WILDERNESS TRAVELLER

 

I knew of Peter long before we actually met - he modelled for Roots Canada campaigns as a brand ambassador back when I was a cashier at one of their flagships. Our paths eventually crossed in Algonquin Park (surprise, surprise) and some time after that we became friends. He pretty much adventures for a living, so I've since chosen to live vicariously through his travels and learn as much as I can along the way. You never know when you might need to know how to protect yourself from a bear or lightning.


 
 

Describe what brought you to what you're doing now.
I took my first canoe trip when I was six years old. In a way, I haven't stopped since. I started working at summer camps when I was 17, and that was my true introduction to the outdoor industry. I stayed long enough to become a director at two different camps. Through my work at summer camps, I became connected with the wider world of Outdoor Educators, trippers, and guides - all sharing a passion for a philosophy of Wilderness Travel. I took degrees in PHE, History, and Education, which I find perfectly fit my role as a canoe guide and outdoor educator. I currently work with two Outdoor Education companies, as well as guide canoe trips independently when I have the time.

Where do you look for inspiration?
I look to the past to inspire my future. Mackenzie, Thompson, and all those who came before and after...I have a bucket list of expeditions retracing old explorer routes from 400 years ago. I consider myself a link in the chain of enthusiastic adventurers. Those of us affected with "itchy feet". I think that canoe travel is unique, in that it defies time and space. When you paddle, you are participating in something much older than yourself. A tradition of travel. I would like to think that I can help carry that tradition to the next generation and am certainly not alone. I am connected to a network of people who share my passion for wilderness travel. We share stories and easily trade trip jealousy. I am inspired by those who have passed and those who surround me.

 
  "Blackstone River Moose" by Peter Vooys, Yukon, 2014


"Blackstone River Moose" by Peter Vooys, Yukon, 2014

 

Favourite trip to date?
In 2013, I had the opportunity to participate in the Paddle Across Canada Tour. We paddled a 25 foot voyageur canoe from the Rocky Mountains to Montreal, retracing the paddle strokes and footsteps of the North West Company. I was able to experience Canadian history and see the country in a way few have. PACT covered 5252km over the course of 120 days. Physically, emotionally, logistically, and philosophically, from conception to competition, PACT was the most comprehensive expedition I have been a part of to date. This trip, more than any other, opened my eyes to Canadiana - that intersection of people, place and history - that can be simultaneously fiercely regional and defiantly national. My love affair with Canada was cemented.

What do you love most about guiding?
I love the connectivity between past, present, and future. I love the simplicity and the purpose on the trail. I love the quiet, still sound of a lake. I love the crackle of a campfire. I love the legends and stories told around that campfire. I love the physicality of paddling and portaging. I love exploring new places, yet I love showing off old favourites. I love to teach comfort and self-reliance. I love pushing people beyond their comfort zone, beyond what they expected of themselves. I love that there is no hiding, you must confront every challenge head on. I love seeing a person's true character. I love the small intentional community within a trip group. I love sharing my passion with those whom I share the trail.

 
 "PACT on Lake Winnipeg" by Peter Vooys, 2013

"PACT on Lake Winnipeg" by Peter Vooys, 2013

 "Campsite in the Ogilvie Mountains" by Peter Vooys, Yukon, 2014

"Campsite in the Ogilvie Mountains" by Peter Vooys, Yukon, 2014

 "Rockies" by Peter Vooys, 2013

"Rockies" by Peter Vooys, 2013

 

Let's talk about Canada. Describe what you love and how you identify with it.
Where to begin? Every day I am grateful to live in Canada. In Canada we have the luxury of wilderness travel. We are mostly devoid of poisonous and predatory wildlife, and our political stability allows us to travel safely and unimpeded across our 10 million square kilometres. There are more possible routes in Canada than you could possibly complete in one lifetime, so the preparation phase of an expedition is sometimes the most agonizing. Though I am not totally lost in the woods. Canada for me is more than just a wild expanse of mountains, lakes, and trees. There are many things we can improve upon, but there is much more to celebrate. I see a vibrant culture caught between wild, rural, and urban, reflected by great music and art, sport and education, literature and innovation. Canada is full of great and complicated stories, all worth hearing and all worth retelling. The landscapes, the people, and the history form such an incredible tapestry that once you start exploring Canada, it is impossible to stop.

What's the best advice you've been given?
Go north, young man. 

 
 "Yukon Cornelius in the Yukon" by Peter Vooys, 2014

"Yukon Cornelius in the Yukon" by Peter Vooys, 2014

CREDITS
Published on June 1, 2015
Interview & photography by Marlee Maclean
Clothing styled by Patrick Davis

CONTACT PETER
http://paddleacrosscanadatour.org/