Jul 20

Hosted on July 8th, from Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, the Northwest Passage Marathon welcomed 11 runners for the half marathon, marathon and ultra marathon on the Northwest Passage. The race, which is fully supported by the Arctic Watch team, is Canada's most northerly marathon, and the only one in Nunavut. 

All courses departed from Arctic Watch, heading towards the Northwest Passage, along the shoreline. The unseasonably late ice remaining on the Northwest Passage allowed for a section of the course to be held on the sea ice! 

We’re also pleased to announce that four polar bear sightings were made on course, safe and memorable! Shore birds, seals and polar bears were spotted on course! 

Ultra Marathon (50km): 

Kevin Johnson (Ireland): 4:52
Javier Suarez (USA): 7:07
Caren Della Coppa (USA): 9:13:52

Marathon:

Al Tingley (Canada): 7:05:08
Vickie McDonald (USA): 7:17:10
Jill Josselyn (USA): 7:49:11
MJ Josselyn (USA): 7:49:11

Half Marathon:

Michael Johnson (Ireland): 2:37
Paddy Johnson (Ireland): 2:37
Ryan Robb (Bermuda): 3:16
Laurie Tingley (Canada): 3:45

The race start! 11 runners heading out onto the Northwest Passage!

Eleven runners and race director, Richard Weber, at the start line, ready to begin!

Al Tingley leaping for joy on the Northwest Passage!

Javier - all smiles on course!

At the finish!


 

Jun 05

Photographing in the Arctic is challenging but very rewarding. It is very unpredictable and can often change drastically year-over-year. At Arctic Watch, I often find myself deciding my day’s photographic journey first thing in the morning. My summer’s activities are controlled by the harshness of the past winter along with current ice conditions and water levels. You have to patient with weather. There is always something great to photograph, from mammals to birds, to fabulous landscapes with amazing light! The belugas, bears and muskox are great but don’t over look little things, like birds and flowers.  The variety of landscapes and terrain is amazing. A nice sharp wide-angle lens is an essential piece of equipment, to capture scenery.

Other gear I recommend is a fast shooting camera with a lens you are comfortable to hand hold and travel with. The canon 70-200mm f/2.8 II is the best all around lens for Arctic Watch. Most of the time it is plenty strong enough for the belugas. You don’t need a huge lens. When the belugas get rowdy, you are always spinning around and shooting heads and tails from side to side. They are usually in very close proximity. When there are lots of belugas it is hard to keep track of individuals. You have to be able to move fast!! The Canon 400mm is my favorite lens. I can hand hold it and I am comfortable swinging it around without a tripod. Often it is too big for the belugas. You wont get the nice foreground or group pictures. However it gets me closer to the muskox and polar bears. Most of the time I will I don’t find myself using a tripod, unless I am spending long hours at the whales or when I am shooting video or time lapses. A good solid backpack is something I highly recommend. Something you are comfortable hiking with but can also strap onto the front of the ATV’s. I don’t usually worry about rain. We do not normally get torrential rain.  Don’t worry about having too many spare batteries. You can always charge them in your cabin at night.

On days when I am having a hard time photographing, I often like to take the time to enjoy the scenery. Sit on the Northwest Passage look at the ice floating by or look off muskox ridge and take the time to appreciate the remoteness and quietness of your surroundings. It is easy to let your thoughts drift off into endless landscape.  The arctic is a land of opportunity - be ready for anything, there is something for every photographer out there.

More about Nansen:

At 23 years old, he has grown up in the arctic, spending every summer exploring the Arctic. Nansen Weber is Arctic Watch’s lead and professional wildlife photographer. When he’s not busy leading a private photography trip, or working with film crews in the Arctic, Nansen is a lead guide and makes sure guests capture their picture perfect memories of Arctic Watch on camera. 

