Crazy Bucket List Ideas: Close Wolf Encounter in Quebec, Canada

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Earlier this month, I officially turned the big 3-0. Instead of popping champagne, I chose to celebrate this special day in an extra-memorable style – with a wolf encounter! Among all the crazy bucket list ideas, this is an especially meaningful way to welcome the new chapter of my life. In this post, I want to share with you this unique experience on my recent adventure to Quebec Maritime!

Crazy Bucket List Ideas Wolf Encounter Quebec Canada

All About Wolves: Gray Wolf and Arctic Wolf

Our preconception of the wolf

Gray Wolf

Photo by Michael LaRosa on Unsplash

Let me ask you something first. What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of “wolves”?

Is it vicious? deceitful? dangerous?

It is undeniable that many of us perceive wolves in a negative light, often driven by fairy tales and ancient fables. I was no exception. The mythical Big Bad Wolf from Little Red Riding Hood was all I could think of when someone mentioned “wolf.”

Do you know that the Little Red Riding Hood was originally a French tale? Back in the day, the wolf was seen as a threat to herders and farmers. Dead sheep started to be found on their ranch and they believed that the wolf was the cause of their death. People became afraid of wolves and began telling stories – that’s how fables like Little Red Riding Hood came to exist.

To protect sheep and livestock, a systematic extermination of the gray wolf began in France. In the 1930s, wolves were hunted almost to extinction!

But it was unfair to blame the wolf! Delphine Brossaud, our guide at Ferme 5 Etoiles explained that back in the day, the task of herding sheep was delegated to a young child, instead of an adult. This setup made it easy for the wolves to attack livestock.

Killing the wolf was an easy solution back then, but little did the people realize the undesirable consequences followed after.

The eradication of wolf has disrupted the ecosystem, leading to an increase in wild boar and moose populations and even deforestation!

Now, France is actively reintroducing the wolf. Same goes for the province of Quebec, in areas north of the St. Laurence River.

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So, what do we know about the wolves?

Wolves are social animals. They stay with their family and live in packs. That’s why the First Nations consider the wolf a sacred animal that represents love and family.

Wolf mother and pup

Photo by M L on Unsplash

Each pack has about 4 to 6 members and consists of an alpha male and female, chosen by the pack as the leaders. The alphas hunt for the group and they are the only pair that breeds and reproduces. They can produce 0 to 6 pups per year. When the pup is born, not only the mother wolf but also the other females in the group will lactate so they can help “babysit.”

Even though the entire pack participates in raising the pups, 60% of them don’t survive the first year, and only 25% reach sexual maturity (3 years of age).

Wolves are carnivores. They primarily prey on large herbivores like deer, moose, and elk. But when necessary, they will also eat rabbits, beavers, and fish.

Gray Wolf is the most commonly known species in North America. They can range in color from pure white, reddish brown to solid black despite its name.

Arctic Wolf is a subspecies of gray wolf that lives in northern Canada, in the region that is above 67 degrees north latitude. Their thick fur and small ears allow them to retain body heat in extremely cold temperatures. Can you believe that they can survive in as low as -57 degrees Celcius?

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My Wolf Encounter: Meet Jacob and Luna

To demystify the fear of the wolf resulted from stories, Ferme 5 Etoiles in Sacre-Coeur, Quebec offers a unique and exciting opportunity for visitors to get up close and personal with the wolves at their wildlife refuge and observation center.

Ferme 5 Etoiles has two wolves on-site: Jacob and Luna.

Crazy Bucket List Ideas Wolf Encounter Quebec Canada

Jacob, Gray Wolf

Jacob, a gray wolf, arrived at the farm in 2010 with his brother when they were only 18 days old. They were adopted from a wolf sanctuary nearby. Jacob’s brother unfortunately died shortly after due to an accident. To accompany Jacob, they put a dog named Maikan with him. Oddly enough, they got along well and Maikan is dominant over Jacob!

Crazy Bucket List Ideas Wolf Encounter Quebec Canada

Luna, Arctic Wolf

In 2013, two female Arctic wolves Nalu and Luna joined Ferme 5 Etoiles. Nalu, the dominant wolf, passed away in 2016 from natural causes. Luna currently lives alone and enjoys her freedom!

After the briefing and signing the waiver, it’s finally time to meet the wolves!

“Jacob and Luna love to play. They might jump at you or pull your hair,” Delphine warned us before we headed into the enclosure. “Make sure you tie up your hair and take off sunglasses and camera strap. Only wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.”

Pulling hair? That got me a bit nervous. To comfort us, Delphine quickly explained, “If you want them to back off, fend them off with your arms.”

I took one deep breath, gathered my courage and got ready for my very first wolf encounter!

Together with my seven new friends, we slowly moved towards Luna’s enclosure. Upon seeing us, Luna started pacing back and forth behind the fence, eagerly anticipating our visit.

To not overwhelm the wolves, we split into 2 groups, 4 people each. Delphine entered first to check on Luna, making sure she’s okay. Four of us carefully followed after, with our back against the fence as instructed.

At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The ferocious characteristic of a wolf that was deeply rooted in my mind wasn’t shown much on Luna. To me, she just seemed like an overly friendly dog, except much larger and furrier.

