Tony Dauksza

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Tony Dauksza
Tony Dauksza.png
Dauksza with canoe used to traverse Northwest Passage
Born:(1912-02-18)February 18, 1912
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Died:December 25, 1996(1996-12-25) (aged 84)
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Career information
Position(s) Lineman, Punter, Placekicker
College Michigan State Spartans
Career history
As player
1933 Michigan State Spartans 1932-33 Roster players

Anthony "Tony" Dauksza (February 18, 1912 – December 25, 1996) was an American football player, film-maker, and outdoorsman. In 1971, he became the first person to traverse the Northwest Passage in anything other than a ship. Dauksza completed the 3,200-mile journey over the course of six summers on a solo canoe expedition. [1]

American football Team field sport

American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, the team with possession of the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with the ball or passing it, while the defense, the team without possession of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs or plays; if they fail, they turn over the football to the defense, but if they succeed, they are given a new set of four downs to continue the drive. Points are scored primarily by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

Northwest Passage Sea route north of North America

The Northwest Passage (NWP) is, from the European and northern Atlantic point of view, the sea route to the Pacific Ocean through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The eastern route along the Arctic coasts of Norway and Siberia is accordingly called the Northeast Passage (NEP).


Early years

A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was the captain of the Union High School football team that won the state championship in 1931. [2] Dauksza attended Michigan State University where he played for the football team. He was an offensive and defensive lineman for the Spartans as well as a punter and placekicker (1932-1933). He sometimes has been confused with Antone "Tony" Dauksza, his cousin, who played as a quarterback for the 1933 National Champions Michigan Wolverines. Antone "Tony" Dauksza was also from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Antone Dauksza later changed his name to Antone "Tony" Dicks to avoid confusion with his cousin who played at Michigan State and was a photographer, film maker, adventurer/explorer of the Alaskan and Yukon Territories.

Grand Rapids, Michigan City in Michigan, United States

Grand Rapids is the second-largest city in Michigan and the largest city in West Michigan. It is on the Grand River about 30 miles (48 km) east of Lake Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 188,040. In 2010, the Grand Rapids metropolitan area had a population of 1,005,648, and the combined statistical area of Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland had a population of 1,321,557. Grand Rapids is the county seat of Kent County.

Union High School is one of the five high schools in Grand Rapids Public School district. Union has a student population of around 1,200 students for the 2010/2011 school year. The former principal was Justin Jennings, along with assistant principals Aida Toledo and Belinda Jimenez. Union offers a wide range of opportunities for students the Grand Rapids area, it is the Art Hub for all art classes in the district and is the home of the School of Construction and Design.

Michigan State University Public research university in East Lansing, Michigan, United States

Michigan State University (MSU) is a public research university in East Lansing, Michigan. MSU was founded in 1855 and served as a model for land-grant universities later created under the Morrill Act of 1862. The university was founded as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, one of the country's first institutions of higher education to teach scientific agriculture. After the introduction of the Morrill Act, the college became coeducational and expanded its curriculum beyond agriculture. Today, MSU is one of the largest universities in the United States and has approximately 576,000 living alumni worldwide.

Outdoorsman and film-maker

In the 1930s, Dauksza began a lifetime as an outdoorsman and explorer. Starting with an interest in fishing and hunting, he began canoeing in 1936. He made regular summer expeditions into Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and Alaska. He eventually converted his love of the outdoors into his full-time occupation, exploring in the summers and conducting film-lectures in the winter. [3] [4] In the fall of 1959, Dauksza attracted the attention of a reporter for the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix as he passed through Saskatoon in his Volkswagen van (dubbed the "Volksbeast") bearing "a set of rare double-browed Caribou antlers of 393 points and a set of 63-1/2-inch moose antlers as well as several lesser trophies." [5] The reporter published a feature story about Dauksza's adventures hunting, fishing, and filming for his "Alaska Adventure Movies" enterprise. A story on his adventures also appeared in the October 1959 issue of Outdoor Life magazine. [5]

Manitoba Province of Canada

Manitoba is a province at the longitudinal centre of Canada. It is often considered one of the three prairie provinces and is Canada's fifth-most populous province with its estimated 1.369 million people. Manitoba covers 649,950 square kilometres (250,900 sq mi) with a widely varied landscape, stretching from the northern oceanic coastline to the southern border with the United States. The province is bordered by the provinces of Ontario to the east and Saskatchewan to the west, the territories of Nunavut to the north, and Northwest Territories to the northwest, and the U.S. states of North Dakota and Minnesota to the south.

