The Rowe Boys

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A bit more about my brother, our dad, and me.
These bios are from the time we we brought North West Expeditions back to life as a lifestyle company. Dad’s the star here so his bio is first. He wrote it. I have edited it lightly trying to kept it in his words and tone.

David Rowe | Ian Rowe | Steven Rowe

David was born in, Lusk, a small Wyoming town.

Dad in a bandana. Nahanni River below.

David’s dad worked in the oilfields all his life, following whichever oil boom was underway, resulting in many moves through out Wyoming, about a year and a half in Montana, and at least part of high school in South Dakota.

He lived his first 18 years in the United States then moved to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where he attended the University of Alberta. Employment in Alberta was tough to find so he returned to the U.S, and found employment in a large open pit uranium mine. As an American citizen he was obliged to serve in the U.S Armed Forces and they requested his help. He served three years in the U.S Army as a medic, serving primarily in Germany. Ultimately, he lived in the USA, minus stints in Canada and Germany, for 22 years.

David is a Canadian citizen and has lived in Canada since the mid 1960s.

Early Years

Beginning at age five, David was wandering the forests and hills around a small settlement at Cline, Montana. He had a one year-old brother and his mother was pregnant with the soon to arrive second brother. It seems that it did not occur to his mother that there was danger from bears or cougars in Montana, perhaps because his mother grew up in Tennessee rather than the West. David wandered the forests and hills with three or four dogs. They followed wherever he went and he followed them home when they knew it was time to go. So David had an early penchant to wander around wherever he was. 

In grades six and seven he and two pals often explored and hiked through the western edges of the Black Hills, and the prairies, to the west of the small Wyoming town where we lived. Later, in Upton, Wyoming he and his buddies wandered through pine and cedar forests. When they moved to Wibaux, Montana he and his new pals scouted out the creek that ran through the town and country side. There, embedded in the high clay bluffs, they found a buffalo skull (David has been scouting for hidden treasures ever since). The family moved back to Newcastle, Wyoming where David and another group of new friends would hike to Cave Springs, a place that fascinated him. 

Over the years David has held a wide variety of jobs from oil field roughneck to army medic, insurance adjuster to teacher, and river guide to clinical neuropsychologist.

Some Bits About Canoeing

At some point while living in Canada, Canoeing took over as David’s favourite way of adventuring. By his early thirties his combined passions of paddling and sharing the outdoors led him to create North-West Expeditions. Though he and his partners had found they had a great deal to learn.

On one of their first trips in late fall they ran on a log in the Red Deer River and filled the raft with icy water such that they all were near hypothermia. Luckily, they managed to get out of the river and into a municipal campsite with a good wood burning stove at Sundry, Alberta. Appropriately inspired, they got better and soon learned to be skilled rafters such that they could deal with the upper Red Deer River, the Athabasca River, the Nahanni and the Coppermine Rivers.

North-west Expeditions was the first guiding company to run the Nahanni. The guiding license that David procured in the early ’70s has been grandfathered to the fine folk at Nahanni River Adventures who run the river to this day. North-West Expeditions was pleased to have a more than one crew document their journeys. Including CBCs Edmonton on the Brazeau River, and later a film with Access Alberta for a show called From Nine to Five, which featured persons who had more unusual occupations and David was one of those. The show title was David Rowe Nahanni Riverman and the name “David Rowe Nahanni Riverman” stuck.

Canoeing even influenced David’s teaching. As a teacher in Alberta he was able to promote the of building of a 16 foot Canoe Maître. The canoe turned out very well. Years after David left teaching he was invited to paddle with some of his former teacher colleagues to participate in the National Parks 1986 celebration; of the fur trade from Rocky Mountain House to Fort Edmonton in the Canoe Maître’s. David’s Canoe Maître paddlers carried the Hudson Bay “Factor” with his books and ledgers and their craft bested the rest of the paddlers to Fort Edmonton after a serious contest. All participants wore the traditional voyageur finger woven sashes, donated by the Parks people, which David still has.  David was the bow man on the Canoe Maître and it was there that he came to know how responsive and maneuverable the long bow paddle made the large canoe. It was exciting for David to have been the bow paddler.

Years later Ian and David ran many rivers throughout Alberta. They had much success running the famous Brierley Rapids on the North Saskatchewan River at Rocky Mountain House; and navigating the very difficult Clear Water River during a surprise flood. On the Clear Water the river shifted to run through a spruce forest and David and Ian were the only canoe that did not swamp.

David lives in Edmonton Alberta with his wife Agnes (who has paddled and camped alongside many rivers with David), and their two cats.

Steven Rowe

Living, working and playing in the bush has been a constant factor in Steven’s life. 

Steven grew up learning his Dad’s bush skills and still applies them today as an avid camper, hunter, gatherer and all round general outdoor sports enthusiast.  As an accomplished paddler, Steven has navigated dozens of rivers in Alberta and BC by canoe, raft and kayak.  

Although landlocked in Calgary, a love of the water has opened new horizons of adventure to him, including sailing and as an open water diver exploring what lies just off the Pacific coast of North America. 

Steven has been skiing since he can remember and these days, during the winter, you can find him guiding ski tours in Banff National Park.  When he’s not working with clients, he’s exploring the back-country and getting fresh turns on untouched cold smoke powder snow.  Come May, when the snow’s all melted up, Steven pulls out his mountain bike and heads to the downhill and cross country trails of Bragg Creek and Kananaskis country.  

Living on the western edge of Canada’s Rockies certainly has its privileges!  

These days, Steven is seeking to build on his wilderness chops by spending time with and learning from Indigenous Elders and knowledge keepers.  By truly learning to live in harmony with the land, Steven continues to realize his passion for nature that Dad started all those years ago. 

Ian Rowe – Bio

Ian Rowe Owner North-West Expeditions in Icon Tee
Ian got his first paddle when he was around 5 years old. He’s been paddling on and off ever since.

He grew up canoe camping on rivers in Alberta, mostly the North-Saskatchewan, though also the McLeod, Clearwater and others. This is where he learned to make a fire in the rain, paddle through rapids, basic strokes like braces and draws, and generally to be useful around a campsite. 

When he was 18 he spent a summer as a canoe guide in Jasper where he mostly took Brits in their 60s down a still section of the Athabasca River on a voyager themed trip. The guides wore sashes, had 12 to 13 people per boat and stood at the back using 9 foot paddles telling jokes.

It was in Jasper that Ian learned to Kayak. He bought an old river kayak from a friend and learned to roll, and surf waves. He’s since cooled it a bit.  

After a time in Toronto, Ian now lives in Vancouver where he paddle boards regularly in English Bay, kayaks off of Jericho and snowboards in the local mountains. In 2018 he spent a week on a boat learning to sail. He likes to go out rain or shin and loves a windy wavy day. 

If you’re in Vancouver hit him up for a paddle or trip down the hill. 

Here is picture of Ian in the prototype for our (Famous-to-us) Orange Anorak. 

Ian Rowe - Owner North-West Expeditions in the Famous-to-us Orange Anorak Prototype