Cory Trepanier: Artist. Explorer. Director. Dad. Husband. Born December 14, 1968 in Windsor, Ontario; died November 5, 2021 in Caledon, Ont, of cancer; 52 years old.
Through his stories, films and paintings, Cory Trépanier has captured and shared the raw emotion of some of Canada’s most remote landscapes. In doing so, the internationally acclaimed artist and explorer changed the way many people view Canada’s North and the Arctic. He was a valuable contributor to Parks Canada, a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and a champion of the Trans Canada Trail.
For someone with so many talents and strengths, Cory’s humility may have been one of his greatest traits. He could lift most of his body weight in a backpack and then hike and paint some of the toughest terrain in the world. (His extraordinary rendering of the Coronation Glacier, rising 200 feet above the ocean in Auyuittuq National Park, is unforgettable.) But you would never know about these accomplishments from talking to him. Instead, Cory talked about people, culture and inspiration. Inuit, Dene, Champagne and Aishihik. His stories were about laughs and surprises – and mistakes and good and bad fortune.
Cory’s family moved around a lot when he was little. He grew up all over Ontario and Quebec. He met his future wife, Janet, in 1990 and they quickly became good friends. She loved watching him paint and immediately noticed his kindness and energy. They married in 1993 and lived in Caledon, Ontario. Andie, their first daughter, was born a few years later, followed by Sydney in 1998.
Cory had a playful spirit and encouraged her daughters to never lose sight of their inner child. He was always there to offer a supportive word and a loving shoulder. Cory’s infectious positivity never let up and it kind of made his need to plan out every detail of an endearing trip slightly boring.
And it was with his family, not to mention his well-worn hiking boots, easel and 120-pound bag of supplies, that Cory visited some of Canada’s most remote and extreme regions. His canoe expedition down the Thomson River in Aulavik National Park demonstrated the kind of courage and tenacity often attributed to the most adventurous and capable explorers. His adventures included the month-long True Wild Project, undertaken in conjunction with Parks Canada, during which Cory skied, hiked and painted in Kluane National Park. He also completed five expeditions covering 60,000 kilometers in six Arctic national parks and 16 Arctic communities. These expeditions resulted in three documentary films and over 100 oil paintings and graphite sketches, many of which are captured in his beautiful coffee table book, In the arcticreleased only two weeks before his death.
Cory has found inspiration anywhere – nature, animals, his family – even movie soundtracks. He liked to paint and let the music of the Lord of the Rings and Interstellar serve as his muse. Cory was also inspired by the conversation. He was always talking, on any subject, to anyone who wanted to hear him. It often took him 20 minutes to get to the point of his story. His family loved it about him but they also enjoyed teasing him about it.
In 2018, Sydney traveled with him to the Arctic. Exhausted and exhausted one evening, she remembers how her father made her laugh for over an hour, they laughed until they hurt. “No matter where we were or under what circumstances, there was always laughter and joy. …I got to see how much the nature of the Arctic invigorated him, and also got to bond with him in such an exceptional way that most people never get to do with their fathers.
Cory leaves a deep legacy of love, respect and commitment to his family. Through his adventures and artistic accomplishments, he leaves a lasting legacy for all Canadians. His art and expeditions inspire people to recognize the fragile majesty of nature in Canada’s North.
Sydney Trépanier is Cory’s daughter; Ron Hallman is Cory’s friend.
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