An 82-year-old widower from Langley, B.C., is planning a road trip to Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.
The trip is Don McIntyre's first to the Arctic and is in honour of his late wife and lifelong travelling companion.
McIntyre has never driven north of Whitehorse. But on Feb. 1, the retired insurance adjuster will steer his 2010 Honda Crosstour down his driveway and in the direction — some thousands of kilometres away — of the Dempster Highway. Then, the plan goes, he'll reach Inuvik and drive down the ice road to Tuktoyaktuk.
"It seemed like a long way to go, just on a whim," says McIntyre. "Then I thought I might be able to raise a little money for the cancer society."
McIntyre's goal is to raise $25,000 for the non-profit organization. He says he's paying for the roughly $7,000 trip himself.
Some family members initially expressed concern about the trip. In addition to giving him hand warmers for Christmas, McIntyre's children are making sure he sets off with a GPS locator and a brand new car battery.
"Certainly we wanted to make sure he had really good winter tires," says his son, Cameron.
Keeping his wife's memory alive
McIntyre and his wife, Dorothy, loved taking road trips together throughout their marriage. In 2007, they towed their trailer across Canada to celebrate their 50th anniversary.
She died of lung cancer in 2013, shortly after receiving her diagnosis.
McIntyre says the trip is about paying tribute to his wife's spirit of adventure — and not giving up on his own.
"When Tennyson wrote his poem about Ulysses, he said he wanted to 'drink life to the lees.'
"I'm 82. I can't stand sitting in malls, watching the young matrons walking by. There's got to be something more than that."
Asked why he chose the North as his destination, he replied, "Because it's hard."
For all his planning, McIntyre isn't sure what he'll do once he reaches the Arctic coast.
"You couldn't bring flowers up. They'd freeze. Maybe an artificial rose or something. How's that?"