Almost three years after he disappeared, the search for Jim Vanderfluit resumed today in Fredericton.

It was a small search led by family members still desperate to find the remains of the kayaker lost on the Nashwaak River in 2009.

“This is probably our last time to try to do something, because we have done everything that we could think of,” says Vanderfluit’s niece, Carolyn Flanagan.

The 50-year-old man disappeared on the Nashwaak River in October 2009. His damaged kayak was found, but his body has never been recovered.

After almost three years of searching, his family is desperate to find him.

"When you have a loved one that dies, you have a funeral; you put them where you want them to be and that's where they are,” says Flanagan. “If you want to go there and put flowers, you have that area that you know where they are. We don't know where Jim is."

The family has chosen to dig along the river, with the help of an excavator, because cadaver dogs brought in from Maine had focused on the area in previous searches for Vanderfluit.

While dogs that were working on the case today, and those that have combed the area in the past, have indicated finding traces of human remains along the riverbank, there is no guarantee the remains are still there.

“The chemicals that the dogs are indicating on leech into the soil and even if the body is gone, the chemicals can remain,” says Deborah Palman of Maine Search and Rescue Dogs. “So it's very difficult for us to know if we're actually going to find something, or if it's just those chemicals."

And, if remains are discovered there, there is no guarantee they will be that of Jim Vanderfluit. Flanagan says that is something her family is prepared for.

"The dogs indicate that there was human remains here, the chemicals from human remains are here, so...if it's not our closure, hopefully we can get someone else's closure," she says.

Police say they have no new leads in the case and Vanderfluit remains listed as a missing person.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Andy Campbell