Nansen knows Arctic animals and environment - don’t be shy to ask him questions! Arctic wolves, caribou, muskoxen fights, sleepy polar bears, curious arctic foxes and playful belugas; with more than ten years of Arctic photography under his belt he’s witnessed fantastic wildlife. When he’s not photographing in the Arctic, Nansen devotes his time to photographic projects across the globe - recently with National Geographic. Be sure to visit his wildlife photography website - www.NansenWeber.com

May 21

A simple and tasty treat that is uniquely French Canadian; the maple sugar pie

This classic dish was brought to Canada with French settlers during the establishment of New France. A similar recipe, using only sugar, was predominate in Belgium and France during the 17th and 18th century. The North of France is the largest sugar-producing region of in the country and the only region where people use brown sugar, or vergeoise, in desserts. As many of the French from this region emigrated to Canada, it is likely that they brought this traditional pie recipe with them. The wealthy settlers in the townships of New France imported brown sugar and molasses from the Antilles, but for most in the more remote areas of New France, maple trees were the only reliable source of sugar. Voila la création Québecoise: La Tarte à L'érable

Chef Justin Tse's Maple Sugar Pies 

Quantity: Yields 12 - 4'' pie shells

I have made many different maple pie recipes over the years, and this is by far my favourite. In this recipe, the pie mixture is made in a dish and poured into a baked pie shell. One no longer has to worry about pie shells shrinking, oven temperatures, or even cooking of the pie itself. You simply cool your pie shell before starting, pour in the cooked maple mixture, and let it set. This is definitely one of the desserts you'll see this summer at Arctic Watch. These mini maple pies are great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or chantilly. Their miniature sizes propel one to savour every bite; the rich maple flavour and soft creamy finish. 

Ingredients:  

527g maple syrup

308g heavy cream (35%) 

2 egg yolks 

40g butter 

70g water 

35g corn starch 

Procedure

1. Combine maple, egg yolks, and butter in a bowl. Whisk until yolks are evenly mixed and set aside. 

2. Bring heavy cream to a boil, and then slowly temper into the maple and egg yolk mixture. Be sure to do this slowly so that you don't curdle the egg yolks. 

3. Return the mixture to a medium heavy bottom pot over medium heat. 

4. With a fork, scrape and mix the water and corn starch until smooth, then add to the potted mixture over medium hear. 

5. Stir with a whisk constantly until mixture has thickened and started to simmer lightly. 

Laddel this mixture into 4-inch pre baked pie shells. And allow to set at room temperature for 45-minutes before setting in the fridge for another hour. 

Tips: 

Bake off the pie shells before making the maple mixture so that the pies have enough told to cool down, this ensures that your pie she'll does not become soggy when adding the hot pie mixture. 

When baking the pie shells cut out a piece of baking paper/parchment paper larger than the shell and place in the unbaked pie shell and cover with raw beans before you bake the pie shells. Cook the pie shells with the "pie weights" for 15 minutes at 350F. Remove pie weights and parchment and return to oven to be baked for another 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow pie shells to full cool before filling with the maple pie filling.

May 16

The Arctic Watch Beluga Foundation, started by Arctic Watch founders Richard Weber and Josee Auclair, supports outreach projects in the Canadian North. The foundation, a registered Canadian Charity, supports beluga research in Cunningham Inlet, a recent youth leadership initiative, and more recently, the donation of hockey equipment to the community of Resolute Bay. 

In partnering with Resolute resident Aziz Kheraj, Sport Central in Edmonton, Wilf Brooks of United Cycle and LandTran Express, the Arctic Watch Beluga Foundation helped to deliver 50 sets of hockey equipment to the community of Resolute Bay. 

This was a collective undertaking. The hockey gear was graciously donated by Edmonton's sporting goods charity Sports Central. A special thank you to Wilf Brooks of United Cycle! From Edmonton, LandTran, the LTL specialists of serving Alberta, BC and NWT, trucked the equipment to Yellowknife, where it was received and shipped by Aziz Kheraj on aircraft, 1500km north to Resolute Bay!

The community of Resolute Bay recently had a rink built for the 250 people who live there - but there was little or no hockey equipment available!

