If you’re looking to explore the chilly waters of Tuktoyaktuk, a new company – Arctic Ocean Canoe and Qayaks – has you covered.
The business opened in late July. It is the first in the hamlet to provide canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards for rent.
Sophie Stefure, a Tuk resident, runs Arctic Ocean with her mom. The two decided to start the company so they could share their love of paddling with others.
When asked what she likes about it, Stefure responded: “Everything.”
Exploring the Arctic by stand-up paddleboard. Photo: Supplied
“We’re surrounded by water, so it’s really nice to just be able to get out,” she said. “It’s so nice, and calm, and peaceful, especially when it’s a nice day.”
The two women acquired their boats and boards last year. Their current rates are $35 an hour – but Stefure warned those may be subject to change.
“I like how someone put it: it’s your first year to work out the kinks and stuff,” she said. “So that’s kind-of what’s happening. We’re learning what we need, and little things along the way.”
Original plans included marketing the business to tourists coming from across the country and around the world, but the Covid-19 pandemic has put a halt to the town’s tourism industry for the time being.
Instead, Stefure is having success renting out to locals and those visiting from nearby. After announcing the opening of the business on Facebook, she received a flood of responses.
“So many comments, and so many people interested and wanting to come make the trip to Tuk,” she said. “Even from surrounding communities, people are tagging their friends: ‘Let’s go do this! We have to go to Tuk!’”
There is a lot to see when out on the water, Stefure said, adding the harbour has good views and there are plenty of islands within paddling distance. People can also go out to the pingos, where there is a boardwalk to explore. And of course, there’s the Arctic Ocean, the company’s namesake.
While the business is still in its infancy, Stefure has big hopes. She wants to be the “leading water sports company” serving Tuk residents and visitors in the summer months, and said she’s excited to see what happens.
Most of all, she said, she’s happy to be doing this with her mom.
“We’re partners in pretty much everything, her and I,” Stefure said.
“She is why I got into paddling and being out on the water, it was her that had a canoe. It was her that bought me my first kayak. So she’s the one that got me into all my adventurous lifestyle.”
People interested in renting canoes, kayaks, or paddleboards from Arctic Ocean can call Stefure at (867) 678-5421.
This coverage of the NWT’s business sector during the Covid-19 pandemic is sponsored by the NWT’s Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment. Visit Buy North for more information on businesses near you.