Family Dog-Sledding Adventure

by Stephen Johnson

Living in Canada, our family has always tried to embrace winter.  We enjoy cross-country skiing, skating and tobogganing.   This winter, we wanted to try a different activity.   We decided to try the ultimate winter sport: dog-sledding.  

I checked the internet and found there were a few dog sledding options relatively close to Ottawa.  We chose Timberland Tours.  The owner of the company, Denis Rozon, has over forty years experience so I figured we would be in good hands.

Timberland Tours is located about an hour and fifteen minute drive from Ottawa close to Shawville, Quebec.   The first thing we noticed driving into the Timberland property were a group of people enjoying a hot chocolate and hot dog.  They had just finished a session of dog sledding and all seemed to be in good spirits.  

I will admit that I was slightly nervous about dog sledding but seeing these happy people was a good sign.  Denis warmly introduced himself to our new group.  We were an eclectic bunch made up of a father and son team, a Taiwanese diplomatic family, locals from the area, and ourselves.   Denis and his team of two assistants showed us the basics of dog sledding.   Safety was emphasized as they took us through a range of scenarios.   Denis also noticed I was wearing boots that were not very warm or what I like to call “city boots.”   He kindly offered to lend me a pair that would be better and warmer on the trails.

Sporting my new, borrowed boots, the guides helped us harness up our dog teams and we were soon ready to go.  I felt both excited and a degree of trepidation.  My wife and son were seated on the dog sled so were entrusting me with their safety.  I had been dog sledding twice before with different companies.  The first time I wiped out spectacularly and the second was a lot of fun.  I figured this was the tiebreaker.

Any of my fears were quickly alleviated once we hit the trails.  Nervousness was replaced by exhilaration.   The body movement for guiding a team of dogs is very similar to cross country or downhill skiing.  I found the dogs were very responsive.   Truthfully, I think the dogs could have run the course completely fine without my assistance but I did not let my son and wife know that!  Along the trail, the guides were excellent at checking in with us to make sure everything was okay.

We went dog sledding for close to an hour and then returned back to home base.   With the dogs detached from the sled, we made our way to a mini museum that chronicles Denis’s history in dog sledding.  He explained how he got into the sport and it was cool to see his continued passion for it, even after forty years.

By this time, my son David was excited for a hot chocolate and hot dog.    The hot dogs were roasted over a bonfire which added to the ambiance.  When the cook said, “We have one hot dog left, anyone want it.”   David piped up, “Me, please.”   It was his third hot dog so at least we would not be hungry heading home!

It is important to remember that dog sledding is an outdoor activity in a Canadian winter.  It will get cold so dress appropriately.  

Timberland Tours offer dryland trips in the spring and summer when the dogs are hitched up to a type of custom-made wagon.  Also, Denis will be hosting the World Dryland Championships in October 31 – November, 2015.  If you want to see the best dryland racers in the world and participate in a fun, family event, I am sure it will be worth checking out.  The best part is that it is free admission.

For more information about Timberland Tours and to book an excursion, visit or call 819-647-3185




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