The Ruggles River is located on the north eastern section of Ellesmere Island within Quttinirpaaq National Park. It is the only outflow for Lake Hazen and flows southeast to Chandler Fiord and out to Lady Franklin Bay and Robeson Channel. The river drops about 500 feet in elevation between its source and its mouth. We discovered that it was quite shallow and easily canoeable. The river remains partially open year round except during very cold years. Partially is the operative word because after a couple days of paddling we discovered it was frozen solid.
Lake Hazen is said to be the northernmost lake of Canada and the largest in terms of volume north of the Arctic Circle. Our twin Otter landed on the north shore of the lake at a camp used as a Warden Station and an access point to Quttinirpaaq National Park. It contains all-weather shelters for the park staff. The closest settlement is Tanquary Fiord.
The lake was frozen when we arrived and we were forced to drag our loaded canoes from one side of the lake to the other – a distance of 10-12 kilometres – over what is called cathedral ice. Our first camp site was pitched at the very source of the Ruggles. Here are stories by 4 members of the canoe team.
Eight Men Out by John Godfrey
How far will middle-aged canoeists go to prove they’ve still got it? As far north as their fear, common sense and lawn chairs will let them – and then a bit beyond. The Ruggles is the most northerly canoeable river in the world. Not for the faint of heart. 8 men tackle the remote Ruggles River on Ellesmere Island. This is their story. More..
Canoeing At The Top Of The World by Ted Johnson
The idea of canoeing at the top of the world began to take hold among us early in the nineteen nineties. After eliminating more exotic possibilities such as Svalbard in Norway and Russia’s Siberian coast, they being too far south, our self-appointed ‘planning committee’ turned its attention to Ellesmere, the massive island at the top of the map of Canada. More..
Running The Ruggles by Bill Fox
On the first leg of the flight north, we were in celebrity company. Timothy Dalton, a British actor who played James Bond was heading to Iqualuit on a shoot. I remember thinking this flight is going to take Mr. Dalton about as far north as he is ever likely to travel in his life – and Iqualuit is about half the distance to where we are going. More..
Paddling in the High Arctic – Observations by Ross Howard
In summer, one canoes. It is good for the soul. Summer didn’t come to high Arctic in 1992 but we did nonetheless, driven by Stollery’s intent on a record for northernmost paddling. The objective of these trips is for Peter to get us in as deep as possible and for the rest of us to figure out how to get out. More..