Ice, polar bears and Northern Lights the backdrop for documentary screening in Uxbridge

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Published February 26, 2024 at 4:23 pm

Wapush Trail
Wapush Trail adventurers

A documentary about three men who walked, skied and cycled the world’s longest seasonal winter road – an ice road on the shore of Hudson Bay and home to hundreds of polar bears – will have its world premiere at the Trail Hub in Uxbridge Tuesday night.

Spanning 772 kilometres, the Wapush Trail runs along the Hudson Bay coast and connects Peawanuk First Nations in Ontario to Shamattawa and Gillam in Manitoba. The trail is carved over terrain that is unpassable in warmer months, and home to scores of polar bears in winter.

It was created to be a lifeline for some of the most remote communities in Canada, and one that was never designed to be crossed under human power. But in March of 2020, the trio of Eric Batty, Buck Miller and Ryan Atkins, who together form Expeditions Ontario, set out on fat bikes to become the first team to ever successfully complete the Wapush Trail without the aid of snowmobiles.

The expedition was filmed by Batty and is the focus of ‘Wapusk Trail’ a 30-minute documentary that opens on February 27 during a special screening event at Trail Hub, a hub for outdoor recreation and sport in north Durham that is set at the highest elevation in the GTA.

‘Wapusk Trail’ anchors a trio of short films that will be shown at the event. Also screening are two earlier short films from Batty: ‘Crossing Algonquin,’ which chronicles a 165 km, 10-day winter trek in February 2018 across Ontario’s famed Algonquin Provincial Park; and ‘James Bay Descent,’ which documents the team’s 638 km descent along the shores of James Bay in February 2019.

The trio’s love for the vastness of Ontario’s north and the unique expeditionary challenges offered also extends to the Indigenous communities whose traditional lands are home to their adventures. It’s why their expeditions have also included fundraising efforts to support these communities who have always welcomed them warmly on every adventure.

“I can’t wait to connect with so many people who share the same vision of a better Canada by helping our Indigenous friends of the remote North through our film premiere night at the Trail Hub Durham” notes Buck Miller. “Human powered adventure is a great passion of mine and it’s taken me extensively through the swampy Cree homelands on James and Hudson Bay and left me with a life-long love and respect for the people and their environment.”

Proceeds from all ticket sales to the event will support True North Aid, a registered charitable organization that supports indigenous communities of the James and Hudson Bay Watershed. To date, these three films have already raised $25,000 in support to northern Indigenous communities.

The opportunity to host this special event is one they couldn’t pass up, said Trail Hub co-owner Rick Batty. “The essence of Trail Hub aligns with the outdoors and through recreation enthusiasts,” he said. “This event serves as a platform to unite our community, foster support for a noble cause and charity, and in the near future, we plan to expand upon this type of event and format.”

Batty and Miller will be at the screenings and representatives from True North Aid will also be on hand to explain their programs. Between screenings there will be Q&A sessions as well as silent auctions to be bid upon. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased online at www.trailhubshop.ca/film-premier. There is a limit of only 175 tickets available for the event, which will run from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

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