowlight) of the trip? And did you get to see any northern lights?

  10. That is amazing. I have to say, I am afraid of canoeing so I think it is pretty cool when people make it seem effortless. Trip of a lifetime I would assume. Can’t wait for the other blog posts…

    • Hey, you are the second reader to share that they are afraid of canoeing so you’re not alone! It has never fazed me. But I’m afraid of a whole lot of other things :) Sometimes I can try and push the limits of my fear, but sometimes it’s just too much, so I understand completely.

  11. What a great experience! I think the furthest I went North was just past North Bay! It is beautiful up there! What was you favourite part?

    • This is by far the furthest North I’ve ever been! In fact, I’ve never even been to Northern Ontario! It’s hard to pick a favourite, but the midnight sun was pretty cool. Really makes a day last forever and ever …

  12. What a great time. I have never been that far north. The furthest I have been is where I’m currently living lol.

  13. Oh Julie! Your trip looks like it was so great…and so far north!! A once in a lifetime experience! Would love to try the float plane (I think, lol). A childhood friend of mine lives in Whitehorse so I’ve often thought I should head north for a visit. Looking forward to reading more about your trip!

    • I’ve been in a float plane twice now. Once it was to get back from one of the islands near Vancouver and I loved it. And then this time, which was not so great for me (as I write about in my next post). But everyone else in the plane that it was simply amazing to see all the aerial views! We even saw a herd of musk ox grazing beneath us on a mountain.

  14. Sounds like an amazing trip! I just flew in a float plane for the first time and it was so much fun!

  15. Wow, what an amazing experience that must have been. Just finished reading all your posts about our trip. I can only imagine the fear and excitement. You should be proud of your accomplishment. The territories are on my bucket list. Never done a canoe trip though, might have to add that ( although the mosquitoes have me having second thoughts). Well done Julie, I love reading your posts

    • Nadine, thank you so much for taking the time to comment and share this with me. Seeing the Northern Lights is definitely a bucklist item for me, so that means I need to go back up North in the winter when it’s the best time to catch some! As for the mosquitoes, I thought they were going to be bad too but the only time they were bad was on our first campsite. It was no problem the rest of the time, and normally they drive me crazy!

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