Crazy Bucket List Ideas Wolf Encounter Quebec Canada

Luna wasn’t shy at all. She came straight up to each one of us, sniffing around and getting to know us. We cautiously made our first move by patting her back. She seemed to enjoy it very much that she responded with hugs and kisses!!

Crazy Bucket List Ideas Wolf Encounter Quebec Canada

In contrast to Luna, Jacob appeared to be more relaxed and cool. He was approachable, but not overly excited around people. Somehow I found his presence therapeutic!

Crazy Bucket List Ideas Wolf Encounter Quebec Canada

My Takeaways From The Wolf Encounter

YES! I did it! I met the wolves, played with them, and made a connection!

I was proud of myself to have put my fear and stereotype aside and get up close with the wolves. To my surprise, this predatory animal was not as aggressive and defensive as we thought!

My encounter with wolves at Ferme 5 Etoiles was certainly an unforgettable one. It has taught me so much about the wolves and most importantly, it reminded me to not let stereotypes and prejudice warp our mind.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” –  an expression we have heard at least a hundred times, but it is easier said than done. With my close encounter with Jacob and Luna, I will for sure remember to refrain from making a judgment about an animal or an individual prior to any actual contact.

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About Ferme 5 Etoiles

If you’re interested in having a close encounter with wolves, I strongly recommended a visit to Ferme 5 Etoiles.

The aptly named “5 Star Farm” is dedicated to providing the utmost care for wounded and abandoned animals found in nature. Besides the wolves, you can also meet white-tailed deer, lynx, skunk, porcupine, marmot, and snow gooses!

The farm operates in conjunction with a bed and breakfast and is open year-round to all types of activities, including dogsledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and snowshoeing in the winter, and hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, whale watching, and ATV ride in the summer.

Whale watching in Quebec Maritime, Canada

Whale-watching excursion in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park : Mathieu Dupuis/Le Québec maritime

Snowmobilers in Quebec Maritime, Canada

Snowmobilers in Forestville : Marc Loiselle

For those of you who wish to get a taste of pure maple syrup, you can visit their sugar shack in the spring!

I thought turning 30 would be scary, but after my wolf encounter in Quebec, I felt so empowered and ready to embrace this new chapter of my life!


Put this on your bucket list: a wolf encounter! Check this post to find out how and where you can do this bucket list item in Canada! #travealcanada #travelguide #tripplanning #traveltips #quebec #itinerary #thingstodo #adventuretravel #nature #wildlife #wolfencounter



Looking for a wolf encounter? Check this post to find out how and where you can do this bucket list item in Canada! #travealcanada #travelguide #tripplanning #traveltips #quebec #itinerary #thingstodo #adventuretravel #nature #wildlife #wolfencounter


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32 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. What an amazing experience. To get up close to these fascinating animals. Your images are so cute too! I am so adding this to my bucket list now. I love trips that involve seeing animals and it is nice you can get close to them in an ethical way.

  2. Happy 3-0 and well done on deciding to do something so extraordinary! Jacob and Luna are stunning creatures. I think the first word that comes to mind would be SCARY! Not deceitful. Dangerous yes. I find that they have such piercing eyes and their fur….. gorgeous.

  3. Oh my God, this has been on my bucket list for such a long time! So glad to find your article, pinned it. Loved to the way you wrote about this unique experience, thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. This is so cool! I think Canada is very blessed in this regard as it has a lot of areas under conservations. I have been to one where bisons are kept in an area and in their natural habitat – it’s such a pretty sight 

    Thanks for sharing this 

  5. I’ve watched a lot of wolf movie before, and it has always been my dream to have a close encounter with a wolf. I can really feel the fulfillment and happiness you’ve had when you had a close encounter with that adorable wolf. They are really lovely and looks like very friendly. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  6. Wow what a unique experience! Thanks for sharing the different kinds of wolves and for opening our eyes to different experiences. Sounds like you enjoyed it and they’re much nicer than expected. Ferme 5 Etoiles seems like the perfect place to meet unique animals. Would love to cuddle with an all white wolf! They’re gorgeous!

  7. What a fantastic experience, taking all the unwanted rejects and helpless and putting them in a nurturing environment. I would love to visit this place some day.

  8. Thats one unique experience I must say and kudos to you for choosing it. I dont know if I have enough courage to encounter wolves but your post definitely makes it all look very fascinating. But I do believe that most animals are harmless, its us humans and our behaviours that make them violent

  9. I’m so glad you mentioned wolves in France. We have a beautiful wolf park in the Limousin area I got to visit this past fall. The whole aim is to help educate the French that wolves aren’t scary and killers so that programs to reintroduce wolves to the delicate ecosystems in France can be successful.

    The wolves at this park are sometimes released in to the wild, so you can’t have any encounters like you did, but they’re definitely beautiful to see. And I, too, was surprised by how large they can be.

  10. What an amazingly unique experience to have at Ferme 5 Etoiles!! It’s so amazing how up close and personal you can get with the wolves. I would be nervous too at first, especially when they tell you about pulling on your hair. But it looks like such a beautiful experience to have, and Luna and Jacob both sound so sociable.