Northwest Territories Territory of Canada

The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada. At a land area of approximately 1,144,000 km2 (442,000 sq mi) and a 2016 census population of 41,786, it is the second-largest and the most populous of the three territories in Northern Canada. Its estimated population as of 2019 is 44,826. Yellowknife became the territorial capital in 1967, following recommendations by the Carrothers Commission.

Yukon Territory of Canada

Yukon is the smallest and westernmost of Canada's three territories. It has the smallest population of any province or territory in Canada, with 35,874 people, although it has the largest city in any of the three territories. Whitehorse is the territorial capital and Yukon's only city.

In 1964, he canoed 300 miles from Great Slave Lake to the Mackenzie River delta. The Arctic Ocean was iced in by the time he arrived, and Dauksza was forced to walk to an Eskimo camp. In 1965, he became the first person to canoe down the East Calendar River from the Brooks Range in northeastern Alaska. The 300-mile journey included 200 miles of white water. Dauksza recalled, "I'd just get through one rapid and I'd hear the roar of the next. There was barely time enough between rapids to bale [sic]." [3] [6] The Detroit Free Press in 1969 called Dauksza a latter-day Daniel Boone. [7] [8]

Great Slave Lake Large lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada

The Great Slave Lake is the second-largest lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada, the deepest lake in North America at 614 metres, and the tenth-largest lake in the world. It is 469 km (291 mi) long and 20 to 203 km wide. It covers an area of 27,200 km2 (10,502 sq mi) in the southern part of the territory. Its given volume ranges from 1,070 km3 (260 cu mi) to 1,580 km3 (380 cu mi) and up to 2,088 km3 (501 cu mi) making it the 10th or 12th largest by volume.

Mackenzie River largest river system in Canada

The Mackenzie River is a river in the Canadian boreal forest. It is the longest river system in Canada, and has the second largest drainage basin of any North American river after the Mississippi River. The Mackenzie River flows through a vast, thinly populated region of forest and tundra entirely within the Northwest Territories in Canada, although its many tributaries reach into five other Canadian provinces and territories. The river's main stem is 1,738 kilometres (1,080 mi) long, flowing north-northwest from Great Slave Lake into the Arctic Ocean, where it forms a large delta at its mouth. Its extensive watershed drains about 20 percent of Canada. It is the largest river flowing into the Arctic from North America, and including its tributaries has a total length of 4,241 kilometres (2,635 mi), making it the thirteenth longest river system in the world.

Arctic Ocean The smallest and shallowest of the worlds five major oceans, located in the north polar regions

The Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceans. It is also known as the coldest of all the oceans. The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) recognizes it as an ocean, although some oceanographers call it the Arctic Sea. It is classified as an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean, and it is also seen as the northernmost part of the all-encompassing World Ocean.

From 1966 to 1971, he completed a 3,200-mile solo canoe journey through the Northwest Passage. He was the first one-man expedition in the smallest craft to navigate the passage. Dauksza began the journey in 1966 at Point Barrow, Alaska. That summer, he canoed 600 miles to Barter Island in a 16-foot aluminum canoe that he called "The Arctic Ice Cube." [3] He traveled with a small igloo tent, a Winchester rifle, a movie camera, and a three-horsepower engine to help him traverse the most difficult passages. In the fall of 1966, The Canadian Press published a story referring to his expedition as a "suicidal mission." [9] Dauksza reported that his wife had accepted him as a "hopeless case" and was content to have him home in Grand Rapids in the winters where he conducted film-lectures on his adventures at churches, schools and clubs throughout Michigan and Indiana. [9] [10]

Barter Island island in the United States of America

Barter Island is an island located on the Arctic coast of the U.S. state of Alaska, east of Arey Island in the Beaufort Sea. It is about four miles (6 km) long and about two miles (3 km) wide at its widest point.

