Lonely Planet Writer

One man is traveling 3000 kilometres across Canada by dog sled

There are many ways to see a country. Whether it’s hitting the open highway for a well-planned road trip, or sitting back, relaxing and riding the rails, each option offers a unique and distinct experience. But of course, there are always adventure-loving individuals out there that take the opportunities that travel brings to truly challenge themselves. One such example is Justin Allen, who has just begun a 3000km-long journey across Canada on a dog sled.

Justin Allen has spent the past five years learning the art of dogsledding from an indigenous teacher.
Justin Allen has spent the past five years learning the art of dog sledding from an indigenous teacher. Image by Discover Churchill 

Originally from New Brunswick, Canada, Justin has spent the past five years in Churchill, a small northern community in Manitoba, where he has dedicated himself to learning the art of dog mushing from an indigenous mentor. Setting out at the start of January 2018, his journey back home sees him running along winter roads and snowmobile trails, led by a pack of 12 trusty dogs, all in an effort to promote the practice of dog sledding and the fair, ethical treatment of the animals.

As well as serving as a way to transport the dogs back home, Justin wants to use the trip to raise awareness of sledding and animal rights.
As well as serving as a way to transport the dogs back home, Justin wants to use the trip to raise awareness for sledding and animal rights. Image by Discover Churchill

Throughout his time, Justin will be followed by a support crew and a fully-equipped dog safety truck and he plans to stop periodically in towns and communities along the way in order to share the experience with as many people as possible. “I feel this adventure is an amazing opportunity to raise awareness for the communities, traditions and animals that have transformed my life,” he said.

The expedition began at the start of January and is estimated to take at least two months.
The expedition began at the start of January and is estimated to take at least two months. Image by Justin Allen

For Justin, stepping into the world of dogsledding happened quite by chance. “When I first came to Churchill, I only planned on staying for four days to see polar bears and the Northern Lights. During that time, I volunteered at a local dog kennel and fell in love with sled dogs and the lifestyle and culture of dog mushing. I decided to commit myself to the craft. Working with sled dogs allows me to be outdoors, and be physically active every day. Sharing time and energy with the dogs out on the land, overcoming obstacles, and braving harsh conditions together has formed a deep connection and relationship that I feel with my team and the northern landscape.”

Upon reaching New Brunswick, Justin will be running workshops and classes in dogsledding.
Upon reaching New Brunswick, Justin will be running workshops and classes in dogsledding. Image by Justin Allen

Upon completing his journey, Justin will share the knowledge that he has picked up with people in New Brunswick, and plans to launch a tour operation company and a racing team, as well as leading workshops in sledding and camping trips.

More information is available at the BossDog Expeditions website.