Nunavut family man treks to the tree line for the perfect Christmas tree

Kanok Bolt

Each family has their own Christmas tree traditions, from piling into the station wagon and picking out the biggest and best spruce at the local nursery to pulling out the dusty box in the basement and piecing together the artificial tree.

But for some families in Nunavut, getting the perfect Christmas tree means going right to the source.

For the past 18 years, Kanok Bolt has been snowmobiling two-hours to the tree line to get his family a Christmas tree.

Bolt lives in Kugluktuk, a small hamlet located in the western edge of Nunavut, which is one of the few communities located close to the tree line.

The tradition started with Bolt’s own father, who would make the 60-kilometer trek each year.

Since the tree line near Kugluktuk offers a fine selection of potential Christmas trees, Bolt can be picky. He likes the spruce trees located near the water that are nice and full, ideal for stringing lights and ribbon and adorning with ornaments. After finding the perfect one, he cuts it down, attaches it to his sled – which we can imagine makes strapping a tree to the roof of a mini van seem easy as pie – and makes the two-hour journey home.

Bolt with the tree on his seld
Kanok Bolt with his chosen tree attached to the sled, ready to head home.

When Bolt made the annual pilgrimage earlier this month, it was -32 C with the windchill and low visibility. But the freezing temperatures don’t deter Bolt, who is happy to carry on the ritual no matter how chilly it is.

“It makes me feel good because my parents used to do it,” Bolt told the CBC. “And I hope it carries on from there.”

And while Bolt’s four children can’t wait to accompany dad one day on the daytrip, for now, they have their own roles that are just as important: decorating the Christmas tree.

The children around the Christmas tree.
The children around the Christmas tree.