Ten years ago, Kenny Wychopen, Brian Fraser and I belted out Stan Rogers’ Northwest Passage from my back deck for a whole year while planning a trip down the Coppermine River. I read Hearne and Franklin’s journals and any other accounts that I could find while preparing to follow them into the shadowlands. Brian sang with gusto, “… to race the roaring Fraser to the sea!” We all sang to northern lights, a full moon, and dark, scudding cloudy skies.
Kenny’s four-year-old daughter Ariana could sing the entire song to her class mates by the time she was in grade one.
Since the Coppermine River trip I have sung the song on long, lonely rivers and lakes such as the Thelon, Mountain and Nahanni. No other song draws me through water so resolutely.