Wild Northerner Magazine Summer 2017 - Page 25

Celebrate Canada’s 150th

in a

canoe

Celebrate Summer in a canoe

Northern Ontario is host to only one operating national park – Pukaskwa National Park. It occupies a vast tract of land and coastline on Lake Superior.

Look for unique events and celebrations in towns across the region.

I think one of the best ways to join in on the celebrations is getting in a canoe and doing some paddling, whether it be a day, multi-day or longer trip. The canoe is as synonymous with our country as the beaver or maple syrup.

Most readers know by now I own a Souris River Quetico 17 canoe. I love it and I love talking about the adventures the canoe has brought me, my family and friends every year, from ice out to ice up.

At some point this summer, hopefully on Canada Day, I will be in the canoe relaxing under the warm sun with a few clouds in the sky and a slight breeze in the air. I also hope to have a fishing rod in my hand and to be hauling in a few smallmouth bass or northern pike. I’ll have a few cold beers chilling in the water to keep me from getting too dry.

It sounds like a perfect way to ring in 150 years of confederacy.

Canoes have been used by humans for thousands of years. They were the primary mode of transportation that allowed early explorers to make their way through North America and Canada. Canoes were vital to the fur trade and they were also heavily relied on for moving freight on inland waterways. Canoeing was made an official Olympic sport in 1936. Canoes were key tools in the way of life of First Nations people. Canoes have evolved from dugouts to birch bark to steel to plastic to Kevlar and other composite materials. They have, in a sense, remained unchanged in their overall design and purpose over the years, speaking volumes about their original design and lasting impact.

Canoes still serve many purposes in our world from recreation to sport to work.

Canoes will be with us forever. They are part of who we are as a species.

I spend more time in my canoe each year than I do in any other type of outdoors vehicle or craft. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My canoe allows me to get up close and personal with nature and wildlife. It allows me to access less pressured lakes even in heavily populated areas. I can’t think of a better all-around mode of transportation for the outdoors.

I grew up around canoes and they were the first watercraft I can honestly remember being in as a child. I’ve had amazing memories because of a canoe. I’ve caught some memorable fish while in a canoe. Once, when we were young teens, my cousin and I were on a lake near North Bay when we were treated to a person who flew their model airplane above us and did all kinds of neat tricks. We applauded and cheered and it made the person do even crazier stunts. My family used to have this event called the Gull Lake Olympics each summer at my aunt and uncle Nancy and Ken’s camp. We had canoe races, swim races, beer and pop chugging contests and water balloon tossing among other zany things. My favourite was seeing how many people could fit in a canoe before it sunk. It always got out of control with people trying to sabotage each team.

There are no better memories than those times when night has come and the stars are out to shine. The wind calms down. Sitting in the middle of a lake in the middle of nowhere under the glow of the moon in a canoe is unbeatable for me.

If you get a chance this summer, take a canoe for a spin and relive some of Canada’s history.

I will be doing it as much as possible.