Labrador Passage | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
Tradional gear for 2014 Labrador Passage expedition Photo: Courtesy Peter Marshall

Most unique canoe expedition of 2014

 This summer two men will embark what might be the most unique canoe expedition of the year.

Using only non-synthetic equipment, the paddlers will retrace a 600-kilometer historic route through Labrador, a remote province on the eastern coast of Canada.

Classic gear, such as a waxed canvas tent, cloth rain gear and a cedar canvas canoe, will be used, doubling the weight on an already treacherous route.

Setting out in June with their traditional gear, Peter Marshall and Andrew Morris will retrace Mina Hubbard's historic 1905 canoe journey through Labrador, filming a documentary along the way.

Mina set out to complete the doomed exploratory route of her husband’s 1903 canoe expedition. “Her husband’s team had paddled up the wrong river and it turned into a horrible ordeal for two and a half months. It’s an inhospitable and hilly wilderness, with long portages,” says Marshall. Mina’s husband died of starvation awaiting assistance.

Marshall, who has paddled more than 10,000 kilometers in Canada’s north, had been looking for a new kind of trip when this route caught his eye.

“On all long trips, I’ve been equipped with big, Royalex canoes, GoreTex nylon, the most lightweight material and top-of-the-line tents. When I read about old times, I can’t help but feel as if I’m cheating,” says Marshall.

“It’s very suiting that this trip with a traditional aesthetic is a historic route as well,” he adds.

Their canvas tent alone will weigh between 30 to 40 pounds—four times as much as a four-season tent, Marshall points out. After a rainy night, it will weigh even more. The expedition’s rain gear is waxed canvas, much different than one-pound, two-ounce breathable nylon, Marshall adds.

The two men will do their cooking over a campfire stove that Marshall made himself at a welding shop.

Much of the equipment used has been handmade by local craftspeople. “That was one of the ways the trip evolved, we realized that we couldn’t go to REI and buy this stuff, so we’re reaching out to people who still make it.”

The exception to tradition will be in the safety gear. “We both have serious girlfriends and mothers who want us to come back,” jokes Marshall. Their first aid kit will be full of modern supplies and they’ll bring a satellite phone and SPOT messenger to check in as well.

The PFDs will also be 21st century technology. “No cork life vests, I looked into it but it didn’t seem like it was going to work,” says Marshall.

He expects the route will take 40 to 45 days to complete, however they’re packing for 50 in case filming or the added weight in equipment slows them.

Watch the teaser for the documentary below or learn more at



Preview of Labrador Passage #1 from Peter Marshall on Vimeo.


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