SUDBURY -- A recent routine drive on a northern Ontario highway became a trip of a lifetime for a woman who encountered a young 'spirit moose.'

Last week, Whitney Jardine was driving on Highway 101 near Foleyet when she saw a white moose on the side of the road.

She said it happened around 1:30 p.m. during a break between thunderstorms and pulled over to look at the animal that was eating near a culvert. Jardine said it looked between one and two years old.

A moose calf usually leaves its mother around the age of one, according to American Expedition. Sometimes a cow, female moose, will have to chase her offspring off.

Growing up near Chapleau she is used to seeing moose and used to travel on Highway 101 to Timmins every weekend for swimming practice when she was a young, competitive swimmer. She had heard stories about the spirit moose and seen pictures, but this was the first time seeing one in person.

"I felt so lucky with the opportunity to see her," Jardine said.

Her six-month-old Golden Retriever was in the car with her at the time and Jardine wasn't sure how she would react, but the puppy remained calm and didn't scare the moose off.

The moose's colouring is due to a condition called leucsim, which causes a partial loss of pigmentation in the hair and skin, and is different from albinism.

It is against the law in Ontario to hunt moose that are predominantly white, 50 per cent white or more, along King's Highway 101 from Chapleau to Timmins.

Having just graduated with a master's degree in manufacturing engineering from McMaster University, Jardine recently returned to the north to spend some time with her parents and has just accepted a part-time teaching job at Northern College.

She is sure to watch for another sighting next time she drives through Foleyet.