The remains of a missing Canadian man whose wife survived in the snowy Nevada wilderness for 49 days have been found just a few kilometres from where he initially set off to seek help.

Two elk hunters found Albert Chretien’s remains on Saturday, near Merritt Mountain in northeastern Nevada, said Det. Dennis Journigan of the Elko County Sheriff’s Department. His remains were found just 11 kilometres west of where he originally left his wife Rita.

Chretien had been missing for 18 months.

Journigan said Chretien’s remains were found intact and had not been dispersed by animals. Police identified Chretien’s body by using several items found on him, including business cards and an address book.

Det. Jim Carpenter said the hunters who discovered the remains first found his backpack, and then proceeded up the mountain and found his body.

"They know of the story, of what took place and they were in the general area," he said. "They put two and two together and said, `Hey, we think we found your missing Canadian guy."'

Carpenter added: "It's big news around here, and everybody who lives here knows the whole story."

Carpenter said Chretien’s wife was relieved to hear that her husband’s body had at last been found.

"She's obviously upset but she's also relieved that we recovered Albert's remains," he said.

"This wasn't anything that we gave up on. We were continuing searches up in that area and always trying to cover more ground and the thing that people don't know, though, is this is ground (that) is steep, rocky, (with) trees. There's roads there but they're really tough."

The couple was reported missing after leaving home in Penticton, B.C., for a trade show in Las Vegas in March 2011. Their van became stuck in the mud on a backcountry road in Nevada.

The 59-year-old Chretien left his wife to look for help on March 22, 2011. He was not seen again.

His wife remained with the van for 49 days until a group of hunters found her on May 6, 2011.

She said she survived on a combination of trail mix, hard candy and melted snow. She had lost nearly 30 pounds by the time she was discovered.

Since Chretien had been reported missing, numerous search and rescue crews had frequented the area in the hopes of finding his body, said Carpenter.

"We've had our group,” he said. “We've had groups from Idaho, we've had groups from Utah, we've had cadaver dogs. We've had a lot of people up there."

Officials temporarily suspended search efforts due to poor weather conditions. The efforts were revived, however, after Rita Chretien was found.

With files from The Canadian Press