WOLF NEWS #7
At the Wildlife Society Conference, held in Winnipeg in October, 2015, members of Spirit Way Inc. and the Boreal Discovery Centre from Thompson promoted their plans and programs to a record attendance of 1560 people. A few university students who visited the Wolf Capital of the World display booth were dismayed to see a GPS wolf “hunt” in Thompson, until they learned that Spirit Way Inc. was promoting a hunt for wolf statues!
The idea for the Spirit Way Wolf Hunt grew out of the Spirit Way project. Spirit Way is a two-kilometer long “Manitoba Star Attraction”. This easy walk takes you past 17 unique points of interest that have won awards for Spirit Way and made it one of Travel Manitoba’s “Top 20 Places to Visit in Manitoba”.
The GPS Wolf Hunt was conceived by Volker Beckmann who designed a small passport booklet that show the statues produced by the Spirit Way group. Each statue had been sponsored by a company or agency for $5000. The statues are identical in shape but painted completely differently by various artists. The statues are 7.5 feet tall and made of solid concrete weighing 5500 lbs. The prototype was shaped from styrofoam by award winning muralist Charles Johnston of Winnipeg. A fiberglas mold was then prepared by Peter Wall of Roland, Manitoba. Gerry Derocquigny of Lorette, Manitoba, a retired concrete craftsman, gets each statue poured and shipped to Thompson once the order is received.
By 2009, Spirit Way had moved and positioned the heavy 49 wolf statues in three cities – Winnipeg, Thompson, and Churchill, and the GPS Wolf Hunt was launched. This Hunt is a form of geocaching, which is a popular pastime requiring the use of a global positioning system (GPS) to locate caches in precise locations. Most geocaches contain small objects which you either record in a log book or exchange for a small object of your own. The Spirit Way GPS Wolf Hunt requires that hunters simply locate 49 wolves across Manitoba. “It’s a unique way to combine the quickly-developing past time of geocaching, with an appreciation for art and the adventure of visiting parts of Manitoba you might otherwise not see,” said Beckmann.
The statue hunt requires the person to purchase a GPS Wolf Hunt booklet for $5 from a vendor in each city. They must check the website, www.thompsonspiritway.ca, to obtain the latest GPS coordinates, as some statues have been moved since the passport was printed. The mission is to find each statue using the GPS coordinates and enter the statue’s name/title into the booklet. They must get all the titles correct and have that confirmed in each city by a special rubber stamp in their passport. Once all three rubber-stamped impressions are entered, they have completed their hunt that has taken them 1000 miles from the prairies around Winnipeg to the boreal forest around Thompson to the tundra at Churchill. It is a fun and challenging travel adventure across Manitoba!
The last step is to simply send their contact information to the website. A personalized MASTER WOLF TRACKER PDF certificate is sent via email. It is signed by all mayors of Thompson, Winnipeg and Churchill. The recipients can print their certificate, frame it, and hang it on a wall as many do. Their name is also posted on the website as a Master Wolf Tracker.
Stan and Lynne Ritz of Winnipeg were the world’s first GPS Master Wolf Trackers. “This was an awesome adventure and we really enjoyed the wolf hunt,’ said Stan Ritz. “Our adventure left us with memories to last a lifetime.” The couple found all the wolves in Winnipeg before driving to Thompson and boarding the train to Churchill. Many trackers are visitors from all parts of North America. One couple were touring from Peru, South America, and found all 49 statues to be recognized as Master Wolf Trackers. One family from Flin Flon had their children take turns writing the wolf’s name into their booklet. Mom said, “The kids were having a blast running to each statue to see who could reach it first. We giggled and laughed a lot. The hunt is a fun thing to do as a family.”