Dogsledding in the Great White North

Published on:

To look at Dave Daley, with his long ponytail, hooded sweatshirt, and lanky frame, you probably wouldn't guess a lot of things about him.

For example, you probably wouldn't guess that he's in his 50s. Or that he serves as the main airplane mechanic in the small community of Churchill, Manitoba. Or that he is a proud Metis. Or that he is kind of a big deal in the dogsledding world.

But all of these things are true about this unassuming-looking man, who at first glance looks more suited for Venice Beach than the Canadian sub-arctic.

Dave Daley

I met Dave just outside Churchill, where he introduced me and a cabin full of bundled-up tourists to his vast team of sled dogs at Wapusk Adventures.

As a seasoned musher who even started his own sled race in Canada, Dave has a lot to say about the sport of dogsled racing. But, first and foremost, this man loves his dogs.

Wapusk Adventures sled dog

“You never, ever kick or hit a dog,” Dave tells us, emphasizing each word with a staccato hand motion. “Ever.” Dogs, he says, have to view their musher as an alpha male; a part of the pack, and not a human telling them what to do.

“So when I need to discipline them,” Dave says, “I act like the alpha — I pin them down and bite an ear.”

And no, he's not kidding. He even demonstrates this to us later when we head outside to meet some of his excitable dogs.

Wapusk Adventures

My experience at Wapusk Adventures solidified for me the opinion of dogsled racing that I formed last summer in Alaska — that it is NOT a cruel sport; that the dogs are crazy about running; and that the mushers often love their animals more than themselves.

Wapusk Adventures

Dave picked up his dogs for a cuddle, tussled with them in the snow, and told us that winning the veterinarian's award after a long race meant more to him than coming in first place.

Wapusk Adventures

And then, of course, after learning about Dave, his dogs, and the Hudson Bay Quest (the race Dave himself started years ago in Canada, and one he would go on to win a few days after I met him), it was time for us to get a taste of dogsledding ourselves.

Dogsledding with Wapusk Adventures

Dogsledding with Wapusk Adventures

Wapusk Adventures is located out on the tundra of northern Manitoba, and Dave has set up a mile-long trail that tourists get to race around, pulled by teams of Dave's beautiful dogs. He calls it the “Ididamile” — a play on the famous Iditarod dogsled race that Dave's Hudson Bay Quest is actually a qualifier for.

Dogsledding with Wapusk Adventures

With two guests and an experienced musher on each sled, you don't exactly zip around the Ididamile — but that doesn't mean it's not fun. The dogs were so excited to run and the wintry setting was so perfect that none of us even minded the fact that our breaths were forming thin layers of ice on our scarves and (for the men and dogs) in our facial hair.

Wapusk Adventures

Wapusk Adventures sled dog

The thrill of dogsledding (and playing with happy, excitable sled dogs) is much better captured in photos and video than in words, however. So I'll leave you with this to enjoy:

Dogsledding with Wapusk Adventures

Wapusk Adventures


What do YOU think of dogsledding? Is it something you'd like to experience one day?



*Note: I was a guest of Travel Manitoba and Frontiers North Adventures (and Wapusk Adventures) on this trip. But, as always, all opinions are my own.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

Join the ADB Community!
Sign up here to get exclusive travel tips, deals, and other inspiring goodies delivered to your inbox.

41 Comments on “Dogsledding in the Great White North

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Amazing! I really love huskies! I wish I could ride with them soon

    I brought my teenager who was nervous about driving the sled however her guide got her out of her shell and helped her drive (she has physical limitations and her guide was amazing with her)! We absolutely loved the experience and we got to interact with the dogs and puppies. Don’t forget your sunglasses! Weather was perfect at this time. Definitely recommend especially for one on one parent/child.

    I went on a Northern Lights Trip early in February 2022 with only 13 other women. In late October-early November 2018, I went to see the Polar Bears. With both trips, Dave’s place was one of the most memorable stops! On the most recent trip to Dave’s place, Dave spent quite a bit of time telling the ladies very remarkable stories. His son, Wyatt, is following in his footsteps, too. Both Dave and Wyatt are taking wonderful and great care of their dogs. It was so exciting to see and hear the dogs barking because they wanted to participate in my dog sled ride. Those dogs love Dave and Wyatt and visa versa. I strongly recommend a dog sled ride from Dave’s Place!!!

    My husband and I went on the Polar Bear Adventure in October for our 37th anniversary. Dave’s place was one of the stops and one of the most memorable times of the trip. As a dog parent it was so exciting to see the love Dave has for his team and how much they love him in return. This experience is well worth the visit. Thank you Dave for changing me view if dog sledding.

    Dogsledding is awesome and I recommend it to anyone. I recently started thinking about a multi-day dogsled tour in Greenland, where the sleds are still a part of everyday life and the dogs are more working animals than pets. On the other hand, you probably can’t cuddle them 😉

    Have you ever tried to mush yourself?

      Oh wow, and dogsledding trip in Greenland would be incredible! And no, I haven’t been able to try mushing myself yet – so I suppose that means I’ll definitely have to go sledding again!

    This trip looks incredible!! Did you go in March? Do you think they do that in February? It’s probably too cold 🙁

      Yes I was there in March, but they probably do it in February, too! “Too cold” is not something people in Churchill believe in. 😉

    To all the none-believers…. Believe this woman, mushing is an amazing experience. More it’s an amazing life changing experience. I had worked in the “real” world (farm-hand to mechanic to retailer to Drug, Alcohol, Substance Abuse Rehab to Sexual Abuse Therapy) since I was 12 & @ 34 all I had to show for it was a messed-up back and a pretty sour outlook. I moved to the “bush”, hunted, trapped, fished and gathered. Remembering my Grampa’s stories of freighting with dogteam for HBC, I did a little research and got 3 dogs, made an “ootawpunn” from old toboggans I found at the dump, made some harnesses out of old horse halters and…….
    Well….. today I have 4 rather futuristic old fashioned sleds, 2 very pretty basket-sleds, 43 custom made harnesses, polyethylene gang lines and 14 Husky dogs & 4 Sprint(designer)dogs.
    I can relate to the quotation “The more I know people, the more I love my dogs.” They are amazing creatures. Fact, they love working. Fact, they are loyal. Fact, they are loving. Fact, they earn my respect, not demand it.
    My wife grew up in Churchill. She knows Dave and the others that created the HBQ & is related to some of them. I’ve never met Dave but we know who each other is. To an extent or other I am envious that he gets to mush for a living for approx 2 months more than I do every year. That being said, I am happy that he gets to share our lifestyle with wonderful people who appreciate life and recognize there is a difference between existing and living.
    I happened upon your post @ a time in my life where your positive experience has provided me with a much needed boost. Your pics, your comments, your attitude(shown by your pics and attitude) all made a song to my heart. Thank you so much.
    Keep living……Happy Trails

      Thank you so much for the great comment, William! I’m glad this post gave you a little boost today.

    Thank you for posting your photos. We were a well-bundled group of tourists who went to Dave Daley’s place for the introduction to the dogs, sledding, and the I-did-a-mile. As you described it, the experience is fabulous. But I missed a few pictures that you got. When the sled gets moving, its speed adds to the windchill and cold fingers couldn’t get my cold camera to work. 🙁

      Haha, yes, your fingers (and face!) certainly get cold during that ride. Great to hear that you’ve been to Dave’s place, though, and enjoyed it as much as I did!

As Seen On

As Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen On