The figure, just a distant dot to the west, moved surprisingly quickly. No sound was heard, so a snowmobile was out of the question. What or who was it? It came in a zigzag, zipping back and forth.

Soon it became clear, it was a man. But how did he seem to move so swiftly over the ice of the Hudson Bay? In a matter of moments he swooped up to the stunned onlookers and right after that his kite came down from the sky. Aha! A para-skier it came to be known and perhaps one of the more unique tourists to come north.

Benoit, as his name turned out to be, is quite the extraordinary person. He has his own web site about his incredible trip across the former Soviet Union by bicycle. He was stricken with cerebral palsy when he was an infant and just growing up was hard for him, but somehow it created a man who just wouldn’t quit. His trip took him across many cities and towns, and he had to resort to living with just about anyone who would take him in, eating whatever came to his plate and drinking vodka everyday made the trip bearable enough to make the pains go away.

As he ventured across the vast wilderness he came across many indigenous peoples who knew nothing of the outside world. On another path, he would be invited to host his own TV show from a small station in one of the many “small” communities the size of Montreal, immediately exposing him to people across the north. This sort of eased the hassle of finding food and a place to stay and. Not so surprisingly, vodka was always available.

Next, he tackled northern Quebec, this time using wind to power his trip, towing a handmade sled using time honored Inuit methods. A video camera to record his passage and a portable computer formed the bulk of his baggage. The only problem was that the winds weren’t quite right, so it took him all of nine days to traverse the rough ice.

Hanging around Great Whale for awhile and inspiring the youth to get into something different, he later swooped off towards the Ungava Peninsula. I think he said he’d be back before the ice melted, which could be a little dicey, considering global warming and all.

Yep, tourists come in all shapes and forms. Some may be just like you and me, and some may be like Benoit the para-skier who defies gravity to get around. But in whatever form they be, the tourists are coming north to see global warming in the making, only if they have enough time to get out of all that bad weather they’re bound to get from icebergs plopping into the seas at alarming rates.

Whatever happens, the north is now in seen in the same perspective of southerners as are the disappearing rainforests of more tropical climes. They’re coming to get a last taste of the frozen north while they can.