The Hub June 2017 - Page 29

June 4 is Canadian Rivers Day B eing an avid road tripper I am always looking for my next outdoor adventure. Don’t get me wrong, I am far from a professional outdoorsman, (I hike trails with a Tim Hortons in hand) but I enjoy being outside and exploring. Typically, I don’t hit the road without going at least 4 hours east down the 401 so how was I going to enjoy these activities anywhere near the Rose City? I have debated with many that the beautiful hidden places I find just aren’t here in our traffic-congested city. I was adamant that they just didn’t exist here. Boy was I wrong. There are 160 kilometres of waterfront in Windsor-Essex County just waiting to be explored. So I was determined to find the outdoor adventures that I usually travel hours to experience. With my hectic juggling act of working the midnight shift, 2 preteen boys and being midway through major home renovations, I really needed an activity to just enjoy when I found a spare thirty minutes. That most of the places I ended up didn’t require an appointment was a gift I greatly appreciated. After a scenic drive down Riverside Drive I spotted a bright yellow and blue tent festooned with life jackets, and saw beautifully coloured kayaks along the water's edge. The exploring began with the first stop, Windsor, Adventure Inc. located just past Sand Point Beach. A quick U-turn to park and I was ready to go. Never having kayaked and hesitant to try it, my adrenaline kicked in. What was I thinking? Where were the canoes? Those were easier, right? My anxiety was getting to me. I am a clumsy person and if I have learned anything it is that if there is a mistake to be made I am definitely going to be the one to make it. How was I going to handle this boat out on the Detroit River by myself? What would I do if I tipped over? How am I going to get my legs out when I inevitably do tip over and I am stuck in this little hole in the boat? It would literally be sink or swim! Mark Malone, owner of Pelee Wings Nature Store in Leamington, says that being stuck in a kayak is a common myth or misconception. “Kayaks are designed with a low center of gravity so they sit low in the water and it takes a lot of rocking and swaying to tip yourself over,” said Malone. And even though it looks like just a small hole to sit in, especially for someone like myself who isn’t a size two, there's quite a bit of room. “There is plenty of movability and clearance in a kayak to quickly free yourself if you happen to tip over,” said Malone. So here I was in a kayak on one of the busiest waterways in the whole world, and it seemed so tranquil! The day for most was just beginning and I was already out on the water paddling my way around, just as French explorer Antoine Lame de la Mothe, sieur de Cadillac did back in 1701 to establish Fort Pontchartrain, which later became Detroit. The Detroit River has played such an important role to the trade economy in Windsor-Essex and is a grand symbol of the relationship between Canada and the US. With the Ambassador Bridge standing as a tall reminder of how closely we are intertwined together and over 150, 000 jobs dependant on this border crossing, I couldn’t help but reflect on how things have changed between the two countries. From Canada’s indigenous peoples, to 17th century fur traders to local entrepreneurs during the Prohibition: if only these waters could talk. I spent the rest of my paddling imagining the many others that have traveled these waters throughout history; in my own small way I was now one of them. The Detroit River is the only waterway in Windsor-Essex to be designated as a Canadian Heritage