  11. If it helps you feel better, my thirties have been the best years of my life. I am not a massive fan of big dogs jumping up at me so I am not sure how I would respond to this. However, I have seen wolves in the wild in Colorado and they are stunning so I can see the appeal.

  12. Wow! What a cool experience and a great gift to oneself on turning 30! This is a very informative post. You’ve changed my perception about the wolves. Owing to the fables and fantasies, I’ve also grown up believing the ferocious side of wolves. I didn’t know these lovely creatures are so amiable. Ferme 5 Etoiles also sounds like a cool place. These guys are doing a great job.

  13. It is so amazing to see a wolf behaving in a tame manner, almost like a dog. As you mentioned, I also had a negative image of wolves. It’s sad that they were pushed to extinction in earlier times. Nature should not be played around with. The ecosystem was bound to lose its balance. I enjoyed reading the story of Jacob. It is amusing that the wolf and the dog got along well.

  14. As an animal lover, I would love to experience this! I’ve read a lot about wolves and know that they don’t deserve the bad rap they get. Your photos are gorgeous!

  15. Those wolves are really adorable! But is it good for them to interact with humans like that? It seems so completely against their natural instincts — it’s like they’re almost being treated as pet dogs.

  16. It sounds like they are doing a responsible thing at Ferme 5 Etoiles with visitors. I was worried that you were going to describe something like the tiger encounters in Asia where the big cats are sedated for tourists. The wolves here seem like big, friendly dogs that have probably just grown used to people… unless they are being released into the wild, which may be problematic for the wolves if people see them as a threat. Nevertheless, this seems like an incredible experience!

  17. I am very much scare of wolf, as in my childhood days, I have read many stories in which they are portrayed as negative characters. But after reading your article, my concept about them got changed. They look very friendly and not very fiery. It is very sad, that killing of wolves lead to deforestation and we should try to protect them and conserve our ecosystem.

  18. Aww Luna is so cute. I would have never thought of wolves as friendly but this proves me wrong. This farm looks like such a lovely experience. I’ve never been snowshoeing and ice fishing, this would be a good opportunity to try them.

  19. When I think of wolves I think of the Kevin Costner movie Dancing with wolves!? A very interesting birthday gift to yourself and a one you will never forget! I would be more afraid if I encountered wolves in the wild but I guess Luna and Jacob are use to humans so I would be less nervous.

  20. This is a lovely way to celebrate a birthday milestone! I’m well into my 30s and it’s better than your 20s, believe me! Luna is beautiful, and is actually one of my favourite names too! These creatures are truly special, and they look well looked after too. A lovely place to visit for sure.

  21. What a cool experience! I visited a wolf sanctuary in New Jersey and it was incredible to learn about them and get to interact with the wolves. The arctic wolves are really gorgeous! This is one of those things I never even think about doing until something like this pops up in my feed. I might have to make a detour for this the next time I’m in Quebec!

  22. I just got back from Quebec and wish I had known about this! So interesting that only the alphas reproduce, and sad that only 25% reach sexual maturity. Love how playful Luna was and super bummed I missed this experience

  23. What a cool experience and way to ring in the new decade. I appreciate you demystifying wolves and the negative stories we have about them. From your pictures, the two look so cuddly. I love that Ferme 5 Etoiles seeks to bridge the gap between wild animals and humans. Great article

  24. I am not too much of an animal lover and I am glad that Jacob was friendlier. I have always been wary of wolves and have heard not-so-positive stories about them but after reading your post, I feel i’m getting softer. Thank you for a wonderful read and a belated happy birthday!

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  26. Meeting the wolves sounds like a unique encounter. I don’t know how separated wolves are from dogs (on an evolutionary scale) but Luna and Jacob sound a lot more approachable and friendly than some dogs I’ve run into. Good on Ferme 5 Etoiles for saving these animals and allowing people to interact with and learn about them.

  27. First thing that comes to mind is fear for sure:) Wolves are in some of my nightmares, but maybe if I get to see them in real, it could be existing.

  28. We were at this farm in February!!! So cool, you got to have this wolf encounter. It was winter for us so we went snowmobiling which was awesome while they also have dog sledding and tons of other activities…like a really a nice spa. would love to go back in summer and have this experience.

  29. Wow, I did not imagine that wolves could be playful and friendly! Like most other people, I also have this impression that they’re dangerous but from your post, it seems Jacob and Luna were friendly like dogs! I would’ve been a little nervous myself, in petting them or even going close to them but being pelted with hugs and kisses is totally unexpected. How beautiful they are!

  30. We would absolutely love this adventure. When I was in college, I had a year pass to the Columbus Zoo. One fall, after the leaves fell and all the visitors were staying home, I went and had the zoo to myself. I ended up playing with a wolf for about half an hour I think he was bored and looking for a friend. I ran back and forth in front of his cage and he would follow me. It shows just how social wolfs really are.

  31. I am visiting a wolf habitat in Indiana this fall. I’ve wanted to do it for years and found a tour through Take It Outside Excursions. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot about wolves like you did. And then, I’d love to return to Quebec and visit this one, too.

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