A savage journey into the cold heart of the Great White North

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Meanwhile in Canada from Rob Heule on Vimeo

Words: Rob Heule | Photos: Kyle Gibson

Most of us struggle to get out of bed on winter mornings at the best of times. But try waking up on the side of the highway somewhere between Saskatoon and Winnipeg in a 10-metre freezer on wheels, scraping the heavily frosted condensation of five young fellows from every surface after your propane heater has shut off because its -40ËšC… inside. It’ll make you re-think the flannel-pajama paradigm of Canadian bedtime attire. Dressing for sleep now becomes a layering game: long underwear, sweater, down jacket, two pairs of wool socks, and a mandatory toque. All this before wriggling into a sleeping bag and bundling yourself in a mass of blankets. Exiting this pseudo-warm cocoon come morning is even more strenuous. Especially when, pulling on your ski gear, you’re given to think: “Is this wet—or just extremely cold?”

The answer is both… but nothing a steaming bowl of oatmeal and a hot cup of Joe can’t fix. Such was our daily regimen on a 40-day RV trip across the Great White North in search of unconventional places to hit a rail or two. Despite the bitter cold, warm hearts and positive attitudes prevailed as we skied our way across this enormous land from Vancouver and the Pacific, through the Rockies, over the frozen wasteland of the Prairies, and into Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes to our destination of Halifax on the Atlantic. Skiers might consider this west-east mission—forsaking the biggest mountains and best snow for the smallest and least—to be counterintuitive. But doing things backwards is, well, the Canadian way.