Challenging the impossible

Kimberley local Bruce Kirkby stirs awareness that taking on the impossible isn’t just the adventure

  • Jun. 20, 2013 12:00 p.m.
Bruce Kirkby's latest challenge is long distance paddle-boarding.

Bruce Kirkby's latest challenge is long distance paddle-boarding.

By Kaity Brown

Bulletin Staff


Bruce Kirkby has challenged the impossible and continues to do so in his expeditions ­— from taking on the blistering heat in the desert to challenging the ocean by paddleboard.

He has been a columnist for the Globe and Mail, written ‘Sand Dance’ about his expedition in Arabia’s Southern desert, won awards for his work in photography and hosted the CBC television show No Opportunity Wasted.

But he isn’t interested in the flashy fame and recognition. He cares about really matters — living life to the fullest and sharing it with friends and family.

“I’ve been in Kimberley for 8 years and one way or other everyone learns about everyone in Kimberley — we end up playing hockey together or gathering wood at the creek together.”

In fact, the author and photographer started by being inspired by Kimberley’s Pat Morrow.

“I grew up in Toronto and at a very early age saw Pat Morrow’s book ‘Beyond Everest’ and I just thought ‘wow! You can live a life like that?”

And from there, the adventurer has collected all kinds of memories around the world.

“When I am on a physical adventure, my number one goal is to enjoy it. It’s never to prove something or to try to be a tough guy or do it faster or break a record.  I’ve learned that what matters in life are the experiences and enjoying them with friends.”

His latest adventure was paddleboarding for 100k with friend and Olympic gold-medalist Duff Gibson, practicing everyday beforehand having never been on a paddleboard.

“Last weekend, after those two months, I did the 100K day with Duff. We started at 4 a.m. and we paddled until 10 p.m. without a break basically and we just got 100K in the daylight.”

After the accomplishment Kirkby decided to create his own challenge on June 13 from Jericho Beach to Victoria Harbor, 150k in 4 days, with best friend Dave Quinn.

With regards to his motivation, Kirkby calls on the old proverb of a thousand mile journey starts with one step and he says that the two most important aspects to remember is starting now and letting fear be as a compass.

“Fear is important. We learn to move away from it but move towards it because its basically where your grow lies,” said Kirkby. “If you think of something start it now.”

Kirkby explains that through taking on the impossible challenges that people are able to grow and though accomplishing the tasks and remembering the joy they brought you and to always have something to work towards is what life is all about.

“So all these stories are really meant to engage and remind people what a beautiful planet we live on, how blessed we are in Canada and how precious life is. We seem to get reminded of that in times of tragedy but we should remember it every day.”

Yet the adventurer is more impressed with the ‘small victories’ of those who take on challenges in their own lives.

He explains that challenges aren’t just grandiose expeditions but the ‘impossibilities’ in your own life from recovering from injury or illness to helping others in your community matter more than we think.

“Those stories matter. I think that they matter more than someone who went and rode their camel across the desert.”

The adventurer is encouraging Kimberley to share their stories of challenging the impossible through the Canada-wide contest with Husqvarna at

“Give it a shot this isn’t for someone else or just for other people. We want to know what your challenges have been,” said Kirkby. “It’s those real life challenges that matter.”