My name is Dave and I recently took over Pathways from a dear friend of mine, Dean Hull. Below, you will find Dean’s version of how Pathways has become what it is today.
It’s been almost half a century since Dean first paddled the Bowron Lakes (1970) with his old paddling partner Chris. That trip started their lifelong love story with the Bowron. They started guiding in the park in 1973 and, since then, Dean had guided more than 150 trips and in excess of 2,000 people around the chain.
Chris originally started Pathways Canada Tours, the first commercial canoe expedition guiding company in the park. He then handed the company off to Dean to pursue his number one love, photography. He has self-published several books of photographs including three on the Bowron Lakes. Dean was lucky enough to co-author one of those books with Chris and another of their tripping friends Jim Boyde. He also sells his images. You can check out Chris’ photography at www.chrisharris.com
Dean had grown Pathways into a small but successful, family-owned, specialized guiding outfit. He concentrated all their trips on the Bowron Lakes and three Yukon rivers (Pelly-Yukon, Big Salmon, and Wind), feeling that it is more important to know a few areas intimately than to spread ourselves too thin.
Dean came upon his love for the Canadian wilderness and his passion for traveling it by canoe honestly. At age twelve, he went to Powders’ Camp in the Laurentians of Quebec. It was primarily a canoe tripping camp. It was there that he found his love of canoeing as the only way to travel.
After a five year hiatus from canoeing because he was completing his university education in New Brunswick. He married a Maritime girl and they immediately headed for British Columbia in search of real wilderness experiences. They then launched into summers of canoeing various white water rivers, the Bowron Lakes, and an extended trip on the Churchill River with their friends Jim and his wife Pam.
Dean’s favourite trip of all was in 1979. Jim and Dean and four friends retraced an old explorer’s route. It was a 45 day, 1500+ mile expedition. They started on the Blackstone River (just off the Yukon’s Dempster highway). Then paddled down the Peel River to Fort McPherson in the North West Territories. From there, they paddled and lined their canoes up the Rat River, over the Richard Mountains (going from the McKenzie drainage to the Yukon drainage system), over Summit Pass and down the Little Bell and Big Bell Rivers, to the Porcupine River and a brief layover in Old Crow.
They then paddled the rest of the Porcupine River to where it empties into the Yukon and down the Yukon into Alaska.
“The way of a canoe is the way of the wilderness and of a freedom almost forgotten, the open door to water ways of ages past and a way of life with profound and abiding satisfaction. “
– Sigurd F. Olson
If you have read this far and are still with us, there must be something in you that shares our love of adventure and travel in our Canadian wilderness by canoe. We sincerely hope you will contact us to get more information and, ultimately, join us on one of our uniquely Canadian adventures. We would love to share our knowledge and love of the Bowron and the Yukon with you and have you become part of our ongoing Pathways’ story. Even more importantly, we would like to provide you with the vacation of a lifetime and an experience that will create a lifelong friendship with us and let us become part of your story and the stories you will be telling your families and friends.
A bit about Dave Wooldridge, the proud new owner of Pathways Canada Tours:
Dave Wooldridge started up his first wilderness based company, Ridge Wilderness Adventures, in 2005. Dave is recognized in the canoe industry as a master instructor and lead developer of canoeing programs for Paddle Canada. Because of Dave, and his incredible staff at Ridge Wilderness Adventures, they remain the leading provider for canoeing activities and lessons in all of BC. They specialize in Lake, River, Tripping and Big Canoeing, which makes them especially suited to assist you in getting outside. Dave is also an Instructor Trainer with The Canadian Red Cross and has specialized in teaching participant and instructor level Wilderness First Aid courses for many, many moons! So, you can rest assured knowing that Dave, and the guides who work with him are highly trained and certified to run Pathways incredible trips!
Owning Ridge Wilderness Adventures for the last 15+ years, coupled with knowing the previous owner, Dean Hull, for many years, has given Dave the unique ability to take over Pathways with care, ensuring that he keeps Dean’s own visions of Pathways alive!
That’s all from us! We hope to see you soon,
Dave Wooldridge + The Pathways Team