View Full Version : Just got back from the Arctic Ocean - Updated 8/14 with links

08-07-2010, 11:29 PM
Wife and I just got back from Chisasibi, Canada. A small Cree village on the shores of James Bay, technicaly.... the Artic Ocean.

We drove from Bennington, VT. Did it 5 days. 2320+ miles in 5 days. Two days of which we spent on the James Bay Road. The 381 km (236 mile) stretch of the James Bay Road that is without services is the longest service-free stretch of road in Canada, and the second longest service-free stretch of road in North America! This is second only by a hair to the Dalton Hwy in Alaska, which has a 394 km (244 mile) stretch without services. The Dempster Hwy running from the Yukon to NWT in Canada has a stretch of 363 km (225 miles) without services.

Day one we drove 12 hours to Val D'or. It's a small mining town. Stayed at a Comfort Inn. You feel like you are out there, but the vast wilderness is yet to come.

Day two was a 3 hour trip to Matagami. Nothing to see here, but the last chance for gas. We got gas and then stopped and signed in at the James Bay Road check point. You have to give your info before you get on the road.

This road is out there, seriously. Nothing but woods for miles and miles. You might see a car every 15 minutes, but sometimes we went 30 minutes or more inbetween cars. We brought two spare tires and two cans of fixaflat.

This is Cnada's Autobahn. No police at all. The road is mostly used by the Cree and they drive fast. We would be doing 70 only to be passed by familys of Cree in minivans doing 90 plus easily. And the road is full of bumps.

Our goal was to say we drove as far north as possible and to swim in the Artic Ocean. We did both.

I highly recomend this trip to anyone that likes the remote. Radisson, the end of the road is ok, but Chisasibi is better. A small Cree village that was living off the land like their ancestors on Fort George Island until Hydro Qubec picked them up and moved them onland and into the 20th century. It truely was an incredible experience.


08-07-2010, 11:50 PM
Road looked like this for many miles. Nothing but woods and the occasional clear cut.


Check point.


Clear cut. They were huge and the view was the same in three directions.


The only service on the road. Just after the second longest service free section in the US. Basicly, two gas pumps and a cafeteria made of three trailers put together and raised off the ground.


Ran into a pack of wolves on the road. There were 5 that circled the car and two that looked larger and stayed some distance away. They would circle the car and slip into the brush, only to do it again a few moments later. This went on for about 5 minutes. We were the only ones there. We decided to leave after we got a good look. We showed the pics to some local Cree. They said "They are, how do you say.....teenagers". We asked if they could possibly be Coyotes and they said they don't have Coyotes and then asked which mile marker we saw them at. At one point, they were so close, you could have reached out the window and touched them.





Bill O
08-08-2010, 06:50 AM
Awesome, thanks for sharing. I did some research a few years ago with the same intention...driving as far north as possible (or due north from home). I didn't realize you could get to James Bay from Raddisson, that is very cool. Was it still forest at that point or were you getting into the tundra? What was camping like? Were the bugs really bad? What was that checkpoint like? Is it mostly for safety or do they lay down a set of rule and regulations?

This trip might have to go back to the top of my list, probably around summer solstice time.

08-08-2010, 05:04 PM
Bears at the Dump. They are pretty much there all the time. Local Cree tried to convince us to drive right up to them. We didn't.


The only campground in Radisson was visited by a bear the night before. So we cooked dinner in the Hydro Qubec Dormitories parking lot. Didn't get dark until about 10:30.


The end of the road. This is as far North as you can drive. However, if you get friendly with one of the locals, you can get beyond the gate for a couple of miles further north.


08-08-2010, 05:39 PM
The Community Center in Chissasibi. You can buy a fishing liscense there. There is also the local Guide and a small resteraunt. Not a very pretty building. It's very municipal and in need of some love. There is also another building next to this that houses two grocery stores. Don't count on anything you need being there. And also don't count on any fruits or vegtables.


Pizza shop. Only open 6 hours a day. 6 hours seems to be the avergage work day up there, This place was jamming and made a decent pie.


The Artic Ocean. Water was warmer than I thought. I actually went for a swim.


Cree's canoes.


08-08-2010, 06:49 PM
Our little tent at the beach.


Not my pic. I took pics with my little digital, but they didn't come out.

