The world within Cory Trépanier’s brain is an exotic collage of glittering icebergs, sweeping autumn-red tundra valleys and towering rock spires draped in glaciers. In his Caledon East studio in southern Ontario the artist/filmmaker spends his days re-creating with oil paint those vivid images of his Arctic forays on snow-white canvases.
“There is a sense of mystery and wonder about wild and untouched places,” he says, “and I realized early on that if I wanted to truly paint wilderness, I had to paint Canada’s north.”
So in 2006, he made his first trip into the remote realm of the Arctic Circle with his wife and two young daughters. It was the start of an ambitious, multi-year Into the Arctic Project during which he would set off by bush plane, boat and helicopter to trek with his easel, paint box, video camera and shotgun strapped to his 50-kg (110-lb) backpack.
On three major expeditions he explored rugged regions of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut including Quttinirpaaq, the world’s northernmost national park on Ellesmere Island. He braved extreme weather, bugs and bears, spending a total of four months under the midnight sun painting stark but stunning landscapes few people have ever seen and documenting his experiences in two films, Into the Arctic: An Artist’s Journey to the North and Into the Arctic 2.
“The north is part of Canadians’ psyche,” says the passionate and enthusiastic artist. “It’s a comfort for us to know that such wild places exist right in our own backyard and we’re proud of it. But I would really like to see more people experience this unique part of our country.”
Trépanier’s long-term vision is to create a new legacy of paintings for future generations to enjoy of Canada’s many untouched and often-unknown places from coast to coast to coast. “I hope that work will inspire others to step out there and sense the wonder for themselves.”
His current goal is to complete a series of 50 dramatic oil paintings to open people’s eyes to the wonder of Canada’s North and to encourage everyone to “...put a Northern trip on your bucket list. It’s easier and more accessible now than ever,” he says, “with outfitters creating a bridge for a comfortable, safe and environmentally friendly adventure.”
Watch an interview with Trépanier:
Here’s a list of Five Top Northern trips that will give you a glimpse into Trépanier’s world:
2. Take a boat ride from the Nunavut community of Pangnirtung up a dramatic fjord and hike to the Arctic Circle in Baffin Island’s Auyuittuq National Park.
3. Drive the epic Dempster Highway through tundra and mountains from the Yukon to dip your toes into the Arctic Ocean at Inuvik in the Northwest Territories.
4. Cruise the High Arctic in comfort, experiencing Nunavut’s wilderness and wildlife and immersing in Inuit culture.
5. Raft down the NWT’s legendary Nahanni, stoking your adrenalin along one of North America's finest wild rivers.
Article courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission. The text has been modified from the original.
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