Here's a great photo, from this past April - Olympic Hockey Team Members Caroline Ouellette, Genevieve Lacasse, and Arctic Watch founders Richard Weber and Josee Auclair pose with local residents from Resolute at the arena!

Apr 14

It seems that we can now say, without the fear of jinxing it, that Spring is making its long awaited appearance after a lengthy winter. With the extended hours of sunlight, spring showers, and winter thaw we are reminded of the soon to come seasonal fruits and vegetables we have missed in the winter months. One of my favourite dishes this time of the year is a Banana Beignet. Its perfect for those warm summer days served with fresh fruit and whipped vanilla Chantilly or on a chilly evening with warm salted caramel. Fitting for both breakfast with maple syrup or after dinner with coffee and tea. Its simplicity is beautiful, crispy on the outside and warm and fluffy on the inside. This is a small treat that I love to incorporate into the Arctic Watch Menu. Enjoy!

- Justin Tse, head chef at Arctic Watch.

Banana Beignet 
1.5 cup all purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1/2 cup white sugar 
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup milk 
vanilla beans 
butter for cooking 
1 cup ripe bananas + additional 1/2 cup of sugar not to be mixed in with the dry mixture above

Procedure: 
1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix well and set aside
2. Scrap vanilla beans and whisk into milk and set aside
3. Roughly chop bananas to small bite size pieces
4. In a non stick pan melt the 1/2 cup of sugar set aside for the bananas over low heat 
5. Once the sugar has melted and begun turn golden brown add your chopped bananas and remove from heat
6. Add your caramelized bananas and vanilla milk to the dry mixture
7. Stir mixture until just incorporated and the flour is evenly mixed, once batter is even do not over mix
8. In a non stick pan heat up a table spoon of butter until melted and add dollops of batter 2 inches in diameter, once golden brown flip the beignet and cook until both sides are the same. Finish in a 350F oven for 10 minutes. 
Tips: To get perfectly circular shaped beignets use a spring handled ice cream scoop. 
      To save time beignets can be seared off in advance and set side to be finish in the oven when ready to serve. 
These go great with fresh fruit and whipped cream, chocolate fudge, or salted caramel. 

Justin Tse: Justin Tse has been in and around the restaurant industry since he was in diapers. He is a third-generation chef. Hailing from a Chinese restaurant family in Kingston, Ont., Justin moved to Ottawa, Ont., in 2010 after completing culinary school in his hometown. In Ottawa, he worked under chef Michael Hay at the Courtyard Restaurant, at that time known for an upscale French-influenced menu dotted with the best of molecular gastronomy techniques. At Courtyard, Justin rose to the position of pastry chef. In spring 2012, he joined the opening team at Odile, a renowned French Canadian bistro in Gatineau, Quebec. During Justin’s tenure at Odile, the restaurant was selected to participate in Gold Medal Plates, a prestigious culinary competition and fundraiser in support of the Canadian Olympic team. Odile also reached 56th place in Vacay magazine’s list of the top 100 restaurants in Canada. As head chef at Arctic Watch, Justin is interested in pursuing locality and seasonality – bringing the ingredients of the North to Canadian cuisine.

According to Justin, “Josée sources only the finest ingredients, making my job easy. The Weber’s have always had a passion for great cuisine. The kitchen becomes the heart and soul of the camp. When clients aren’t out on the land or water, it’s all about the food.”

When not wielding his chef’s knife, Justin can be found with a fishing rod in hand, eagerly fishing for Arctic char. 

Apr 09

We're thrilled to announce that Quark Expeditions has joined the Arctic Watch family for the 2015 season at Arctic Watch.

Richard, Josee, Tessum and Nansen started Arctic Watch in 2000, as a family. For the past 14 years, we've welcomed guests from across the globe to one of the most unique experiences on earth. We're a small team that works hard to create the experience of a lifetime for our guests. We've decidated our careers to Arctic Watch, and will continue to do so, for many years to come. 

