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dog sled patrol

The northwest boreal forest is a vast place, and Aboriginal People living in the boreal forest had a lot of ground – sometimes hundreds of kilometres -- to cover when moving along traplines or seeking out favourable hunting grounds and fishing spots. Survival in the north was not only determined by knowing where the resource rich areas were, but also in knowing the most efficient and effective means of getting there.

In the boreal forest, the two main modes of travel were overland and on water. Overland travel in the woodlands was difficult, especially in the densely wooded trails, and most especially in the winter when deep snow would present a challenge. Traditional hunters and trappers had to develop a number of ways of dealing with the tough overland conditions of their homeland.

Michel Gladue skiff

Because overland travel was slow and arduous, travel by water was undertaken whenever possible, especially in the summer months. Many scattered trapline points could be reached through the vast network of waterways that make up the boreal forest landscape, and various means of using these waterways were developed by traditional peoples of the northwest.

Air travel has been a relatively recent addition to life in the north. It has changed the nature of northern living in significant ways, as it can cover a much greater area much faster than either travel overland or by waterways can. Technological change overall has made travel in the north much faster, though in some areas it is debated over whether such change has enhanced traditional hunting and trapping life, or detracted from it.

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