Marc-André and Samantha Belcourt belong to that rare breed of people who are lucky enough to get to live out their passion, which in their case is animals, especially their faithful four-legged companions. Last September, when they made the decision to leave Churchill and move to Richer, they took their 13 huskies with them.
The couple’s love of dogs began during several trips to the Far North, in the Yukon. In 2009, they bought their first two dogs, Siberian huskies, from a musher. Then Marc-André Belcourt discovered skijoring (skiers pulled by dogs) in Winnipeg.
It was after this discovery that he decided to go into the dog sledding business, "a hobby we always enjoyed," he says. "When you go dog sledding, its almost impossible to explain the feeling: it's magical. It's a unique connection. All you can hear is the sled and the dogs’ paws on the snow."
"In Churchill, we did it for fun," he continues. "There were already three mushing businesses on the market, and the location wasn’t ideal." However, in Richer, the couple fell in love with a magnificent 75-acre property, which is where they set up their dog sledding business, Harness Adventure Mushing Co.
In Richer, their mushing business has no competition, and they are hoping for a great first season. "We are already very happy. We hope the dogs can run in the snow until the end of March." 11 of their 13 dogs are runners.
For their first year, "we don't expect to make much of a profit," says Marc-André Belcourt. "Our goal is to recoup the money invested in dog food and veterinary fees."
The couple is already looking at diversifying its future activities, and they have been approached by festivals. They also dream about their first love, skijoring, and would like to offer it to the public next year.
These new Richer mushers are adamant that dog sledding is a unique experience that should be enjoyed at least once in a lifetime. "You can only have this kind of special relationship with dogs and horses," says Marc-André Belcourt. "And everyone knows that dogs are man’s (and woman's) best friends!"