The Canadian Experience: From the Arctic Cold to a Warm Welcome

A New Chapter Begins: From Ice to Tarmac

Our Pole to Pole EV Expedition journey continues as we bid farewell to the frozen landscapes of the Arctic and set our sights on a new horizon – Canada. After successfully navigating the icy terrains and making it across the ice roads – a feat that filled us with equal measures of relief and exhilaration – we found ourselves back in civilisation.

Arriving back was a cocktail of emotions. We had a sense of accomplishment, having just completed the most challenging section of our journey, yet we also found ourselves tinged with a hint of sadness at the thought of leaving behind the Arctic Trucks team. This fantastic crew had been instrumental in helping us navigate the Arctic terrain, and saying goodbye was tough.

It’s hard to describe the unique bond that forms when you’re part of a team facing harsh elements and challenges. It’s a camaraderie that’s unspoken but palpable. We’d spent over three weeks with the Arctic Trucks team, every single day was an adventure, and saying goodbye felt like breaking up a family.

Despite the sadness, we couldn’t help but feel a sense of excitement. We were ready to face what came next, even though we knew there were plenty of challenges waiting for us. The next leg of our journey would involve long stretches without charging stations, and the comfort of smooth tarmac roads would soon replace the bumpy Arctic tundra.

Nonetheless, we were also thrilled about embarking on the next leg of our journey. There was something liberating about being on our own again, just us and the road ahead.

The Long Stretch: Yellow Knife to Edmonton

Coming out of Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories, we had a clear vision – reaching Edmonton. Little did we know, we were about to be taken on a roller-coaster ride, testing our resolve, resilience, and our car’s battery.

We assumed that electric vehicle chargers would be sprinkled generously along our route. But as we were soon to find out, the reality of our route was something entirely different. Our first leg, from Yellowknife to Fort Providence, was a breath-holding drive. With only 3-5% battery left by the time we pulled into Fort Providence, we were cutting it close, to say the least.

Our late-night arrival didn’t help the situation. We were met with pitch darkness and closed facilities. The power outlets at the motorway services weren’t suitable for charging our vehicle, so we were left with no choice but to bed down for the night in our car. The dream of a cosy hotel room, a hot meal, and the luxury of heating were distant thoughts as we huddled up for an uncomfortable, chilly night in the middle of nowhere with no heat (our choice) in sub minus temperatures.

After a few hours of shivering sleep, we were back on our mission at the crack of dawn. However, the situation didn’t improve. The services didn’t have a suitable socket for our charging cables. That’s when the residents of Fort Providence stepped in. They directed us to a welding workshop in town, where we hoped to find a compatible power outlet.

Arriving at the welding workshop, we were greeted by burly guys with friendly faces. After a quick inspection, they concluded that their sockets weren’t compatible. But they weren’t ready to give up just yet. One of them had an idea – to rewire a faceplate onto their existing socket. Their resourcefulness and willingness to go above and beyond to help us out truly moved us. With their help, we managed to charge our car and continue our journey.

Our journey was marked by frequent stops at dealerships, mechanic shops, and even a live interview on Sky News! Throughout our charging challenges, the one constant was the unwavering kindness of the Canadians we met.

Whether it was providing us with a much-needed socket, or simply offering a comforting smile, the residents of these remote towns really stepped up. They embodied a ‘we’re all in it together’ spirit that resonated with us. Despite being small towns in the middle of nowhere, they came together as a community to help out strangers in need. Their positive attitude and collective effort made our journey from Yellowknife to Edmonton a memorable one.

In the end, the kindness of strangers was the fuel that powered our journey, both figuratively and literally. It was a testament to the true essence of Canada – a nation where people go out of their way to help, displaying a spirit of unity.  So, even though our journey was tough, it gave us an unforgettable glimpse into the heart of Canadian hospitality and resilience. We are truly thankful for every helping hand that guided us along the way.

A Time to Rest and Reflect in Banff

Our adventure continued as we entered the charming town of Banff, nestled within the breathtaking Canadian Rockies. Famous for its film and book festivals, Banff welcomed us with open arms, offering a few days for relaxation and rejuvenation. The highlight was our stay at the renowned Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

Our invitation to the Banff Centre stemmed from an incredible alignment between our project’s ethos and the Centre’s mission. Our time at the centre was invaluable – no obligations, just a chance to disconnect, enjoy the area and the Centre’s facilities, and genuinely unwind.

During our stay, we were presented with a pouch of sacred tobacco. In many indigenous cultures, this tobacco symbolises gratitude and reflection. The custom is to wrap a bit of it in cloth, and either gift it to someone or leave it somewhere as a mark of gratitude. This precious gift remains with us, a testament to our memorable time in Banff. It serves as a daily reminder of the kindness and warmth we encountered throughout our journey. The peacefulness of Banff offered us a much-needed respite and left us motivated for the journey ahead.

