Why the Yukon Quest? Why the Winterdance Race Team?
Personal connections to the Yukon, Winterdance Sled Dog
Tours, and a member of the Winterdance race team, led me to
create a study unit intended to inspire my students
to learn prescribed curricula in a new and exciting way.
The Yukon Connection
When I was an Applied Geography student at Ryerson
University, I spent three summers in the Yukon, doing
field work with professors and fellow students. That
experience was one of the highlights of my life!
A Kennel with a Difference
My daughter and I are great animal lovers. Five
years ago, we heard about a dog sledding kennel like no
other. It is owned and operated by Hank DeBruin and
his wife Tanya McCready-DeBruin, who came to dog sledding from a pet-owner
background, rather than a working-dog background.
Several years ago, they decided to take a huge risk and
follow their dreams of owning a sled dog touring and racing
kennel. They quit their jobs in Guelph, purchased a
piece of land in Haliburton, and began to build "Winterdance
Dogsled Tours." The company currently
offers tours to over 3,000 visitors each winter and
enables Hank to
participate in sled dog races all over North America.
makes the Winterdance kennel different is the
state-of-the-art bunkhouse and play yards Hank and
Tanya constructed for their dogs. While most
working-dogs are chained outdoors year-round,
Winterdance's 150 Siberian Huskies each enjoy sharing
a room in
the bunkhouse with one to three friends/siblings,
and playing off-lead for two hours each day,
with a cohort of friends, in one of three large play
aspect of Hank and Tanya's kennel that sets it apart from most other
working-dog kennels is their commitment never to sell or
give away any of
their puppies or dogs. A dog that comes to Winterdance
has a home for life.
When I found out that Hank's
race team was participating in this year's Yukon Quest
Sled Dog Race, I
couldn't pass up the opportunity to revisit the Yukon with
my students, albeit vicariously, through the Winterdance race team.
Some of the "retired"
sled dogs enjoy
one of the Winterdance play yards.
L-shaped bunkhouse is in the background.
Lead Dog Lily
ago, my daughter and I went dog sledding with
Winterdance Sled Dog Tours. One of our lead dogs
was named Lily. Following our visit, Lily became
part of Hank's newly-formed race team. For the
past several years, she has been an enthusiastic and
reliable race team lead dog. Lily is now nine
years old. The Yukon Quest will be one of her last
races, before she retires back to touring. Given
my connection to the Yukon, Winterdance and Lily, it
seemed only fitting to my daughter and I sign up to
sponsor Lily, in the Yukon Quest.
We enjoyed a day of dogsledding with Winterdance, in 2005,
daughter is hugging Lily in the bottom, middle
My daughter with Lily
in 2010. We are sponsoring Lily in the