Posted by John Borst on Apr 05, 2017
Al Skene, President of Skene Transfer and Supply, using video shared the story of what hauling freight across ice roads in North Western Ontario is really like
   Al Skene                                         
Skene has been hauling for 23 years. This year Skene Transfer and Supply had 12 trucks working. The roads were passable for 7 weeks which permitted 78 loads.  Most of these used Pickle Lake as their base camp. A couple trucks left via Red Lake. Those are the two communities where paved roads end.

pickle lake Base Camp

The trucks haul mainly groceries, lumber, fuel tanks, and equipment to 19 of the 23 indigenous First Nation reserves in Northwestern Ontario.


Al used a video shot and edited by of one of his truckers which showed not only the hazardous nature of hauling across roads of ice but also the majesty of the north including amazing shots of the northern lights.

The Northern Lights 

The Beauty of the Northern Road

Unlike TV’s Ice Road Truckers, crossing wide lake roads at high speed or bouncing through the narrow ice roads built through forests, hauling is a much slower and risky venture. Maximum speed on an ice road is no more than 30 km/hr. and more often in the 15 km. range much of the time.

ice road over lake

ice road through forest

Over lakes, trucks travel 1 km apart as the 31,750 kilos (70,000 lb.) of truck and load due to the waves set up in the ice. Ideally, ice should be 1 meter thick (36 inches) but this year it was only 80 cm. (32 in.)

Travelling at night

The ice roads are built and maintained by the First Nations. Through forests, the trees are simply cut down but the stumps are not removed. The snow is allowed to fill in the spaces and packed hard. Bridges are created by filling in the river with snow, packing it down and watering it. It freezes hard while the river or stream cuts its way through.

ice bridges


dragging tires to Pack down the road

Passing with care

When trucks pass through a First Nation reserve often the telephone and electrical wires are too low and have to be held up as they pass through it.

serving a community

When hauling a truckers day is 18 hours long. The maximum window for hauling in Northwestern Ontario is 8 weeks. In 2016 the ice roads were only passable for 3 weeks. This year the roads were very slippery because of rain in February. 

The drivers