Dragon Boating to Tuk
As one of the lucky winners of Canada’s 150’s, 150 free flights to Yellowknife, I felt like I had won the lottery! I have had the pleasure of travelling coast to coast in our stunning country, but I never had the opportunity to travel to the Northwest Territories, Yukon, or Nunavut. My sister, who had amassed an insurmountable number of air miles, joined me on this adventure. We loved every experience in Yellowknife and fell in love with the amazing people we met everyday. Yellowknifers guided us to places to see and things to do in every step of our trip. One of the recommended events was the 2017 “YK Trade Show” at the Multiplex. At the show, I was drawn to designs created by Diana Curtis. We started conversing with Diana and whilst flipping through her design portfolio, I saw the “Walk to Tuk” logo. Diana, who is the designer of the logo, told me all about the walk and provided me the website address for more information. Upon returning to Toronto, I proposed the walk to the ‘Keep Calm and Drag On’ (KCDO) dragon boat team that I coach during the summer months. KCDO is made up of an amazing group of people who are truly positive and strong. The team jumped at the idea because it was exactly what everyone was looking for: winter fun. We love each other’s company, and work and play together. However, since dragon boating is a summer sport, we would only see each other during the paddling season. Walk to Tuk became our reason to come together during the off-season. Did I mention that we also do everything as a team, including working on this article?
Due to our great enthusiasm for retaining team comradery and keeping fit over the winter months, our entire Dragon Boat (plus a few partners) decided to participate in Walk to Tuk 2018. Given the significant number of participants, we were divided into two teams ‘Keep Calm’ and ‘Drag On’ (KC and DO), and each assigned a Captain. We lined up at the virtual start line in Fort Providence after clarification on a few concerns:
- “Can we include swimming in the mileage count?” (yes!);
- “I’ve been seconded to Shanghai, China for work but can I still participate?” (yes!); and most importantly
- “Between KC and DO, who will arrive to Tuk first?”.
Our teams traversed to Tuk by winter cycling, running on the treadmill, cross-country skiing, and walking to work (just to name a few activities). Those of us who wished to cover distance as a group braved the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) cold and met to complete hikes every Saturday morning. Guided by our in-boat trails specialist, our Saturday morning ventures brought us to various parks and conservation areas: High Park, Humber Bay Park East, Wilket Creek, Sunnybrook Park, and Kortright Centre for Conservation. Oh how many hidden gems we discovered because of Walk to Tuk! Our hikes always concluded with a hot brunch at a local restaurant with discussions on where various Walk to Tuk teams were along the route to Tuk, the new places our boat-mate in Shanghai had explored, and which park we would visit next week to clock in more distance. Other steps we took included walking, skating, and “paddling” on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa when we were there to race in the Ice Dragon Boat festival.
The end of February arrived quickly! Both our teams had reached Tuk and were already on their way back to Fort Providence. Although one of our teams may have some bragging rights, the ultimate win was how we connected with another Territory. We also learned about the NWT’s physical environment, the local communities and people who live in the north, and remained physically fit throughout the winter months! Perhaps we could attribute our successful Dragon Boat season this past summer to Walk to Tuk? What is certain is that Walk to Tuk connected us during the off-season.
As we write this, KCDO has just initiated plans for 2019’s Walk to Tuk. We hope to continue fostering community engagement and promote wellness both for the NWT Recreation and Parks Association and KCDO, and discover more gems (trails and brunch spots) throughout the GTA.
– Nicole Chow, a KCDO team member.