During the summers of 1991 through 1994 Victoria Jason and two companions--Fred Reffler and Don Starkell--set out to kayak from Churchill, Manitoba to Tuktoyaktuk on the Beaufort Sea. When she set out in 1991, Victoria, already a grandmother of two, had been kayaking for only a year and was still recovering from the second of two strokes.
Her 7,500 km journey lasted four years. In the first year Fred dropped out due to an injury, and in the second year Victoria and Don reached Gjoa Haven together, but Victoria was forced to drop out there, suffering from edema caused by excessive fatigue. Don continued alone, and almost died from severe frostbite before being rescued by authorities just 46 miles short of Tuktoyaktuk.Not content with failure, Victoria returned to the North the following two years and completed her triumphant journey alone from west to east, paddling from Fort Providence on the Mackenzie River to Paulatuk in 1993, and from Paulatuk to Gjoa Haven in 1994. Among the Inuit people she became known as the Kabloona (the Inuktitut word for stranger) in the Yellow Kayak.
Winner: McNally Robinson Book of the Year
Victoria Jason fell in love with the North while living in Churchill. After following her dream to kayak the North, she worked to reintroduce the kayak to the Innu. She toured the country sharing her experiences and adventures until illness made it impossible for her to continue.
Victoria died in Winnipeg in the spring of 2000.