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Travel Territories & Nunavut

The Great Northern Canada Bucket List

One-of-a-Kind Travel Experiences

by (author) Robin Esrock

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2016
Territories & Nunavut, Ecotourism, Adventure
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 2016
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2016
    List Price

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Following a car accident in Vancouver, Robin Esrock set off on a worldwide expedition to tick off the many items on his personal bucket list. More than one hundred countries later, he realized that missing among his extraordinary adventures was his adopted home: Canada. Welcome to Robin’s acclaimed journey to discover the bucket-list-worthy experiences that define a nation.

Travelling across Canada’s vast northern territories, Robin was delighted to find unique adventures for both visitors and locals alike. Through his discovery of nature, culture, history, food, and a few quirky tidbits of Canadiana, Robin's personal quest to tick off the exceptional destinations and activities of the North pack in enough adventure for a lifetime. Accompanied by recommendations, and with bonus content available online, discover one-of-a-kind experiences in Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.

Categorized by territory, The Great Northern Canada Bucket List will give you a first-hand perspective on:

  • Camping in the High Arctic.
  • Crossing the Northwest Passage.
  • Watching wild beluga whales play at your feet.
  • Tasting muktuk and Arctic char.
  • Dogsledding with a Yukon Quest legend.
  • Flying with Buffalo Air.
  • Swallowing the Sourtoe Cocktail.
  • ... and much more!

About the author

Robin Esrock is a bestselling author, journalist, TV host, public speaker and producer. His stories, columns and photography have appeared in major publications on five continents, including National Geographic Traveler, The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, South China Morning Post, Reader’s Digest and The Globe and Mail. Robin has been profiled as a travel expert by 60 Minutes, CBC, CNN, MSNBC, CTV and many other outlets and honoured as master of ceremonies at the Explorers Club Annual Dinner in New York. The creator and co-host of the forty-part television series Word Travels, Robin has been seen by millions of viewers in nearly two dozen languages on the National Geographic Channel and the Travel Channel. A recognized pioneer in travel blogging and social media, Robin is also the bestselling author of The Great Canadian Bucket List series. Born and raised in South Africa, he lives in Vancouver, Canada, with his wife and family.

Robin Esrock's profile page

Excerpt: The Great Northern Canada Bucket List: One-of-a-Kind Travel Experiences (by (author) Robin Esrock)


It’s my tenth failed attempt to see the northern lights, and here’s my conclusion: When you live in cold, sparsely populated northern climes, surrounded by unimaginable amounts of space, your mind begins to untangle. Brain unwinding, it fires relaxing neurons into the backs of your eyeballs, resulting in beautiful hallucinations that can best be described as "lights dancing across the sky." When a traveller arrives from out of town with hopes of experiencing such a phenomenon, here’s what he’ll hear:
1: "You should have been here last week, they were incredible!"
2. "You should be here next week, they’ll be incredible!"
      Being here right now, on the other hand, results in clear skies with no dancing lights, or foggy skies with no dancing lights, or rainy nights with twelve Japanese tourists looking glumly toward the sky. This was my experience when I spent two weeks in Alaska. Ditto for a week in the Yukon. Likewise a week in northern Saskatchewan, and now, during a week in the best place to view the alleged natural light show, right below the aurora belt in Yellowknife.
      Adding to my misery is the fact that my Dad has flown up from Vancouver to join me, as viewing the aurora borealis has been the number one item on his bucket list ever since he saw an awful eighties movie called St. Elmo's Fire, which does not actually feature the aurora borealis but does contain the light going out of Ally Sheedy’s acting career. Bucket lists are personal, and I’m not one to question, but we still pass on Grant Beck’s offer to visit his comfortable Aurora Watching cabin on a cold, rainy night when Yellowknife is consumed by a seemingly permanent cloud. Grant, a champion dog musher who also runs mushing tours, is being wonderfully optimistic. "Sometimes the clouds break, and we get a beautiful show!" he tells us. You can almost hear those nerves crackling behind his retinas.
      We would spend the night with a dozen Japanese tourists, who visit Yellowknife in the belief that procreating beneath the northern lights ushers in extremely good luck for any resulting babies. Of course, they’re not seeing the lights if they're actually procreating, at least not in front of us.
      Northerners tell us the fabled northern lights are the result of electrical storms caused by solar flares smashing into Earth’s magnetic field. Yellowknife sits directly under the aurora oval, where these lights can be seen at their most brilliant, attracting tourists from around the world in the hope that they, too, will share in this mass hallucination. Every local I meet is eager to share a story of the sky exploding in luminous shades of green, red, and blue, "like, just last week, on the day before you arrived."
      The rain continues to fall, but it doesn’t dampen the spirits of Carlos Gonzalez at Yellowknife Outdoor Adventures.After all, we’d just spent the day fishing on Great Slave Lake, and Carlos has seen the skies part like the Red Sea before. Just not tonight. The weather forecast is looking fantastic, however, for the day after we leave.     
     Thanks to Buffalo Air, we are now in Hay River. It’s cloudy, of course, which makes for poor (that is, impossible) aurora viewing. Before retiring for the night at the town’s Ptarmigan Inn, we ask the friendly receptionist, half-heartedly, to call us if he notices, oh, a natural fireworks display in the sky. Imagine, then, our reactions when the hotel phone wakes us up shortly after midnight with exciting news! The sky, would you believe, is now absolutely clear‚ but there are no lights in it. Seriously, guy?
      At two a.m., the phone rings again. Something about lights in the sky. My dad is at the door before I open my eyes, and I meet him in the parking lot, looking somewhat perplexed, repeatedly asking: "Where, where, where?"
      I direct his attention to a faint glow above us, and the fact that we’re standing under a rather bright streetlight. We walk a couple blocks to the river, where there’s less light pollution, and sure enough, a huge green band is glowing in the sky. To our right, spectacular bolts of lightning are firing on the horizon. To our left, a bright, half-crescent yellow moon bobs in the purple sky. My dad puts his arm around me, a huge smile on his face. "Will you look at that!" he says in amazement. Yep, I can see it clearly.
      We’ve officially spent too much time in the north, and now we’re starting to hallucinate too. 


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One of Canada's top travel writers, and definitely one of our biggest personalities.

Globe and Mail

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