At 6 a.m. on Wednesday, in the arctic cold and darkness of the Mackenzie Delta, Darrel Nasogaluak will fire up his vehicle and head out on Canada’s newest and most exotic road trip.
Nasogaluak, mayor of the Northwest Territories hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, will drive down 120 kilometres of brand-new, two-lane, all-weather gravel to Inuvik. Replacing a seasonal ice road, the new highway is the country’s first permanent link to its Arctic coast.
With apologies to Stan Rogers, travellers will now be able to grasp the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea from the heated comfort of their drivers’ seats.
“It’s something that’s been on the community’s want list for 40 years,” said Nasogaluak, who will make the early morning trip to join up with opening ceremonies in Inuvik.
After it’s done, he’ll join an official motorcade heading back up the road to Tuk. That’s where the real party begins — speeches, songs, fireworks and a lavish community feast with local favourites including caribou, reindeer, char, whale and muktuk.