The team at Quark Expeditions is an equally passionate group of polar adventures, and we're proud to call them partners for the coming 2015 Arctic Watch Experience. 

As we head prepare for the 2014 season at Arctic Watch, we're looking forward to welcoming Quark Expeditions at Arctic Watch for the coming 2015 season

Josee, Richard, Tessum, Nansen and the entire team at Arctic Watch. 

Mar 19

A personal touch goes along way. We're pleased to announce that Arctic Watch & Arctic Haven Wilderness Lodge recently attended the Canada Shared event in the UK. Held on february 27th at the London Film Museum, the Canadian Tourism Commission invited top european travel companies to meet the Canada's premier tourism experience providers.

Canada's 54 premier experiences, including Arctic Watch & Arctic Haven Wilderness Lodges were brought together with dozens of British, French and German travel agents, tour operators and media for an intense day of B2B networking and education.

Be sure to read the full article on the Canadian Tourism Commission's website.

Mar 06

Chinese Travel Magazine "Traveler Luxe", of Mook Publishing, has recently recommended the Northwest Passage Marathon in their recent feature on "Running The World". 

The Northwest Passage Marathon, an annual event hosted at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, is run on the shores of the Northwest Passage and on Somerset Island. Fully supported by Arctic Watch guides, the course is at the heart of the high-arctic tundra. Muskoxen, belugas, polar bears and numerous species of birds are just some of the sightings on course! The 5-day experience not only encompasses your choice of the marathon, half-marathon or ultra marathon, but two days of safari from Arctic Watch, lead by world-class Arctic guides. 

Looking for more information on the 5-day experience? Read up on the Northwest Passage Marathon here: http://www.arcticwatch.ca/arctic-adventures/northwest-passage-marathon

Article links:

- Traveler Luxe "Running the World"

- Traveler Luxe on Facebook

Feb 26

The Arctic has some of the most beautiful flowers, hidden in plain sight, on the tundra. They may be small, but sure do make up for their size in colour, beauty and striking contrast to the often bare high-arctic tundra. 

Every summer, these small colourful plants come out from underneath the winter snow, and bloom with the arrival of the arctic summer sun. Some bloom for just a few days!  Here are just a few of the flowers on Somerset Island, along the Northwest Passage, and within the vicinity of Arctic Watch. 

tufted saxifrage at Arctic Watch

Tufted saxifrage: this beautiful high arctic flower is commonly found throughout the Canadian, Russian and Lapland Arctic. Reaching a height of about 10cm, the white flower blooms later in the Arctic season, typically mid/late July. Did you know that the plan was once regarded for its medicinal properties, to treat bladder stones? 

Arctic cotton at Arctic Watch

Arctic Cotton Grass: One of the most important plants in the inuit culture, the Arctic Cottoc Grass blooms mid summer at Arctic Watch, and grows in wetter areas and swampy grounds. Once used by the inuit as a candle wick, the cotton grass was collected, dried and rolled to mix with seal fat in winter seal lamps. This combination of seal fat and the cotton grass wick produced a small flame - just enough to warm an igloo. In areas where caribou were in abundance (such as our sister lodge, Arctic Haven Wilderness Lodge, the cotton grass wick was used in combination with caribou fat to produce make a candle. 

Arctic draba at Arctic Watch \

Arctic Draba: A small, green, round tussock of small hairy leaves that produce clusters of yellow flowers, it is generally found on gravelled alkaline barrens. 

Arctic Parraya

Arctic Parraya: Clusters of pinkish-purple, large flowers grow on leafless stems radiating from a rosette or long, fleshy, blue-green leaves. The flowering stems are 5 to 15 cm high. It flowers in late June and July on Somerset Island.

Purple saxifrage at Arctic Watch

Purple Saxifrage: This plant has matted trailing branches or dense clusters with small, leathery leaves and bristly edges. The large purple flowers have short stems. It is usually the first plant to flower in late June on Somerset Island, and can grow in a variety of climates and soils, but generally in neutral to alkaline soil. 

