By Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
CHURCHILL, Man. — A New Brunswick man left northern Manitoba Monday on a highly unlikely journey home — a 3,000-kilometre trek by dog sled.
Justin Allen will spend the next two months with his 12 dogs making the journey from Churchill, Man., across Ontario and Quebec to his hometown in Saint John, N.B.
“We definitely expect to go through some tough conditions but we’re prepared for it. We know going into it that we’re going to face some adversities. It’s just all part of it,” he said Monday afternoon as he prepared to leave.
“If it was easy then lots of people would be doing it.”
Allen is opening an adventure business with his dogs in New Brunswick: Boss Dog Expeditions will offer adventures including dog sled or cart rides, dog assisted hikes and camping trips.
The route will see him travel from northern Manitoba, along the edge of Hudson Bay in Ontario, across Quebec and through New Brunswick.
It will involve a wheeled rig in places where the snow isn’t sufficient.
“These dogs are a special breed and they’ve been around for a long time and they opened up this country. For me there was no other option. We are going to travel across the country the way they used to do years ago.”
Allen said he has a travel window of eight to 10 weeks — he hopes to be able to do it in less time, but it will depend on the weather, route conditions and the dogs.
He said the journey has been two years in the planning and involves a support team and lots of supplies to make sure he and the dogs are safe and healthy along the way.
“I love the dogs and this sport is my passion. I didn’t see it fitting for them to put them in a truck and drive them to New Brunswick, or fly them,” he said.
In some sections there will be a snowmobile towing supplies that will travel the trail ahead of him. In other places where there is access, a truck loaded with supplies will be following along.
“We’re going to be stopping in a lot of First Nations communities along the way and we’re going to be paying tribute to the First Nations people,” he said.
Until now, the longest trip he has taken with the dogs was about 380 kilometres, but he said they have gone thousands of kilometres in their training for this trek.
He said the trip will cost about $45,000, but he has been getting a lot of support from sponsors and donations.
“To get the right nutrition, the best food and best equipment for these dogs is not cheap. Everything in the north is twice as expensive,” he said.
He said his website (www.bossdogexpeditions.com) includes a map of the route and will feature live-tracking of his progress.
Allen said he plans to take his time, but the dogs usually try to set the pace.
“I’m not making them run. If anything I have to make them stop,” he said.