Trip of a lifetime: Family driving to the Arctic Ocean in a little red car

Chang Luo and Jie Ding left England in April with their four-year-old daughter. They will complete their journey on the Dempster Highway Friday before heading to Tuktoyaktuk.

Around-the-world road trip includes being some of the first tourists to drive Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway

Chang Luo (right) and his family are going on an around-the-world road trip. They stopped for a photo at the sign marking the Arctic Circle. (Jian Xu/Submitted by Chang Luo)

The Citroën 2CV is a distinctive French car, and will soon be making an appearance on the newly completed Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk highway.

Chang Luo, his wife, Jie Ding and four-year-old daughter Yuding, left England in April. They plan to drive the world for the next two years.

The couple, originally from China, wanted to do this journey now before their daughter starts going to school.

Luo said he had no doubt that he wanted to drive in a 1985 version of the Citroën 2CV.

"This car is very interesting. I restored it by myself. I put a lot of effort into it. It has to be this car," he said. 

The little red car has been noticed by people in communities across the Northwest Territories. Lawrence Norbert in Tsiighetchic took this photo as the family drove through town. (Submitted by Lawrence Norbert )
Luo made sure to winterize the vehicle, and now that they are up north, he says he brings the car battery inside with him every night.

The family planned to head off to Inuvik Friday, now that the Mackenzie River ice crossing is open.

They originally planned to head there in early November but found out that with the ferry closed, it would be impossible to get there.

"It's kind of difficult so we decided to do a detour first to Alaska and come back when the river crossings were ready," Luo said.

The family crosses a mountain pass. Driving through the Arctic is one of his lifelong dreams. (Jian Xu / Submitted by Chang Luo)
This is the first time they have ever been to North America, and they drove all the way to China before shipping the car to Vancouver, he said.

Along the way, there have been lots of reactions to the small red car.

"Normally people will say what a toy car! It's for kids," Luo said. "Still, many people know this car, and many Canadian and American people love this car as well. I have met many 2CV friends in Canada."

Even though the car has been winterized for the driving in -20 C conditions, Chang Luo brings his battery inside with him every night. (Submitted by Chang Luo)
Luo says he always wanted to go to Inuvik but didn't know at first if it would be possible to drive to Tuktoyaktuk, let alone be one of the first tourists to drive on the all-season highway.

"I feel so good," he said. "I heard about the new highway a couple of months ago and it's always been in my mind to drive this new highway. On top of the world, to reach the Arctic Ocean would be very exciting."

Chang Luo had to pause the trip at the Mackenzie River before the ice crossing into Inuvik opened. (Submitted by Chang Luo)
The Mackenzie River crossing opened to vehicles up to 5,000 kilograms on Thursday, which means that Tuktoyaktuk can start to expect visitors from outside of Inuvik to start rolling in.


  • A previous version of this story identified Chang Luo's wife as Jae Ding. In fact, her name is Jie Ding.
    Dec 03, 2017 1:28 PM CT

With files from Kirsten Murphy


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?