This is what we saw. Went to bed with no lights. We listened to the one and only radio station. The Cree were picking a new Cheif that week. We listened to Stella Bearskin give a speech as to why she should be Chief. Our jaws were on the floor. The most beautiful speech. I stepped out of the tent after and the sky was LIT UP!!!! They went in every direction as far as you could see and directly above our heads. We stood silent and watched for hours. They went on for hours. We finaly went to bed and watched them from our sleeping bags. Funny sidenote........after Stella's speech, the station played Ghost Busters>Smoke on the water.

I will never forget that night.


Snow Miser
08-08-2010, 06:55 PM
Wow, what a trip! This may have to go on my list of places to go. Thanks for sharing with us!

08-08-2010, 07:04 PM
I'll post the rest of the pics tonight.

Yes, I recommend this trip to all. Noy a lot of info on the net and what little there is, tends to be outdated. If you are seriously considering it, email me and I'll hook you up with some links.

We loved it so much, we plan on going again within the next couple of years. However, we will fly next time. However, I suggest you drive the first time.

Bill O
08-08-2010, 08:20 PM
We can obviously hop in the car and drive all the way to the North Slope of Alaska from anywhere north of the Darien Gap in Panama, but for an "east coaster" there is something strangely romantic about driving due north to Hudson Bay. All you need is a car.

Thanks again for posting.

08-08-2010, 09:04 PM
There are a lot of tipis. They are not for show. They are shared between several Cree families and used as kitchens. We didn't do it, but they offered to hook us up with a family and have a traditional dinner. Bever, Moose, Bear, Caribou, ect. The Cree are very shy, but very nice people when you do talk to them. Twice we had elsers approach us and both times were great interactions.


The Cree love their gas. This place was open until 12 pm and opened at 6 am. Unheard of in that town. They drive everywhere and they drive FAST!!!


Cree is the main language. They speak either English or Cree or both within the same sentence. Very little French.


Elders Camp. Kind of like Adult day care. This place smelled smelled awsome. I asked what was going on there and was told that they were smoking traditional meats, getting ready for a Pow Wow.




Lichen and moss all cover the forest floor. It's about 5 inches deep and feels like you are walking on foam.


We didn't see one Moose track. But we did find these tracks. That we followed by wolf tracks.



Fox crossing the road. Tons on animals on the road. We saw rabbits, wolves, Bobcat, Fox, and what we think was a lynx.


One last stop on the Rupert River. We wanted to hike on this little trail. It's thousands of years old and was used as a portage by the Cree.


08-09-2010, 09:13 AM
Wow! I love these "off the common road" excursions. I've been wanting to do a trip similar to this up to Newfoundland for some time. Looks like an amazing trip.

08-10-2010, 06:28 AM
Wow! I love these "off the common road" excursions. I've been wanting to do a trip similar to this up to Newfoundland for some time. Looks like an amazing trip.
Hmmmm, I will drive.

08-10-2010, 07:01 AM
What a fantastic trip report...a dream of mine as well!

We can obviously hop in the car and drive all the way to the North Slope of Alaska from anywhere north of the Darien Gap in Panama, but for an "east coaster" there is something strangely romantic about driving due north to Hudson Bay. All you need is a car.

Thanks again for posting.

Bill, you every want to act on this...lemme know!

08-10-2010, 09:40 AM
Newfoundland has been on my list, I've wanted to go to St John's and Cape Spear (I think it's the most Eastern point of North America (ok, technically Greenland is, but it's not easy to get there) and sea kayak out there.

I guess I have to plan a northern drive/kayaking trip as well now :)

Wow! I love these "off the common road" excursions. I've been wanting to do a trip similar to this up to Newfoundland for some time. Looks like an amazing trip.

08-10-2010, 10:17 AM
Count me in! Maybe we can get Subaru to sponsor a caravan (ahem, an outback) road trip ;)

08-10-2010, 11:17 AM
How is it going through customs? Would they freak out if I had a couple gas cans, water, etc in the back of my truck?

Snow Miser
08-10-2010, 12:54 PM
Count me in too! This would be a great trip.

Some years back we did a road trip with Newfoundland as our goal. We made it as far as Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia, then ran out of time, and cash, before taking the ferry to the island. :-( This was before the days of debit cards and easy cash withdrawals. Oh, and we weren't driving a Model-T either. :D Once the cash got low, it was time to head back.