A Deep Dive into Sustainability: Jasper and the Copper Mine

Leaving Banff behind, we journeyed on to Jasper. Our social community had been active and supportive, and some local folks helped us with a charging along our route. But Jasper had more than a friendly charge for us; it had a lesson in sustainability deep beneath the earth’s surface.

We had an opportunity to visit Newgold New Afton Mine in Kamloops, a working copper mine with an impressive commitment to eco-friendliness. It was a fascinating trip, where we saw some of the biggest electric vehicles (EVs) you can imagine. These massive machines, used for excavation and hauling, are entirely electric, eliminating tailpipe emissions and improving the air quality for the workers down in the mine. It was an intriguing insight into how industries are leveraging the benefits of going electric and what they see for the future.

It gave us food for thought. We had a candid conversation with our guide about the environmental impact of mining. It’s true – the extraction process can be destructive and harmful to the planet. However, it’s also crucial to note the necessity of these raw materials for our modern lives. Copper from this mine are used in countless products – from smartphones, laptops, to cars – essentially anything with a circuit board.

There’s a clear paradox at play here; society criticises the negative impacts of mining while continuing to consume products that depend on it. But what stood out to us during our visit was the mine’s ethos of trying to find a more sustainable way to operate. Their transition to electric vehicles is a testament to that commitment. This visit underscored that every industry, even those traditionally viewed as damaging, can make strides towards sustainability.

Electric Adventures at Sea and Land: Harbour Air to Victoria

Following our visit to Newgold New Afton Mine, we were keen to continue our exploration of electrification in different industries. We headed to Harbour Air, where we were introduced to a prototype electric seaplane. Harbour Air’s ambitious project aimed to convert a 1956 Beaver plane into a functional, electric mode of transport, hoping to have it commissioned by 2025.

The seaplane is a testimony to the potential of electrification in the aviation industry. Rather than scrapping and discarding the old plane, Harbour Air sought to breathe new life into it. This project underpinned the company’s ongoing commitment to sustainable practices. Harbour Air has been carbon-neutral for years, delivering supplies between islands, and their ultimate goal is to reach zero emissions. Seeing another industry embracing electrification so wholeheartedly was inspiring.

Our Canadian journey continued to delight us with surprises and kind-hearted people. Andreas, an acquaintance from our social media community, extended an invitation to stay with him in Victoria. Andreas, a seasoned traveller and adventure enthusiast himself, welcomed us to his home without any obligations.

Spending a few of days with Andreas and his family, we felt a sense of togetherness that can only stem from shared wanderlust. He had an open-door policy for travellers, relishing the stories and experiences they brought.

Our reliable companion throughout this journey, our car, seems to draw people in, sparking conversations and forging connections. This vehicle serves as more than just transportation; it’s our bridge to a community of curious onlookers and potential supporters.

A Nissan Adventure From Julie’s Perspective

Our journey continued as we made our way to a Nissan event in Vancouver. This experience was a first for Julie:

It was my first experience being on stage, under the spotlight, engaging in a fireside chat with the audience. For many, this situation might be intimidating, especially for someone like me who hadn’t done this before. Yet, strangely enough, I found myself excited, eager to get on stage, to share our experiences, and interact with the crowd.

The stage was set simply with two chairs. An interviewee would pose questions to us, and we were to respond, nothing rehearsed, just candid and honest dialogue. It felt natural, and the thrill was unexpected. I discovered a new side of me, one that surprisingly enjoyed being on stage and talking.

I believe that our authenticity, the passion in our words, made it interesting for the audience.  The journey so far has given me a newfound confidence, an exciting contrast from just a few months ago. It was interesting to reflect on my transformation – from a shy individual to someone who enjoys being under the spotlight, engaging with an audience.

On reflection, this Nissan event was more than just an event. It was a turning point, a new chapter in our journey, and an experience that I will always hold dear. As we continue our adventure, I look forward to more such experiences and the opportunity to share our story with the world.

Next Stop, America

Canada, it’s been real. From stunning landscapes to friendly folks, we’ve had a blast exploring, learning, and growing along the way. But, like all good things, our Canadian adventure had to come to an end.

Our time in Canada was a testament to the power of connection and human kindness. The diverse experiences – from going deep into a mine, to observing a refurbished electric seaplane, and even the simple act of breaking bread with a new friend – has shaped our journey to date. It’s not just about the miles travelled or the landscapes crossed; it’s about the connections made. We look forward to continuing our journey, aware that the car isn’t just a means to reach our destination – it’s our passport to a world of experiences and friendships.

As one door closes, another opens. Right now, as we’re writing this, we’re in the good ol’ US of A. We’re excited about all the new experiences and adventures we’re about to dive into.

Our journey’s been a wild ride so far, full of surprises, fun times, and a few challenges along the way. We can’t wait to see what America has in store for us. But we won’t spill all the beans just yet. We’ll keep you posted on our American escapades as we start this new chapter. It’s going to be one heck of a ride; we can tell you that.

So, here’s to new adventures in America. Keep an eye out for our updates.

Catch you on the flip side,

Chris and Julie Ramsey

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