Former Canadian Museum of Nature botanist, Nicholas Polunin, wrote in 1940 that this plant “must be reckoned among the world’s greatest beauties, especially as it stands out in its unusually bleak and desolate surroundings.” 

Be sure to visit the flora section of Arctic Watch's site to see more great examples of beautiful Arctic flora: http://www.arcticwatch.ca/whale-watching/plant-life

Feb 19

Gourmet dinning 500 miles above the Arctic circle - Just part of the experience at Arctic Watch. We strongly believe that after a day on the tundra, a Canadian gourmet meal is an important part of the experience. Part of our philosophy at Arctic Watch is to showcase some of Canada's finest local products. Products like heritage Angus AAA beef from BC and Alberta, smoked Arctic char, french canadian cheese, okanagan wine and more. Over the next several weeks, we will be showcasing several of the recipes from Arctic Watch's kitchen! 

Today's recipe is Chef Justin Tse's Arctic char ceviche. This experience is great Arctic appetizer or canapé; its bite size shape makes it great to go along with a pre dinner cocktail. The contrast between the hot and cold components of this dish are a great combination, and the availability of the freshest possible Arctic Ocean Char really give it an amazing Arctic exclusive touch. 

Arctic Char Ceviche - Photograph taken directly from the Arctic Watch Instagram feed

Arctic Char Ceviche - Photograph taken directly from the Arctic Watch Instagram feed

Where Arctic Char is not available Salmon is a suitable substitute 

Fried Sushi Rice Cake
Ingredients:
2 cups uncooked sushi rice
3 cups water
1/2 cup rice vinegar 
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
1/4 cup white sugar 
1 tsp salt

Procedure:
1. Rinse rice in a colander until water runs clear, drain off excess water.
2. Combine rinsed rice and 3 cups water in a medium pot and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes
3. Remove cooked rice from pot and allow it to cool while preparing the seasonings
4. In a small saucepan combine the vinegar, oil, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil while stirring, making sure everything is dissolved. Cool this mixture and stir into the cooked rice
5. Press rice mixture into 1.5x1.5 inch squares with a thickness of 0.5 inch
6. Set aside the shaped rice cakes on parchment while preparing the Arctic Char ceviche
7. When ready, heat 2 inches of vegetable oil to 350F and fry until golden brown turning once half way

Arctic Char Ceviche
Ingredients:
1lb Arctic Char finely diced 
1/4 cup chopped chives 
1 lemon juiced and zested 
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp of togarashi spice 
2 tsp mirin 
1 tsp sesame oil
salt to taste

Procedure: 
1. combine everything in a bowl and mix, reserve in fridge while frying rice cakes

Hoisin Garlic Chili Sauce:
Ingredients:
1 cup hoisin 
1/2 cup garlic chili sauce
1/4 cup water

To assemble: 
Place Ceviche on top of fried sushi rice cakes, drizzel with hoisin chili sauce and sliced green onions 

Enjoy!

Justin Tse has been in and around the restaurant industry since he was in diapers. He is a third-generation chef. Hailing from a Chinese restaurant family in Kingston, Ont., Justin moved to Ottawa, Ont., in 2010 after completing culinary school in his hometown. In Ottawa, he worked under chef Michael Hay at the Courtyard Restaurant, at that time known for an upscale French-influenced menu dotted with the best of molecular gastronomy techniques. At Courtyard, Justin rose to the position of pastry chef.

In spring 2012, he joined the opening team at Odile, a renowned French Canadian bistro in Gatineau, Quebec. During Justin’s tenure at Odile, the restaurant was selected to participate in Gold Medal Plates, a prestigious culinary competition and fundraiser in support of the Canadian Olympic team. Odile also reached 56th place in Vacay magazine’s list of the top 100 restaurants in Canada.

Justin is interested in pursuing locality and seasonality at Arctic Watch – bringing the ingredients of the North to Canadian cuisine.

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