One thing that was very nice was standing on the cliffs of Cape Breton and watching the Pilot Whales migrating out of the Gulf of St Lawrence.:)

Snow Miser
08-10-2010, 01:20 PM
How is it going through customs? Would they freak out if I had a couple gas cans, water, etc in the back of my truck?

Kirk, use to go to Canada all the time, but haven't been going since a little before 911. It use to be very easy to cross the border in either direction, but now it might be a little harder. Plus, I'm pretty sure a passport is require now.

08-10-2010, 06:54 PM
yep you need a passport
count me in on the trip when it happens ,we need a lot of planing for this but it would be fun with the people we have here

08-14-2010, 09:29 PM
You guys should do this. Again, I highly recomend it. We had talked about how much easier it would have been if we had one or more people with us. The driving duties would have been better if we could have shared them.

A couple of quick links. There isn't a lot out there, but this should get you started.



Those are probably the best at getting you started. There really isn't a ton of info out there. One of the best sources for Chisasibi was a PDF file for medical students who worked there. If anyone wants it, email me @ kbhrvt@yahoo.com.

I mentioned listening to Stella Bearskin's speech. She was running for chief. Well, we found her on Facebook and we sent a message... telling her how fortunate we felt to hear such a lovely speech and how much it touched us. Then asked if we could get a copy. She replied today and said she would with a catch. We had to share it with folks.

"Hi, wow

This is so awesome, Of course i will share my speech with you.
Although i did not win the election, my elders the old people were the ones that actually asked me to run for Chief.

At first i laughed, but when i realized they were serious, i could not break there hearts, and say No, a second time.

I am a very spiritual person, i follow my customs, and cultural traditions.

The idea to run for Chief actually came to me in a Dream.....it was a dream i had over a year, and lasted a very long period.

I have 5 kids, whom i love so absolutely!! Never in my wildest dreams or in my long term goal planning did i ever plan to run for public office, as i was happy to live my life just raising my little family!! Anyway I actually cried when the elders interpreted my dream as that i have to run for office.

Anyway i know what it takes to become chief, as i hold a very important position in our local government. But i agreed to run, somehow hoping that i would not get in, how weird is that!! You probably didnt expect to hear that eh?

Anyway, the elders, and woman, and youth i spoke to encouraged me. I was told thru our traditional ceremony that i had to run, and give back hope to the people, and that the Truth had to be told, that i needed to wake people up.

Our elders think that the people are sleeping, and that someone needs to wake them up. They told me that I was given the gift to give back hope to the Community.

Never in my wildest dreams, did i ever think or expect to have an effect on anyone. Although you are not from Canada, makes it more special.

When i was 13 i traveled to United States trying to convince the Americans not to buy a contract from Hydro Quebec. It took us over a month to finally travel to New York on Earth Day back in 1989, i think was the year, anyway it was an experience that had a great impact on my life, as it opened doors to my heart & mind to the world!! It gave me hope that the world can truly be a better place, and Yes New York State canceled his contract with Hydro Quebec!!

Anyway, i think it was you and your wife that have given me back HOPE that i can still make a difference in one or two peoples lives, your story make me feel so good that i did reach one or two people.

As the speech i made, i prayed to the creator that i can make an impact on one person, and i will have still succeeded with the campaign of Hope, that i need to inspire on people.

My wish and hope is that you can pass on that Hope to someone else, even if it is your family & friends, than the wish of my people, elders, and ansectors wish lives on in you and your carrying on of the torch of hope, that we can all live in a beautiful place once more for the future of the world!!

As my people have always taught me that we are all brothers, and sisters, from the same creator, regardless of race, religion, nationality, and sex. That we were all created Equal!!


You have truly made my day a wonderful one!!

Send me your email address, and I will send you my speech in hope, it will bring a little more sunshine in an often dark world, that is plagued with hate, war, and greed.

Much Love, Stella Bearskin"

08-14-2010, 09:33 PM
I'll share that speech when she sends it.

08-15-2010, 12:55 PM
I can't wait for it! Her email (which could have just said "yes") was great.

Snow Miser
08-15-2010, 02:25 PM
That was a really nice email. She sounds like a wonderful, caring person. I can't wait to read her speech too!