The Canadian Press Canadian news agency

The Canadian Press is a national news agency headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was established in 1917 as a vehicle to permit Canadian newspapers of the day to exchange their news and information. For most of its history, The Canadian Press has been a private, not-for-profit cooperative, owned and operated by its member newspapers. In mid-2010, however, it announced plans to become a for-profit business owned by three media companies once certain conditions are met.

He returned in 1967 and was forced to backtrack to the west due to heavy ice drift. In 1968, he made it back to Barter Island. In 1969, he switched to a 19-foot aluminum canoe equipped with a four horsepower engine that he called "The Arctic Icebreaker." Dauksza had engine trouble and was blown out to sea where he drifted for three days. He experienced a close call in 1970 when he broke through the ice while dragging his canoe across an ice flow. By the end of the summer of 1970, he made it to Spence Bay. In the summer of 1971, Time-Life Broadcasts supplied him with filming equipment to document the last leg of his journey. He was iced in for 12 days but managed to complete the journey, traveling from Spence Bay to Bellot Strait east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago at the tip of Boothia Peninsula. [3] [11]

Bellot Strait strait

Bellot Strait is a strait in Nunavut that separates Somerset Island on the north from the Boothia Peninsula on the south. At its eastern end is the Murchison Promontory, the northernmost part of mainland North America. The two-kilometre-wide (1.2 mi) and 25-kilometre-long (16 mi) strait connects the Gulf of Boothia and Prince Regent Inlet on the east with Peel Sound and Franklin Strait on the west.

Boothia Peninsula peninsula

Boothia Peninsula is a large peninsula in Nunavut's northern Canadian Arctic, south of Somerset Island. The northern part, Murchison Promontory, is the northernmost point of mainland Canada.

Interviewed in 1972 by The Christian Science Monitor, Dauksza explained that he loved the quiet of the Arctic's enormous desolation. He lived off caribou, duck, goose and fish on his journey. He was once forced to shoot a grizzly bear that he said mistook him for a caribou. He reported having no problems with wolves: "The wolf - if you allowed him, shucks, he'd be your friend. I woke once and saw one just sitting there observing me like a dog." [1] [12] [13] Interviewed in 1974 by The Canadian Press , Dauksza explained the attraction he felt for the Arctic: "People in the North are the way people should be everywhere, and the way they would be if they didn't live in cities. It's the people, and a curiosity I have always had about remote areas that makes me want to see the Arctic." [10]


Dauksza died on Christmas Day 1996 at Grand Rapids, Michigan. [14]

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  1. 1 2 Clive Lawrance (September 2, 1972). "Adventurer Paddles To Arctic First". Deseret News (from The Christian Science Monitor News Service).
  2. "Crowds at Grand Rapids". Chicago Daily Tribune. January 9, 1972.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Gary Cooper (November 26, 1971). "There are few dull days in this man's life". Edmonton Journal. p. 13.
  4. "Film-Lecture On Alaska Is Set for Aug. 1". Ludington Daily News. July 27, 1963. p. 9.
  5. 1 2 "Lots of Trophies". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. November 6, 1959. p. 7.
  6. Rodney Russell (June 27, 1966). "Canoeist takes third shot at 55-mile ocean jaunt". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. p. 21.
  7. Tom Delisle (February 3, 1969). "Latter-Day Boone Paddles His Canoe". Detroit Free Press. p. 3.
  8. Tom Delisle (February 3, 1969). "Latter-Day Boone Paddles His Canoe, part 2". Detroit Free Press. p. 12.
  9. 1 2 "Canoeist completes suicidal journey". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix (CP). October 11, 1966.
  10. 1 2 "U.S. Film-Maker Finds Canada's Far North Rugged". The Calgary Herald (CP). August 23, 1974. p. 26.
  11. "Thirteenth trip north under way". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. July 7, 1967. p. 4.
  12. "A canoeist conquers the passage". Anchorage Daily News. August 20, 1972. p. D1.
  13. Clive Lawrance (July 19, 1972). "How a canoeist conquered the Northwest Passage: Summertime only". The Christian Science Monitor. p. 15.
  14. Death record for Anthony Dauksza, Michigan Department of Vital and Health Records. Michigan Deaths, 1971-1996 [database on-line].