It is no secret that the Algoma region is beautiful and that its beauty has been documented by countless explorers, artists and outdoor enthusiasts over the years.
It is equally loved by locals like Jay Case, who grew up in the north and the outdoors was always part of his life.
“I've always been in the forest as often as I possibly could,” he says.
“I grew up in rural Sault Ste. Marie where my backyard was countless hectares of forest and mountains. I'd head out at sunrise, just myself and my dog, and be gone for the day until sundown or later. I learned ‘bush skills’ from my grandfather who definitely fostered my love of the wilderness since I was little.”
Raised in Southern Ontario, Sheri Tuck did not have access to the outdoor experiences that many of us take for granted in Northern Ontario.
“I have always been an outdoors person but had only really ‘car camped’ as a young girl and into my early 20s,” she says.
“My first backpacking trip with Jay was into Warp Bay at Lake Superior Provincial Park,” says Tuck.
“It was such a great experience. The solitude, the stars and the bonding over nature helped us realize that it was something we both really enjoyed.”
Fast forward to the spring of 2022, Tuck and Case made the decision to create outdoor videos for the public.
“We often posted photos and video clips on our social media pages to share with friends and family,” says Tuck.
“We noticed that people wanted to see more images of our trips and hear more stories.”
The couple decided to document their first and longest canoe trip to date with a long-format video.
“We wanted to be able to share that experience with others as well as document it for ourselves to look back upon.”
Beauty of the Backcountry was born.
“We used their styles as inspiration for our own filmmaking. That canoe trip was an arduous, 8-day, 120-kilometre journey through a lost canoe route in the remote region north of Ranger Lake,” says Case.
One of the first challenges in making the long-format video was that neither Tuck nor Case had created them prior to their decision, other than short clips for their social media pages.
“Jay started filming and editing with music videos during COVID as a way to share music and collaborate with other musicians and media,” says Tuck.
Case laughs, admitting that the couple had “no idea” what we were doing for obvious reasons.
“Even now, we're still learning best practices and techniques as we go,” says Case.
Both creators feel that Beauty of the Backcountry is a true partnership.
“The more we capture and edit, the more we understand,” says Case.
“I do most of the editing of our videos for now, but Sheri is learning as well. So we will share those duties. Editing takes the most time and involves the most energy. Much more energy than paddling a couple of hundred kilometres.”
Tuck notes that they have complementary but “very different perspectives” when filming.
Case does most of the commentary and descriptive narrations in the videos, as well as the soundtracks.
“During the past few years, many of us were secluded … and for the most part my creativity was confined to creating musical soundscapes for the videos,” he says, noting that it was an advantage to not have to license other people’s music for the videos.
“I found it a huge source of inspiration to score the videos with my original music. I can tailor the music to the situation in the video and it helps to create a mood or vibe that we literally build to suit the situation.”
The couple tries to find new locales for each of their videos.
“We use crown land and different places within Lake Superior Park much of the time. Rarely do we shoot film of the same place twice as there is always so much out there to explore,” says Tuck.
“It has so many beautiful spots and it is so close to us.”
The couple feels very lucky to be only a 2-hour drive from the park.
“We did do a three-part trip into it this year to hike the entire Coastal Trail.”
One of their other videos captures a Ranger Lake loop trip that was inspired by Kevin Callan’s book A Paddler's Guide to Ontario's Lost Canoe Routes.
“Ranger Lake isn't part of my youth per se, but we have a small off-grid camp to the east of it that was built by my grandfather back in the 1960s,” says Case.
“It was handed down to me in my teens. So we would spend many weekends out at the camp all through my youth. Going from my home out to the middle of the untouched forest wasn't a big leap for me.”
Both Tuck and Case felt the gravitational pull to the solitude of the wilderness as a safe space when daily life got hectic.
“Beauty of the Backcountry to me is the satisfaction of getting somewhere into the wilderness on our own power and determination and appreciating the effort it takes to get there,” says Tuck.
“The joy of nature is sitting in solitude to watch and listen to the birds and spring peepers, to see the animal tracks in the snow and appreciate the silence that surrounds you. There’s a true innocence of being in nature.”
The couple was recently invited as guests on YouTubers Johnny and Colleen Kuehl’s weekly show called “Backcountry Couples” on the KuehlKuest page.
“The canoeing, camping, hiking, backpacking and overlanding community is very supportive of each other,” says Tuck.
“We had a great time and met a lot of new people through this opportunity.”
One of the viewers of that show was Dennis Rogers from The Canoehound Adventures, another YouTube show the couple watches together.
“When Dennis reached out to ask if we would like to be on his Valentine's Day Backcountry Couples show on February 14th we were available and quite excited to be asked,” says Tuck.
“We were also quite excited to be sharing the panel with some of our favourite YouTubers Tents and Timber (Alex and Jess), FreakofNature (Tuenis and Britt), and Kevin Callan of The KC Happy Camper. It was a moment that we were both very excited about. Kevin is a legend in the canoeing and backcountry camping world and one of our absolute favourite YouTubers and authors. We were very honoured to meet him online during this show.”
“When we were asked to be on the show we humbly and graciously agreed,” he says.
“His channel is the best place to interact with most of Ontario's avid canoeists and outdoors people who use YouTube.”
Callan, who is an outdoors advocate himself, wrote a blog for Explore Magazine called The Happy Camper: Outdoor YouTubers That Deserve More Subscribers noting Tuck and Case as one of his top five YouTubers that he believed should get more attention.
For both Tuck and Case, Beauty of the Backcountry has opened up a whole new community of friends.
“Backcountry camping and canoeing are definitely going to be a thing the couple will do and enjoy for as long as they are physically able to do it,” says Tuck.
“Beauty of the Backcountry will continue to find new and exciting trips to new and exciting areas we haven’t yet explored.”